Many people over the years have asked us why we recommend candidates. Some like it and some don’t. Of course, there’s many organizations that make recommendations or endorsements. In this column I’ll explain our reasons and the process.
This week the Sun‘s editorial board completed its long list of candidates to interview for the 2020 election. It takes a significant amount of time for the board to schedule and interview every candidate in Charlotte and Sarasota counties. The interviews include candidates from our local cities, the state and national districts.
The editorial board splits up the workload to the members who regularly cover a city or county. We want to make sure the interviewing members are the most informed with the issues a city, county or district are facing.
Each interview with a political candidate takes about an hour. We get any background information on them that we may not have. Then we take a deep dive into the issues and where they stand on those issues. We ask the candidates for their priorities if they win the election. We often ask the candidate to explain why they would be better than their opponent(s).
During most interviews, a reporter is in the room with the editorial board to write a story on the candidate. It’s an easy way for us to take care of two things at once and save the candidates some time. Each candidate is informed that at any point during the interview, they can ask to be off the record. Very few have requested something to be off the record. It’s usually requested to talk in more detail about their opponent or something personal.
When the editorial board finishes its interview with all the candidates in a particular race, we meet to discuss the candidates. In some cases, we’ve interviewed the candidates in the past. If the candidate is the incumbent, it’s likely that we’ve had many interactions with the candidate. But, sometimes it’s someone we’ve never met. We tend to take some extra time when interviewing a new candidate.
After the editorial board finishes the discussions on the candidates, we then discuss making a recommendation. Sometimes we recommend a candidate. We might decide to make no recommendation. In some cases, we’ve pointed out that there are two good candidates and the voters are fortunate to have an excellent choice. It doesn’t happen very often, but we may not like either candidate. We could make no recommendation for that reason.
The Sun‘s editorial board specifically calls our selections a recommendation instead of an endorsement. An endorsement is defined as, an act of giving one’s public approval or support to someone or something. We decided years ago that we may not agree with everything a candidate does or their issues, so we felt a recommendation is a better description.
This process is managed by the Sun‘s editorial board, which manages the newspaper’s opinion section. Our recommendations are opinions after our own in-depth analysis. We strongly encourage voters to engage with the candidates and do their own research. We check every candidate’s website and social media pages before we meet with them. We look at any town halls or debates that they’ve participated in. We also look closely at who is donating to their campaigns.
This year is very challenging for voters and candidates with few public forums for voters and candidates to interact. Some candidates might enjoy flying under the radar during this unusual political year.
Today I wanted to assure the readers that the Sun‘s editorial board takes its recommendation process very seriously. It’s a process where all the members leave their own personal politics at the door. We look for the very best candidate for the office they’re seeking. We want the very best leaders for our communities.
The Daily Sun and Venice Gondolier Sun will be publishing an editorial recap of our recommendations on Saturday, Oct. 31, in the Venice Gondolier and Sunday and Monday, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 in The Daily Sun.
Please make sure you vote.