The Shadow on the Ballot
Two curious items stand out in Ed Achorn’s column from last week, about the legislators “primaried” by the unions in their campaigns for general assembly seats. Here’s the first:
State Rep. Douglas Gablinske (D.-Bristol) was among the stunned fallen. He lost by 111 votes of 1,781 cast to a little-known challenger, Richard Morrison, who did not debate, has no known record of public service, and had far fewer campaign signs. His whole idea seemed to be to avoid engaging the general electorate. (Nor did he return my call for this column.)
An unknown candidate for public office who didn’t jump at the chance to create his own voice in an essay by a well known local columnist? Very curious. It’s as if his strategy is to avoid giving the voters whom the unions will deliver to him any excuse to question their instructions.
In retrospect, Mr. Gablinske said, it was a strategic mistake to have such a dominant edge in signs. Supporters concluded that there was no real contest, and did not take time to vote.
What do you think: Is this really a factor? Are a candidate’s supporters typically so blasé that they’ll stay home based on the chance that a dominance in yard signs means their votes are not needed? Even more: Is this such a huge factor that it outnumbers the number of actual voters who’ll be won over by name recognition?