It’s part of a political party boss’ job to put a positive spin on things, but Diane Tebelius, chairman of the state Republican Party, had to dig deep to find something good to say about last Tuesday’s primary numbers. In the Senate race and most South Sound races, more voters chose to fill out Democratic Party ballots.
Even in districts like Pierce County’s 28th that have generally trended Republican in recent years and had two hotly contested primary races for the state House, more voters chose the Democratic ballot. For instance, Republicans Bob Lawrence and Jim Oliver tallied 7,724 votes between them as of Thursday afternoon. Lawrence handily won and will face Democrat Tami Green in November. She was unopposed and got 8,928 votes.
Did Republicans stay home? Or were they more likely than Democrats to balk at picking a party as required under the new primary system? Chris Hurst, who’s running against incumbent Jan Shabro for a House seat in the 31st District, speculates that many Republicans upset by the war sat out the primary.
Here’s what Tebelius had to say late last week to rally the troops in the face of the negative primary numbers:
Some have expressed concern about the turnout in the primary. DO NOT FEAR! From the candidates to the political pundits, everyone agrees that the primary does not determine voter turnout, or who will vote in the general election. There are many influencing factors in a primary and the greatest factor is the number of contested races. This year, we did not have a hotly contested primary in the U.S. Senate race and very few contested primary races for the State Legislature. I happen to believe in competition and the primary process to select our top Republican candidates. It’s a fact — greater competition draws more voters to poll.