We've had our say — and readers have had theirs, too

On Aug. 21, members of the Post-Bulletin editorial board sat down with Rep. Tina Liebling in a conference room at the Post-Bulletin. On the table was a scripted list of questions, a digital recording device, plenty of notebooks and some cold drinks. This was our first endorsement interview in the 2012 campaign season.

For the next nine weeks, our days were filled with similar interviews, as a total of 61 candidates for school board, county board, city council, the Minnesota Legislature and Congress took their turn on our "hot seat." (Yes, one race included a third-party candidate.)

Other than Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, all but one candidate we contacted agreed to meet with us (and that one holdout did chat with us via conference call). Some were nervous, and a few were caught off-guard by some of our questions, but the vast majority were poised, informed and eager to serve.

Once we'd interviewed both candidates for a particular seat, using identical questions for each, we'd have a closed-door discussion to decide who would receive the Post-Bulletin's endorsement. Some of those decisions were easy, and others required lengthy debate and even an occasional resolution to "sleep on it and reconvene in the morning."

In one case we made our decision, then listened to the taped interviews one more time and decided to reverse course.


We take this process very seriously, and we hope that's reflected in the endorsements we've published in the past seven weeks. Our goal in those editorials isn't to influence the decision that voters make; rather, we try offer our assessment of each candidates strengths and weaknesses — with an emphasis on their strengths, even for those who don't get our endorsement. It's safe to assume that the people we endorse are happy with what we write, but we also strive to ensure that all candidates read our decisions and say "Well, at least they were fair and listened to what I had to say."

Of course, publishing political endorsements opens the door for those who would accuse the Post-Bulletin of having a political bias. We don't set out to make the numbers add up a certain way, but when all was said and done we'd endorsed seven Republicans and seven DFLers in Minnesota legislative races. We weighed in on two U.S. House races, endorsing one Republican and one Democrat.

Yes, we endorsed Democrats for the U.S. Senate and the presidency. The latter was a tough call, but we stand by it.

Meanwhile, we gave readers ample opportunity to speak out. The Post-Bulletin has published 399 campaign-related letters to the editor since Aug. 17, each by a different writer. To put that in visual terms, picture a 20-page newspaper, with every inch of it filled with letters to the editor.

Space constraints kept us from publishing every letter we received, but we've made every effort to publish as many as possible, which has meant that you've seen far fewer syndicated columns on our Opinions and Commentary pages during the past month or so. Our local columnists, too, have been asked to take break from writing, and Publisher Randy Chapman also put his weekly "Publisher's Pick" column on hold to make room for letters from our readers.

We've had our say, and hopefully you've had yours. Now, all that's left is for all of us to make our voices heard on Tuesday.

Get out and vote.


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