Informed Voters?

This morning I was discussing with a “Coffee Shop Friend” the results of a local caucus that was held yesterday by the Republican Party to come up with a candidate to replace Mark Souder who recently resigned from his seat in Congress representing Indiana’s 3rd District.

First, a bit of background.  Mark Souder has been in Congress representing this corner of the state of Indiana since the 1990’s as a Conservative, Family Values, Bring Home the Bacon (Get our share of Federal Funds) type of guy.  A couple of times he has faced tough races, and this years primary election in May was one of those heated contests.

Souders strongest opponent was Bob Thomas.  Bob made his money in the car business and owns a couple of Ford Dealerships in Fort Wayne.  He pretty much funded his own campaign and repeatedly challenged Mark Souder to a public debate, but Souder refused.

Thomas’s opponents instead pointed out that Bob Thomas doesn’t really live in our district, that his wife and family have a nice big home in Indianapolis, and he was renting a place in Fort Wayne for political purposes.

(By the way, there were other candidates on the Republican ticket in the primary, but they didn’t come close to Thomas and Souder as contenders.)

I thought that Thomas might pull off a victory in the May primary, but once again Souder won. If all the non-Souder votes were combined, Mark would have lost.

Shortly after the primary victory, Mark Souder resigned from his seat in Congress and removed himself from the general election ballot with the admission of a sex scandal with a staffer.  This stunned most of his constituents, (Mr. Family Values= Sex Scandal?!?!), but insiders saw this coming.

What angered most voters, was this affair had been going on for quite some time and yet Souder lived the lie and wasted our time and our votes with a primary election where every registered voter gets a say.

Our Governor, Mitch Daniels decided that it was too expensive to staff a special election before the general election in November, so we will not be represented in Congress for a few months.

Indiana is one of a tiny handful of states that still operates in the black due to decisions like this, along with spending cut backs, but that’s a topic for another day.

So, the Republicans held a caucus  Saturday to select a replacement candidate for the 3rd District seat and the number of folks entering the race grew to double digits.   15 or 16 was the final count I believe.

The caucus is made up of Precinct Committeemen. 204 votes were needed to win.  A far cry from the thousands of votes that were cast last month in the primary election.

These Precinct Committeemen (actually men and women) should be better informed than Joe and Jill Q. Public about who is who and be less influenced by advertising and marketing campaigns.

Bob Thomas, who was seen as a strong candidate in the primary, just barely survived the first round of voting in Saturday’s caucus.  He placed 5th out of 15.  The other candidate in the primary race, Phil Troyer, decided not to run in this race.

The winner after two or three votes was Marlin Stutzman.  Stutzman was too busy running for Senate in the May primary, which he lost to former Senator Dan Coats.  But apparently “those in the know”, knew enough about Stutzman that they want to send him to Washington.

All of this brings me back to the brief conversation I had with my “Coffee Shop Friend”.

How do we make sure we get the best people in office if the majority of the voters are uninformed about the candidates and simply influenced by advertising and marketing campaigns?  He who has the most money wins?

There are no easy answers to this but if you have read all of this so far, you apparantly care more than the average person.

The answer that is both the easiest and the most difficult is to do your part.  Become an informed voter.  Read both sides, recognize the spin and have real reasons to support someone, not just because they can make a good speech, or have nice hair, or lots of money.

What do you think?

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