Among the more interesting not-so-behind-the-scenes activities that take place after a Primary election is the “endorsement process.”
Candidates love endorsements. It’s a great way for a campaign to say “see, you don’t have to take our word for it, our guy is the best!”
Campaigns that are very well-organized and have effective outreach will publish long lists of citizens in large advertising displays, all pledging their vote to the candidate. Whether this display influences undecided voters is hard to assess. But for a well-heeled campaign with resources to spare, all other things being equal, the effort helps mobilize and motivate supporters and blunt any attacks on the candidate.
Indeed, for a candidate trying to overcome a negative attack on character, a very, very long list of supporters printed in the newspaper can be an effective way to cast doubt on the veracity of the attacks, if the issues are in any doubt.
But the Key Endorsements are ‘way more fun to think about.
Key Endorsers can be those citizens whose reputation for probity and integrity is so great their endorsement carries with it something of a “seal of approval.” It is an interesting exercise to try and come up with a list of such persons in Calaveras County. Don Cuneo and a few others come to mind, but their ranks are thin. A sign of the times, perhaps.
The other Key Endorsers are the so-called “losing” candidates in Primary elections.
At some point after the votes are counted, these candidates who did not get enough votes to move on to the General Election often find themselves very popular with the very same people who not days before were questioning, at the very least, their fitness for office.
Here again it is hard to assess whether these kinds of endorsements really are effective in moving undecided voters, but situations can differ. Here, in the elections for Supervisor and Sheriff, these endorsements could play an important role in determining the outcome in the General Election.
For example, in Calaveras County’s Third Supervisorial District Primary, there were three candidates, and the candidate who came in third (barely), Ed Langan, could, in theory, either breathe needed energy into the candidacy of incumbent Michael Oliveira, who came in a rather distant second, or settle the matter entirely by endorsing Merita Callaway, who came within a few points of 50% and avoiding a run-off altogether.
The politics of the situation being what they are, Langan is unlikely to endorse Merita, and judging from his campaign narrative, unlikely sanguine about the prospects of Merita’s return to the Big Chair in San Andreas. But if Langan, for whatever reason, doesn’t publicly endorse Oliveira, that is a real blow to Oliveira and maybe even the best-case scenario for Merita, who might be hard-pressed to explain a Langan endorsement of her campaign to her base supporters.
After a spirited campaign between Langan and Olivieria, it is natural that it has taken some time for feelings to return to normal and for reasoned analysis to resume. For Oliveira or his people, it is, or should be, obvious that it is hard to see a path to victory without virtually all of the Langan vote, and it isn’t clear that Oliveira can win them over on his own. Unless Langan is fine with the prospect of the Return of Supervisor Callaway, he needs to make up his mind sooner rather than later about endorsing the incumbent.
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