The Chicago Tribune was so opposed to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the story goes, that operators in October 1936 would answer the phone and say, “Hello, Chicago Tribune, only 10 days left to save the American way of life.”
That’s a bit over the top, we think (if it even happened). But early voting starts in North Carolina on Thursday, and so do the Observer editorial board’s political endorsements. We won’t be as pushy as Robert McCormick’s Tribune, but we will weigh in with how we see each race.
We get a lot of questions about endorsements. The leading one is: Voting starts soon, so when are they coming? Here are the other top five:
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We on the editorial board spend our lives meeting with policymakers, following the news, digesting piles of documents and offering our opinions on the biggest public issues of the day. Is there a bigger public issue than who should lead?
All year, we applaud and constructively criticize elected officials for their decisions. We do this because we love this community and state, and we want to do our little part to make them better. It only follows that we would share who we think is best equipped to hold public office.
We also do this independent from our news reporters and editors, who find out our endorsements the same time you do: when they are published.
•In which races will you endorse?
We endorse in every statewide race and every race on the Mecklenburg ballot. This year, that’s 75 candidates in 26 races, one sales tax referendum, one bond referendum and one constitutional amendment.
•How does the process work?
The Observer editorial board spends many hours researching the candidates. We interview most of them in person or on the phone, we talk to others who have worked closely with them, we review their stands on the issues and how they’ve conducted themselves in public office or other roles. We consider their character, their records of transparency and honesty, and their willingness to work with the other party to get things done.
The board then meets and discusses each race. Once in a while we take an official vote; most of the time we talk it through until we reach consensus. Sometimes, there is disagreement. Too frequently, we don’t love either candidate in a race. But voters have to make a choice, so we almost always do too.
•The Observer is just going to endorse all Democrats, right?
No. We endorse many candidates of both parties. While we agree with progressives more often on issues, we are beholden to neither party and assess each candidate individually. We endorsed Republican Pat McCrory both times he ran for governor and every time he ran for mayor. We endorsed Republican Edwin Peacock for mayor over Democrat Patrick Cannon. That list goes on and on.
•Who gives you the right to tell me how to vote?
We’re not telling you how to vote. We’re telling you how we’d vote. A few of you will think our recommendations sound great. A few of you will vote the opposite way. And most of you will make up your own minds, using our endorsements as one more piece of information in your calculations.
Our biggest endorsement? The idea of getting informed, then exercising your fundamental right to vote.