Independents rule in BV
What if you threw a primary election and nobody came?
Buena Vista County Commissioner of Elections Karen Strawn hopes that won't be the case when polls open Tuesday, but she can't recall the last campaign with less local excitement.
"There is only one contest on the entire ballot, the one for Democrats in the 5th District for House of Representatives, and even in that race, I'm not hearing a lot of discussion," Strawn said.
The three Democrats competing to face incumbent Republican Steve King have spent little time in this area of the district. "I don't even see them doing much on television, although that could change in the last days before the election," Strawn said.
Locally, State Rep. Mary Lou Freeman and Senator Steve King are unopposed. County Sheriff Chuck Eddy and Auditor Strawn are without competition. And while there are county supervisor races for fall, all four candidates for the two available seats are unopposed on the primary ballot.
The story at the township level, is the same - no contest.
Strawn raises an interesting possibility - a quiet primary likely to see a modest turnout would make ripe ground for a write-in to slip in under the radar. "I'm hoping that there are enough people within both political parties that realize that votes count even when there is no opposition. When you take an outcome for granted, that's when you get surprised - and although I haven't heard of any write-in campaigns in the county, this would be a prime opportunity."
The Commissioner of Elections says she would predict a turnout of 7-8 percent of eligible voters who are Republicans or Democrats - most independents won't vote, she feels, and that takes slightly over a third of the county's eligible registered voters out of the show.
When pressed, she admits she wouldn't be surprised to see a turnout as low as 3 percent.
And with no local contested races, the county has cut costs a little be reducing the number of ballots ordered.
All the normal 18 precincts will need to be opened, for the full 7 a.m.-9 p.m. hours.
"It's basically the same preparation involved for two voters as it is for 2,000," Strawn said.
Democrats have the one contested race, with US Representative-5th District candidates Gene Blanshan, Sal Mohamed and E. Jean Schulte.
Blanshan, a Panora farmer and state legislator, says that his goal is to stabilize western Iowa's economy, and unseat King, who he labels as "too extreme."
At a stop in Spirit Lake on Friday, Blanshan painted himself as the most moderate of the potential foes for King. He suggested that area residents need to ask themselves: "Has Steve King taken care of business at home or has he gone off and followed his ideology?"
"If they are tickled to death of the work he's doing, then he will be their Congressman forever," Blanshan said.
"This will be the last time that a Democrat will have a realistic chance at unseating Steve King," Blanshan added on his website.
In Spirit Lake, he proposed a Medikid program to provide health care to all children, and an economic plan he calls "A New Deal for the New Century," in which he calls for better and multiple-lane highways to replace two-land roads that discourage development, he said.
"Even in communities that are showing economic progress, that is going to strangle those communities - the Spencers, the Carrolls, the Storm Lakes, the Cherokees, the ones that are doing a lot of positive things in the area... as soon as you leave Spencer and start heading south toward Storm Lake, it's difficult to pass a lot of times. It gets frustrating and accidents occur. We need to change that. We need to do a massive, almost New Deal type of construction program at the national level."
He is planning a 17-day bike tour of the district in July.
Mohamed, a Sioux City engineer, is a native of Egypt, and markets himself as "a product of America's melting pot."
"I love the people in the Siouxland area and Iowa's 5th District; because I have been touched by all act of kindness directed to me from so many people in our community," he says on his website, which is concentrating on recruiting supporters to join his campaign on-line. Mohamed has spent little time in the Storm Lake area, although did make an appearance on a street corner to wave to motorists a few weeks ago.
Joyce Schulte is the director of student support services at Southwestern Community College in Creston. She ran for the Iowa legislature previously.
She says that Congress is "out of step" with the values of most Iowans, and is building her campaign to work across party lines. She lists her main platform planks as the economy, strengthening agriculture, rebalancing foreign trade, Medicare, and education. On the U.S. military situation, and as a mother of a serviceman, she says, "It only makes sense that we carry a 'big stick' while staying engaged in diplomacy. I believe there are ways we can support an even stronger military, while creating a more active and engaged diplomatic process."
She has already scheduled a victory celebration to follow the primary.
Absentee primary votes may be cast at the Auditor's Office now through June 7, the day prior to the election. Request forms for absentee ballots may be obtained at the Buena Vista County Auditor's Office. A voter may, also, obtain an absentee ballot in writing. The signature of each person requesting a ballot must be submitted with the request.
Completed absentee ballots must be postmarked by midnight June 3 or may be dropped at the Auditor's Office before the polls close on election day.
With the voter registration deadline passed for the primary, there are 12,097 voters signed up in Buena Vista County, up over 300 from 2002.
Independents are the largest force in the county with, 5,388 registered with no party affiliation (up from 5304 two years ago.) Republicans have gained slightly in that period, with 4,116 registered; Democrats have slipped, from 2,465 in 2002 to 2,593 in 2004. As of now, there are no remaining county voters registered with the Green Party.
Running for county supervisor on Tuesday's ballot are:
* Co. Supervisor-Dist 4 - Nadine Brewer, Democrat; and incumbent Herb Crampton, Republican. * Co. Supervisors-Dist 5 - Thomas F. Ellis, Democrat; and incumbent Lorna Burnside, Republican.