We Get Who We Vote For

Tuesday's primary election gave us many lessons in how politics 1998 style plays in Chesapeake Country.

The most notable event of the day was Diane Evans' loss of the Democratic Party's nomination for Anne Arundel County Executive. Clearly, the race was hers to lose. The outspoken Democratic convert went before voters as the favorite daughter of the regional party's biggest hitters. She was eagerly adopted as the woman most likely to beat Republican second-term seeker John Gary.

From that loss, we take two lessons. First, in these politically troubled times, voters are not necessarily listening to their leaders' advice. Returns once again showed Baysiders as an independent lot who trust their own counsel. Looks to us like voters -- and remember, Tuesday's was purely a party election; Independents could not vote, though we hope they will in November -- value loyalties they've forged for themselves over months and years.

Which leads to that all-important second lesson. Winning candidates court their voters like lovers who can't bear to spend time out of their company. Diane Evans was warned continuously that she wasn't working hard or affectionately enough with the people -- as well as that she still seemed too Republican and aloof. Whether she ignored those warnings or didn't know how to heed them, she lost -- 48.71 percent to 51.29 percent ---to Democratic veteran Janet Owens.

What had attracted many in Bay country to Evans was her attention to growth and development, the most serious issue confronting the Bay region. On the other hand, Janet Owens has many attributes but she has not made growth a priority in her campaign. In the short seven weeks to the general election, we hope Owens dashes up to speed on the threats of unwise development to our quality of life.

At the state level, Gov. Parris Glendening won over two-thirds of the vote, with two other candidates on the ballot. That's impressive; our view from experience is that even a monkey can get 10 percent of the vote.

Ellen Sauerbrey's impressive showing -- 80 percent in early returns -- over Charles Ecker demonstrates once more her ability to inspire many people, especially like-minded conservatives. We also note that Sauerbrey has been doing her pavement work for five years now.

If you're reading this, you're probably the one in three registered voters who bothered with 1998's primary election. Congratulations: you earn our good citizen award.

And you're probably as chagrined as we are that only 28 percent of Anne Arundel County and 29 percent of Calvert County voters made it to the polls. In democracies around the world, well over half and often as much as 80 percent of people typically go to the polls to exercise their rights to choose their leaders.

Come November, make sure you drag one or two of your laggard friends to the polls.

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VolumeVI Number 37
September 17-23, 1998
New Bay Times

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