Were you surprised by any of last week’s primary election results?
We weren’t, for the most part. The margins of victory in the East Ward and Northeast Ward contests were quite pronounced, though.
The rematch between former East Ward City Council member Joycelyn Johnson and incumbent Derwin Montgomery – who took Johnson and the community by surprise when he won the seat in 2009 – was billed as the Main Event, a battle of old school versus new school. But when the votes were counted,
It was as lopsided as a Mayweather fight, with Montgomery earning way more than twice the votes Johnson garnered.
Similarly, many were expecting a recount-like tight race between incumbent Vivian Burke and Brenda Diggs. Diggs got closer than any Burke opponent in recent memory, but close, as they say, only counts when tossing grenades and horseshoes.
Overall, the primary fizzled out. Only 11,341 of the county’s 154,209 registered voters cast ballots. While many county residents were not eligible to vote because they live outside of city limits, primary turnout was still pretty crappy in our estimation.
Why wasn’t the fire and outrage displayed at Moral Monday protests and on Twitter and Facebook translated to the voting booth? None of the members of the General Assembly responsible for reverting the state back to Jim Crow were on the ballot, of course, but this should have been a good test-run for next year’s midterms, when state residents will have an opportunity to flip the balance of the power in the House and Senate.
Wouldn’t it have been powerful if the black and brown masses had showed their hand by voting in large numbers in the primary, just months after lawmakers passed laws aimed at suppressing the minority vote? It would have caused some of the conservatives running-amok in the General Assembly to think twice.
Of course, there will be another opportunity in November. The general election, though, will likely be a dud. Mayor Allen Joines has no opposition at the top of the ballot, and the African American incumbents who do have challengers will have a cake walk.
So what will it take for minorities to wake up? Lawmakers have disrespected us and ignored our pleas – treating us like the third-class citizens that they consider us to be. Yes, many of us have fought back at rallies and on newspaper editorial pages, but these have just been battles. The war will come next year when we will be implored to show up at the polls in Obama-like numbers.
Republicans are counting on our usual apathy. Unfortunately, our response to the recent primary has done nothing to alter those expectations.