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Support the Underdogs

Issue of the Week

Aug. 16, 2016
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The results of last week’s primary elections were mixed. The most important and very contentious race was for Milwaukee County district attorney, and despite the significant amount of “dark money” in that race, John Chisholm won a decisive victory. However, those who support good and honest government had some disappointments in the state legislative races. Again, there was a lot of dark money from groups with anonymous donors and some pretty nasty and dishonest campaigns. The good-government candidates ended up in some “almost wins,” but a close loss is still a loss. Hopefully, many of the losing candidates will run again in two years.

After an election we always have some blogger types who view it all as a game and decide which newspapers and politicians were winners and losers based on the number of their endorsed candidates who won. We always have to smile at that and continue to explain that endorsements aren’t intended to show that you are good at picking the most winners. Picking winners is great if you plan to go to Las Vegas and try to get rich betting on elections. Also, it is not particularly hard to pick winners, since incumbents start with significant advantages.  

Endorsements aren’t about simply picking winners; they are about supporting and promoting those who are the most qualified, honest and willing to work hard for their constituency and for the good of their state. In other words, those who should be the winners. Doing honest endorsements requires a lot of resources to research the past work of incumbents and determine whether they are doing the right things, which are oftentimes not the easiest things to do. If an elected official does not have a strong moral compass, it is very easy to just “go along to get along” and cozy up to the special interests. It also requires a lot of time to research the challengers and what they have accomplished in their past and how that might translate into being an honest and effective elected official.

Then there are those who make endorsements to curry favor with the wealthy and powerful. Currying favor with the wealthy and powerful has never been the approach of the Shepherd Express in its 34-year history. Instead, the Shepherd has always taken the courageous and often very costly approach to speak truth to power and let the chips fall where they may. Honest endorsements often cause some serious discord among some entrenched and powerful special interests, which most people believe is why the Journal Sentinel has ducked making most endorsements. 

In this past election, we supported some very good challengers who we believe would have done a much better job than the incumbents they ran against. We are very proud of these candidates and proud that we had the opportunity to endorse them. In some cases we helped virtually unknown and totally underfunded candidates see their race become quite competitive. If one only supported the likely winner, be them corrupt, lazy or incompetent, one will end up contributing to corrupt government controlled by the special interests who work against the interests of the average hardworking citizens. So we encourage all of our readers to support the underdogs if they are good, honest, hardworking and competent even if you offend certain entrenched individuals. Otherwise those honest and competent challengers will never take on the uphill battle of challenging a lazy, corrupt incumbent. Our democracy is only as good as we make it.

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Rolling back Barack Obama’s reforms, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed federal prosecutors to seek the harshest sentences for drug offenses. Is it bad policy to fill the prison system with nonviolent offenders?

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