Embattled Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri, who became the pariah of politics after his infamous rape and abortion remarks last month, probably cherishes a recent re-endorsement from his state Farm Bureau.

But in the mainstream of political theater, do endorsements really matter?

"I think they do matter, particularly in close races," said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

"They are an affirming thing, conveying to people legitimacy."

Yepsen said endorsements also help independent voters make up their minds.

He said endorsements also have residual benefits for candidates in their advertising.

"If they didn't think they were important, candidates wouldn't spend so much time courting them," he said. "It means something to candidates, and some more than others."

The most valuable ones come in the form of "shoe leather" - ones where groups such as unions send people knocking on doors - and funding.

Whether they help or not, local judicial candidates appear proud to show theirs off.

Candidates for Madison County circuit judge:

Kyle Napp, Democrat:

- Madison County Democrat Party

- 21 police chiefs in Madison County

- Madison County Sheriff Robert Hertz

- Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons

- Bond County State's Attorney Chris Bauer


- Southwestern Illinois Laborers' District Council

Thomas Burkhart, Republican:

- William S. Meyer, Madison County Board Member;

- Al Suguitan, President, Greater Gateway Board of Realtors;

- Brett Bruhn, Executive Vice-president, First National Bank in Staunton;

- Dr. Lawrence Harmon, M.D., Heartland Health Care;

- John Gerdes, retired teacher at Collinsville High School; and

- Dr. Paul Scherer, M.D., Illinois Southwest Orthopedics

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