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Local voters distracted by Clinton-Obama presidential primary

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
Long before Tuesday’s primary, eight Republican candidates for county commissioner ó traditionally the local race that people talk most about ó were struggling to get any attention from voters at all.Two candidates who aren’t on the GOP ballot were shutting them out.
Most of the candidates feel like they are competing against Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the two U.S. Senators slugging it out for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“This is a great big circus,” said Harry Rivera, a Republican making his first bid for public office.
Rivera never figured on a race like this. “People are not paying any attention to the issues in all this hoopla,” he said.
He expects the circus to come an end Tuesday, but that will be too late for the local candidates trying to find support.
“The community is so focused on the presidential race, our race isn’t on their agenda,” said Ken Deal, the retiring director of administration for the county who also is making his first run for office.
Carl Ford, a China Grove broadcaster who has run nearly a half-dozen races before, hasn’t seen anything like this one.
“To hear people talking, they don’t think they’re voting for anybody else except Obama or Clinton,” Ford said.
“There’s not a lot of talk out there about the governor’s race, county commissioner or other local races,” said Patty Overcash of Landis. She’s another first-timer. “I just hear about the presidential race.”
Mike Miller, owner of the Miller Davis marketing firm, is concerned that Republicans won’t turn out in high numbers because the party’s presidential race is settled.
“Hillary and Obama have taken over … getting all the publicity, the news,” said Donna Peeler of Rockwell, a longtime Republican party activist.
And there is the prospect that some who turn out may be disappointed.
“The Democratic presidential race will bring out more voters,” said Von Coolidge Poston, a longtime downtown Salisbury merchant.
Poston said some Republican voters think they can vote for Clinton or Obama and will find out they can’t.
“They’ll be surprised,” Poston said, adding that the presidential hype could carry over and produce a heavy Republican primary vote.
Incumbent Jim Sides is the only candidate among the eight who doesn’t believe voters are distracted by the presidential race.
Voters are paying attention to Sides, who readily admits people either love him or hate him.
“The local races in Rowan County are getting a lot more attention,” Sides said. “There are a lot of people working behind the scene to make sure I don’t get” to be one of two Republic nominees for county commission.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@salisburypost.com.

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