To the Editor:
I want to thank Rob Baxter for his reply on how the Senate District Committee decided whether to endorse Jeanine Calkin for State Senate. I was glad he mentioned transparency as a goal, since many people feel the Democratic Party lacks transparency in its operations here in RI. Endorsements across the state have raised questions about how these committees operate, so it's good to get a glimpse into the process.
As I learn more about endorsement committees, I wonder if this is really the fairest way to pick a candidate to endorse. The committees are small, consisting of either 3 or 5 people. Since very few know they exist, usually folks run unopposed and long time incumbents stack the committee with friends and relatives, assuring they will be endorsed repeatedly. Although endorsements don't guarantee a win (in fact, Calkin won the seat two years ago even though she was not the endorsed candidate) the endorsement comes with some perks that make a campaign easier and less costly to run.
Considering all this, I decided to run for Senate District Committee this year to give people a choice and an opportunity to put some new people on this committee. Imagine my surprise when I saw a picture of this year's ballot and discovered that even candidates for the endorsement committee are "endorsed" with a star next to their name on the ballot. I'm not sure how this happened. I am running for this committee, and I wasn't offered an endorsement. Are current members simply endorsed by the Warwick Democratic Party because they are current members? If that's the case, why wasn't the same consideration given to Jeanine Calkin, who is the currently elected Senator in District 30? Who decides which candidates get the coveted star next to their name if they are not asked to fill out a survey or apply in some other manner?
Clearly, more transparency is needed. This year, I have talked to many voters who intend to vote for sincere, hard working candidates who are regular people. They're not wealthy lawyers; they don't have endorsement "stars" next to their names; they don't blanket the city with thousands of annoying and unsightly yard signs. They are people like you and me who saw a need and decided to jump in and try to help our city and state become a better place to live. Please vote on Wednesday, September 12. Every vote counts!
Candidate for Senate District Committee