How does the Star Tribune Ed Board interview candidates?


MNBlue has an interesting tidbit on the Star Tribune's picks for their endorsements. According to the blog, none of the current Editorial Board members actually met with 2nd District Democrat Steve Sarvi before endorsing Rep. John Kline for reelection.

What you probably didn't know is that the editorial board probably already had its mind made up. Instead of meeting with the full editorial board, Steve met with two retirees. These retirees are brought back in during high politcal season to "help" when it gets busy. No members of the editorial board were present for Steve's screening.

NOTE: This is just a random statement in his article without a quote from Sarvi or the Star Tribune, so it is not confirmed, but raises some interesting questions.

Here is their endorsement in full:

Republican Rep. John Kline has significant differences with the Editorial Board on some important issues. His absolutist position on earmarks is a concern, likely making it more difficult to complete transportation projects in his district. There's also room for improvement on veterans' issues and the environment. The moderate Republicans for Environmental Protection gave Kline a zero on its most recent congressional vote scorecard.

But recently, the three-term congressman faced a tough and revealing test of leadership. He passed, a key reason he merits endorsement. The test? Voting on the Wall Street bailout bill.

The anguish of that decision still could be seen on Kline's face during a recent interview, when he recounted the tense days on Capitol Hill as Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson warned of economic Armageddon. At the same time, angry voters swamped his office demanding a no vote. Kline began working the phones, listening to bankers, business owners and economists in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. When it came time to vote, he did what he thought was right for the country instead of what was politically expedient. He voted yes. That's leadership.

Kline is a thoughtful conservative -- one who has become far less of an ideologue during his three terms in office. When the retired Marine colonel first ran for his House seat, he hewed too closely to talking points and his ramrod image as the guy who carried the "nuclear football" briefcase for President Ronald Reagan. Over the years, he's become a multidimensional politician, displaying easy fluency on a wide range of issues. He's also developed a reputation for collegiality on Capitol Hill and in his district, suggesting an openness to new ideas and a willingness to listen. That's a valuable quality in an era where partisanship has blocked much-needed progress.

With Democrats expected to pick up House seats this election, Kline will provide needed balance in the House. His calls for fiscal responsibility will be particularly welcome. Also valuable is Kline's level-headed approach to foreign policy. Throughout this election, Kline has stressed the role of diplomacy and the power of economic sanctions. Kline's support for turning a pioneering Minnesota soldier reintegration project into a national program is also praiseworthy and garnered him an award from the National Guard.

Kline's challenger, Democrat Steve Sarvi, easily is one of the most outstanding political newcomers this year. A former mayor of Watertown and an Iraq veteran, Sarvi is a fresh face on the political scene. His service in Iraq gives him considerable depth as a candidate. In a televised debate with Kline, Sarvi held his own on foreign policy. He's also passionate and well-informed on veterans' issues.

If this were an open seat, Sarvi may well have garnered the Editorial Board's endorsement. But Kline's expertise, seniority and growing clout -- he's the ranking member on an influential Education and Labor subcommittee -- make him the strongest contender.

Is it fair to use retirees to have such a big stake in the paper's endorsement? Would it be so hard to have one Board member in on the interview? We'll try to get more information from the Star Tribune or Steve Sarvi and give you an update.