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Democrats fail to show up during filing

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 1:26 p.m.

A review of the candidates who filed for local and state races that include Davidson County shows a preponderance of Republicans. The final tally for the race for commissioner and three state Legislature seats finds 14 Republicans, two Democrats and two Libertarians. In the commissioners' race, more Libertarians (two) filed than Democrats (one). Only one of the three legislative races will find a Democrat on the ballot come the November general election: N.C. House District 80.


Have Democrats in Davidson County given up? Certainly the registration numbers show the uphill climb the party faces. As of Thursday, 46,911 voters are registered as Republicans, 31,526 as Democrats and 23,023 as unaffiliated. Many Davidson County Republicans tend to vote straight-ticket ballots, so Democrats have to sway a large percentage of unaffiliated voters to back their candidates to be competitive.


Even with this disadvantage in registration numbers, to remain a viable party Democrats need to field candidates, especially in commissioner races. 2012 could mark the first time the party won't have a full slate of candidates in a commissioner election. Legislative districts sometimes only see a candidate from one party, so at least voters in N.C. House District 80 will have a choice. But Rep. Rayne Brown, R-Davidson, already knows she'll return to Raleigh as she has no primary or general election opposition in N.C. House District 81.


So in 2012, once again the main fireworks will come in the Republican primary. Seven candidates will seek the three commissioner seats that will appear in November, but only two incumbents, since Cathy Dunn chose not to seek re-election. So at least one new commissioner will join the board in December. Rep. Jerry Dockham, R-Davidson, will also face two primary challengers in District 80, with the winner taking on Democrat Loretta Martin in the general election. Perhaps the most intriguing race will be the GOP primary for N.C. Senate District 33, where incumbent Stan Bingham will face Sam Watford, chairman of the Davidson County Board of Commissioners, and Eddie Gallimore, a long-time party official.


For now, though, the story is the lack of Democrats. The party finds itself in the minority in the state Legislature, and that may have discouraged some candidates from seeking legislative seats. They simply might believe they would wield little power in Raleigh. But party leaders in Davidson County need to start working now with an eye toward the 2014 election, when not only will four commissioner seats be on the ballot but all the courthouse races as well. A better turnout of candidates would give voters a choice in the general election. The Republicans still might win handily, but at least the democratic process would be healthier.

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