You will see it in campaign statements, you will hear it from radio and television reporters and read it from some scribes too and most notably endure it from political flacks: Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican Linda McMahon are the respective party nominees for U.S. Senate.
Well, not yet.
What are they? They’re the endorsed candidates. That’s because the party nominee will emerge from the Aug. 14 primary. If no primary they would be the nominee. Those of us who grew up under the tutelage of William J. Walsh, the dean of Connecticut political reporters for the Bridgeport Post-Telegram in the days when Underwood typewriters and land lines made the day, were corrected for such abuses.
Republican Chris Shays and Democrat Susan Bysiewicz both received enough support at their respective party conventions to run a primary. And both will run primaries. Back in the day (late 1970s) it was my job to walk Walsh to his car after he put his newspaper page to rest approaching midnight. The old man never asked anyone to walk him to his car, it was a duty, the dragon protecting the castle. And when it came to political knowledge he was a prince. Walsh said very little, when he did he was cranky, a slimy Topstone cigar shrouding his Cabbage Patch image. But he had his rules and if you failed to follow you’d hear a sonic prehistoric screech. I heard it a few times. Like when I wrote Ted Kennedy. Walsh schooled me: “Edward M. Kennedy.” Eek! Same thing with endorsed versus nominee.
A nominee, he’d say, is the official candidate of the party. As ex Post-Telegram scribe Jim Callahan recalls, in “Billy’s world you are only an office ‘hopeful’ up to this point. To receive the nomination, you must win it. You can win it at a convention if you shut out anyone else from getting delegates. You can win a nomination if no one challenges you and you are the only candidate for the office. Or you can have a primary. You can be an endorsed hopeful or a hopeful challenging for the nomination. That is the strictest interpretation of the Walsh Rules, one that we followed. I followed them. You can say a person is a candidate for the nomination, or the endorsed candidate for the nomination. You are not THE candidate, however, until you win the nomination. These days that is through the primary. The decline in political writing is why you are seeing this turpitude in reporting.”
Of course, it is a natural spin for a flack to argue (I’ve been there) that the endorsed candidate is the nominee. They’re going to keep saying it until they’re called on it. They will continue to say it even if they’re called on it.
Meanwhile, if you want to have a little fun, remind the camps of the Walsh Nomination Rule.