Campaigns Are Like Holiday Seasons


November 11, 1990|By Edward H. Shur

Thank goodness, it's finally over.

To me it feels like the campaign season begins earlier and earlier -- sort of like the Christmas decorations that begin appearing earlier and earlier each year.

It seems we've been publishing '90 Vote campaign releases, writing political stories and running election photos practically since the '88 Vote ended.

For an off-year election, Carroll had a number of important contests.

And most of the races were hard-fought, often bitter, and some, the dirtiest in recent memory.

This also was the first election in decades where Republicans had the majority, albeit a slight one. The GOP registered 26,015 voters for the general election, or 47 percent; Democrats registered 25,084 or 46 percent; the balance registered for some other -- or no -- affiliation.

But while the increased registration is good news, only 61.8 percent of those registered actually cast their ballots. I always find it appalling that so many people, after caring enough to take the time to register, don't take the time to go to the polls. Why bother registering if you're not going to vote?

The 38.2 percent who didn't vote translates into 21,000 people. That's a heck of a lot of votes -- especially when so many county races were decided by very close margins.

Just look at the school board race, where challenger Ann Ballard holds a slim 13-vote margin over incumbent Robert Fletcher following Wednesday's absentee ballot count. She was behind in the count Tuesday night with 31 of 35 precincts counted. But when the last four precincts were tallied, she nosed past Fletcher by 76 votes, then lost by 63 after the absentee count.

Now, the outcome hinges on the results of a few dozen outstanding out-of-county absentee ballots, which will be counted next Friday. And even after that tally, it's conceivable a recount might be necessary.

While the Board of Education race was the closest, several other contests were decided by slim majorities: * The state's attorney's race, the "Tom and Jerry Show," which was dirty enough to have drawn an X -- or at least NC-17 -- rating, ended with a mere 604-vote difference. Democrat Jerry Barnes gave longtime Republican incumbent Thomas Hickman his first serious challenge.

In fact, Barnes led at one point Tuesday evening -- and gave a premature victory speech -- until the Freedom District was tallied. Wednesday's absentee ballot count only added to Hickman's victory.

Many of those who voted for Tom or Jerry said they weren't voting for one particular candidate, but rather choosing the lesser of two evils. They were disgusted with the mud-slinging of both candidates.

Further evidence of that feeling showed up in the form of a large number -- 123 -- of write-in votes. Some interesting notes here: Some of those who punched the write-in ballot never bothered to write in a name; also, garnering a few votes was Scott Markle, the former Barnes campaign official drawn into the mud-slinging by Hickman over unsubstantiated drug allegations.

* GOP challenger John Brown eked out a 227-vote win over incumbent Sheriff Sam Sensabaugh. This race was one of issues and style. While Sensabaugh wants to turn the agency into a county police force, Brown would rather rely on resident troopers. Also, Brown's style is quieter than that of Sensabaugh.

So the '90 Vote is over; praise be. The billboards will be coming down and the fliers torn from store windows.

This can mean only one thing: Can the '92 Vote be far behind?

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