Tahlequah Daily Press


October 31, 2012

Endorsements can backfire

TAHLEQUAH — When candidates for political office used to solicit campaign support from the late Sen. Gene Stipe, Oklahoma’s longest-tenured office-holder used to quip: “I can be for you or against you, whichever will help.”

Stipe was a polarizing figure: Folks either loved him or hated him. Many of his constituents in the McAlester area liked him because he protected their jobs and snared cushy project for that region. His opponents distrusted him, and perhaps for good reason: In 2003, he pleaded guilty to federal perjury and conspiracy charges, and later, he was indicted on charges of mail fraud, witness tampering, money laundering and conspiracy.

But Stipe’s point about politics is well-taken: Sometimes the lack of endorsement is more helpful than open support, and sometimes, an endorsement can be the kiss of death.

The Daily Press has suggested candidate choices only on rare occasions. For instance, we endorsed the late Wilma Mankiller when she formally ran for Cherokee Nation principal chief, after assuming the office upon Ross Swimmer’s mid-term departure. Since then, we’ve avoided supporting specific candidates.

It’s not because individuals who work here don’t have favorites; we do. But the employment roster has always come with a diverse cross-section of opinions, and in many races, it would be virtually impossible to land on a candidate that would make all – or even most – of us happy. And though larger metro newspapers can readily work around that problem, it’s not quite so simple for community newspapers. While duties are partitioned at metro papers, employees at small papers wear many hats, and lines often become blurred. We all have to get along.

We’ve noticed another peculiarity about Cherokee County voters: While they sometimes don’t mind being told how to vote on issues, they don’t like being told whom to vote for. In an area when relationships and kinships are complex and intertwined, choosing one person over another can do more harm than good. The last time the Press published picks for every office during an election was in the mid-1980s, and it backfired; only one of the paper’s selected candidates won his race. Later, some readers told us they suspected the endorsements were based on what was good for the paper rather than the community. Some even wondered if candidates had “paid” for the endorsements in some way. They hadn’t, but that type of mindset is difficult to change.

A few readers still believe when we publish a syndicated column that praises or lambastes a candidate, the columnist’s opinion reflects that of the newspaper itself. The same issues arise over editorial page cartoons. So from time to time, it’s necessary to remind readers that the Press doesn’t necessarily agree with the opinions expressed in these cartoons or columns – sometimes even columns written by our own staff members. But we try to present a cross-section of views to appeal to all readers. When the opinion expressed is that of the Daily Press as a newspaper – rather than that of a syndicated columnist, or a writer on our staff – it will appear without a byline or standing head, as per long-standing tradition of the industry as a whole. What you are reading at this moment, then, is “our opinion.”

Despite our policy, every time an election rolls around, candidates or their staffers pressure us for endorsements. When we decline, some respond curtly; occasionally, they subtly imply they’ll “remember” our neutrality after they’re in office – and they don’t mean that in a good way.

Though we always reserve the right to take a stand, we believe that in general, the believe the best way to handle elections is to let readers know the candidates’ platforms and their history both in and out of the public eye. Armed with that information, voters can make informed decisions at the ballot box. Alternatively, they can simply vote for their neighbors or relatives – but nothing a newspaper can do or say will stop that from happening.

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  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

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    April 16, 2014

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    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014

  • It’s time to turn in your candidate announcements

    If you are running for a political office for which Cherokee County voters can cast ballots, it’s time to turn in your announcement. We’ve already run a few, and expect several more. The primary elections are Tuesday, June 24, with the registration period to vote in this election closing Thursday, May 30.

    March 24, 2014

  • Mom responsible for watching kid; restaurant’s not

    If you allowed your child to drink a bottle of drain cleaner, would you feign surprise when he fell to the floor, twitching and foaming at the mouth? If you left your curling iron within reach of your baby and she pulled it off the vanity and burned her hand, would you plan revenge on the store that sold you the appliance?
    You just might, if you’re among the litigious Americans who have abdicated parental responsibility to either sloth or the hope of a better tomorrow through a cash settlement.

    March 19, 2014


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
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