Let There Be Light

Election Day postmortems are of interest mainly to losing candidates.

Still reeling from defeat and wanting to know and understand what went wrong, they scan the by now well-thumbed results, hoping against hope for the miracle, the discovery that somehow the vote-counters erred and news of their loss was all a mistake.

For even the greatest underdog believes, if only for the brief moment before the first precinct returns are reported, in the possibility of victory.

It takes a fair amount of ego to run for public office, and nothing bruises the ego more than to be turned away by your fellow man, essentially told you're not what we want to represent us, to leave you, as Lincoln put it, too old too cry and too hurt to laugh.

I've often wondered why in God's name anyone would willing go through with it, running for office. The only thing worse, I suppose, would be to actually get elected.

We in the newspaper business, who suffer from either too little or far too much ego, also find Election Day postmortems interesting: they give us something else to write about.

UNCONTESTED RACE

That the mayor ran unopposed has been viewed (mainly by Democrats) as the reason for the party's poor showing.

I don't think so.

The last time a mayoral race was contested in Vincennes was 2011, when turnout was over 28%. Turnout for Tuesday's voting was a little above 25%

If the mayor had had a GOP opponent this year, and if turnout was again 28%, and if all those additional voters were Democrats, and if they all voted a straight-party ticket — which is a lot of “if-ing” — Democrats would have added an additional 344 votes to their final tallies.

That would have been just enough to re-elect at-large member Duane Chattin to the council but not his colleague, Shirley Rose, who would have come up short, defeated by 4 votes.

Nor would it have been enough to keep the clerk-treasurer's office under Democrat control.

PARTY INFLUENCE

If all politics are local, then all local elections are about people, not parties.

Across party lines, there was likely just a sliver of difference in the political ideologies of the candidates running on Tuesday, which is basically the norm in Knox County.

Where party affiliation did have an impact was in the Republicans being much better organized than the Democrats: they were prepared, with a unified message, a script from which they never ad-libbed, and it proved to be successful.

Democrats sought to run on their resume, on what they had accomplished under their watch, which is what incumbents do.

But to campaign on your record is reflecting backwards, to emphasize the past, whereas Republicans talked about the promise of the future, to what they intended to do.

Voters can be cruel: They'll ask, “What have you done for me lately?”

Besides, not all those “accomplishments” Democrats touted during their campaigning are as popular with the general public as those down at City Hall like to believe.

That's the way it is in politics, with one man's progress another man's petty corruption.

And, too, if you added up the years in office of the incumbent at-large candidates, they totaled 52 — more than half a century. Toss in District 3 councilman Scott Brown's 16 years in office and it's more than enough to qualify for Medicare.

Voters opted for something new on Tuesday; now we'll all get to watch how that works out.

Gayle R. Robbins is editor and publisher of The Sun-Commercial. He can be reached at grobbins@suncommercial.com.

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