JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Times-Union, the major daily newspaper in Jacksonville, will endorse Donald Trump for president, editor Frank Denton confirmed to News4Jax Friday.
The Times-Union's editorial endorsing the controversial Republican nominee will be published in Sunday's paper.
The paper, owned by Morris Communications of Augusta, Georgia, has endorsed Republican candidates for office in the past and now joins only a handful of newspapers across the country to endorse Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Morris Communications President and CEO W.S. Morris IV issued the following statement on the company-wide endorsement:
"When readers of Morris Communications newspapers turn to the editorial page on Sunday, November 6, 2016, they will find endorsements supporting Donald J. Trump for President of the United States.
"Morris is a third generation, family-owned company. We hold traditional values and have long-held conservative views that we believe have been key components in making this country a world leader.
"While this endorsement reflects our opinion, we want readers to know that this does not influence our news coverage. Newsrooms run independently from our editorial pages.
"Many newspapers throughout the country have chosen not to make endorsements this year due to the mercurial candidates. I believe that it is a mistake, and it is our responsibility to have the courage to voice an opinion and to lead civil discourse.
"More voices and opinions make our country strong, even when we are not in agreement. But we can all agree it’s crucial that everyone exercise their right to vote.
"Our country depends on it."
Dr. Michael Binder, a University of North Florida pollster and political science professor, said he was shocked to learn of the endorsement.
"I don't know that it's going to swing the election in north Florida and suddenly Trump's going to be plus 20 points or anything like that. But I do think it's surprising, certainly, and it will certainly be fodder for discussion around the water cooler come Monday after this comes out on Sunday," Binder said.
Binder said he does not expect the endorsement to have much impact.
"Literally more than half the electorate has already voted. So it won’t impact them there. Where these newspaper endorsements tend to matter more is on the lower information races -- the ballot measures, the House races, the state House candidates, things of that nature," he said.
As of Oct. 16, only six newspapers in the country had endorsed Trump, according to a report from Politico.com. They were the St. Joseph News-Press, the Santa Barbara News-Press, the Waxahachie Daily Light in a suburb of Dallas, the Times-Gazette in Hillsboro, Ohio, the Antelope Valley Press, in Palmdale, California, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the only other major newspaper in the nation to come out for Trump.
The Review-Journal is owned by Trump backer Sheldon Adelson.