The excitement of the 2008 primary is lacking, but there are plenty of contested races
Posted: 05/06/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Tim Vandenack
Click here to view in a gallery.
$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Voter at the Baugo Fire Department line up to vote for the 2008 primary election. Voters in Precinct 73 waited up to an hour as election officals reported voter turnout two to two and a half times higher then normal for the first half of the day.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$
Truth File Photo By J. Tyler Klassen
Senator Hillary Clinton talks to thousands of sign waving supporters at Coveleski Stadium in South Bend Saturday, April 26, 2008. Thousands of backers attended Clintonís second visit to South Bend. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Senator Hillary Clinton shakes hands with supporters as she makes her way to the podium at Coveleski Stadium Saturday, April 26, 2008. Saturdayís event was Clintonís second visit to South Bend. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama talks about his energy policies at a town hall meeting at Concord High School Wednesday. Senator Obama also answered questions from the audience. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen)
$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Elkhart resident Dawn Robbins (left) watches the long line stretch out in front of her as she signs paperwork while waiting in line for tickets to Barack Obama’s 2008 visit to Concord High School.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$
Truth File Photo By Jennifer Shephard
As voters in Baugo precinct 73 (left) line up to vote, election officials at precinct 74 (right) wait for voters. Voters in precinct 73 waited up to an hour as election officals reported voter turnout two to two and a half times higher then normal for the first half of the day. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen)
Margaret Moore, of Elkhart, steps out of the Obama campaignís offices on 116 South Main Street. Moore, who has been watching this weekís Denver DNC Convention, said ìitís very interesting, listening and watching for change.î (Truth Photo By Chris Mackler)
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama answers questions during the town hall meeting at Concord High School Wednesday. Obama also talked about his energy policy at the meeting. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen)
Voter interest was high — Obama even stopped to shoot hoops and pump flesh at Riverview Elementary School in Elkhart — and Elkhart County turnout that year jumped to 42 percent. In the presidential vote four years earlier in 2004, turnout reached only 22 percent.
Don’t expect a repeat of 2008 come Tuesday. Though it’s a presidential election year, Mitt Romney has the Republican nomination all but wrapped up and electoral interest, locally, seems at an ebb.
“It just seems really quiet to me now,” said Shari Mellin, chairwoman of the Elkhart County Democratic Party.
Indeed, in calling around searching for workers to help run polls on election day next Tuesday, many expressed surprise to Mellin that a vote loomed. “That doesn’t bode well for a busy election day,” she said.
Nevertheless, there are contests to be won and lost in the primary — mostly on the Republican ballot — and the candidates, undoubtedly, are running on adrenalin. Here are the races of note:
• U.S. Senate: Longtime U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar faces off against Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the GOP primary for the Senate post. It’s one of the toughest electoral fights Lugar has faced and the winner will go against Democrat Joe Donnelly in November.
• Elkhart County Board of Commissioners: Incumbent Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder faces challenger Darryl Riegsecker, a member of the Elkhart County Council, in the Republican primary for Yoder’s District 2 post. No Democrats are running.
• Elkhart County Council: Five Republicans are jockeying for three at-large spots on the Elkhart County Council — incumbents John Letherman and David Ashe along with Jason Obendorf, Thomas Stump and Randy Wilson. The top three vote-getters continue on to the November general election, along with one Democrat, Ralph Spelbring.
• District 48 Indiana House seat: Incumbent Tim Neese faces a challenge from two others in the GOP primary, Jerry Brewton and Randy Weinley. No Democrats are running.
• District 2 U.S. House seat: On the Republican side, Jackie Walorski faces Greg Andrews. On the Democratic side Brendan Mullen faces Dan Morrison, which makes it the only contested race on the Democratic ballot in Elkhart County.
Walorski and Mullen have the money, organization and party support, giving them the inside track to victory come Tuesday. Donnelly currently holds the seat, but is running for the U.S. Senate this cycle.
• Southern Elkhart County: The GOP primaries for two other Indiana House seats that seep into southern Elkhart County, District 22 and District 82, are also contested, while the Democratic primaries are not.
The District 22 GOP race features incumbent Rebecca Kubacki and Jon Hare. The District 82 contest pits four hopefuls against each other, Mike Caywood, Denise Lemmon, David Ober and Wesley Ortell. Incumbent District 82 Rep. Jeff Espich, a Republican, isn’t seeking re-election.
ENERGY AND MONEY
Dale Stickel, chairman of the Elkhart County Republican Central Committee, suspects negative campaigning may be turning some people off ahead of Tuesday’s vote. The Lugar-Mourdock campaign has been particularly intense, though he didn’t pinpoint any race.
Interest may even be low come Nov. 6, the day of the general election, he thinks.
“Quite honestly, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of races on our ballot to look at,” he said.
The District 2 U.S. House contest will probably draw most attention locally, but he doesn’t expect Donnelly to put up much of a challenge to whoever wins the Lugar-Mourdock primary. Donnelly’s vote for Obama’s health care overhaul will hobble him, Stickel maintains.
Mellin, though, expects interest to rise by Nov. 6. “In the fall, I’m sure we’ll be very, very active,” she said.
There will be the presidential race, of course, between Obama and, presumably, Romney. She also foresees more of a contest than Stickel does between Donnelly and the Mourdock-Lugar winner.
The District 2 U.S. House race, too, will generate interest. “I think there will be a lot of energy and, unfortunately, a lot of money spent, and a lot from outside our district,” she said.