Among our assorted thoughts on Tuesday’s primary election is that Riley County voters somehow managed to live down to expectations.
As it turns out, Riley County Clerk Rich Vargo’s projection of 20-percent turnout was too optimistic. Unofficial results put turnout at a meager 16.86 percent. True, a bit more than 31 percent of Republicans voted, which sounds impressive, but Republicans had some hard-fought, high-profile races to decide, such as the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, governor and secretary of state.
We would be remiss in not congratulating the winners, particularly Ben “Beni” Wilson in the Republican primary for the 1st District seat on the Riley County Commission. Perhaps because Mr. Wilson was a fixture in the district’s neighborhoods during the campaign, he was able to outpoll the incumbent, Dave Lewis. And because no Democrat filed for the seat, it would take an impressive write-in candidacy to wrest the seat from him in November.
We also were impressed, and gratified, that Riley County voters showed they’ve had enough of 1st District U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, supporting his opponent, Alan LaPolice of Clyde by almost 13 percentage points, 56.43 to 43.57 percent. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to offset Rep. Huelskamp’s support elsewhere in the Big First. He deserves our congratulations, as does Jim Sherow, the Manhattan resident who won the Democratic primary and will challenge Rep. Huelskamp in the general election. Mr. Sherow, as expected, whipped his opponent, Bryan R. Whitney, in Riley County – 1,046 to 85 — and won 61 percent of Democrats’ votes districtwide.
Susie Swanson of Clay Center won the GOP primary for the 64th Kansas House Seat, but Riley Countians preferred Kathy Martin, a former Kansas Board of Education member who also is from Clay Center, by a handful of votes. In that race, Glen R. Hawkins, the only Riley County resident seeking that seat, which covers Clay and much of northern and western Riley County, won the fewest votes from Riley County voters.
Before the general election campaigns get fully under way, we ask that voters become as engaged in the process as the candidates. We further ask that candidates run honorable campaigns. By that, we mean we’d like them to show respect both for their opponents and for voters, focus on the issues and refuse to engage in or allow personal or smear tactics of any kind.
We’ll acknowledge that those requests constitute wishful thinking — even fantasy — but it doesn’t hurt to ask.