The Primary Cost

In today’s issue of The Daily News Record, Jeff Mellott’s Primary Price Tag:  $32,000 discusses the cost of the recent Democratic primary and it isn’t pretty.  In Harrisonburg and Rockingham County alone, the bill to local taxpayers was around $32,000.  Now I know that there are certainly a lot of fixed costs with holding such a contest, nevertheless, given the low voters turnout, the average cost per voter in Harrisonburg was $9.38, while the cost in Rockingham was even higher…$17.50!  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have paid $9.38 to vote in the Democratic primary, much less $17.50.  However, given that this bill is widely dispersed among the taxpayers, no one complains.  On the other hand, a convention costs non-participating voters nothing.  But, Joshua, you say, you spent well over $100 to join fellow Republicans in Richmond.  Wouldn’t you have preferred to pay less?  Sure I would have, but, then again, I care enough about the future of the RPV to make such an expenditure.  Should I force my friends and neighbors to defray that cost?

I believe that the high cost to turnout ratio, coupled with the relatively low voter interest (4.2% turnout in the city and 3% in the county) and potential crossover voting, make a strong argument in favor of nominating conventions (like the Republicans did) as opposed to primaries (like the Democrats did).  After all, who should foot the bill for party nominations?  Should it be the party faithful who willing give up both their time and money to participate in these functions?  Or should it be the average Virginia taxpayer, most of who don’t give 2¢ about whom the parties nominate?

So fellow Virginian, just speaking in terms of money, what should it be, the primary or the convention?  The choice is clear.

5 Replies to “The Primary Cost”

  1. yeah but wasn’t this the first dem primary in over 20 years or something like that? i agree with what you’re saying in terms of conventions more appropriately placing costs where they belong, but i sense a subtle insinuation that dems are more likely to burden the taxpayers with a primary while our guys would consistently choose to save them money by utilizing a nominating convention, and i’m not sure that’s really historically accurate….

    any idea when the last gubernatorial primary (before this most recent one) was?

    1. I see how you could draw such conclusions, but I was not consciously looking to say, “Hey, the Democrats want you, the taxpayers, to pay for their nomination.” I cannot say if historically one party uses the primary process more than the other. However, I plan to write a bit more about primaries soon…

      As for the Governor’s race, on the Republican side, Jerry Kilgore defeated George Fitch in 2005. I couldn’t find any information on the internet about the Democrats. According to the fellow who answered the phone at the Democratic Party of Virginia, the last contested Democratic Governor primary was back in the late 70’s.

  2. yeah, i saw it (the fact that the last dem primary was over 20 years ago) mentioned very briefly in a washington times article i came across, but didn’t have a whole lot of luck as i tried to dig deeper.

    didn’t mean to say that you were being biased (i actually think you presented this in an informative and objective mannner), i just felt like it would probably be good to note that while your assesment is logical and certainly in line w/ conservative values, i’m not sure history would place either party clearly on one side of this or the other.

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