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By the Chronicle Editorial Board
Aug. 14 primary election.
Voter participation is especially important.
Since America’s progressive movement of the early 20th century, primary elections have been an important electoral vehicle for taking candidate selection out of the hands of party insiders and giving that choice to the voters.
Competitive primary elections that afford voters a choice are key to a healthy electoral system. They serve to promote candidate vetting, foster candidate dialogue on the important issues of the day, better prepare a candidate for office and counter incumbent complacency. Because of these competitive attributes, many contend that primary elections are equally important as the deciding general election.
Regrettably, the local Democratic Party was unsuccessful in recruiting a full slate of candidates for the current election cycle. As a result, the Citrus County Commission Districts 1, 3, 5 and public defender contests only have Republican candidates vying for these general election seats. Consequently, the Aug. 14 primary election for these races will be a “universal primary” as provided for by a change to the Florida Constitution that was implemented in 2000.
As such, the Republican candidates in the commission and public defender races will be on all ballots — Republican, Democratic and non-partisan — with all voters, regardless of party affiliation, allowed to cast a vote in each of these races. Coupled with the fact that in 2005 the Legislature ended primary election runoffs, the candidates receiving the most votes in the Aug. 14 universal primary races will be declared the general election winner for their respective races.
Given that primary elections are important electoral vehicles for voters to select the best qualified general election candidates, this year’s universal races make the Aug. 14 primary especially important. Citrus County voters, therefore, are urged to take this year’s primary election seriously by studying the local candidates and participating with their vote.
For as voters are reminded by the phrase coined by former Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill several decades ago, “All politics is local.”