Endorsements and Surrogates

A long time ago we made a couple of decisions about the way the Missourinet covers political campaigns. Well, we’ve made a number of decisions but two in particular happened about the same time.

We won’t interview surrogates. And we don’t care if your organization endorses somebody.

Every campaign year we start getting phone calls and e-mails from campaign tub-thumpers wanting us to interview some candidate’s wife or children or aunt or uncle. They seem shocked when we tell them we are not the slightest bit interested in covering a candidate’s surrogate. Wives, children, and relatives are not the ones running for office. They are not the ones who will bear the responsibilities of service if the candidate is elected. They are not the ones who will be accountable for what the candidate does or says in the campaign or later after taking office. So we tell the tub-thumper to make their pitch elsewhere. We could care less what the wife of a candidate has to say.

We also get messages about endorsements. We almost never do endorsement stories. While there is some general value in knowing what kind of people and groups claim to support a particular candidate, we tend to ignore endorsements. We do so because endorsing groups do not control what their members do at the polling place. Plus we’re not electing endorsing groups. It’s good to know who or what might have influence when the candidate takes office but, frankly, campaign contribution reports say more about influence.

We mention this latter point because of this week’s tempest in a Tea Party pot about Sarah Steelman. The Tea Party Express Political Action Committee announced this week that it was supporting her in the Republican primary for U. S. Senate. She, of course, announced how wonderful it is to have that support. The TPEPAC is based in California, not in Missouri.

“Hold the phone!!” said a bunch of Missouri Tea Party groups. Seventeen Missouri Tea Party groups quickly banded together as the Missouri Conservatives Network to announce that MISSOURI Tea Party groups have not issued any endorsement. In fact, the Missouri groups are being urged to speak for themselves. And so far, says the coalition, the Missouri groups haven’t decided on a preferred candidate.

Steelman’s two major opponents have questioned the legitimacy of the California group, noting that it was founded by a bunch of political strategists who have a habit of keeping most of the funds the organization raises.

We prefer not to get into judging the legitimacy of endorsing organizations. And we’re not sure if Joe and Josephine Missouri really care if the Union of Left-Handed Saxophone Players endorses somebody.

We could be wrong, but we doubt it. Few people who vote in the August primary will be left-handed saxophone players. And it’s quite likely some of them will vote for an ambidextrous accordion player who also is running.

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