Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Charleston Gazette Endorsements Need a Little Perspective

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who is running for the Senate, greets a World War II veteran during an award reception at the Moose Lodge in Keyser, W.Va. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, left,  is running for the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Stop the presses!

The Charleston Gazette, West Virginia’s largest newspaper, has endorsed both Democratic Senate hopeful Natalie Tennant and Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, a Democrat in the 3rd District.

Tennant will face Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., in November in an open-seat contest, while Rahall will face Evan Jenkins, a former Democrat who switched parties to run against the 19-term congressman.

Tennant’s campaign was ecstatic about the endorsement, quoting from it extensively in a recent press release.

But I’ve written before (here and here) about how little value endorsements have in high-profile contests (Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama couldn’t help him carry the state in the 2008 Massachusetts Democratic presidential primary) and the Gazette endorsement is particularly irrelevant.

Why? Because the Charleston Gazette is increasingly out of step with West Virginia’s politics.

The newspaper endorsed Barack Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential contests. As you may recall, Obama drew just 42.6 percent of the vote in the Mountain State in 2008. Four years later, he drew only 35.5 percent of the vote statewide, handing Republican Mitt Romney a 27-point victory in the state. The newspaper endorsed John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000, as well. Republican George W. Bush carried the state both times.

Interestingly, the newspaper refused to endorse Sen. Joe Manchin III in the 2012 Democratic Senate primary because it believed the moderate Democrat had strayed too far from some of his party’s “core values.”  He won renomination easily and re-election in the fall by more than 20 points. The newspaper did endorse Manchin in the general election.

In the 2012 congressional race in the 2nd District, which includes Charleston, the Gazette endorsed Democrat Howard Swint over Capito, the incumbent. According to his Nov. 26, 2012, FEC report, Swint raised a grand total of $6,924 for that race and drew 30.2 percent of the vote against the Republican.

There is nothing wrong with the Gazette endorsing Democrats or liberals, of course. Unfortunately, many media outlets still think they ought to tell voters who they should support. But the Gazette’s endorsements are both predictable and meaningless. They obviously carry little or no weight. If anything, they give Tennant’s and Rahall’s opponents a bit more political ammunition.

  • Don Surber

    Thank you, Mister Rothenberg. You made my day. — Don Surber. Editorial writer. Charleston Daily Mail.

  • JMH21

    Actually what Mr. Rothenberg pointed out, correctly, is that editorial boards around the country seem to believe that they are more enlightened than the readers they supposedly serve. The is behavior of many liberals who treat middle American with contempt. How many times have we heard they referred to as “fly over states” between the intellectuals on the coasts.

    • wdb

      There are plenty of editorial boards which endorse Republicans, too. Newspapers are entitled to their stances; I don’t really agree with Rothenberg that it’s “unfortunate”. But I do agree that the endorsement of a paper known to be liberal probably won’t sway conservative West Virginia voters.

  • Osaka Williams

    Although democracy may be confused with liberty, the majority opinion of a democracy may be opposed to liberty, as 1930s Germany proved.

  • Traid Domon

    Do you realize you really can make
    $2000 per week trading? I would have never believed it until I saw it for
    myself or I started doing it. And that’s exactly what happened to me because
    now I’m making that much money. You just need to know the right place to learn
    and where I went to is a website called Traders Superstore, you should be able
    to find them on Google or just search for them. Their support is the best I’ve
    ever seen on any website before and they helped me to learn to trade, and it
    was nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be.

  • Dave Rao

    If anyone or anything is irrelevant in West Virginia, it’s Mr.Rothenberg’s naivete of our politics. Everyone, especially Mr. Surber [see above] concedes the Gazzette is left and the other newspaper, The Daily Mail, is right. Then, there are a smattering of local papers, all right. Radio, with the exception of NPR and FBY are right and mostly owned by John Raese. Nobody can call any of the races here this early, including me, but if Jay Rockefeller is starting to write quarter million dollar checks this early, it will be an excellent year for the Democrats and the media producers. A fifty million dollar cycle..a record. 2016 will double it.

    Come to West Virginia, Stuart, I’ll show you around. I know everybody.

  • Kat Saved

    Standing against the injustice of plunder in no way implies that one regards advancement of the less fortunate as an unworthy cause.

  • Jay Va

    As we are seeing more today, nefarious quacks have begun to argue that there is no need to limit the power of government officials because they have been chosen through democratic processes.

  • John Kenner

    If liberty did not reveal that certain decisions lead to better results than others, then much of the argument for liberty would disappear.

  • rclay36

    Gazette is nothing more than an Liberal Rag that caters to the Democrat party.
    That is way it is a dying paper. It is if they have totally ignored the rise of
    the Republican party in this state. Or maybe they have and are doubling down
    literally in support of the DNC.

    Best Rick Clay

  • West Side

    Sounds like the New York Times endorsements: Out of step, predictable, and meaningless.

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