Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Vote or Die

That was the slogan "Puff Daddy" used in a voter registration effort two years ago. While no one is quite sure what "Vote or Die" means, it is nonetheless very important for people to vote. This is true in the primary election just as in the general election. Primaries decide which candidates voters get to choose between in the fall and sometimes can have a major impact.

County Council races are an example of why primary elections are important. Four years ago, environmental activist Lucille Bertuccio surprised county political observers by knocking David Hamilton out in the primary. Bertuccio's victory motivated Republicans, who chose Sue West in a party caucus to face Bertuccio in November. West won, but there might not have been a GOP candidate had Hamilton prevailed in the primary.

This year, two county council primary contests will have a major impact. Bill Hayden and Jill Lesh go head-to-head for the Democratic nomination in county council district 4. The fourth district is very Democratic, so the primary contest may well decide who serves on the County Council in January. That said, the district might be winnable if Republicans get enough student votes.

In the third county council district, incumbent council member Mark Stoops is facing Christopher Troy Thomas, a very hard-working sheriff's deputy. It would be a major upset for Thomas to beat Stoops, but if turnout is low Stoops may suffer the same fate Scott Wells suffered two years ago, when the incumbent county council member (who was the #1 vote-getter in the countywide at-large race four years earlier) lost in the Democratic primary.

The race for Sheriff could be interesting as well. Jim Kennedy has raised and spent a lot more money than his opponents, but Larry Smith (the Technical Services director for county government) is very popular with Leftist activists. It will be very interesting to see how that turns out, and it could be very close. On the Republican side, Brad Swain is the only current Sheriff's deputy in the race and I expect he will win. On a side note, while Larry Bizarri reported no contributions or expenditures, he does have yard signs out in the county.