Have you ever thrown something away that's been around for a long time, then kicked yourself later because you needed it after all?
Of course you have. We all have.
Case in point: A few months ago, I tossed out a summary of the Sentinel's 2010 general election endorsements. I had kept it around for the occasional email or phone call, the one where someone insists the Sentinel was in the tank for the
. Or for the
I would turn in my chair and consult the 2010 endorsements, which were taped to the wall. It showed that, in partisan races, we endorsed 14 Republicans and 14 Democrats. It wasn't intentional. Just worked out that way.
With another even-numbered year bringing another busy political season, I've again printed out a copy of the 2010 endorsements. (I also printed out the 2008 general election endorsements. Final tally: 19 Republicans, 13 Democrats.)
Of course, one of those 2008 Democrats was
, which is the endorsement that sticks with many readers, regardless of how many Republicans we endorsed that same year.
We'll endorse in the presidential race again this year, as we have for many decades. But that's for later.
More immediately, we've begun the process of endorsing candidates ahead of the primaries.
Before getting into what endorsements are, it's important to clarify what they are not. They are not marching orders for voters. They do not reflect the opinions of reporters or newsroom editors. They are not dictated by a candidate's political party (see above). They are not made lightly. And they are not anything new.
Endorsements are an institutional opinion expressed by the editorial board — which consists of the people who put together the print and online opinion content, including editorial writers
and myself. Our choices are a consensus, made in consultation with the Sentinel's editor,
, and its publisher, Howard Greenberg.
Endorsements are made after we've talked with the candidates (at least, those who are willing to meet with us); looked at incumbents' voting records; examined challengers' credentials; gone over their campaign platforms; read their campaign literature; checked into their backgrounds; and sometimes consulted with other sources to see what they know.
We don't expect everyone to agree with our endorsements. That's why we welcome, and publish, responses from candidates who don't get our endorsement. That's what a newspaper is for — expressing different points of view.
But this year, we're also making some changes. Most of our editorial board interviews will be conducted in groups rather than individually. That's not only a more efficient format, it's more interesting.
We won't be endorsing in every Central Florida race. We've long avoided races like soil and water conservation districts, Depression-era bureaucracies that need stakes in their hearts. But this year we're focusing on primary races that we think are particularly competitive or particularly consequential.
Like the U.S. House race between Republicans
, and the Orange-Osceola state attorney race between Democrats Lawson Lamar and Jeff Ashton.
This year we're also bringing more transparency to the endorsement process. We're live-streaming all of our candidate interviews on OrlandoSentinel.com and recording them for website readers to view at their convenience. Everything is on the record and available to the public.
The interviews we've done so far can be found at OrlandoSentinel.com/opinion. And the first of our endorsements will be published next week.
If you have any questions about how endorsements work, or if you want to suggest questions for candidates, you can contact me at the phone number or email at the end of this column.
Newspaper endorsements should not be mysterious; they should be helpful and informative. And they should constitute only a portion of the information that voters arm themselves with before marking a ballot.