Each candidate worthy of 148th House seat

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Newspaper political endorsements have become a dinosaur in our industry with the exceptions of metro papers who always seem to base endorsements along party lines and those party lines are usually Democratic endorsements.

Long ago, when I first started writing this column, I handed out endorsements like candy. I never really knew if they had any impact, much less motivated or swayed any voters.

But endorsements were what papers did.

The truth is that -- like you -- I know next to nothing about most candidates seeking statewide office. And to simply endorse the candidate who had dropped by my office or I recognize from television commercials is probably a disservice.

Come November, when you have a choice statewide along true issues and policies, that is a different story.

So endorsements by newspapers really come down to local races.

But even there, to choose one candidate over another is often based on something other that differences on issues or positions on policy.

The hotly-contested primary races for the 148th House seat being vacated by Ellen Brandom is the one contest that has captured our attention. It is also the battle that will bring many of us to the polls on Tuesday.

I have wrestled with the issue of endorsements for this race since the candidates were first announced.

I know each of the four candidates running on the Democrat and Republican primary ballot. Some I know better than others. But I do know that each is qualified, dedicated and focused on providing representation for the residents of their district.

Taken separately each offers something of value.

Josh Bill on the Republican House ballot is unquestionably the most qualified of anyone seeking office. His experience and proven track record is something that is rarely if ever available in a community our size.

But Holly Rehder, also seeking the GOP nod, has surrounded herself with a whole host of supporters and donors whom I respect. Holly got into the race early and was able to assemble a team of supporters who care deeply about our community. I count many of her supporters among my close friends and I value their wisdom.

On the Democratic ballot are Mike Marsh and Bart Ziegenhorn -- both first-time candidates.

Mike brings a lifetime of community service that is simply admirable. His tireless devotion to his community would obviously serve us well in Jefferson City.

But Bart Ziegenhorn offers the promise of enthusiasm and curiosity that is often the key to political success. His fresh approach and his willingness to seek the advice and counsel of others is what is so sorely lacking in the world of politics.

Four candidates seeking two party nominations. And all have value, merit and worth.

On the State Senate race, obviously we know Ellen Brandom much better because she has represented Sikeston for a number of years. Because of that background, we're biased in her direction for this seat.

And on the Congressional race, it's hard to vote against Jo Ann Emerson. Her seniority alone gives her a substantial edge in our book.

So take this as an endorsement of any of these hopefuls. The impressive point this year is that we can't really go wrong with such a group of dedicated candidates.

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