The Editorial Board of The Bee opines on issues every day and, during the election season, we endorse candidates for office. Meeting with candidates face-to-face is an integral part of the process.
Well, for two hotly contested congressional races in our region, we've met with the candidates -- or at least most of them. In Congressional District 3, we met incumbent Dan Lungren, a Republican, and challenger Bill Durston, a Democrat, in one-hour interviews. Our endorsement runs tomorrow.
Congressional District 4, an open seat with the retirement of incumbent John Doolittle, is another story. That race features Republican Tom McClintock and Democrat Charlie Brown.
We met with Brown today. But for weeks, we've made phone calls and sent e-mails trying to schedule Republican Tom McClintock for a one-hour interview. We originally scheduled an endorsement for Congressional District 4 to run this Saturday, but told McClintock's campaign that we'd move it to accommodate his schedule. Today, his campaign told us that he was "not going to participate."
McClintock met with the Editorial Board for the primary election. We endorsed his opponent in that race, but we start with a clean slate for the general election.
Speaking with his campaign spokesman, I explained that the purpose of the interview is not just to win endorsement from the Editorial Board. Some candidates get our endorsement, others don't. Regardless, the interview gives a candidate a chance to explain himself or herself and to make arguments for his or her views. It's part of building respectful relationships. And if a candidate wins, it's part of establishing a long-term dialogue.
Moreover, if a candidate wins, he or she doesn't just represent the like-minded people in his or her district. He or she has obligations to the larger public. An important part of running for and serving in office is putting one's record and persuasive skills under scrutiny. That's been a role of the press since before the Founding.
We'd still like to meet with McClintock for the general election. And there's still time. The question is: If McClintock won't meet with editorial boards, does that bode ill if he's elected? Does it indicate a lack of willingness to engage with the larger public? What do you think?