The Inside Scoop

By John J. Tassoni, Jr.

There has been great debate on whether or not to label a candidate’s party on lawn signs and in printed materials. Many candidates are of the mind that a party affiliation may hurt the chances of winning, and choose to eliminate it from their promotional materials.

I never understood this mindset. In my 12 years as state senator, I was proud to wear the label of a Democrat. If a candidate feels that a party affiliation is a detriment, then perhaps the candidate isn’t right for the party.

Candidates should also bear in mind that at the polls in a primary, a voter has to declare which party he or she will be voting to obtain that particular ballot.

How will voters know which ballot to ask for in a primary if they don’t know your party?

Candidates that are afraid to be associated with either party need to realize that there are some voters who may not know which party you are in. Don’t assume that they know. And if they don’t know which ballot to ask for, they may not be able to vote for you. You may be leaving votes on the table because you do not want to state which party you are representing.

Campaign professionals say that a candidate’s signs exist primarily to sway voters with low information behind their voting practices. These are the people who head to the polls having done little to no research. Candidates hope that name recognition from a sign will receive a vote.

And let’s not forget the pursuit of independent voters.

If you’re a Democratic candidate, you expect to get the Democratic vote. But what you really want are the Democrats, plus independents and some Republicans who believe in your character and abilities – and what you stand for. The same holds true for Republicans. You know you’ll get a majority of the Republican votes, but your challenge becomes swaying the Democrats and independents in the campaign process.

If a candidate seeks party support, then the candidate should claim that affiliation out of allegiance to those who are working towards a successful campaign. If candidates cannot make that claim, then how can they be trusted to speak on behalf of the voters who elected them – or will they deny them as well?