Thoughts about Tuesday’s Primary Election

-I guess the old adage that if you spend enough money you will surely win, didn’t hold true. I was truly shocked that Pete Hoekstra was able to crush Clark Durant, in the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate, by 30 percentage points. Durant peppered TV airwaves with commercials for the last 6 weeks trying to label Hoekstra as part of the Washington establishment.

The same could be said at the local level. Richard Miller outspent his Republican Sheriff opponent, Mac McClellan by a wide margin, but came up short at the voting booth. The same result occurred for Tom Kunse, who ran a spirited race for Grant Township Trustee. He outspent his opponents by a wide margin, but the incumbents were able to pull more votes.

-Nothing beats campaigning door to door- I think Marcy Klaus can attest to that. Klaus has been knocking on doors for nearly six months in her attempt to win the open Probate and Family Court seat in Clare and Gladwin counties. On Primary election night, she bested her opponents, Tara Hovey and Norm Gage.

I expected this race to be very close, but it really wasn’t. Klaus certainly ran away with it. But her work isn’t done. The top two finishers, which were Klaus and Hovey square off in November. At that point a new judge will be crowned.

-I sometimes wonder whether we should do away with Primary elections. Voter turnout usually stinks at these August affairs, particularly if there is not a hot issue on the ballot. Statewide, pundits were predicting a 35 percent turnout. It ended much lower. Heck in Clare County, our turnout was barely over 20%. That’s disgusting.

-Then there are the voters that haven’t taken the time to understand the ins and outs of a primary election. The fact that you can only vote Republican or Democratic, seems to have escaped many that went to the polls. I gasp when I here horror stories about some voters pushing the lever for a Republican here, and a Democrat there.

-Local voters did not appear to be in the mood to accept money issues. The United Rescue Ambulance Authority millage proposal was defeated, and so was the Harrison District Library proposal in Frost Township. City of Clare voters did renew the Parks and Recreation millage issue.

-There was one very close race, in an election that featured mostly wide victory margins. In the race for Drain Commissioner, incumbent Democrat Carl Parks edged Phil Duggan by 13 votes. That’s right, only 13 votes separated the two. Since there is no Republican opposition, Parks is assured another four years in that position.

-Now the election process really gets interesting. There were few contested races in the Primary, however with the exception of the County Treasurer and a few county commission seats, all elected positions are up for grabs. I’m curious as to how the Presidential race will impact local elections.

Four years ago, because Obama won the state of Michigan by a wide margin, many Democrats were able to win at the County level. Instead of voting for individuals many voters cast their ballot for a straight party ticket, thus assuring the Democrats victory.

I wonder if the same will happen this election cycle? Will voters take the time to choose candidates based on their merits, or will they pull the lever for Obama (Democrat) or Romney (Republican)? What if Romney surges and wins Michigan? Does that mean we will have a new sheriff? Stay tuned- it could get interesting.