Reporter

Silly me.

I wonder about the effectiveness of political endorsements.

I don't know of anyone who changed their mind about a candidate on the basis of an endorsement. Do you?

We typically agree or disagree but we rarely change our mind. At least, that's my take.

Nationally, endorsements offer few surprises. Republicans endorse Republicans. Democrats endorse Democrats. Business organizations endorse Republicans. Unions endorse Democrats. Yada, yada, yada.

Local endorsements are far more interesting but again, rarely change anyone's mind. And they can have unintended consequences on undecided voters.

I have mentioned in the past the experience of a friend of mine who read that so-and-so was endorsing a particular candidate. "I would never vote for someone he endorses," said my friend.

We laughed and decided we had just invented a new term -- "reverse endorsement" -- or maybe a better term would be "boomerang endorsement" -- an endorsement that reversed course and hurt the candidate.

Years ago, I was invited to an "endorsement party" given by a local political candidate. When I arrived, I saw several card tables set up in a room with three or four people sitting at each table with pen and paper in front of them.

Their task: Writing letters to the editor in support of the candidate. Each was given a specific a subject to write about -- a reason for supporting the candidate.

By the time everyone was done, 15 to 20 letters had been written, all seemingly heartfelt endorsements of the candidate, extolling his virtues and why he should be elected.

The next step in the process was to arrange to have the letters mailed in intervals instead of all at once. Because, gee, if they all arrived at once, it might look like a combined effort instead of individual expressions of devotion.

At a 2003 forum prior to a Mason City mayoral election, 10 candidates took part. The event resulted in an endorsement that surprised everyone in the room.

John Jaszewski, a Fourth Ward candidate this year, was one of the mayoral candidates that year. Each of the candidates answered a series of questions and then was given a chance to make a final statement. And one of the candidates said, "I've listened to everybody here tonight, and I'm endorsing John Jaszewski."

This year, Jaszewski is running against Matt Marquardt in the Fourth Ward council race, which reminds me of this final quirk involving endorsements. Four years ago, when Marquardt ran unsuccessfully for the Fourth Ward seat, Jaszewski endorsed him. What a difference four years can make.

Indeed, politics makes strange bedfellows.

All of this is why some endorsements baffle me, some amuse me, but none sway me.

Silly me. 

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