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After having a higher voter turnout than expected in Shelby County – at 19 percent – political leaders in Shelby say they will soon be gearing up for the fall election.
“We’ll start seeing some activity in the next couple of weeks because the state Democratic Convention is the first week in June,” Shelby County Democratic Chair Fielding Ballard III said.
“So I expect things will start hopping around that time.”
And next week, he said, the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner will act as a sort of unofficial kickoff for campaigning to begin for the election in November.
Shelby County Republic Party Chair Jennifer Decker said she was encouraged by the Republican showing in the Primary Election and expressed satisfaction with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s support on Tuesday.
“It looks clear that Romney will triumph,” she said. “I will rally behind him, and I think the entire Republican Party will do that.”
Does she think, based on the overwhelming support for Tea Party-backed Thomas Massie in the GOP 4th District congressional primary, that a Tea Party chapter could gain traction in Shelby County?
“Certainly not,” she said. “I mean, a Tea Party is formed to complain about and to fight for smaller government, and we have [Shelby County Judge-Executive] Rob Rothenburger [a Republican] who has fought tax-rate increases over and over.”
Tea Party is a term that has become synonymous with "protest." The name is derived from the protest in 1773, in which Boston colonists protested the British government's Tea Act by boarding a ship bound for England and pitching crates of its taxed tea cargo into Boston Harbor.
The colonists' complaint was that they were being unduly taxed without any representation in British parliament. In 2009, the modern Tea Party movement got under way shortly after President Barack Obama took office, and he and House Democrats subsequently passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 without a single Republican vote.
“Within the Republican Party, we are very conservative, and I’ve been here four years, and I haven’t heard of any agitation for a Tea Party, and I don’t understand why Tea Parties form at all except for having problems with their county governments,” Decker said. “I think that’s what you have when the Republican Party is unresponsive to people who want that.
“So I don’t expect anything like that in Shelby County. I think we can only strengthen the GOP by having constitutional conservatives, and that’s who we recruit for our party in Shelby County.”
Shelby County’s limited Primary Election slate will expand in the fall. In addition to presidential and congressional and Shelbyville City Council races, there are nonpartisan races for the Simpsonville and Pleasureville city commissions and the Shelby County School Board seats in districts 2, 3 and 5.
Shelby County Clerk Sue Carole Perry urges people to remember they must register to vote a month before the election.
“The books always close thirty days before the election, so you must be registered to vote by then,” she said. “We had nineteen percent who voted on Tuesday.
“It’s too soon for me to think about what kind of a turnout we’ll have in the fall, but presidential elections usually have a sixty percent turnout or better.”
Looking ahead to the fall, Perry said she hopes to avoid a couple of things that almost became issues in Shelby County, namely, the need for more precinct officers and an extra voting machine.
“We always need precinct officers; we had two or three precincts that worked with only three, so we always need people to work at the polls,” she said.
“Also, I do want to talk to the judge, [Rothenburger] because I know that there were several counties across the state that had machine malfunctions.
“We only have one spare, so I need to talk to the judge about getting at least one more. Because I just don’t know what would happen if we had more than one malfunction.
“We had one to malfunction this time.”
§ Congress District 4
§ Shelbyville City Council:
§ Simpsonville City Commission
§ Pleasureville City Commission
§ Board of Education, Districts 2, 3, 5
§ Filing deadline:Aug. 14
§ Voter registration deadline: Oct. 6
§ Election Day:Nov. 6