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Get out and vote

Tuesday is the parties’ Primary Day, an elimination round for November

Updated: 09/17/07 7:03 AM

Voters registered as members of political parties have both the chance and the duty Tuesday to shape the general elections that will be held in November. They can and should do that by going to the polls to vote in the primaries — and especially in primaries that essentially give winners a free pass in November.


Why bother? Here’s why: In Erie County, Democrats (who outnumber Republicans 283,678 to 161,246) will pick the November challenger for unopposed Republican candidate Chris Collins. It’s likely only one of three contenders will go on, at least with major resources, to that contest. Tuesday’s party primary will decide whether that’s Jim Keane, Paul Clark or Jimmy Griffin.

Here’s another reason: In heavily Democratic Niagara Falls, where incumbent Mayor Vince Anello was unceremoniously tossed aside by his own party, there’s a close mayoral primary pitting party-backed City Council stalwart Lewis “Babe” Rotella against an intelligent and articulate challenger with impressive national credentials, Paul Dyster. That gives Democrats two very different alternatives. Those who get to the polls will choose.

And here’s a third: In Buffalo, only one Common Council district — Niagara — will even see a Republican candidate this November. Democrats have a lock on the remaining nine seats. Four incumbents aren’t even opposed in the primary, so they don’t even have to campaign, but five other seats are being contested in the primaries.

Registered Democrats will pretty much settle the 2007 Common Council elections Tuesday, not in November. For a look at The News’ endorsements in those races and for audio excerpts from the editorial board’s endorsement interviews, visit buffalonews.com.

In a lot of races Tuesday, the candidate being discussed at your kitchen table as the right man or right woman for the job may lose a shot at the chance to serve. If you are registered in a party — and many of you are, with the county’s Republicans and Democrats joined by 19,210 Independence Party members, 11,944 in the Conservative Party and 2,297 in Working Families — a truly representative government depends on your vote now, not just in November.

Of course, every primary is different and voter registration varies by district and jurisdiction. Voter turnout for primaries, unfortunately, traditionally is light, and there will be different percentages within each party and within each town and city, depending on the number of races and the “visibility” of those races.

But voting remains important. There are no Republican primaries in the Town of Tonawanda, for example — but Republicans still have county court races to weigh. Democrats in the city, even in districts with no Common Council primary, can have a major impact on the county executive race. And both Erie and Niagara counties have county legislators facing primaries, and there are important Niagara Falls City Council races — along with a mayoral race in Lackawanna, council races in the City of Tonawanda and town supervisor, town board and town judge races throughout the area.

In one key local municipal race a couple of years ago, a candidate who had just suffered defeat in the “preliminary” round of the elections got a call from a supporter the day after the primaries, urging him to cheer up and assuring him his supporters would turn out for the November election. It doesn’t work that way. While some challengers may go on to November on minor party lines, Primary Day is not just a preliminary — it’s an elimination round.

It’s tomorrow. If you’re registered, make your voice heard. Vote.