Newspaper endorsements only make a difference when the newspaper has power and when it crosses party lines. 

The Providence Journal is the only statewide newspaper in Rhode Island, and while it doesn’t have the power it once had, it still is a big voice in the state.  The ProJo also leans heavily Democrat, and liberal.

Which makes its endorsement today of Republican Brendan Doherty over incumbent Democrat David Cicilline all the more important in a race in which Doherty is coming on strong.

I consider the ProJo’s endorsement way too kind to Cicilline, but ultimately the ProJo got it right — Cicilline lied to the public about Providences finance in order to get elected in 2010, and that in itself is a disqualifier.

Mr. Cicilline’s luster began to fade in his last months in City Hall, when he was untruthful about Providence’s desperate fiscal state as he was running for Congress. He basically said that while there were problems, the city was in strong shape. After the election, the severity of the city’s condition swiftly became obvious.

Mr. Cicilline’s failure to disclose the city’s near-bankruptcy made it all the harder for his successor, Angel Taveras, to start cleaning up the mess. Mr. Cicilline’s powerful ambition to move up thus damaged the city at the end of his mayoralty — particularly sad, considering that he did a lot of good work in much of his tenure.

Mr. Doherty, on the other hand, has displayed consistent integrity. He ably led the State Police and has participated over the years in a wide range of civic and charitable activities. He is still learning the nuts and bolts of some issues and federal operations but has been diligent in educating himself about the duties of being a member of Congress.

On some matters, such as “Obamacare,” he is to the right of us, though he is no Tea Partier….

On the basis of his background, temperament and character, we believe that Brendan Doherty would be a moderate, thoughtful and flexible congressman who can work with Democrats to get things done, in the tradition of the late U.S. Sen. John Chafee. And in some areas in which he has expertise, such as law enforcement, anti-terrorism and immigration, he could become a congressional leader. Very importantly, we believe that he will tell the public the truth and not just what it wants to hear. Character counts.