Wichita Eagle editorial endorsements: helpful, or not?


Yesterday’s primary election in Kansas provided a measure of the influence of the Wichita Eagle editorial board. Voters ignored many of its endorsements, indicating that the newspaper — its editorial side, at least — is increasingly out of touch with its readers.

Starting from the top, here’s how the Eagle endorsed and what the voters did. An endorsement is a recommendation to voters, and not intended to be a prediction of the outcome.

For the Republican Party nomination for United States Senate, the Eagle endorsed Jerry Moran. He won. For the Democratic Party side of this race, the Eagle picked Kansas Senator David Haley. He finished in third place.

For the Republican party nomination for United States Congress from the Kansas first district, the Eagle picked Kansas Senator Jim Barnett, noting his “balanced legislative record.” The Eagle dismissed challenger Kansas Senator Tim Huelskamp, calling him a “hard-right conservative with a hard edge.” This race was in a three-way tie in the last poll, but voters chose Huelskamp with 35 percent of the vote to Barnett’s 25 percent and Tracey Mann’s 21 percent.

(There is a pattern here. According to the Eagle editorial board, conservatives are “hard,” while liberals are portrayed as soft and cuddly — or “balanced” and “nuanced,” at least.)

For the Republican party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district, the Eagle chose Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf. This had the potential to be a close race, with some polls — her own, mostly — showing Schodorf in the lead. But the race turned out to be not close, with Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo gathering 39 percent of the vote to Schodorf’s 24 percent and Wichita businessman Wink Hartman‘s 23 percent.

On the Democratic side, the Eagle endorsed Kansas Representative Raj Goyle, and he won handily over a little-known and inexperienced challenger with no experience in elective office.

For the Republican party nomination for Kansas Governor, the Eagle endorsed Sam Brownback, whose only competition was from a candidate with some very peculiar beliefs. Brownback won handily.

For Kansas Secretary of State Democratic Party nomination, the Eagle backed appointed incumbent Chris Biggs over opponent Kansas Senator Chris Steineger, who the Eagle faintly praised for his “out-of-the-box thinking and independence.” Biggs won.

On the Republican side, the Eagle endorsed career bureaucrat Elizabeth Ensley over Kris Kobach. The Eagle — Rhonda Holman, mostly — has criticized Kobach steadily on the editorial page for his contention that voter fraud is a problem in Kansas. Voters overwhelmingly chose Kobach. He got 51 percent of the vote to Ensley’s 27 percent.

For Republican Party nomination for Attorney General, the Eagle chose Kansas Senator Derek Schmidt, and he won handily over the capable but little-known Ralph De Zago.

For Republican Party nomination for insurance commissioner, the Eagle chose incumbent Sandy Praeger, and she easily won.

Sedgwick County Commission voters ignored Eagle recommendations

In primary contests for Sedgwick County Commission, voters didn’t give much weight to Wichita Eagle endorsements.

In the contest for the Democratic Party nomination for District 1, Eagle-endorsed Betty Arnold won. She’ll face unopposed incumbent Dave Unruh in the general election in this heavily Republican district.

In District 4, two Republicans ran to replace Kelly Parks, who chose not to seek re-election. The Eagle endorsed Lucy Burtnett, who served two years in this position when she was appointed by the precinct committee system to replace Carolyn McGinn, who won election to the Kansas Senate. When Burtnett ran for election to that position in 2006, she did not win. Instead of backing the Republican primary winner, she ran a write-in campaign that had the potential to contribute to a possible Republican loss.

Despite her loss in 2006, the Eagle endorsed her over Richard Ranzau, praising her “thoughtful” voting record, which I — after looking at her past votes — characterized as thoughtless. Ranzau won with 55 percent of the vote to Burtnett’s 44 percent. She told the Wichita Eagle that she will not support Ranzau in the general election, which naturally leads to speculation as to whether she’ll run another write-in campaign.

For the Democratic party nomination for the position, the Eagle endorsed former Wichita city council member Sharon Fearey. From the council bench, Fearey had blasted the Eagle for uncovering problems with a real estate developer’s past dealings, blocking passage of a project she supported. Besides the editorial board endorsement, the Eagle also ran a last-minute news story embarrassing to her opponent, Kansas Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau. As of now, Faust-Goudeau has won by a margin of 60 votes out of 3,450 cast.

In District 5, the Eagle endorsed Chuck Warren in a three-way race for the Republican Party nomination. Wichita city council member Jim Skelton won with 42 percent of the vote to Warren’s 36 percent.

Kansas House of Representatives endorsements

In an open seat in the Kansas House of Representatives, the Eagle endorsed Jim Howell for the 82nd district, which is primarily the city of Derby. He won.

In the Republican party primary for Kansas House of Representatives district 83, parts of east Wichita, veteran legislator Jo Ann Pottorff faced a challenge from the right in recent college graduate Kyle Amos. Pottorff had to run a last-minute ad in the Eagle attempting to burnish her conservative credentials. She won with 53 percent of the vote. This qualifies as a squeaker.

In Kansas House of Representatives district 94, parts of west Wichita, the Eagle chose to endorse a challenger to incumbent Joe McLeland in the Republican primary. The Eagle criticized him as a “yes-man for GOP leadership and anti-tax think tanks” and said he “parroted misleading information about school budgets during the past session.” McLeland won with 63 percent of the vote. His two challengers received 22 percent and 16 percent.

In the Republican Party primary for Kansas House of Representatives district 96, parts of south Wichita, the Eagle endorsed first-term incumbent Phil Hermanson, and he won.

The Eagle recommended that voters chose incumbent Gail Finney in the Democratic Party primary for the 84th district, and she won by a large margin.

For election results from races in Sedgwick County, click on August 3rd, 2010 Primary Election Unofficial Results — Sedgwick County. For statewide races and other races, click on 2010 unofficial primary election results at Kansas Secretary of State.


7 responses to “Wichita Eagle editorial endorsements: helpful, or not?”

  1. Anonymous

    Sometimes who the Eagle DOESN’T endorse is the better person to vote for.

    The Eagle seems to only endorse a Conservative candidate if that candidate looks likely to win by a wide margin anyway. After all, the Eagle has to look like it has a few Conservatives picked, or people might stop reading entirely.

  2. Anonymous

    Sorry, but it looks like voters followed more of the Eagle’s recommendations than ignored them.

    In State HOR endorsements, voters chose 4 of the 5 candidates endorsed by the Eagle.

    In County Commissioner races, voters chose 1 of the 3 candidates endorsed by the Eagle, with a fourth still possibly falling in the “too close to call” category.

    In statewide/Congressional races, voters chose 6 of the 10 candidates endorsed by the Eagle.

    That’s 11 out of 19, at worst, or 58 percent. And without any past track record or data of Eagle endorsements to compare to this year’s picks, it’s outright silly to suggest that the newspaper is out of touch with its readers. Especially since the electorate agreed with the Eagle’s endorsements in a majority of the races.

  3. Wichitator

    When the eagle endorses an almost unopposed Brownback, or similar primary candidates, it is hardly a tough call. In the tough calls, the eagle went with the conventional wisdom that Fearey, Burtnett, and Warren were all the top county commission candidates. They lost all of these.

    In local races, the eagle endorsement has more clout. It sure didn’t show for Jean Schodorf or the county commission candidates listed above. Joe McLeland barely worked up a sweat in getting his 60 some percent too.

  4. Eisenhower Republican

    **Yesterday’s primary election in Kansas provided a measure of the influence of the Wichita Eagle editorial board. Voters ignored many of its endorsements, indicating that the newspaper — its editorial side, at least — is increasingly out of touch with its readers.**

    I didn’t know the job of the newspaper was to be in touch, (think the same as), with the people!

  5. Anonymous

    How the h*ll did Praeger win!?!?! She never spoke anywhere, saw anyone or did any campaigning. Oh that’s right, she spent $200,000 in the last two weeks on TV and the Republican party (and blogger’s) would give Mr. Powell the time of day.

  6. bman

    Eagle doesn’t distribute west of wichita so who cares.

  7. sue c.

    Interesting, Bob.

    Now that the Primary is over, it is interesting to see the “love” that the Eagle has for Goyle. Expect A LOT of LOVE for the democrat with puff pieces on Raj and hit-pieces on Pompeo. (And Kobach, and Brownback too!)

    Actually, it started months ago…

    As their falling subscription shows, people don’t really trust or like their opinions. Which they camouflage and try to call “journalism.” Ha. Fortunately we are on to their alliance with the Democrat party.

    Truly, they should be filing FEC reports for campaign financing.

    Do you think Dion was on Journolist? Just asking…

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