The Agitator #36
by Oliver_Halle
 The Agitator
August 06, 2012 08:50 AM | 1644 views | 3 3 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Last week’s elections were interesting for one thing in particular---the overwhelming number of incumbents who the voters granted another term or the chance to take on a Democrat in November.  (I am referring to the Republican primary because there were so few Democrats on the ballot in Cobb and other outlying counties.)  I doubt that I was the only one surprised, not only at the results, but in so many instances the large percentages won by the incumbents.  What adds to my surprise is that over the years, and especially during the past two years, there has been so much finger pointing at incumbents, the cry to throw them all out and start over, the anger at incumbents for certain actions or inactions, and on and on.  Yet when the voters had a chance to make some big changes it didn’t happen.  

What can explain this?  I can come up with any number of possible reasons but have no real evidence to support them.  In my opinion there were some very fine candidates that ran very clean races, candidates that by any measure were eminently qualified to hold the office they sought, and yet they were clobbered.  Senate Majority leader, Chip Rogers, with all the baggage he had concerning the loan guarantee he made and then welshed on, one would think that this would have grabbed some serious attention.  For those who oppose gambling and Sunday sales, Rogers not too distant past experience as a radio talk show host related to handicapping, one would think that this would have been a good reason to disqualify him.  Then there is Gwinnett State Senator Don Balfour, a man who got caught falsifying travel vouchers on numerous occasions, whose explanations for the “errors” don’t pass the red face test---he too was returned to the senate with a convincing majority.  These examples seem to go against values that Republicans tout.

These are just two of many races where the incumbents surprised perhaps even themselves.  What I sincerely hope for is that the many good challengers will not be discouraged from seeking public office again.  They helped to sharpen the debate on key issues, and they just maybe will cause the incumbents to work a little bit harder, to be better listeners, and to watch their backs because someone might be gaining.  

Whether I agreed with all or some of the challengers or not, I thank them for putting their time, money, personal sacrifice, and effort into being players in the community, for not sitting on the sidelines behind their computers carping at every micro deed or misdeed of a public official , for trying to be part of the process that makes a difference in their communities, and for not just being a backbencher.  

Comments
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B D Lane
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August 06, 2012
Why, thank you, Mr. Halle. You can call me Barbara. :)

Perhaps through our differences in opinion, we can make each other think, see flaws in our own arguments, and maybe even move our positions every now and again when logic warrants.

And no worries. People lose. People win. People often run again. Resilience is also a virtue for those who eventually find seats in public office.

Oliver G. Halle
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August 06, 2012
B.D., we have some political differences, but you are a very reasoned person that makes eminent sense. Your opinions are informed becasue you make the effort to understand the issues and the players. From personal experience I am sadly disappointed at the number of educated people that have very strong opinions, yet when you ask them what the facts and evidence are that support them, the response all too often is something inane. I just hope that some of the very fine challengers in last Tuesday's primary will not be discouraged and come back stronger. We need good people like them, people who care and who are competent, to hold public office.
B D Lane
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August 06, 2012
In many ways, local politics require a great deal more effort from the electorate to follow closely. I am a political junkie, but I know this is reality. I also never vote for or against candidates I know nothing about, but not everyone follows this rule. Therefore, name recognition factors high in a primary. This is a mountain for challengers.

This is not to say that many of those who voted in this last election for incumbents didn't mean to do so. Their reasons? You'd have to ask them.

However, regardless of why a vote was cast for a particular person, I agree with the sentiment of your piece. I also hope that qualified people always want to serve their community, even if they didn't win in a primary, and continue to run in future elections if they think they can do a better job in public office. Such participation actually makes incumbents better by virtue of the issues that elections highlight even if the incumbents stay where they are... Challenges make voters more aware of what local officials are doing, and that is always a good thing.

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