Primary elections are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election. They are common in the United States, where their origins are traced to the progressive movement with its emphasis on ridding the political process of corruption.  Party primaries may have only one candidate per party, or a number of candidates may enter the fray, setting up a contested primary election, which, in turn, may raise the issue of maintaining party neutrality.  That neutrality can be breached when a party moves to make a pre-primary endorsement.

Pre-primary endorsements can be one of two types: an endorsement of a candidate by an individual or an endorsement of a candidate by a political party.  When we throw out the phrase “all politics is local”, nowhere is that more true than in the area of candidate endorsements by a political party before a primary.  The closer the race and the candidates are to the locality in which the election has a direct impact, the more volatile an endorsement can be.

All political endorsements come with baggage, but none more so than a pre-primary endorsement at the local level. We generally expect pre-primary endorsements at the national level – witness those lining up behind their respective candidates in the Republican primary – and even at the state level, although that can have its perils as well.  But taking a pre-primary position at the local level where candidates are personally known can divide party members, trigger issues of favoritism, and lead to a bad taste about politics, in general.

If a primary has more than one contender, then an endorsement is not wise.  While the selected candidate may disagree with that position,  those on the outside – not endorsed – will feel shut out and disenchanted with the political process.  A pre-primary endorsement sets the stage for a division in the party – perhaps not as  to whom should be selected but as to the very core of the party’s philosophy of fairness and inclusiveness.

Since I am a Democrat and darned proud of it, I will state I am speaking about my party.  We have several contested races, and, it may be that discussions arise as to the feasibility of an endorsement in one or more races.

I am a firm believer in the democratic process and consider myself a Jeffersonian Democrat although President Jefferson and I do part ways on a few points in our philosophical bents.  I favor the open and fair process of a primary with no interference by political parties – especially mine.  While individual members may contribute in any manner of ways to a candidate, I feel a party endorsement places the weight of the party behind a selected candidate and detracts from our overall democratic philosophy.

In addition, an endorsement relegates those not endorsed into a position of weakness, making their ability to attract donors and attention more difficult.  Feelings of exclusion may be felt, and, overall a disenchantment with the party and the political process itself.  I have always seen the Democrat party as inclusive, and, in the pre-primary endorsement process that inclusiveness is unceremoniously dispatched.

Our party approach to the primary should reflect our dedication to the principles of the Democrat party by trusting the Democrat voters to select a candidate; that can be done by avoiding a pre-primary endorsement.



About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Allen County Government, Democrat Party, Democrats, Elections, Politics, Third District, Voting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. cw martin says:

    An interesting take, in a day and age where too many people want to hear endorsements so they don’t have to engage their brain to choose. Very good post.

  2. Thanks! I know at the national level, they are expected from nationally known figures, and I typically don’t pay too much attention to those. But, as the process gets more local, I feel they can be very harmful. Not sure what reaction I will get from my party, but it is how I feel.

    If we operate on the premise that “all politics is local”, it becomes even more critical to learn about candidates.

  3. Charlotte- I think it is important for the voters to know who the candidates are for each race; and that democrats shoud be educated and informed BY THE PARTY THROUGHT PRE-PRIAYR EVENTS- so dem primary voters can make an informed choice. for instance- in the 3rd district dcnogressional race; Thomas A “tomy schrader may just end up as the nominee- for no ther reason than because ofall the contrived ballot hoopla. note- that ROACH, and his ballot battle will be ignored/ silenced/ airbrushed out of existence by the media, and powers that be. Schrader is now a convenient tool and a foil, and spoiler , in a futile race. Tom Hayhurst could plausibley be called a perennial candidate- hes run how many times for congress?
    I watched the WFFT coverage of the 3rd district IBEW meeting. first- the 3rd district chairwoman- stated that a REPUBLICAN CONSERVATIVE MORAL CRUSADER FROM STUTZMANS HOME REGION would be a “strong candidate”- well- he dropped out. wish we knew more- I bet it was some skeletons secrets. or not..

    Tommy Schrader? No one has aired tha facts about his thomas a Schrader records in the Indiana court systm. including one crime undisclosed/ not much detail? gay prostitution? dog bestiality? the voters deserve to know..

    Sowards? whos he? If his name was MARK SOWARDS; he might win the mentally defective vote- thinking it was Souder?

    rhe kid? whos he? what does he know?
    reverend Kevin boyd? hasnt he run a few times before?
    Stephen Hope? is there really Hope for congress? or is it Hopless? I understand hes not the sharpest hammer in the tool box. and hes pro life. sheesh! another catholic radical like Santorum.
    Schrader? has claimed hes pro-life. I guess if you are gay, tha whole abortion/contraception thing goes out the window. gay marriage? aides research for a cure? may win a primary, by chance; but general election slaughter and carnage by the right wing nutjobs.

    Kolbe? no. Schrader? no. Sowards? no. Hope? no Hope.. tee hee. the kid? whats his name? whos he? nope.
    boyd? last man standing.
    anyone remember Mark Wehrle? the stoner? he won the nomination in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. Souder vs Stoner- that was fun. DEA chopper vs werhle-bird.. giggle.

    I’m supporting LEE JORDAN IN THE 84-TH so long as he just immolates NUTJOB BOB MORRIS, ruthlessly, relentlessly..

    COUNT COUNCIL? at large? I’m ROOTING FOR gINA BURGESS. she has a reputation as a champion for eh underdogs, and has legal, and business acumen..
    And i’m supporting the other girls on the team, as well.

    County commissioner- Gordon Anthony, ( since i’m temporarily off the ballot)- better start planning for the General election. we dont know anything about him. I met him- he seems like a nice enough guy, and is a local history buff like me; which will give him some historical perspective
    Too bad hes unopposed, now- this will surely deprive him of lots of the usual media attention and voter attention that contested primarys bring.

    And being “I’M NOT NELSON PETErS’ wont beat the PETERS in the general election. Peters is an incompetent hack, and a pawn, and a crony. Linda bloom runs things; and therese Brown, as well. and If John McGauely wins the gop primary, then we shall have a real horse race…
    so the rest of the down ticket votes? theres DC LEGALIZE-MARIJUANA ROACH
    for state convention delegate. I fuly expect to be – pardon thepun- smoked out and toasted ( tee hee) but the ACEB cant remove me. NAA-NAA- NAA- NAA!! NOR CAN ANYONE ELSE..
    so theres MY choices..

    • David:

      Tom Hayhurst ran twice for the Third District Congressional seat – 2006 and 2010 – I guess I don’t call that a perennial candidate, especially as others run year after year and for various offices.

      The party (Democrat or Republican) has an obligation to educate, but the candidates also must take the initiative to get out there and talk to people – show up at events, discuss their views, etc.

      The party isn’t the only one with a duty to provide information. Candidates run campaigns for the purpose of arranging appearances and educating the voters.

      When the 5th district city council race was contested, I arranged for the five candidates to debate at a West Central meeting. I didn’t do it as a Democrat; I did it as the President of West Central – we are neutral, so all candidates were invited. Three of five appeared to talk about their positions.

      Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the candidate to understand his or her campaign process for the position sought, define positions on relevant issues, communicate those positions to the public through various means, and to appear when events are scheduled (either by the candidate or other group).

      Many ways exist to educate the public; the party portion is simply one of them.

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