Lo­cal elec­tions showed no sign of Trump ef­fect

Springfield Sun - - OPINION -

So much for the Trump ef­fect.

For four months, the coun­try has been in an up­roar sur­round­ing the 45th pres­i­dent of the United States.

A lot of peo­ple didn’t like Don­ald Trump — or what he vowed to do along with the Repub­li­can ma­jori­ties in both the House and Se­nate.

They stormed Philadel­phia In­ter­na­tional Air­port, out­raged at a travel ban that many be­lieved went against ev­ery­thing this coun­try stands for.

They held weekly protests at the of­fices of their lo­cal con­gress­men, irate at the prospect of see­ing the re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act, the sig­na­ture piece of leg­is­la­tion of Pres­i­dent Obama.

They de­manded an­swers when it be­came ap­par­ent that the GOP ver­sion of health care, the Amer­i­can Health Care Act, would leave many of them unin­sured and many of those with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions fac­ing the prospect of be­ing un­able to get cov­er­age or star­ing at mas­sive price hikes.

They snick­ered at his vow to build a wall on the Mex­i­can bor­der — and make Mex­ico pay for it.

So the be­lief was that this new groundswell of po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism would re­sult in a rush to the polls last week for the pri­mary elec­tion. Uh, not ex­actly. Ac­tu­ally, here in Penn­syl­va­nia, vot­ers did what they al­ways seem to do in these off-year, non-pres­i­den­tial mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions.

They stayed away in droves.

Only about 13 per­cent of those el­i­gi­ble both­ered to go to the polls and ex­er­cise their ba­sic con­sti­tu­tional right.

Up for grabs on the pri­mary bal­lots were party slots for county and lo­cal seats, sev­eral con­tested mag­is­te­rial dis­trict judge posts and a slew of lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal and school board jobs.

If you’re look­ing for proof of a new groundswell of pro­gres­sive­ness or a pos­si­ble back­lash in re­ac­tion to the first four months of the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion, you’ll have to look else­where. It didn’t hap­pen here.

You could pos­si­bly look east to Philadel­phia, where Demo­cratic vot­ers turned out and elected Larry Kras­ner from a wild field of seven can­di­dates. But even in what was a more high-pro­file race than nor­mal, turnout peaked at about 18 per­cent.

Then again, in the last go-round for a com­pet­i­tive DA race in the city, back in 2009, an even more ane­mic 12 per­cent both­ered to vote.

It did not take long for sup­port­ers of Larry Kras­ner, a civil rights at­tor­ney and death penalty op­po­nent who based his TV ad cam­paign on his back­ground rep­re­sent­ing groups such as Black Lives Mat­ter and Moveon. org, to make an im­pres­sion.

They chanted anti-po­lice slo­gans dur­ing their vic­tory cel­e­bra­tion.

So when is this new wave of re­sis­tance go­ing to make its way to the sub­urbs?

Don’t look for a much bet­ter show­ing in the fall.

The same races will be on the bal­lot, only with more at stake than merely the party’s nom­i­na­tion.

The real test could come in 2018, when all seats in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives will be up for grabs.

That’s when U.S. Rep. Pat Mee­han, R-7, and Ryan Costello, R-6, and oth­ers across the re­gion likely will find them­selves in the spot­light, in par­tic­u­lar when it comes to how they voted on con­tro­ver­sial planks in the Trump-gop agenda.

Both Mee­han and Costello voted against the fi­nal ver­sion of the Amer­i­can Health Care Act, but Democrats were quick to point out that both also voted in fa­vor of it in push­ing it out of their re­spec­tive com­mit­tees.

But at the lo­cal level, in last week’s mu­nic­i­pal pri­mary, the vaunted Trump Ef­fect was for the most part miss­ing in ac­tion.

As were far too many vot­ers.

The real test could come in 2018, when all seats in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives will be up for grabs. That’s when U.S. Rep. Pat Mee­han, R-7, and Ryan Costello, R-6, and oth­ers across the re­gion likely will find them­selves in the spot­light.

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