Thursday, August 7, 2008

Knuuttila's endorsement error

Last week, State Senate candidate Brian Knuuttila rolled out an impressive list of endorsements in a release to the local newspapers. The list included current and former state representatives, mayors, city councilmen, selectmen and other elected officials from across the district. It even included a couple of Republicans. But it turns out the list was both a little too impressive on the one hand, and not as impressive as it seems on the other. The Times and Courier took a closer look:
...somebody along the line at Knuuttila H.Q. made a bigger mistake, including Lancaster Democrat Stephen Kerrigan’s name in the press release.

Just one problem: Kerrigan hasn’t endorsed anyone in this race. But we had to call him to get that news, and the Kerrigan-for-Knuuttila press release was up there on our Wicked Local sites in Bolton, Clinton and Lancaster for a day before we corrected it...

...he also lists (as his original press release did before being edited) Mark “Ellworthy” as a Clinton selectman (the real Mark Elworthy, now a Finance Committee member, has been a former selectman for two years) and Esteban Mendoza as “Parks and Recreation Director” — a small quibble here, as Mendoza is chairman of the parks board, but not director of the department.
Knuuttila’s list of endorsements on his website also listed the Kerrigan error until it was corrected last evening (it now just shows a blank bullet point under the Lancaster heading). The Times and Courier couldn’t get anyone to explain on the record how the error was made—was there some sort of misunderstanding between the candidates? Just a clerical error?—but it was made. And it’s still out there. While the Times and Courier got it right before they went to press (although they had published the misinformation online), the Clinton Item listed the incorrect endorsement in their August 5 edition, even though it had been publicly debunked six days earlier.

The non-endorsement and the way it has played in the press might actually help Kerrigan in Clinton. While I doubt that too many voters make their minds up on the basis of endorsements, one might make the leap to one candidate in a race they don’t follow that closely if they perceive that candidate is aligned with one that they strongly support in a different race. Knuuttila has had his signs out in Clinton since February, and many of the Knuuttila houses are also displaying Kerrigan signs. If Knuuttila’s people think Kerrigan is on their side, it can only help.

Conversely, if a supporter of Jennifer Flanagan sees the error and wonders what the deal is with this Kerrigan guy, Kerrigan can point to the Times and Courier correction as proof that he isn’t taking sides in the race.

For what it’s worth, Flanagan’s endorsements are up on her web site and I haven’t heard of any disputes to the...hey! Why aren’t I on the list?

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