Party endorsements only matter for candidates if the party can credibly promise to deliver primary election victories to its endorsed candidates. If the party-backed candidates win the primary most of the time, then it makes sense to try to compete for the party’s support.
But if there doesn’t appear to be any relationship between party endorsements and primary election wins, then they become less important:
The truth is that the party’s endorsement matters less than it used to. This year, several high-profile candidates — including mayoral contender Bill Peduto and City Councilor Natalia Rudiak — aren’t even seeking it. Almost every election cycle, some unendorsed candidate prevails. The party elders themselves often blow off their own recommendations, continuing to support unendorsed candidates even though doing so violates party rules. These aren’t the days of Davey Lawrence and the Democratic machine.
I’m glad the Michael Lamb endorsement won’t mean anything for the Pittsburgh Mayoral race, but generally I’m for strong party organizations, not this loosey-goosey stuff where the party’s just one of many interest groups. For party endorsements to regain meaning, all official party members need to work for, and donate to, endorsed candidates. They need to be able to shut off support and donations from party-aligned interest groups for non-endorsed candidates.
(via Chris Potter)