Editorial — June 7 primary makes things more difficult

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2016

There’s no doubt about it — North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District race is one for the ages, but is that a good thing for voters?

With no runoff and 22 candidates, the Piedmont has one of the most unruly political races it has ever seen. Whoever secures the most votes — even if it’s one more than second place — will advance to the general election. Candidates are also crossing their fingers that federal judges approve North Carolina’s congressional map.

Meanwhile, voters are suffering. With so many candidates and so little time to sort through them all, it’s impossible to decipher who is best suited to serve.

Among the field of 22 there are a good number of qualified candidates — several on both sides of the political spectrum —but the nuance involved in deciphering differences between candidates is something most won’t take the time to do. Even the most politically engaged residents of the 13th District are scrambling to gather information.

In such a race, political parties are the best resource for voters. In Rowan County, the tea party has welcomed a number of candidates to speak during its monthly meetings. The Rowan County Republican Party’s breakfast club hosted a number of candidates at a recent event. Even if you attended every local GOP meeting and tea party meeting, you wouldn’t have heard from all 17 Republican candidates.

Although there are only five running, local Democrats have heard from all of their 13th District candidates.

Regardless of the who has come to speak locally, a minuscule portion of voters have turned out to listen. The largest meetings attract just a few dozen people.

News organizations across the Piedmont, including the Salisbury Post, have attempted to interview every candidate running for the 13th. Even then, it’s difficult to discern the most important differences between candidates. Many feel the same way about important policy issues.

Maybe the solution is to vote local — pick a candidate who lives in your county. That option, however, would leave out a number of extremely qualified candidates and potentially result in the winners on both sides coming from Guilford County — the most populated portion of the district.

Evaluating candidates’ backgrounds and policy positions remains the best way to choose a nominee, but that is nearly impossible in such an unruly field.

Place the blame on whomever you like — federal judges for declaring the congressional map unconstitutional or state legislators for any number of reasons, including drawing a gerrymandered map in the first place — but the June 7 primary makes choosing the best candidate more difficult for voters instead of easier.