Over the coming week, The Sun News editorial board will be sharing our analyses, and our recommendations, of the candidates running for local, state and federal offices in the Nov. 6 election.
We do not call these pieces “endorsements;” nor do we think of them as such. An endorsement, in our view, is an exhortation that you vote for a particular candidate, and that’s not what we’re doing.
We simply want you to have as much information about these races as possible as you go to the polls. In these pieces, we will describe our impressions and critiques of these candidates in a way that the journalists who write in our news pages will not. (Rest assured, as always, that the two functions of newsgathering and opinion writing are separate at The Sun News.)
The most important of these, frankly, will not be our thoughts on the race for president or even our next congressman, though we will weigh in on those contests. Voters interested in those high-profile races have had no lack of news and opinions about the candidates and most likely have already long ago settled in their minds who they support. The thoughts of the newspaper’s editorial board are unlikely to change any minds or even offer perspectives that aren’t available in many other outlets already.
No, the most important of our recommendations will be on the races farther down the ticket, in contests for county council and state legislative seats. The winners of these local races will be making the decisions that most directly impact your life. And yet they are often the ones which voters know the least about. We’ve had the opportunity to meet most of these candidates in person, often more than once, allowing us to discuss issues of importance to the Grand Strand in detail.
Thus, our analysis represents an independent, local and up-close perspective. Our board forms its opinion through interviews with the candidates, their comments at public appearances, research on their positions, and discussions with others in their fields, then comes to a consensus on the state of the race.
What do we look for in a candidate?
First, two important character traits – honesty, followed by intelligence. Far worse than a bad decision, in our opinion, is a dishonest one, so we do our best to judge each candidate’s integrity. We also believe the act of governing involves questions whose answers are not found in any ideological playbook, and so we look for an ability to think independently.
Second, qualification for office and understanding of its duties and abilities. Though many voters continue to seem to view political experience as a negative, we still believe that the job of governing well has a steep learning curve, and that experience in it is as crucial as in any job. Every election inevitably features wide-eyed candidates hoping to change the world, and a definite understanding of the role and limitations of the office they are seeking is just as important as the candidate’s ambitions.
Only third do we consider how a candidate lines up with our own political beliefs. As we described in our goals at the beginning of the year, The Sun News editorial board seeks primarily to promote openness and accountability in government, bipartisanship and civility in the midst of seemingly unending partisan mudslinging, and reforming and rebuilding the government systems that have been weakened or been revealed as ineffective in the economic meltdown of recent years. But we have no political litmus test, and you will see us recommend candidates this season whom we disagree with on the issues but who stand out based on their other qualities.
In the end, however, we are not attempting to tell you how to vote, nor asking you to support the candidates we name. Instead, with our opportunity to examine these candidates up close, we are simply offering you our thinking as one way to help refine yours.
If reading our recommendations leads you in the end to different conclusions, so much the better: We’re genuinely happy to have helped.