New Castle News

May 25, 2013

John K. Manna: A look back a big wins, tiny turnout in primary

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Years from now few people, if any, will remember Tuesday’s primary in Lawrence County.

The few probably will not remember that only 9,291 registered voters turned out at the polls.

It wasn’t the lowest turnout over the last 25 years or so. No, the lowest turnout during that period was in the 1998 gubernatorial primary when only 8,986 people showed up at the polls.

The small turnout, however, does not diminish the results. A win is a win despite the number of people who voted. Candidates who win by five votes have as much clout in office as those who win by 500 or more.

Nonetheless, voter turnout affects election outcomes, and Tuesday’s primary was no different, particularly in New Castle, which had contested races for city council and school board.

Unofficially, only 20 percent of the city’s voters cast ballots, about three percentage points higher than the overall county turnout. Most were Democrats who hold a registration advantage of nearly 3 to 1 in the city.

The beneficiaries of small turnouts in local elections generally are candidates who have a lot of relatives and friends, or who have a political base. All of those played a factor in Tuesday’s results in the city.

Tim Fulkerson, who served two terms as mayor, undoubtedly still has a base of support as he led all Democratic candidates for city council. Fulkerson carried five of the city’s eight wards.

Anthony Adamo, running for the first time, carried the Mahoningtown section — his home area — by an overwhelming margin. He won 46 percent of the vote in that area.

That margin allowed him to clinch the party’s second nomination, edging council president MaryAnne Gavrile by 33 votes.

Now it’s on to November where Democrats will have an advantage in the race for city council. That advantage would be diminished if some Democrats stay home because many other contests will have been decided by then.