2018-08-09 / Views

What we gleaned from the Primary

With the results of the 2018 Primary Election all of a few hours old, what have we learned?

Some things. One was that the best outcome of elections in Leelanau County — and across America — remains. Evidence came in the form of a T-shirt with the logo “Social Workers, Social Justice” and a cap with the words “In God We Trust.”

Those messages embraced by two voters casting ballots Tuesday in the Leland School auditorium would indicate polar opposite political views. But that’s not a certainty. Such decisions are private, and voting is how Americans decide their political differences.

Kudos to both for participating.

But T-shirts and hats don’t determine election outcome. That’s about numbers, and those numbers reflect the mood of citizens. In some ways election results were telling:

 County voters were generous, approving all property tax requests even though most reflected increased millage rates. Those results signify an agreement with how and where taxpayer money is being spent. An increase in the millage supporting county senior services was approved overwhelmingly. Ditto for hikes in fire millages sought in Elmwood, Kasson and Centerville townships. And anyone with snow tires knows the importance of the Road Commission millage.

 The state Senate race was perhaps the most competitive in the state, with three former or present state House members competing for the Republican nomination. We’ve had more contact with former Rep. Ray Franz and present Rep. Curt VanderWall than Bruce Rendon, whose wife now sits in the House seat he once occupied. Voters seemed to reject the thought of a two-lawmaker couple.

Frankly, we weren’t surprised that Mr. VanderWall took the nomination. He’s the best campaigner of the three candidates, and presented a more positive image. We were left with the thought from Mr. Franz that he resented having to face Mr. VanderWall in the primary. But all elected officials — and all people, for that matter — have a personal calendar to follow. Congratulations to Mr. VanderWall for following his calendar to a likely Senate seat in a Republican-dominated district.

 Judging from party turnout in the Senate Primary, Republicans in Leelanau County dominated. But not so fast.

Results from the 101st House race tell a different story.

The GOP finished with 3,906 votes in the Senate race from county residents, compared to just 3,625 tallied by Mike Taillard, the lone Democratic candidate.

But the House race, which featured the only county resident running for state office, provided an opposite result. Some 4,092 county voters chose the Democratic ticket, compared to 3,846 who voted Republican.

We credit the popularity of Empire resident Kathy Wiejaczka for the strong Democratic showing. While both party frontrunners easily advanced through the Primary — Republican Jack O’Malley captured 84.9 percent of the GOP vote within the four-county 101st House district — Ms. Wiejaczka seems to have the overall edge in Leelanau County.

District wide, however, Republican ballots out-polled Democratic ballots cast, 14,608-11,397.

 And a high five to the 8,825 county residents who took the time to vote. That number represents a 44 percent turnout, which bodes well in light of the 24 percent turnout for the 2014 Primary. Statewide, it appears that turnout also increased dramatically, although tallies from Shiawassee and Wayne (surprise!) counties had yet to come in by mid-Wednesday morning.

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