Monday, February 27, 2006
This is endorsement week for the newspapers in the City Elections. It reminds me of how nervous I was the first and second times I ran for Sheriff during this week. The endorsements typically come out the week before the elections. On the one hand they are so late in the game that many people have already made up their minds. In these days of early voting many, many people have already voted. On the other hand (lies a golden band) oops, sorry, my mind started wandering into a country song. Anyway, on the other hand for those undecided's who still remain out there the endorsements could add a few votes. If you are endorsed it can't hurt and if you are not then you remind yourselves that many of those endorsed by the media lose. In fact I will never forget that one of the papers employees congratulated me after an endorsement while I was in their office placing an ad. It went something like this: "Congratulations on the endorsement." to which I replied with a huge smile on my face, " Thanks!" she then finished the sentence with " Its usually the kiss of death." My smile turned into an uncomfortable grin. Apparently the paper usually endorsed long shots who they believed could be a good candidate in order to give them a shot. They usually lost. And yes that was my first shot at Sheriff, and yes I lost.
The ways that the papers choose their candidates is interesting. The Santa Fe Reporter always has interviews and in my case both the candidates were face to face answering questions put up by the editor and one other reporter. This reminds me of a high school debate and you feel like you are not only trying to impress but defend as well. I remember the second time I interviewed with the Reporter I took a copy of the endorsement they gave me four years earlier. The interviewers got a kick out of that and I remember them making a joke about them wondering if I carried that around with me for the last four years. I took it with me because I hoped that by reminding them that they endorsed me in my last race I might psychologically influence them to endorse me again. The Journal and New Mexican don't always do the same thing. It seems as though they only interview the races they are not sure of or the candidates they are unsure of. The first time I ran I wanted to make sure and get interviewed so I called the editors and asked to meet them. I remember distinctly my meeting with Bill Waters at the New Mexican. We walked together to get a cup of coffee from a shop down the street. I can't drink or spell the names of most of the fancy coffee's on the menu and I remember asking for plain coffee. The server looked at me like I should be shot and I am sure he charged me extra for my ignorance. I told my life story to Mr. Waters and walked away feeling good about the meeting. When the time came I got the endorsement. The next time I ran I was summoned to an interview at the New Mexican and I once again garnered their endorsement.
The Journal failed to succumb to my charms and did not endorse me the first time I ran. The next time I must have done better. After the endorsements come out the candidates usually end up at one function or another discussing them. If you got endorsed then the paper is the greatest, If you did not then the candidates either complain about the process or the paper, or both. Many times the supporters are the most upset. Its hard as a candidate to convince the supporters to calm down. You really don't want your supporters putting other candidates or the media down, rather you want them talking you up.
So do media endorsements really matter? I think it all depends on how close the race is and how many undecided's there are. With so many early voters the race could be decided even before endorsements come out. The main thing is to have your race in a good position by the time the endorsements come out. You need to be in a strong position a week before election day that way the endorsements, if you get them are icing on the cake. If you don't get them you can say they don't matter.