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Turnout low with few contested races

Turnout low with few contested races
Turnout low with few contested races
Scott Hussung, right, talks with incumbent Carl (Buck) Mathes, left, as election results were coming in last night (Tuesday) at the Harrison County Government Center. Hussung defeated Mathes in the County Commissioners District 2 race. Photos by Alan Stewart (click for larger version)

With few contested races on yesterday’s ballot, voter turnout in Harrison County was low. Of the 29,354 registered voters, about 23 percent cast ballots.
That’s considerably lower than four years ago, when the presidential race was still a contest when the Indiana Primary rolled around. That year, 43 percent of the 28,309 registered voters turned out. This year, however, three of the four Republican candidates seeking the party’s nod to face Barack Obama in the fall had discontinued their campaigns.
With three additional precincts added in Harrison County, the process of tallying the votes was smooth.
Harrison County Circuit Clerk Sherry Brown was ‘thrilled’ how quickly the results came in.
‘The last precinct came in at 8 p.m. exactly,’ she said.
There were a few provisional ballots, Brown said, but not enough to make a difference in any of the contested races, not even in the closest race of the night.
In that race, Scott Hussung defeated incumbent Carl (Buck) Mathes for the Democrat’s bid of the County Commissioners District 2 race.
Hussung, of New Middletown, finished second to Mathes in the 2008 Primary Election, which also included Donald Mathes. This year, Hussung received 51 percent of the votes (1,519) to Mathes’ 49 percent (1,458).
‘I’m surprised,’ Hussung said last night after all the votes were in. ‘It was a good, honest race.’
Hussung, who grew up in Lanesville and works for Gohmann Asphalt, credits his win to people wanting ‘a little change … new blood.’ He campaigned mostly by word of mouth, ‘people talking to people,’ he said.
For the fall election, Hussung said he will continue to do what he’s been doing.
‘I’ll probably put out more signs,’ he said, adding that he will listen to his constituents. ‘You gotta listen.’
Mathes, who served three terms on the county council before winning his first term as a commissioner four years ago, said he can go back to working for himself come January.
‘The commissioner’s job is more demanding than people think,’ said the Corydon resident. ‘I’ve enjoyed helping the county … The county’s been good to our family. (Serving as an elected official) is one way to return the favor a little bit.’
Reflecting about why he lost, Mathes said, ‘I’ve probably been around too long.’
He added he wouldn’t rule out seeking public office in the future.
‘I’ll have to see what the people think,’ Mathes said. ‘I enjoy helping the county.’
Hussung will face Kenneth Saulman, a former county commissioner and councilman, in the fall election.
Council race set for fall
Three Harrison County Council at-large seats will be up for grabs in the November General Election with three Democrat and three Republican candidates determined in yesterday’s Primary Election.
In the Democrat primary for at-large Harrison County Council seats, Patricia A. (Pat) Wolfe led the way with 1,757 votes followed by Leslie June Robertson with 1,740 and Richard Gerdon with 1,572. The remaining candidates were Gerald Saulman, 1,247; Sheila Bryant Best, 978; and Timothy S. Coffman, 753. The top three of six candidates move on to the November General Election.
‘I thought I’d sneak in at third,’ an overjoyed Wolfe said. ‘There’s so many good names, I’m really proud to run with all of these people.’
Wolfe served two terms as county auditor from 2002 to 2010.
‘I just can’t believe this; I’m overwhelmed,’ she said. ‘I want to thank all the people that helped me get to this point.’
Robertson will look to return to the council after spending four years on the seven-member board from 2007 to 2010. Robertson was narrowly defeated by Councilman Phil Smith for the District 1 seat two years ago.
‘I want to thank everyone that supported me,’ she said. ‘I’m ready to work hard for the fall.’
The only incumbent in the Democrat at-large council seat race was Gerdon, who finished third.
‘I’m pleased there was enough people to have confidence in me to keep me in there,’ he said. ‘I’m glad I’m still running. I hope they have enough faith to keep me in mind in the fall.’
On the Republican side of the at-large county council race, incumbent Jim Heitkemper will get a shot to retain his seat after finishing second with 2,214 votes.
‘In the fall is where it’s going to be tough,’ he said. ‘It’s quite an honor to be voted through the Primary.’
The leading vote-getter for the GOP was Circuit Court Clerk Sherry Brown with 2,563, securing the most votes of any council candidate.
Brown’s candidate status became an issue leading up to the election after she withdrew her name from consideration, but was added back after a complaint was filed by Mauckport resident Norman Dennison that she withdrew illegally. The Democrat Central Committee and fellow Republican council candidate Doug Harkness filed complaints with the election board for its decision to add Brown to the ballot. They also threatened to sue but decided not to do so.
‘I’m thrilled the public has that much confidence in me,’ Brown said. ‘I hope I can carry out all of their desires while knowing I can’t say ‘yes’ to everything.’
The third Republican representative will be Harrison County Veterans Service Officer Marion (M.E.) Wallace with 1,962 votes.
‘Now, it’s one of six,’ Wallace said. ‘They’re all good, experienced people.’
Wallace said he appreciated everyone who voted for him and he wished more people in general would have voted.
Harkness finished in fourth place with 1,624 votes.
Klinstiver moves on
Harold Klinstiver of Elizabeth will get a chance to retain the county surveyor’s position after winning the Republican party’s nomination over challenger Clayton Baylor. Klinstiver was appointed to the position to complete Thomas O. Bube’s term following Bube’s death in June 2010.
Klinstiver, who received 2,068 votes (65 percent) to Baylor’s 1,095 (35 percent), said he was ‘very excited and very pleased’ with the voters’ confidence in him.
‘I appreciate the trust and faith voters put in me,’ said Klinstiver, who is retired from the Indiana Department of Transportation. ‘I hope to prove them right.’
He credits his experience in the office with giving him an edge over his opponent, who was running for the first time, too.
‘It was a fair race,’ Klinstiver said, adding that his research showed his opponent didn’t spend any money on his campaign.
Klinstiver said he intends to stay in ‘campaign mode’ until the Nov. 6 election even though there currently isn’t a Democrat on the ballot.
‘I’ve done everything I know to do,’ which includes sending out mailers, putting out signs, placing ads in the newspaper and attending functions, he said. ‘You have to meet the people.’
Miller will face Rhoads
To the surprise of no one in Harrison County, former county commissioner Terry L. Miller soundly defeated opponent Alva J. (Jim) Kincaid Jr. of Greenville by more than 840 votes for the Democratic nomination in the District 70 race.
Miller, of Elizabeth, garnered 1,849 votes (65 percent) to Kincaid’s 1,005 votes.
‘I want to congratulate Jim on a good, clean race. I know he spent a lot of money,’ Miller said. ‘I’ve been around a long time, and I think name recognition here more than anything was the key. I’d like to think I did a good job as commissioner and, hopefully, people have confidence in me.’
Miller said that after 13 elections in the books (this was his 14th) that he doesn’t get too excited one way or the other on election night.
‘By the time it gets to be about four o’clock in the afternoon, you know you can’t do much of anything about it,’ he said. ‘You’ve done all you can do and just have to hope for the best.’
District-wide, the margin was about the same.
In Floyd County, Miller won, 270 to 155. Results from Clark County were 390 to 278.
Lugar ousted by Mourdock
Backed by a strong Tea Party vote, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock felled U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar by a wide margin both here and statewide.
Locally, Mourdock pulled in nearly 74 percent of the votes cast and defeated Lugar, 2,629 to 928. As of press time and with 90 percent of the state precincts reporting, Mourdock led Lugar by more than 127,000 votes.
Mourdock will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly and Libertarian Andy Horning in November.
Lugar’s political career spanned nearly 40 years, including 36 in the Senate, but ‘ as evidenced by the margin of victory ‘ many believed Lugar’s age (80), a lack of Indiana address and his moderate voting record were reasons to remove a political Hoosier icon.
Yoder selected to face Young
With 94 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Shelli Yoder had distanced herself from the rest of the U.S. House District 9 field to claim the Democratic nomination.
Yoder, 43, of Bloomington, will take on Rep. Todd Young, also of Bloomington, in the General Election.
After receiving 46 percent of the votes, her closest challenger was Robert Winningham (22 percent), followed by Jonathan George (17 percent), John Griffin Miller (8 percent) and John Tilford (7 percent).
The state numbers were fairly close to those posted in Harrison County. Yoder received 1,097 (40 percent), followed by Winningham (691, 25 percent), Miller (392, 14 percent), George (345, 13 percent) and Tilford (190, 7 percent).
Romney leads challengers
With his challengers having conceded before yesterday’s Primary Election in Indiana, Mitt Romney’s selection as Republican nominee for president was a forgone conclusion.
Locally, he picked up 65 percent of the votes, which matched the 64 percent (90 percent of precincts reporting) he had received across the state as of press time.