John Laird County commissioner races remain highly unsettled

first_imgCaution No. 1! Do not misinterpret what happened Tuesday as an election. It was a primary. Big difference.Ask Pam Brokaw. Four years ago, she was the top vote-getter in her primary race for county commissioner, with a seemingly healthy lead of 12 percentage points over Tom Mielke. Three months later, Mielke beat Brokaw by 207 votes in the general election. So much for momentum from the primary.Caution No. 2! Remember that, in county commissioner races, the finalists are just barely out of the starting blocks. Actually, they have to go back and start over. Voting in the primary is only districtwide for county commissioners, while voting for those positions in the general election is countywide.Although Mielke, a Republican, and Democrat Joe Tanner are advancing in District 1 (Battle Ground and most of north county) and Republicans David Madore and Marc Boldt appear to have advanced in District 2 (much of Vancouver east of Interstate 205, plus Orchards, Camas and Washougal), we have yet to hear from voters in District 3 (Vancouver and parts of Hazel Dell). Those voters will join the Nov. 6 polling for county commissioners. One powerful variable: District 3 is markedly more Democratic than the other two districts.(The county commissioner District 3 post, won by Democrat Steve Stuart in 2010, will be on the ballot in 2014.)Caution No. 3! If you think the local electorate spoke loudly and clearly last Tuesday, you’re sadly mistaken. Turnout in the primary was about 30 percent. In the Nov. 6 presidential election, local turnout will probably be over 80 percent. In 2008, local turnout was 37.9 percent in the primary, then it soared to 85.3 percent in the fall presidential election.Waiting for casual votersCaution No. 4! Do not discount the value of casual voters. We can assume that the relatively low turnout in the primary included hard-core, battle-worn, intensely motivated partisans in both parties. We can also assume that the new folks on the dance floor in November will be ordinary people who don’t spend every waking hour firing off incendiary online comments about politics.last_img read more

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