New Castle News

Columns

May 17, 2014

John K. Manna: Voters face few choices in Tuesday’s state primary

NEW CASTLE — The gubernatorial race has been the main focus for Tuesday’s primary in Pennsylvania, but there are other contests.

Voters will also nominate candidates for the U.S. House and the state Legislature, but in some cases there is an absence of competition.

If you’re a Democrat and live in New Castle and adjacent municipalities, for example, the only races you may take some time thinking about are the contests for governor and lieutenant governor.

That’s because the Democratic candidates in the 3rd Congressional District and the 9th state House District have no opposition.

And, if you’re a Republican and live in Ellwood City, you’ll encounter a bunch of uncontested races, including those for governor, lieutenant governor, the 12th Congressional District and the 10th state House District.

This is not an attempt to discourage people from going to the polls on Tuesday, but simply stating the fact that voters won’t have to spend much time at the voting machines unless they decide to plug in a few write-ins.

In a piece this week, political analysts Dr. G. Terry Madonna and Dr. Michael Young lament the fact of little competition.

“More and more, Americans have fewer and fewer electoral choices at all levels of politics,” they say.

They go on to say that the lack of competition is “arguably a major cause” of the dysfunction people condemn in politics today.

There are a host of reasons for non-competition. The most apparent are the cost to run a campaign — particularly for Congress — and redistricting, which favors incumbents regardless of party.

Once incumbents get a foothold, it’s difficult to remove them from office. John Hugya, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 12th District, admitted as much and more in an interview this week. He believes that if U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus wins re-election in November, “he will never be thrown out.”

Will these non-competitive races have an impact on the turnout for the Democratic gubernatorial race? Perhaps, but this race — with all four candidates running television ads — has been quite visible.

You’d think this race alone has generated enough interest among Democratic voters for them to show up on Tuesday and play a role in selecting Gov. Tom Corbett’s opponent in the fall.

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