Yesterday’s primary election for Wichita city and school board races revealed a Wichita Eagle editorial board increasingly out of step with voters, who followed several of the board’s recommendations but also voted strongly against several Eagle-endorsed candidates. It’s not the first time this has happened.
The endorsements are not the Eagle’s prediction of who will win, but instead are “recommendations as information to consider as you make up your own minds about the candidates.”
For the race for Wichita mayor, voters strongly followed the Eagle’s endorsement of incumbent Carl Brewer. That contest attracted several challengers, but none with the stature to raise the money necessary to seriously challenge an incumbent in a city-wide election.
For city council district 2, the Eagle editorial board strongly endorsed Steve Harris, calling him “best choice by far.” Pete Meitzner was mentioned as a credible candidate. But the winner of the election was Charlie Stevens, who the Eagle dismissed as an also-ran. The Eagle’s recommended candidate Harris finished in third place behind Meitzner, although the margin is small at 1,302 votes to 1,292 votes.
For city council district 3, the editorial board recommended James Clendenin, and he won. Its second choice of Hoyt Hillman finished in third place behind Mark Geitzen, who will advance to the general election with Clendenin. Geitzen, too, was characterized by the Eagle as an also-ran.
In city council district 4, the Eagle named June Bailey the “standout candidate.” She finished in third place behind Joshua Blick and Michael O’Donnell, the latter placed by the Eagle in the also-ran category.
A distinguishing feature of the candidates the Eagle endorsed for city offices is their support for government intervention in the local economy through the use of economic development incentives and outright subsidy. (But always to be used prudently, of course, with scrutiny and discretion.) In particular, district 2 council candidate Harris embraced government intervention and was endorsed by several of Wichita’s most prominent crony capitalists. Other candidates like Clendenin and Bailey look favorably on big government, too.
While Clendenin won in his district, voters preferred other candidates to Harris and Bailey. In particular, Stevens in district 2, Gietzen in district 3, and O’Donnell in district 4 have an explicit free-market perspective in their messages. The Wichita Eagle editorial board believes in all things opposite — crony capitalism, large-scale interventionism in the name of social engineering, and reliance on government rather than free people to solve problems and create prosperity — so it’s no surprise the names of these three candidates and their positions were buried. The Eagle’s political and economic preferences, however, are increasingly out of step with what Wichita voters want.