Sunday, January 31, 2016

An (almost certain) endorsement -- and a cautionary tale about endorsements generally

It was supposed to be a simple story -- and illustrated, too: Judge Anna Loftus, candidate for the "A" vacancy in the 6th Subcircuit, had announced the endorsement of Congressman Luis Gutierrez:

Before running the story, though, I just wanted to close the loop -- to confirm that Cong. Gutierrez had indeed endorsed Judge Loftus. That's what journalists are supposed to do -- and, while I'm a blogger, not a real journalist, not according to those who occasionally propose licensing journalists in order to 'protect' the press, I do my best to try and uphold standards.

Sometimes, with endorsements, this is easy: When the Chicago Federation of Labor announced its judicial endorsements, it posted a list on line. When I did my post about the CFL endorsements, I could link to the page of the CFL website from which the entire endorsement list could be accessed.

But in this case, verification was not quite so easy: Congressman Gutierrez understandably has many other concerns besides endorsements in local judicial races; it was entirely unsurprising that the Congressman's website did not have a corresponding press release touting the endorsement.

I called the Congressman's local office to seek confirmation. I was directed to call the Washington office instead. I called. I spoke with two gentlemen there, explaining what I was after. I was given an email address and instructed to make my query in that way. I did.

This is the response I received:
Congressman Gutierrez has not yet made an endorsement in this race, but expects to by the end of February. Thanks.
I went back to Judge Loftus's campaign manager with this news. He assured me, in an email, that this must be a "miscommunication." He and the candidate and the Congressman "all had dinner and a photoshoot yesterday." The Congressman's "political director is Roberto Caldero," he added, "I'll have him contact you."

That was Wednesday evening; it's Sunday evening now and I never did hear from Mr. Caldero.

Still, I'm pretty certain that Cong. Gutierrez endorsed Judge Loftus. But my difficulties in seeking confirmation in this case provide a specific illustration of a larger problem I've had with candidate endorsements: Some people or organizations seem to like making endorsements -- but don't really want anyone to find out about them, or how many there are.

One time -- and I won't mention which union was involved, but if you're thinking hooks and ladders you won't be far wrong -- I was bombarded with requests from increasingly put-out candidates who wanted me to announce their endorsements. I refused until I was able to get a list of all the endorsements made by this particular union.

When I finally got hold of the complete list, it turned out that the union had 'recommended' multiple candidates in many of the races -- in one race 'recommending' three of the six candidates. I'm not at all certain how that kind of hedging would be helpful to either the candidates or the voters.

Sometimes it seems that persons or organizations make endorsements as quietly as possible, as if they didn't want anyone to know they'd taken sides. I'm not entirely certain why the concept of plausible deniability should have any application in political endorsements... but it sure seems like some endorsers think so.

So I am, and will continue to remain, wary about publishing endorsements. To candidates, I can only say get it in writing. If the organization or person endorses multiple candidates, get a list, and get it to me.


Anonymous said...

Jack, you called the wrong office. You should have called State Rep. Luis Arroyo or fellow candidate Carlos Claudio. I bet THEY know who the Congressman better endorse.

Anonymous said...

I am not the least bit surprised by this revelation. Luis, as many know, suffers from a grave malady that affects the memory of a number of local politicians.

The clinical name for this is "Maragos Dementia," and according to the CDC its prevalence in the Cook County area is quite alarming. The malady was recently added to the new addition of the DSM-V, which states:

"The defining characteristic is an inability to recall endorsements that should be readily remembered. This illness differs from Preckwinkle Personality Disorder, Schakowsky Syndrome and Barrett's Forked Tongue which are all affected by financial reward and time of onset in relation to the primary. Maragos Dementia is more akin to Dawson's Delirium, in that patent misrepresentations are made without regard to moral or ethical conventions or the feelings of the endorsee. (Dawson's Delirium now incorporates Obstructive Shill Disorder and Emerald Isle Shill Dysmorphia in the 5th Edition of the DSM).

Many politicians with this disorder are chronically impaired in their ability to form and sustain satisfactory, lasting relationships, yet they will continue to send fundraiser invitations for many years after the relationship has been severed without shame.

Some episodes resolve spontaneously (e.g., after a call from Speaker Madigan)."

(See also, Berrios Nervosa; Slating Catatonia, 10th Subcircuit variant; and Arroyo Depersonalization Disorder).