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bob maginnis 10/29/00

October 27, 2000

Why Herald-Mail endorses candidates

See also: Election Endorsements 10/29


Since we don't do it every day, or even every week, it's probably a good idea to explain why The Herald-Mail endorses candidates for election.

It's not because the editors feel they're all-wise or all-knowing. But it's part of a newspaper's job to watch elected officials perform in office and listen to their claims and promises on the campaign trail. On local races, that's what we've done, and we offer our endorsements as an opinion only. We don't insist that they're the only ones, but we do believe they're educated opinions. Since we don't cover the national campaigns, or meet with those candidates, we have no special insight into those campaigns and so do not endorse in those races.

Our opinions are formed by reviewing news coverage of the candidates' performance in office, their statements on the campaign trail and meeting with them personally, in one-on-one interviews and watching them during political forums sponsored by groups like the League of Women Voters. In this election cycle we've also been able to take advantage of the Internet to look at candidates' web sites as well.

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Over time, a clear picture begins to emerge. A candidate who gets irritated by simple questions may not have the patience to deal with the public or what is all too often the slow progress of government. A candidate who is very good at identifying problems may have little or nothing to say about solutions.

In the past, candidates have criticized The Herald-Mail for releasing endorsements too close to the election, in what they felt was an attempt to have "the last word" on the matter. For that reason, we're endorsing candidates today, to give those who are not endorsed a chance to offer a rebuttal.

Because space and time are limited, preference in those rebuttals will be given to the candidates themselves, as opposed to their supporters. We ask that the candidates submit rebuttals of no more than 300 words, which, in our experience, is about as much as readers will tolerate.

Those can be hand-delivered to The Herald-Mail, located at 100 Summit Ave. in downtown Hagerstown, faxed to (301) 714-0245 or e-mailed to opinion@herald-mail.com.

As always, we'll need a name, address and day-time phone number to verify anything that's confusing. Thanks.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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