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Archive for Sunday, August 3, 2008

Competitive races few, far between

Little interest in precinct leadership common

Precinct Committee Races in some neighborhoods are up for grabs in the primary Tuesday such as, from left, James Meier and his wife, Andrea, who are looking to unseat Delbert and Mary Baxter on the Douglas County Republican Committee. Such a primary face-off is rare because "not a lot of people are getting involved," James Meier said.

Precinct Committee Races in some neighborhoods are up for grabs in the primary Tuesday such as, from left, James Meier and his wife, Andrea, who are looking to unseat Delbert and Mary Baxter on the Douglas County Republican Committee. Such a primary face-off is rare because "not a lot of people are getting involved," James Meier said.

August 3, 2008

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It could be billed as a race to become the political power couple of a southeast Lawrence precinct.

The young upstarts, James and Andrea Meier, moved into the Pine Tree Townhouses about a year ago so he could attend Kansas University's pharmacy school. They're trying to make their way onto Douglas County's Republican Committee in Tuesday's primary election.

They will be trying to unseat Delbert and Mary Baxter, who have served on the committee for about 15 years.

Neither couple have actively campaigned, and both say if the other wins, that would be fine.

"It's very odd to have a competitive race really anywhere because, unfortunately, not a lot of people are getting involved," James Meier said.

Neglected races

One political scientist says these are important grass-roots political races that too often are overlooked, mostly out of voter ignorance and decreasing civic engagement.

"They get down the ballot, and they don't know what the heck this is," said Loran Smith, who teaches about local and state government as a Washburn University political science professor.

In each party in Douglas County, no one even filed to run for about half of the precinct committee seats that will be decided Tuesday. For Democrats, there are only five contested races out of 134. On the Republican side, it's four.

During primary elections every two years, voters in each party select one man and one woman to serve on the party's committee in the county. Their main task is to select new county officials or state legislators if an office becomes vacant.

Little interest

Smith said many people figured out the importance of the county committees when Johnson County Republicans resurrected Phill Kline's political career in 2006. They selected him to the district attorney vacancy, just weeks after he lost the Kansas Attorney General race.

But it's still common in counties across the state to have little interest in serving on the committees, he said. For one, younger people are drawn more toward electronic means of communication, such as Facebook on the Internet, instead of going door-to-door in neighborhoods.

Usually the vacancies in the precinct races will go to write-in candidates or county party chairmen will make appointments later, said Christian Morgan, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party.

Morgan, a Lawrence resident, is running unopposed to captain his precinct in central Lawrence. He said statewide, the party relies on their precinct leaders, especially to help campaign.

"The best way to reach voters is by knocking on their door and talking to them. That's not a partisan thing. I guarantee you," he said.

Mike Gaughan, the Kansas Democratic Party's executive director, said precinct committees give voters a firsthand look at party politics. The state party also aims to have a strong local presence.

"We want to make sure that people can get involved whether they want to run or not," said Gaughan, also a Lawrence resident, who is seeking to represent the party in his west Lawrence precinct with his wife, Julia.

They're both running unopposed. Gaughan said the state party is also working on a concept called "virtual precincts," which allows voters to work together with people on the Internet, even though they're not geographic neighbors.

As for those who are running for precinct seats the traditional way, they've noticed a drop off in interest in the last decade.

"There's a lot of apathy out there. It's really hard to fight it," Mary Baxter said.

The Baxters, who are both retired, have worked at their polling place during elections for several years, and they've each represented the precinct in the county for more than 15 years. Most neighbors know them because of they see the couple at the polls, she said.

But oftentimes it's hard to even get younger people out to vote, she said.

Her husband's opponent in Tuesday's election - the newcomer - James Meier, who's in his mid-20s, said younger people should take interest in the precinct leadership concept, even if they disagree with party stances on issues.

"The best way is to become a precinct person, get involved and change what the party stands for," Meier said.

Comments

bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

that's the problem, obama may be "new" but all his ideas are from clinton and carter. some of his energy ideas are lifted directly from the clinton era. now, that really makes sense??? --NOT!

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

gee thanks Christie,you've just exemplified something I've been pointing out on here for years! that is, the far left, now running the democrat party, is extremely uncivil. thanks for being such a fine teaching example. **RE Phil Kline,now there's a last minute desperate surprise by the so-called "traditional republican majority" and the "mainstream coalition" both of whom have false names. they claim Phil is a racist because one of his backers, Tony Perkins of the American Family Assn, is tied to the KKK and a racist. as this breaks, guess where Tony is right now?...he is on a medical missionary trip to Honduras, helping to treat native peoples there. this says more for the proabortion forces than about Kline or Perkins. quite disreputable smear.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

like the ones who, contrary to the democratic principles of our founding fathers, installed Kline into office after he got his butt kicked by Morrisonin Johnson County AG general election. Now that would have been fitting, proper, and informative.---oh, you mean like those who installed Barry H. Obama instead of Hilary who actually won more democrat party votes including Michigan and Florida? I'm shocked to still some democrats on here bemoaning the 2000 election as if something wrong was done then...they quickly overlook AlGore suppressing the overseas military vote! but those who wave around the false issue of the 2000 election, and their own party deselected the top vote-getter!as this sinks in, I expect to never hear another moan about the 2000 election from them! and, now Barry h. Obama is sinking in national polls because people reacted negatively to his foreign trip: avoided visiting injured troops (ref BHO's own london statement, he was told he couldn't bring his campaign manager); dissing the u.s. to a foreign audience; acting like he's already president. this is the man the democrat party selected, not nominated. my prediction, by convention time there'll be a move to replace him with another nominee as he'll be doing so poorly. ***and, lest we forget: Barry H. Obama's questionable associations have gotten more numerous. He called a foul-mouthed rapper "a great" talent, did fundraiser with him, met with him. now rapper produces an incredibly offensive rap production. Barry's campaign disavows it, but he can't bring himself to speak the words himself. then, of course there's his pastor of twenty years; that hateful church (he even had his little daughters in there); his unrepentant domestic terrorist bomber buddy; his wacko race inflaming catholic priest; and of course his own wife who hasn't been proud of this country most of her adult life. Barry H. Obama does not oppose high gas prices, in fact he praises them. he just thinks they went up "a little faster" than he would have wished. nothing in his plan for energy will lower gas prices, and will instead raise the price. oh, he's sorta flip-flopped on offshore drilling--just a little. that's making the greenie-wheenies and the dailykos fringe really angry at him.

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christie 5 years, 8 months ago

Ick they're so white, lilly white and clean looking. I bet they don't even do the wild thing. They deserve each other.

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Bob Forer 5 years, 8 months ago

As usual, the Journal World dropped the ball on this story. They should have asked both couples if they were the phantom right-wing, anit-democracy variety, like the ones who, contrary to the democratic principles of our founding fathers, installed Kline into office after he got his butt kicked by Morrison in Johnson County AG general election. Now that would have been fitting, proper, and informative.

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Paul R Getto 5 years, 8 months ago

It's soo sad that 100% of the citizens seem to gripe, but less than 20% vote in primaries. Wake up and vote, sheeple!

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