Lessons from the primary election

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The yard signs are coming down now for candidates seeking the Republican nomination for county office.

In a rare year where the incumbent sheriff and county supervisors all received primary challenges, some of the races were very close -- Mark Loutsch held off a challenge by Wayne Schipper by 49 votes and Jim Henrich defeated Dan Smith by 166 votes.

Other races were not close. Don Kass defeated Merlin Wagner by over 1,100 votes, a three to one margin. Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo was the big winner of the evening, handily defeating Jay King by over 1,600 votes, nearly a six to one margin.

We'd like to offer a few thoughts about this election for your consideration.

The fact that there were challengers in each of these races is a statement. There are some other ideas out there that deserve to be considered, and the victors on Tuesday night would do well to be open to other ways of governing.

The race was an example of how campaigns should be run -- on ideas, not personal or partisan rancor. We would like to congratulate all the candidates for their victory of courtesy and respect. The nation could learn a thing or two from these races in Plymouth County.

Often after elections, people like to say that they have received a mandate from the voters. "The people have spoken" is a phrase that gets thrown around a great deal. On an emotional level, this may be true, but let's take a deeper look into the numbers,

There are 16,937 registered voters in the county. As of May, there were 7,636 registered Republican voters in Plymouth County. Republicans comprise 45 percent of the registered voters in the county.

On Tuesday, voters cast 2,184 Republican ballots in the county, about a 29 percent turnout.

Voters could change or declare a party the day of the primary, so the numbers may be skewed a bit, but it looks like just under 13 percent of the people actually "spoke" at the polls.

That's far from a mandate.