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Lean to the left, lean to the right....

ENDORSEMENTS AT The Wyoming Eagle have been a tricky proposition since my predecessor decided to use our editorial page to officially back a mayoral candidate immediately upon her campaign announcement, without even waiting to see who else entered the race.

The morning Eagle is editorially Democrat while our sister paper, the afternoon State Tribune, is Republican, so our endorsements tend to be predictable and usually cancel each other out. Still, the memory of one from last November's general election will stay with me for a while.

Republican Craig Thomas, who replaced Dick Cheney when he became defense secretary, was running for his second full term as Wyoming's lone representative in the U.S. House. Polls indicated his challenger, a neo-Democratic eye surgeon named Jon Herschler, was beginning to close what started as a huge gap. If there was indeed an anti-incumbent trend brewing, Herschler's total lack of political experience could turn out to be a plus.

I met with Herschler during the closing days of the campaign and was impressed with what I heard, so I decided to endorse him. On the Friday before the election I noted, amidst praise for Herschler's health care plans, that "our impression of Thomas is that he's a good man but an ineffective legislator who will have even less influence on Capitol Hill if the Democrats take control of the White House." I repeated Herschler's claim that Thomas's record "is blank in the 3 1/2 years he's been in Congress."

By chance I attended a going-away party for an Associated Press staffer that night at a local bar. I walked in late and found the guest of honor engaged in a conversation with Thomas's Washington press secretary, who was back in Cheyenne after a day of campaigning around the state.

I mumbled a greeting and looked for a place to escape, but there was no way out. I sat down and we started to talk about the campaign. "He's the most wonderful man anyone could ever hope to work for," the press secretary said, but she didn't mention the editorial.

Another Thomas aide joined the conversation by stating he thought George Bush was going to surprise everyone Tuesday. I was starting to feel as if I had walked into a Young Republicans meeting when I noticed Herschler's press secretary at the next table, glumly looking our way.

Wyoming may be a sparsely populated state but it's huge, and the odds of rival press secretaries winding up at the same bar -- with me caught in the middle -- must be astronomical.

The night ended without incident or bloodshed, but it taught me a valuable lesson: Endorse the person you believe in, but stay home until the votes are counted.

By the way, my candidate got trounced.

NCEW member Kerry Drake is editorial page editor of The Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne.
COPYRIGHT 1993 National Conference of Editorial Writers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:political endorsement
Author:Drake, Kerry
Publication:The Masthead
Date:Mar 22, 1993
Words:475
Previous Article:Sometimes your best isn't good enough.
Next Article:High times at the state house.
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