RICH JAMES: We're in for a boring primary election season

2014-02-12T00:00:00Z 2014-05-06T19:42:16Z RICH JAMES: We're in for a boring primary election seasonBy Rich James nwitimes.com
February 12, 2014 12:00 am  • 

When the dust settled Friday as filing closed for the May primary elections, I couldn’t help but think the Lake County Democratic Party had lost its swagger.

Lake Democrats generally charge out of the filing period loaded for bear.

Up and down the ballot there’s always a litany of hot contests — enough to keep political junkies salivating for the next three months.

Those print shops that make yard signs would be raking in money just as a retailer does on the eve of Christmas.

A month before the election, yard signs would spring up like dandelions. But the guy with the most signs doesn’t always win.

Brochures would be written and clog mailboxes.

Those slick publications would talk about economic development and education and jobs and taxes but will lack detail.

Years back, nine out of 10 candidates listed the fact they were World War II veterans. Not many today have any kind of military service. I guess that’s what happens with an all-volunteer Army.

And the dirt sheets would appear at random, accusing one candidate of anything from infidelity to not having paid a speeding ticket.

The municipal precinct organizations would invite the candidates to speak and then make endorsements. Receiving a group’s backing was akin to winning an Oscar. And if you were endorsed, the candidate would have to pay an assessment to be listed on the pluggers handed out door-to-door and at the polls.

All this, of course, took money.

Every other night, it seemed, a candidate was hosting a fundraiser. The price of admission generally was $100. Sometimes a thousand people would show up, which meant the candidate was either loved or gave away a bunch of tickets.

And spending $100,000 on a county office campaign was chump change. Some races cost close to $500,000.

In government and political circles, there was a constant buzz.

But not now. You don’t even need five fingers to count the interesting races.

On the county level, there are no contests for auditor, treasurer and prosecutor. That’s unheard of. County Clerk Mike Brown has token opposition, as does Commissioner Roosevelt Allen.

There is an interesting race shaping up between Jerome Prince and Mike Troxell to win back the assessor’s office.

Only in the sheriff’s race, with incumbent John Buncich being challenged by Oscar Martinez and Richard Ligon, is there real excitement.

I’m not sure what happened. Is it the cost of running? Is it public scrutiny?

All I know is that I’m going to miss the thrill. I feel like Darren McGavin in “A Christmas Story” when the Bumpus dogs stole the turkey.

There will be no turkey soup. No turkey casserole. No turkey cacciatore. No turkey a la king.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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