July 19, 2012What happens if you have an election and nobody comes? Well, somebody wins anyway. That's pretty much what happened in North Carolina on Tuesday, July 17, as the statewide runoff election was held and a little over 3.5 percent of the registered voters bothered to go to the polls and vote.
In Guilford County the voter turnout was 2.4 percent, but the results are just as valid as if 97.6 percent had voted.
In the Republican primary runoff for the District 6 Board of Commissioners race, Hank Henning won overwhelmingly against opponent Jeremy Williams. Henning pulled in 70 percent of the vote to 30 percent for Williams. Just under 1,600 votes were cast in that race with Henning, who got The Rhinoceros Times endorsement, getting 1,120 votes to 473 for Williams.
Henning, 37, is an account manager for Brady Services – which provides heating and air-conditioning systems and consults on energy efficiency for commercial and industrial facilities across North Carolina.
Williams, 39, is a human resources director for Cincinnati-based Cintas Corp., a business services company.
Henning said he was obviously very pleased with the outcome and he added that, going into the primary, he had no expectations one way or the other.
"I knew all I could do was get the word out and then it was up to the voters," Henning said.
He said he watched the returns at the GOP headquarters in Greensboro Tuesday night.
Henning said that, even in the age of technology, he thought his District 6 victory came down to going door to door and getting his message out to as many people as possible.
"My wife bought me a new pair of shoes a month ago, and they're already worn out," Henning said.
According to Henning, who's in his first political race, one of the nice things about campaigning is getting a chance to meet people.
"I've met so many people that I wouldn't have otherwise," he said.
Henning also said he thought his campaign was bolstered by key endorsements including those from 6th District Congressman Howard Coble, Commissioner Billy Yow and Tony Wilkins, who came in behind both Williams and Henning in the May primary. In that race, Williams got 129 votes more than Henning, but Williams didn't get over 40 percent of the total vote, so Henning, as was his right in that situation, called for a runoff election.
Henning said he appreciated the endorsements.
"When you've gotten out there and met people, and they like you and like your message, and you're the new guy on the block – well, those endorsements help give you credibility," he said.
For North Carolina commissioner of insurance primary runoff, Guilford County's own Mike Causey easily won the Republican nomination over former Co-speaker of the state House Richard Morgan. Causey has the background and experience to be a top-notch insurance commissioner. Morgan was apparently attempting to prove that all publicity is good publicity.
Morgan had to be betting that name recognition alone would put him in the winner's circle, and he did win the first primary. Perhaps the additional weeks gave people the time to find out who Morgan was, or it may be that the 3.5 percent of the voters who voted in the runoff are better informed than most voters. It's hard to believe that any Republican would knowingly vote for Morgan, who sold out the Republican Party for his own personal aggrandizement.
Morgan kept the Republicans from being able to elect a speaker when they had a one-seat majority in the state House in 2003. Eventually state House Speaker Jim Black bribed state House Rep. Mike Decker to switch parties, creating a 60-60 split in the state House and Black and Morgan became co-speakers.
Morgan was a co-speaker in name only as he gave the power to Black. Both Black and Decker went to jail for their part in the scandal, but somehow Morgan skated free, only to come back 10 years later, hoping that people remembered his name but not his treachery. It almost worked.
But in the end Causey won the runoff election with 57 percent of the vote statewide to 43 percent for Morgan. Causey, who was endorsed by The Rhino Times, won big in Guilford County with 82 percent of the vote to Morgan's 18 percent.
In the lieutenant governor's statewide Republican primary runoff it turns out it's tough to beat a big red bus. Dan Forest didn't have any trouble beating Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley. Statewide Forest got 68 percent of the vote to 32 percent for Gurley. Forest had a well-organized campaign, raised a lot of money and was definitely the front-runner. Guilford County fell right in line with the state totals with Forest winning 66 percent of the votes to 34 percent for Gurley, who was endorsed by The Rhino Times.
In the secretary of state Republican primary runoff, Chowan County Commissioner Ed Goodwin, with 54 percent of the vote, defeated Kenn Gardner, who finished with 46 percent. In Guilford County Goodwin, who was endorsed by The Rhino Times, was far more popular with 74 percent of the vote and Gardner had 26 percent.
John Tedesco won the Republican superintendent of public instruction primary runoff with 54 percent of the vote over Richard Alexander who had 46 percent. Tedesco, who was endorsed by The Rhino Times, did far better in Guilford County than he did statewide, receiving 71 percent of the vote to 29 percent for Alexander.
In the only statewide race on the Democratic ballot – the runoff primary for the commissioner of labor – John Brooks, with 54 percent of the vote, defeated Marlowe Foster, with 46 percent. Brooks who was endorsed by The Rhino Times, did slightly better in Guilford County with 61 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Foster. The winner of that race faces Republican Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry in November.
Guilford County Board of Elections Executive Director George Gilbert said the election cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000 for 7,990 people to vote. So Guilford County spent close to $19 a vote, which seems a little high, but no one said that democracy would be cheap or pretty.
Usually the day after an election the campaign crews are out picking up signs, but after this election they aren't working so hard. Out of four polls observed yesterday, only two had signs. Those signs were for the same two candidates, which means most of the candidates on the ballot didn't have a single sign at any of the four polls, and that means for those candidates more time to celebrate and less work today.