Letter writer wonders why we don’t only pick Republicans

Just when we thought we could put last week’s mid-term election behind us, the following Letter to the Editor arrived on our digital doorstep:

How does TCH make its choices?

Now that the elections are in our rear-view mirror, I am wondering how the (Tri-City Herald) editorial board selects its candidates. Do they have a set of guidelines, rules or principles, or simply select the candidate that has the same world view as they do?

In Benton and Franklin counties we have only one elected Democrat at any level that represents us and that is U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell. All of our county officials, state representatives, state senators and our members of Congress are Republicans.

Yet, the Tri-City Herald chose to endorse seven Democrats out of fifteen that were up for election. Fortunately, the Herald readers did not listen to the editorial board. Every Democrat selected by the Herald board lost. I believe that it is reasonable to have our local paper represent similar values to those of the people that purchase and read your paper. I would be interested in hearing how and why the editorial board chose so many candidates that do not reflect the values of the local community.

Barry Bush, Kennewick

Well Mr. Bush, we didn’t plan to recommend seven Democrats and eight Republicans. It just turned out that way.

Unlike some people who know whether they will vote Red or Blue before they even get their ballots in the mail, we try to give all candidates the same chance of earning our support.

That means we spend a great deal of time reading about each candidate in news stories, on their web pages, in their candidate statements and in the State Voters Guide.

Finally, we meet for an hour with the two candidates for each office, ask them questions and afterward spend at least a half hour talking about who is best for the job. Sometimes our discussions over an individual office may go on over several days.

It’s frankly a long, exhausting and often difficult process.

But we think it’s helpful to have a force in the community (one not tied to a political party) offering an analysis on candidates and ballot measures.

It isn’t our job to pick winners. We try to pick the best candidate – period. If you read each editorial, we think our reasoning is pretty clear.

There are times both candidates are so qualified that picking one over the other is gut-wrenching. In those races we tell voters they are lucky because either candidate will do a great job.

In other races, we think the choice is clear and we don’t care what letter is behind the candidate’s name.

Every fall we write an editorial explaining our election recommendation process. This year’s was titled, “Please don’t confuse our candidate recommendations with fake news,” and can still be found on our website.

If you take the time to look it up and read it, you’ll understand our process better.

For newspaper editorial boards, the weeks leading up to the general election are a bit like working retail in December. It’s a time-consuming commitment, and we often end up dealing with unappreciative customers.

But for every person who criticizes our efforts, there are readers grateful for the extra information.

Recommending only Republicans, as you suggest, would make our choices easy and hollow. Instead, we aim for the opposite.