Opinion

Campaign Trails and the Power of Political Endorsements

Campaign season is moving forward full steam ahead, with many states having already held primaries. Those that haven’t will in the next several weeks.  Every campaign comes with a plethora of money, questionnaires, stump speeches, and politicians deciding to suddenly be active at a time when they have to look like they are doing their job before the election.

The other thing that begins in just about every race is public, private, and political endorsements.  These take on the shape and form of letters and campaign contributions, and they have a substantial influence over political parties.  Political endorsements serve the purpose of informing a target audience, group, or organization that a candidate fits the bill of what the organization’s beliefs or values are, along with the ability to allocate resources to the benefit of the candidate.

Before we go much further, I absolutely despise the idea of endorsements before a primary election where there is more than one person vying for a seat (fortunately I have no primary opponent and can write this piece).  Unfortunately, all too often we see county, state, and national political parties taking sides on one of the challengers.

Campaign signs touting candidates with Irish, Italian, Korean, and Puerto Rican surnames compete for voters’ attention outside the polling place at the Mary Curley School on Centre Street in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Chris Hartman)

We are seeing this currently in Ohio, where the Ohio Republican Party has endorsed the failure of an Attorney General, Mike DeWine, over Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor (also not that great of a candidate). DeWine has significant political capital in the Republican Party and is a lifelong politician.  Taylor has been in politics for the last 20 years and has had a mostly insignificant run as the number two executive in Ohio.  Being endorsed by the state party has opened significant resources to DeWine that Taylor has had to contend with and fight against.  We all know that money talks in politics, and in this case, it has created a significantly unlevel playing field.

(Credit: Facebook/Garbage of DC)

Political party organizations that endorse candidates, whether that be a county, state, or national party, are typically a committee or group of people in a room making a choice that will influence the votes of tens of thousands of voters.  Money, advertising, yard signs, and party support are all benefits of being the endorsed candidate.  They are touted as “endorsed by …” to which voters will take at face value, believing that the candidate is superior to the other candidates.  However, this isn’t necessarily true.  Many times, the endorsed candidate is endorsed because of significant political capital, which in politics is oftentimes all about who you know.

The issue I take with this whole situation is that primary elections are endorsements.  They allow voters to pick their candidate outright for the general election.  When political parties endorse one of their party’s candidates over the other it creates an unfair playing field, regardless of the caliber of those on the ballot.

In 2016 we saw it first-hand in the presidential elections, and we are seeing it happen again across the country and here in Ohio.  Forcing a candidate down the throats of voters does nothing to serve the public interest and does everything to serve the interests of those in power.

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Shannon McGee)

We need to let politics run its course.  Candidates need to win voters over, not a committee that meets behind closed doors.  If we want voters to stop feeling disenfranchised by partisan politics, then political parties need to endorse the candidate that THE VOTERS have endorsed at the ballot box.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Joe Helle

Joe Helle is the mayor of Oak Harbor, Ohio and an Army Infantry Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom '06-'07 and Operation Enduring Freedom '09. He is also a candidate for 89th House District State Representative.

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