In the final days leading up to Thursday’s Metro elections, candidates for mayor are reminding voters of their endorsements. But what do they mean?
Former Metro Law Director Karl Dean has locked in three major newspapers: The Tennessean, The City Paper and The Scene. One of Dean’s TV ads even focuses on The Tennessean endorsement. But Vanderbilt University political science professor Bruce Oppenheimer says while persuasive, media support doesn’t offer the boots on the ground that a union endorsement might.
“With the Tennessean endorsement, the candidate has to do something with that endorsement. On the other hand, if you have a labor union endorsement, it may mean that members of that union work for you, work at phone banks, volunteer, put yard signs up.”
But support may not run throughout these organizations. Oppenheimer warns that endorsements from newspapers, unions or otherwise are made by a powerful few.
For instance, Metro Councilman and candidate David Briley consistently says he has the support of Metro teachers, when really the endorsement comes from the 18-member leadership council of the teacher’s union.