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Primaries...Are They Worth The Effort?

Mike McGarry

August 14, 2008

The outcomes seemed pre-ordained. The well-known incumbents won in all cases except Democratic Registrar of Voters. Lots of taxpayer money was spent, both through the new public financing and by the City of Hartford and Town of Wethersfield to man and run the polls.

Some will call the whole effort a waste of money in these tough times. Yes, more money is needed for public safety, public works, schools, etc...a seemingly endless list. So why this great effort to attract so few voters? It’s a question that’s certainly worth serious debate.

However, this observer thinks the process is worth the time and money involved. All of the offices contested are important and nobody deserves a free ride just because they have served previously or were picked by a small political committee. In most cases (except the First Senatorial District), the primary will be the only real election. With “safe” Democratic seats and the registrar’s office, nomination usually means automatic election in November. The primaries at least give interested voters a chance to voice their opinions.

The many candidate forums held were good for the winners because many issues were brought up, citizens got to understand the various offices better and just preparing for the face-to-face confrontation made everyone a little sharper and more focused. The challengers deserve credit for at least trying – pushing the system and giving the voters a choice and we’ve seen many candidates (Hector Robles, for example) lose the first time and then come back for seconds and win.

Our problem with the now well-established four-year cycle for city elections is the lack of political action in mid-term. Politics – and political involvement – weaken without the chance for new blood on a timely basis. So, thankfully, we had a primary.

This fall, there will be a Republican challenger in the first and second senatorial districts and the fourth assembly district. And, if the petition signatures hold up, a Working Peoples Party candidate for registrar of voters. Not quite the same as the race for mayor and city council, but better than we’ve seen lately. More about these contests in future columns.

Reprinted with permission of the The Hartford News.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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