The Arizona Daily Star’s practice has been to not endorse candidates in primaries. We have believed it is the business of political parties to select their standard-bearers for the general election.

It is impossible, however, to ignore the importance of primaries — especially in a state where registered independent voters now outnumber both Republicans and Democrats.

So few people cast ballots in primaries that, practically speaking, a fraction of Arizonans pick the candidates who face off in November. Too often those are politicians who cater to the ideological wings of their parties, to the detriment of common-sense governing.

So we’re taking a different approach to the Aug. 26 Republican primary for governor, a race that includes six candidates. (Democrat Fred DuVal has no opponent). We are evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the six, who broadly agree on many topics but whose specific plans and philosophy differ in significant ways. Those distinctions may be especially important to independent voters, who can vote in the Arizona primary by choosing one party’s ballot.

We researched candidates’ positions, watched debates and read coverage. We also invited the candidates to speak with us at the Star. All but Andrew Thomas accepted.