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Endorsements: a reverse factor, trifecta and historic marker

It is the season for endorsements, but not all endorsements are created equal. Some recent ones jump out.

The New London Police Union endorsed the Republican candidate for the 39th District House seat, Kat Goulart. Normally that would seem unremarkable, except that the incumbent Democrat is one of the union’s own. State Rep. Anthony Nolan is a New London police officer. The 39th District is located wholly within the borders of New London.

With his outreach to the young people and the city’s minority communities, Nolan has probably done more than any other officer to build bridges between the department and its residents. But he apparently committed, in the union’s judgment, an unpardonable sin with his vote in July for the Act Concerning Police Accountability. Among several provisions, it creates an independent inspector general to investigate deadly use of force by police and it exposes officers to civil litigation for “malicious, wanton or willful” abusive acts — changes unpopular with many rank and file.

Goulart, as chair of the city’s Police Community Relations Commission, has been sympathetic to officers facing civilian complaints for alleged misconduct. She opposed the police bill.

This missed endorsement will only bolster Nolan’s standing with many in his community, reminding voters of the courage and character he showed in supporting an accountability bill he considered necessary, while knowing many of his fellow officers would resent him for doing so.

As a result of another endorsement, voters in the state’s 18th Senatorial District will find the name of candidate Bob Statchen on the ballot three times — as the endorsed Democrat (his party), but also as the endorsed candidate for Working Families Party and the Independent Party of Connecticut. In a rematch from 2018, Statchen is seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Heather Somers, whose name will appear once.

The district covers Griswold, Groton, North Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington and Voluntown.

Two years ago the Independent Party was the subject of a legal struggle between Republican supporters, focused on using the party as a vehicle to get Republican candidates on the ballot twice, and party members who wanted it to be, well, independent in selecting candidates to endorse. The Independent line had been a counterbalance of sorts to the strongly progressive Working Families Party, which has typically cross-endorsed Democrats when not running its own candidates.

The independent wing won the struggle and this election the Independent Party is running more of its own candidates and was open to supporting Democrats, which it did in Statchen’s case, giving him the rare ballot trifecta.

Yet these multiple endorsements result in a somewhat confusing — and arguably unfair — ballot. The legislature should consider a change that would show a candidate’s name only once, but with a list of their party endorsements.

And then there was the eye-catching endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden by Scientific American, the first in its 175-year history as the nation’s oldest continuously published magazine.

“This year we are compelled to do so,” the magazine’s endorsement stated. “The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people — because he rejects evidence and science.”

The editorial focuses particular attention on Trump’s failure to base his response to the COVID-19 pandemic on scientific evidence. This failure resulted in tens of thousands of more deaths, hundreds of thousands of more infections, and greater economic harm.

“Trump's rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic in the U.S. He was warned many times in January and February about the onrushing disease, yet he did not develop a national strategy to provide protective equipment, coronavirus testing or clear health guidelines,” the magazine’s editorial board noted. “At every stage, Trump has rejected the unmistakable lesson that controlling the disease, not downplaying it, is the path to economic reopening and recovery.”

But it notes the poor pandemic response was not Trump’s only afront to science. There were his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act while offering no alternative to assure health care. His proposed billion-dollar cuts to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His gutting of clean air rules, putting people at greater risk for heart and lung disease caused by pollution. And his denial of climate change.

“Joe Biden, in contrast, comes prepared with plans to control COVID-19, improve health care, reduce carbon emissions and restore the role of legitimate science in policy making. He solicits expertise and has turned that knowledge into solid policy proposals,” the endorsement states.

We concur.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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