Thursday, August 23, 2012

Republican Party, Again, Drives Voters to the Democratic Party on Election Day

Res Publica
Republican Party, Again, Drives Voters to the Democratic Party on Election Day
by David Trumbull -- August 24, 2012

Looking at this fall's elections, not many men and women have stepped up to give the voters of the North End and East Boston -- prime readership of this Post-Gazette column -- a choice. The Democratic Party has someone running for each of the eleven offices to be filled. However, out of the ten where there could be a primary contest, Democratic voters will determine the outcome of but four. The other six have only one name per office on the ballot -- so Democratic primary voters have no choice.

Here's how it breaks down. Democrats Terrence W. Kennedy and Francis Xavier Flaherty, Jr. are vying for Executive Councillor. No Republican is running.

For positions in the Suffolk County Courts, Democrats Michael Joseph Donovan and Michael L. Dash are vying for Clerk of Court (Civil Business). Democrats Maura A. Hennigan and Robert J. Dello Russo, Sr. are running for Clerk of Court (Criminal Business). Democrats Patricia Patty Campatelli and Salvatore LaMattina are facing off for Register of Probate. None of these Democrats will face a Republican on the November ballot. For Clerk of Supreme Court and Register of Deeds there isn't even a contest for the Democratic nomination, so voters are quite irrelevant to the process.

For Representative in the General Court the Democrat faces no contest in either the primary or the general election. So out of eight county or state offices to be filled, four will be decided in the Democratic primary, three are already decided before anyone votes (because only one person is running). That leaves just one race that will be decided by the voters in the November election, that is for Senator in the General Court where Republican Thomas Dooley is challenging Democrat Anthony Petruccelli.

Looking to national races, voters in the North End will have the choice of Democrat Stephen Lynch or whichever of the two Republicans, Joe Selvaggi or Matias Temperly, wins in the Republican primary for Representative in Congress. In East Boston the Democratic candidate for Congressman will have no Republican opposition.

The race for United States Senator will pit Democrat Elizabeth Warren against incumbent Republican Scott Brown. For President we all know that Republican Mitt Romney is challenging Democrat Barack Obama.

My question to the Republicans is: Why would I want to register in your party? Say I am a Republican-leaning voter. If I live in the North End there is but one contested Republican primary election to vote in, out of ten possible. And even then, it's just to pick which Republican will lose to the Democrat in November. If I live in East Boston your primary is utterly pointless to me as a voter as you have no contests to settle that day. Far smarter for me to be an unenrolled voter and vote in the Democratic primary which will decide who will be Executive Councillor, Clerk of Court (Civil Business), Clerk of Court (Criminal Business), and Register of Probate, four offices for which there will not even be token Republican opposition in November.

Having voted in the Democratic primary (in order to have my vote matter) I then go into the voting booth in November to see, below the top couple of races, no Republicans running or some Republican whom I never heard of because, having no primary opponent, he wasn't news-worthy. On top of that, he's running against a Democrat who was on my September ballot, possible even a Democrat I voted for in the primary as the "lesser-of-two-evils." The harm from not having primary contests in the Republican Party doesn't stop there. Parties and candidates can spend huge amounts of money trying to identify voters who may lean their way, here in Massachusetts the Commonwealth does part of that for you. For free! If this independent but Republican-leaning voter had pulled a Republican ballot in September that is information you can get free or at slight cost from the city's Election Department. With that information you would know that I am a strong candidate for your get-out-the-vote effort in November. But, because you didn't have primary contests to interest me, I voted in the more important Democratic primary. I'm still far more likely to vote Republican in November. That is if I remember to vote. But you have no way of knowing that. I might have even been a good target for your fund raising efforts, but for all you know, I'm a Democrat, since you forced me into that party's primary.

In sum, what is the point of a political party that doesn't run people for political office?

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