Today officially marks the beginning of the 2012 political season
Candidates can begin filing for seats in the Nov. 6 election.
In Montana, Election 2012 promises to be a political junkie's dream. There will be hotly contested races from president of the United States to Hill County commissioner. Every statewide political office is open, highlighted by what promises to be a doozy of a governor's race. And the race for U.S. Senate between Democrat Jon Tester and Dennis Rehberg is getting national attention.
There will be a hotly contested race for Congress. The positions currently held by state senators Craig Tilleman and Jonathan Windy Boy and state reps. Kris Hansen, Wendy Warburton and Tony Belcourt will be up for re-election. There will be a contest for Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette's seat.
Reporters, and we suspect most readers, love having so many races, and we especially enjoy the fact that all of the races are so unpredictable. No one can say with certainty who will win.
Covering the race will be a challenge to the Havre Daily News staff, but we are looking forward to it.
Senior journalist Tim Leeds, who knows Hi-Line politics as much as anyone, will do most of the coverage, but there is so much work here, all of us will be chipping in from time to time.
Here are some of the things we are planning:
• We will cover candidate filings day by day, letting people know who is filing for what offices. Throughout the day, havredailynews.com will be updated, and tweets with news of late-breaking news will be sent out.
• Throughout the year, candidates have to file with the state details of how much money they have spent on their election efforts and who has donated to their campaign.
• Before the primary and the general election, we will run pro and con pieces — written by local people — on the various voter initiatives that will face voters when they go the polls this year.
While we may editorialize on issues that come up during the campaigns, we will not make endorsements of candidates. The number of newspapers making endorsements is declining, though a majority still do. We feel that to back candidates would, in the public's mind, compromise our main objective, to provide fair coverage of the candidates and the issues in the race.
• We will offer candidates for local and state offices 500 words to explain why they are running for office. These guest columns will appear on our Opinion page, and hopefully will offer folks a chance to see where candidates stand on issues.
• One of the main roles of a newspaper during election campaigns is to provide a forum for people to express their views. We will open up our Letters to the Editor column for you to back issues and candidates. Letters of 400 words and less (we think people read shorter letters better) will be accepted, provided they are in the office by Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 4:30 p.m. No mass mailings, please and avoid personal attacks. People are limited to two letters per month.
• On www.havredailynews.com and on our Twitter, @HaveDaily, we will offer several innovative ways of getting information out to voters. Video interviews of candidates, interactive maps and charts will be designed by our tech gurus, Zach White and Caleb Hutchins. We think you will find them interesting and informative.
• On primary night and election night, no news organization will have faster or more accurate results than we will on havredailynews.com or @HavreDaily.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on what we are planning or how we are handling coverage. If you think we’re not doing enough or if you suspect we are not being fair, please call, email, tweet or Facebook us.
But the conspiracy theories don’t fly here.
We’re not the liberal elite media out to bash conservatives. And we are not the arm of Havre’s business community refusing to listen to anyone else. That would hardly be in the newspaper’s best interest.
We try to be fair and objective, and would love to hear from you when you think we are not.
(John Kelleher is managing editor of the Havre Daily News, www.havredailynews.com and www.facebook.com/havredailynews. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (406) 265-6795, ext. 17, and (406) 390-0798.)