Sometime on Tuesday evening, as results of the state’s gubernatorial primary become clear, our three newspapers’ editorial endorsement committee will discover if we are in sync with voters.

After interviewing the 11 candidates representing the traditional political parties, our group of eight persons voted to endorse Pat McGowan in the Democratic race and Steve Abbott in the Republican primary.

Those endorsements were published last Sunday on the editorial pages of the Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. We recap the endorsements in today’s papers and also offer endorsements for the five statewide ballot questions to be decided in Tuesday’s election.

Even though other candidates received support in several rounds of voting by the endorsement board, McGowan and Abbott ended up with majorities. This is a strong field of candidates in both parties. The candidates’ ideologies were clear, as were the force of their personalities and their depth of experience in various walks of life.

In 40 years in the newspaper business, I have served on many such boards and interviewed candidates for local, state and national elective offices. This group of candidates for governor was noteworthy, in my view, for its collective strength of character and intellect. It is unusual to find so many qualified candidates seeking the same office in the same election.

Readers sometimes ask why we endorse candidates, and journalists frequently debate the efficacy of endorsements. Some newspapers endorse and others do not.

We believe we should endorse candidates and issues because our access to candidates and policymakers offers us information and insight that often is not available to most voters. We have the opportunity to meet personally with the candidates and interview them, study the issues in depth, and engage in deliberate and open debate among ourselves.

Our endorsement board included persons of varied backgrounds, although most work in our news and editorial departments. As we reorganize our newspaper operations during our second year of ownership, this board and our day-to-day editorial board will include representatives from most departments in the newspaper. For instance, areas such as sales, production and circulation may be included. This differs from many newspapers where the boards include only news and editorial personnel and the publisher.

When we choose members, we do not ask or generally know their political leanings or beliefs. In the case of this group we know that M.D. Harmon is a political conservative on most issues and Greg Kesich is liberal. Other than these two, who write editorials and produced our opinion pages, we would be hard-pressed to guess the political leanings of most of our members.

Each candidate interview lasted about one hour, with one member of the board, Bill Thompson, designated as moderator and taking the lead in asking questions. Other members weighed in with questions of their own throughout the sessions. We recorded each interview and posted the video on our websites.

I am frequently asked whether the publisher gets — in fact or in effect — more than one vote. It’s a prerogative I would exercise if I believed it was warranted, but I have only exercised a veto one time in my career. I’ve been outvoted many times.

After all the interviews, after all the discussion and debate, it’s one person, one vote. Simple. Some journalists like to act as though the process is shrouded in mystery — something akin to the secretive selection of a pope. But we believe in transparency.

So I’ll share with you some biographical information on the members of our endorsement board. First, my own bio: I’ve held virtually every job in newsrooms all over the country for 40 years. During the last 30, I have been principally an editor, publisher and owner. I’ve written columns for local and national news outlets for most of my career.

Other members:

Bill Thompson, editor of the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, has worked in the newspaper business as a reporter, columnist, editorial writer and editor for more than 40 years. A native of Illinois, he worked there and also in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Texas before joining MaineToday Media.

Karen Beaudoin, a Portland resident, is The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram’s deputy features editor and editor of MaineToday Media’s Raising Maine magazine. She has served as editor of the weekly Community Leader and The Maine Switch and is a former sports editor of the Journal Tribune in Biddeford.

Karen Dobbyn is MaineToday Media’s VP of Human Resources. She has worked for The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram for nearly 10 years and worked in the newspaper industry here and in the Boston area for more than 30 years in various management positions. She lives in Cumberland with her husband and son.

M.D. “Mike” Harmon, a Bowdoin College graduate, joined The Portland Press Herald in 1970, working as a reporter, copy editor, city editor and assistant managing editor before becoming an editorial writer and commentary page editor in 1989. An Army veteran of Vietnam, he retired as a lieutenant colonel from the Army Reserve in 1994 and lives in Sanford with his wife.

Greg Kesich has been an editorial writer and columnist for The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram for the past three years. Before that, he was a reporter with the newspaper for a decade, covering a variety of beats that included courts and state government. He lives in Portland with his wife and two teenage daughters.

Anthony Ronzio is managing editor of the Kennebec Journal. He’s been a journalist in Maine for nearly a decade, and has won multiple state and regional awards for his reporting, writing and editing. A 2001 graduate of Syracuse University, Ronzio lives in Hallowell with his family.

Scott Wasser is executive editor and vice president of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He has been a newspaper and magazine reporter, editor and online editor for nearly 30 years. He also has been an auto columnist for 22 years and lives in Scarborough with his wife and son. 

Richard L. Connor is CEO of MaineToday Media, owner of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. A newspaperman for 40 years, he has served on two Pulitzer Prize for Journalism nominating committees. He can be reached at:

[email protected]


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