The numbers tell the tale of Tuesdays primary runoffs, and not merely the low number of voters. Once again, the dismal turnout underscored the folly of traditional runoff elections.
So few people elected to vote Tuesday that it hardly seemed worth the electricity to turn on the lights and voting machines at polling places. By mid-morning Tuesday, 10 people had voted in Tyrell County and 14 in Camden County. The largest precinct in Wake County, the seat of state government, had 23 voters.
Its sad. Its really sad, Gary Bartlett, executive director of the State Board of Elections, told the Associated Press. It shows that voters are not supporting second primaries.
It also shows that a better system is urgently needed to save time and money. Tuesdays runoff will cost N.C. taxpayers at least $6 million.
Instant runoffs could be an answer, though there have been problems with that process in previous N.C. instant runoff experiments. Voters have said the process is confusing and complicated.
Still, Bartlett is right. The publics verdict on traditional runoffs is in. People arent participating in them. Tuesdays results confirm it. N.C. policymakers must seek a plausible alternative.
Tuesdays results also confirm another numbers game: Money matters.
The race for the 9th district seat held by retiring Sue Myrick is a case in point. Jim Pendergraph, a Mecklenburg County commissioner and former sheriff, and Robert Pittenger, a former state senator and wealthy real estate investor, have spent more than $2.5 million combined trying to become the Republican nominee in this predominantly GOP district.
The lions share of that has been spent by Pittenger. Hes spent more than $2.2 million on his campaign, including $1.9 million of his own money.
Pendergraph has spent $346,000 toward the end airing radio ads featuring an endorsement from Myrick, who described him as a seasoned honorable cop and a Reagan conservative.
But Pittengers TV ads blistered the airwaves. The race has been nasty and bitter and neither candidate in our view comported himself well.
The 8th District race between Richard Hudson and Scott Keadle for the Republican nomination was even more troubling money-wise. Hudson won, but Super PACs, the pesky advocacy groups seeking a welcome ear and open hand for their influence, threw in boatloads of cash.
Hudson, a former aide to then Rep. Robin Hayes, got support from more establishment sources. Keadle, a dentist, got backing from tea party and rebelling factions in the Republican Party. Interestingly, Keadle was languishing in the pack until outside ads and money poured in.
Keadle, who doesnt even live in District 8, has flitted from district to district in past runs for Congress. That didnt inspire confidence that he would have focused on the needs of constituents rather than dogmatic ideology ideology that Super PACs were more than willing to put money behind.
In the end, both wound up getting big bucks from PACs. Hudson got some last-minute cash that helped him counter Keadles assault. The money game that played out in North Carolinas 8th and 9th district races underscores how money can and too often does shape the outcome.
That sad tale of the numbers in this primary and runoff season is one North Carolinians should pause to reflect upon. Stopping such money from flowing is unlikely. But we must not stop trying to diminish its impact.