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What’s a Morning News Endorsement Worth?

By Jeff Siegel |

WITH POLLS SHOWING A tighter-than-expected presidential race in Texas, Bob Dole shouldn’t count on The Dallas Morning News’ endorsement to boot him across the finish line. The paper’s 1996 record in high-profile races is far from impressive. Among recent candidates favored by The News:

● Glenn Box, who lost to Pete Sessions by almost 20 points in the Republican primary in the 5th Congressional District.

● Donna Halstead, who lost by almost 30 points to John Carona in the GOP primary for a North Dallas state Senate seat.

● East Texas congressman Jim Chapman, who didn’t even make the runoff in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat.

● Diana Flores’ first- and second-round opponents for the District 6 seat on the Dallas County Community College Board. The News endorsed Patricia Gorman, who didn’t make the runoff, and William Velasco, who lost in the runoff.

“It’s really debatable whether endorsements make a difference,” says Phillip Seib, op-ed columnist for The News. “It may make a difference in races where voters aren’t that well informed about candidates, but when they know who the candidates are and have plenty of information about them, endorsements probably aren’t much help. “

Nevertheless, candidates continue to seek the imprimatur of The News, which claims a pass-along readership of 1.165 million. Much to the chagrin of political purists, the paper almost always endorses incumbents who it feels retlect their constituen-cies. Hence the endorsements in past elections for such liberal Democrats as Martin Frost, Steve Wolens and Royce West-pols whose views often clash with those expressed by the paper’s editorial board. Seven-term Dallas Democratic congressman John Bryant is an exception- he won several races despite The News’ opposition, and even fended off endorsee Pete Sessions in 1994, when Republicans seized control of Congress.

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