Demystifying endorsements | Editorial | Indy Week

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Demystifying endorsements

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So, who are you gonna endorse? Ah, if the Indy had a dime for every time someone asked us that question, we could bankroll several local campaigns.

As journalists, we ethically can't—and don't—donate to candidates, but in publishing endorsements we can play an influential role as advocates.

The Indy endorses candidates who we believe exhibit a dedication to the public interest, not a personal agenda. We favor independent voices that would ensure citizens, not just well-heeled contributors, have access to the political process. In some instances, a seasoned politician is the natural choice; in others, a newbie with a firm grasp of the issues is more qualified. While we're unabashedly a left-of-center publication, we have endorsed Republicans. In fact, we have done just that in this year's Cary Town Council election (see "Times are changing in Cary").

The precise machinations of our endorsements are proprietary, like the ingredients in special sauce. We take these endorsements seriously; they are not written on a whim or scribbled on cocktail napkins at the Raleigh Times bar. Our editorial team scours voting records and campaign finance reports, analyzes the candidates' answers to our detailed questionnaires, and conducts in-depth research. It is a democratic process, which entails long meetings and animated discussions about the candidates' qualifications. And then, the editorial team decides.

(Nor do we kiss and tell: The Indy's editorial team is prohibited from disclosing the content of endorsement meetings—and revealing our choices before they're announced in the endorsements issue.)

As readers, you too can access much of the same information the Indy used to help shape our opinions: Candidates' answers to our questionnaires for the Oct. 9 race are posted online in our Elections section; those for the Nov. 6 contest will be posted for the next endorsements issue, Oct. 24.

Durham campaign finance reports are online at the county's Web site: www.co.durham.nc.us/departments/elec. Ditto for Orange County, where you can find them at www.co.orange.nc.us/elect/campfin.asp.

Unfortunately, Wake County makes you haul your butt downtown to 337 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh to view or copy the reports. Likewise, in Chatham County, you'll find campaign finance paperwork in a filing cabinet at 984 Thompson St. in Pittsboro.

Endorsements are not for life. There have been candidates, who, riding the updrafts in the political stratosphere, fly too close to the sun. They make bad decisions, forget whom they represent—and lose our support.

You, the voter, will ultimately decide who you want to represent your interests. We're not kingmakers; rather, we're just providing some friendly, well-informed advice.

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