This just in: John F. Kerry popular with editorial writers.

The Democratic presidential nominee has jumped out to an early lead in the race for newspaper endorsements, especially from those in the all-important swing states.

Kerry has won the support of nine papers in closely contested states, while four are backing President Bush. Both of Philadelphia's major newspapers -- the Inquirer and the Daily News -- have endorsed Kerry. So has the Oregonian, which backed Bush in 2000. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Detroit Free Press, the Daily Star in Tucson, the Portland Press Herald in Maine and both of the big papers in Seattle -- the Times and the Post-Intelligencer -- have announced their support for Kerry.

Bush, meanwhile, has won endorsements from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., the Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado and the Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Most of the rest of his endorsements, according to an ongoing survey by the trade publication Editor & Publisher, have come from smaller papers in uncontested states. Among them: the Tulsa World; the Sun in Lowell, Mass.; Alabama's Mobile Register; and the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.

Overall, nationwide, Kerry is up 11 papers to eight. Or, if you want to measure in terms of circulation, he's winning 2,534,377 to 637,187.

A Question of Qualifications

As Election Day nears and the memory of 2000 seems to become stronger, both sides are increasingly focusing on balloting. Yesterday, it was the Democratic National Committee and the Kerry-Edwards campaign, which called the attempt by a former executive director of the Nevada Republican Party to disqualify thousands of Democrats in Clark County a "major attempt to disenfranchise voters."

Dan Burdish, now a Las Vegas businessman, sought to disqualify 17,000 Democratic voters he said were on the county's "inactive" list, meaning they do not live at the address they registered or they did not respond to a mail card.

Clark County Registrar Larry Lomax said yesterday that although Nevada law allows residents to formally challenge a voter's eligibility, Burdish did not meet the law's requirements: The person making the challenge must live in the same precinct as the voter being challenged, and the challenger must have "personal knowledge" of a voter's ineligibility.

Lomax said he will not accept the challenges, which would have forced the voters in question to produce ID at the polls, in part because "you don't want to do anything to intimidate voters."


The Bush administration will permit nonpartisan voter registration drives at hospitals and clinics run by the Indian Health Service, according to Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).

Bingaman contacted Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson after reading in The Washington Post that the federal program had prohibited such activity at some New Mexico sites.

In a news release, Bingaman said that although he is pleased that the administration is reversing course, "it is unfortunate" the decision comes too late to make much of a difference, given that the deadline for registering in New Mexico and elsewhere has passed.


"You know, Josh Burkeen is our rep down here in the southeast area. . . . He was telling me lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us?"

-- Tom Coburn, the Republican Senate candidate in Oklahoma, at a town meeting Aug. 31 in Hugo.

Staff writer Lois Romano in Tulsa contributed to this report.