If the campaign signs springing up around town are the most visible sign of the current election season, and the robo-calls and mailers its constant drumbeat, then the routine roll call of endorsements is the background noise.
While rarely revelatory, they are a signal to voters and thus a required part of any bid for public office, political experts say.
"It is incumbent that you have them," said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist. "Do they sway voters? No. But they point voters in a direction."
In announcing their latest endorsements last week, Susan Gorin and John Sawyer did some more pointing to voters.
The rival Santa Rosa City Council members are seeking the open 1st District seat representing Sonoma, Sonoma Valley and some of eastern Santa Rosa on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.
On Tuesday, Gorin rolled out an endorsement from Shirlee Zane, the Board of Supervisors chairwoman and the only continuing supervisor to endorse so far. (Supervisor Valerie Brown, the retiring 1st District incumbent, backed Sawyer last month.)
Zane called Gorin an ally in support of robust county health and human service programs, smart fiscal oversight and environmental protection.
"I think Susan is much better equipped in terms of her background, beliefs and decision-making," Zane said in an interview. "I think she'll be bold."
Gorin said Zane's support showed the backing her campaign has among county leaders and in the community. "I know I will work very well with her," she said of Zane.
Sawyer, meanwhile, rolled out endorsements Friday from a trio of current and former Sonoma council members, including Mayor Joanne Sanders.
Sanders made an unsuccessful bid for the 1st District seat in the June primary. She cited Sawyer's platform on economic development, pension changes and road repair as reasons for her support.
Sonoma Councilman Tom Rouse joined her in supporting Sawyer, as did former Sonoma mayor Doug McKesson, who had previously backed Mark Bramfitt in the primary.
Sawyer, who like Gorin is a Santa Rosa resident, said the endorsements reflected "a growing base of support in the Sonoma Valley."
By now, less than 40 days before the election and two weeks before mail-in voting begins, the list of high-profile backers for both sides — it is pages long for each — is likely almost complete, political observers said.
Among the names added this week, Zane's could carry the most sway in eastern Santa Rosa, where many of the critical 1st District voters live, McCuan said.
"Zane is on the board," McCuan said. "Her endorsement says that if Susan gets on the board there will be a strong working relationship."
Sanders' endorsement of Sawyer could pay off in a smaller pool of Sonoma voters, McCuan said. The three-term councilwoman is stepping down at the end of this year.
The larger list of endorsements in the two corners have few if any surprises, McCuan added.
Gorin has landed key endorsements from the county's largest labor group, SEIU Local 1021, as well as its largest environmental groups, nearly all of the county's elected state and federal officials and the Democratic Party.
Sawyer has support from the largest business and agriculture organizations, including the Sonoma County Alliance and Sonoma County Farm Bureau, Sheriff Steve Freitas, groups representing county law enforcement, and real estate and building associations.