Weighing the Value of Political Endorsements

I called the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission yesterday to try and answer a question from a caller about political endorsements. The question was, “Must a candidate get endorsements in writing in order to use them in campaign materials?”

The answer, from the PDC’s Lori Anderson, was “no.” There is no law requiring a written statement of endorsement.

Which got me wondering about how endorsements are made. So I ran this hypothetical situation by Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn, “What if a person received a call from a political candidate (or a member of the candidates campaign staff)? What if the person knew and liked the candidate, perhaps even well enough to vote for them, but, for whatever reason — perhaps feeling the need to learn more about the other candidate or the issues in play — did not feel in a position to give a ringing endorsement? What if the person never actually said ‘yes,’ but never actually said ‘no,” and then later they see their name on the candidate’s campaign literature under the heading of endorsements?”

Flynn recommended a common sense approach. Even if there isn’t a law requiring written endorsements, she said, she would strongly encourage people seeking endorsements to get them in writing. Candidates who fail to do so are only putting themselves and their campaign at risk, she said, because hypothetically speaking, if someone on the endorsement list had a beef with their name being on there, they could make the candidate look less than trustworthy. “The danger is to the candidate’s credibility,” said Flynn.

Question of the day: How much do endorsements mean to you when you assess a candidate’s qualifications for office?

4 thoughts on “Weighing the Value of Political Endorsements

  1. I once had a candidate door knock at my front door, speak with me for 10 minutes, ask if they could put a sign in my lawn (I said “not yet”, as I was undecided and explained that to the candidate), and then I had to excuse myself to leave for soccer practice. As I came around the house from pulling the car out of the garage (which was on the other side of the house), the candidate was pounding a sign in my front lawn.

    Needless to say, I was infuriated. That person lost my vote forever.

    I place little value in the plastering of signs. I place great value in my own experiences with the “fiber” of a candidate and in what other people that I know and respect think of a candidate. For the latter, I do look at a candidate’s endorsement list to see who trusts the candidate.

    Kathryn Simpson

  2. Question of the day: How much do endorsements mean to you when you assess a candidate’s qualifications for office?

    Little or none. I make my own decisions on the merits. It doesn’t even matter if I know or like the candidate. If they’re truly a friend, they’ll respect my right to make an informed and fair decision, and to be my own person.

  3. I try to look at how qualified the candidate is or how well I think that person can do the job. You can get a feel for the candidate by who the endorsements are coming from, ie. PACs, lobbyists, unions, and other organizations. Also, what groups or organizations do not endorse the candidate can be telling. Individual endorsements, ie. next door neighbor, friends, etc. make very little difference. The only thing that brings up if I happen to know the individual is a question in my mind as to why they endorsed the candidate, or in some cases this election, a question as to the sanity of the endorser. Overall I think words, actions and trust in the candidate speak much more than any endorsement, but in some cases an endorsement from a specific organization or individual can change my opinion and my vote, usually in a negative way for the candidate.

  4. I’m like Roger. Endorsements make little difference to me and if any, it is in a negative way. If an organization or person I really distrust endorses someone or something, I have a strong tendency to be against it. I’m not a fool though. Lots of issues have had strange bedfellows.

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