Can an Endorsement Hurt the Endorsed Candidate?

by Stuart Rothenberg May 23, 2014 · 9:30 AM EDT

Longtime readers of my column know I have often been skeptical about endorsements in highly visible contests, whether for the White House or the Senate. But what about an endorsement in a U.S. House race or a House primary? And could an endorsement actually hurt the candidate endorsed?

We may well get an answer to these questions soon. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw, one of the contenders in the crowded race for the GOP nomination in Iowa’s 3rd district, was just endorsed by the Des Moines Register.

“Shaw talked about how he would work to represent not just the Republican principles that he believes in but how he would work in a pragmatic way to get things done in Congress for Iowa,” said the editorial.

“An example of pragmatism over absolutism is his position on the recent farm bill, which he said he would have voted for, despite what he sees as shortcomings,” continued the editorial.

The question is whether an endorsement from the Register hurts Shaw, since the newspaper has a generally liberal reputation and Republican primary voters may not value “pragmatism” as much as do the members of the Register’s editorial board.

The nomination will be decided in a June 3 primary if one candidate receives at least 35 percent of the vote. If no candidate receives 35 percent, a convention will pick the party’s nominee against Democrat Staci Appel, a former state senator.

The Rothenberg Political Report rates the race as Toss-up.

To see the editorial and Shaw’s appearance before the editorial board, look here.