The Washington Post Endorses Fenty
In an editorial Sunday, The Washington Post enthusiastically, and noticeably early in the campaign, endorsed Mayor Adrian Fenty for re-election to a second four-year term over challenger Vincent Gray, D.C. Council Chair.
If only slamming newsprint against your door at 2:00 am would guarantee the relevance and influence of a daily newspaper. What once took a whisper now apparently requires a shout at the top of the lungs by The Post.
The Georgetown Dish offers several observations:
1) It is no surprise. The Post editorial page has gone down the line defending His Honor virtually since the campaign began. In fact, blogger and community activist Gary Imhoff labeled the editorial board a “surrogate campaigner” for the Mayor in June in his popular listserv, themail. Barring some major scandal, there was no way The Post was not going to back Fenty, Imhoff predicted.
2) It’s early. In highly competitive races such as this one in the past, The Post has waited until late August to make its move. That’s what happened in 1978 when it endorsed Marion Barry and 1990 when it picked Sharon Pratt Dixon (now Sharon Pratt).
3) There are still a number of important questions for the Mayor to answer. We know that he will keep schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, but what about the even more controversial, highly partisan, Attorney General Peter Nickles? Nickles has so politicized his office that D.C. voters will be deciding in November whether we should elect the attorney general, possibly the biggest change in District governance since Home Rule. What immediate and long-term plans does the Mayor have regarding the looming financial meltdown that The Post, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and the District’s Chief Financial Officer Natwar Ghandi have told us are on the horizon?
The Post endorsement is a big deal. Analysts credit it with putting Barry and Dixon over the top in 1978 and 1990. It influences voters, most particularly in Ward 3, a critical battleground that Fenty has to carry big. However, its predictability and early timing leads us to suspect a bit of desperation on 15th Street. LIKE WRITING IN CAPITAL LETTERS TO GET YOUR POINT ACROSS.
Perhaps The Post feels that to be influential for Fenty, it can no longer stand above the battle and wait to deliver a considered judgment based on all the facts that come out in a campaign. Instead, it has decided to speak loudly, early and -- perhaps -- often, in order to have its way. For the next editorial, it can always use bold type and caps.