The Herald’s Feb. 7 editorial:
Would you have liked Barack Obama driving through Sanford to talk to small business owners? How about Mike Huckabee speaking at your church? Hillary Clinton talking to the local Hispanic Task Force. John McCain meeting with local troops. Mitt Romney stopping by to check out our airport?
This is exactly the treatment states like Iowa, New Hampshire and the 24 states involved in this week’s Super Tuesday have received during this presidential election. Through the several caucuses and primaries in the past month, we’ve seen the presidential field go from about a dozen to five. This month, we could see even more drop out.
And by the time we North Carolinians head to the ballot box this May to vote on our local issues, the presidential candidates will more than likely be decided for us. There’s a slight chance we’ll be the deciding factor in the Democratic race, but odds are, that will be decided long before we vote as well.
Holding our primaries later must have sounded like a good idea at the time. It gave state and local candidates more time to campaign, and it gave North Carolinians more time to consider the ballots before them and consider their choices for president.
But if the presidential candidates decided before May 6, the plan could backfire in our state. Without a big-ticket race like president, fewer people in North Carolina will head to the polls to vote on the important state and local races. Locally, this would mean fewer people deciding the fate of a possible sales-tax hike to fund local schools.
Meanwhile, states that took part in February’s Super Tuesday saw record voting numbers for a primary, and not only did these states have a big say in who’ll be the Republican and Democratic candidates for president, they more than likely got a lot of important local issues before voters as well.
In 2007, the state legislature considered moving North Carolina’s presidential primaries to January or February to make the state more relevant … or as the case may be, relevant at all. The bill failed, and this week, North Carolinians watched the “fun” and their voices went unheard.
If North Carolina ever decides to join the party, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for local and state candidates to move up their primaries as well, so we’re not stuck with paying for more than one election (a lesson Lee County learned recently with an unnecessary January alcohol vote that drew less than 4 percent of registered voters).
We were like the kid who wasn’t invited to the party this week, and to be honest, it hurt a little to sit at home alone while the other states became important.
North Carolina, let’s join the party in four years and have our voices heard. It will improve voter turnout and, perhaps, we can have some of these candidates at our pig-pickins.