By editorial board • 

We endorse as service to our readers

By the time the Laffeyette Courier (a predecessor to the News-Register) was founded in 1866, American newspapers had already established a tradition of endorsing candidates for elective office.

In the 1860 presidential election, The New York Times revealed on Oct. 11 it was endorsing “Mr. Lincoln, of Illinois, familiarly known as ‘Old Abe,’ age 51, height six feet seven, by profession rail-splitter.”

Was the Times intent on getting Mr. Lincoln elected? Did it think it could potentially tip the balance? Was it concerned taking a stand on the opinion side of its operation could influence the news side? No, no and no.

The aim of endorsements is not to pressure voters. It is simply to provide them with one more piece of data — an analysis conducted by a small group of senior editors, all veterans of many years of close political observation, based on personal research and interviews.

Editors are well aware many voters have already made up their minds, and some number of others will find in the editorial argument reason to come down on the other side. And they take no issue with that choice.

In point of fact, endorsements make little discernible difference in hotly contested races, particularly at the state and federal levels. They tend to be most influential at the lowest level, where information on a candidate’s experience, education, character, policy orientation and prior public service is harder to access.

We have endorsed in two races on the primary election ballot — county treasurer and county commissioner.

Our endorsement is likely to loom larger in the former, as the latter is drawing vastly more money, effort and attention. But we don’t care one way or the other, as our focus is helping voters make informed decisions.

Readers on the right often claim this paper is driven by far-left political ideologies, even agendas. But politics plays a relatively small role in the majority of our endorsements. That’s particularly true for positions like county clerk, sheriff, assessor or treasurer, because they aren’t political in nature, and seats in the Legislature, because no one person carries much weight.

Two years ago, we endorsed Republicans Ron Noble for state representative and Mary Starrett for county commissioner. In both cases, our decisions were based on character, work habits and effectiveness.

We withheld our endorsement from Democrat Kate Brown in the 2018 governor’s race and extended it to Republican Dennis Richardson in the 2016 secretary of state’s race. Those decisions weren’t rooted in politics or policy, either.

We call races as we see them, without fear, favor or news side bias. We have no thumb on the scale, nor would we want to.

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