Last night, I spent a few hours cramming for the election. It’s always kind of a project. I don’t vote a party line. I want info on all the candidates before I go to the polls, and sometimes (depsite the CT Post’s extremely useful election site) that information can be hard to get.
As a voter, I have an edge in certain races; I know Dan Malloy from my work as a reporter on the Stamford Times, so I feel I can accurately gauge whether or not he’d be a good governor. Same thing for Dick Blumenthal and to a very small extent, Jim Himes, George Jepson and Martha Dean. But when it comes to my local races, I’m shamefully ignorant. I rely heavily on the Internet and my local media to acquaint me with my local reps and senators.
Let’s take the race for my local state senator. The incumbent is Edwin Gomes, a Dem, and according to the ballot, he’s running against police officer Milton Johnson of the GOP. Except the Sunday CT Post tells me that Mr. Gomes’s seat is uncontested. Yet Milton Johnson’s name is on the ballot and his website is still up. Can I find a press release or an article that tells me that Milton Johnson has backed out of his race? No. Not even a search through Lennie Grimaldi’s Only In Bridgeport blog has helped. As for the incumbent, Edwin Gomes? He doesn’t even have a campaign website. It’s possible that I missed something big, but maybe this piece of information was lost in the shadows of this season’s larger races.
This bugs me because the local races are, in some ways, the most important ones.
I like to think of it as if it were American Idol. In local elections, we’re the talent scouts auditioning people like these folks in a mall or a stadium. We’re able to choose the pool of contestants for the reality show that is the American political system. Then those candidates are winnowed out as they battle each other for bigger and bigger offices. It’s not a perfect metaphor, actually, it’s a little on the bubble-headed side, but you see what I mean. Maybe Milton Johnson is a Kellie Pickler. Maybe he’s a Ruben Stoddard. Maybe he’s a William Hung. I won’t know, because I don’t even know if he’s actually running.
Should I be cramming for the elections? No. I should follow my local media’s coverage when it begins in spring. But should candidates make themselves easy to find on the Internet? Of course they should.