For each, it’s one day of the year when they know exactly what will be the top story. For the entire nation, it’s the culmination of many months of work — a showdown that will bring the participants to the pinnacle of their profession.
For them, it is a time for great excitement, great celebration and potentially great loss. For the reporters, it it’s a lot of crunching numbers, gauging reactions and analyzing the strategy that led to the final result.
Continuing with the sports analogy: Sports reporters have the Stanley Cup Finals and news reporters have Primary Election Day.
The same kind of journalism goes into both and the participants in each care a whole lot, but only a smaller fraction of the public cares about them and the reporters still do the leg work but they, too, don’t really care who wins or loses. (My apologies to the National Hockey League, the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers.)
With last week’s primary election, though, the Nevada results were actually pretty big news. Voters gave Gov. Jim Gibbons the boot and the Republican showdown between Sharron Angle and Sue Lowden hit a few high points as each tried for their chance to oust powerful U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.
Thirty percent of voters cast their ballots in this primary, according to the Nevada Secretary of State’s website, which is pretty good since primaries and midterm elections are usually small draws. But this time, people had something to vote against, rather than vote for, which often gets lethargic voters out of their chairs.
As the Sparks community paper, we did run articles about the races mentioned above, but I wanted to make sure we had results about our city races, which otherwise would be buried in the reports carried by other local outlets.
Of course, I assumed that on Wednesday morning most people would first look for information on the other contests, but to differentiate ourselves as the Sparks paper of record I made sure to include a story about Mayor Geno Martini and City Councilman Ron Schmitt making the final cut in the mayoral race and reducing the field for the Ward 2 City Council seat that is up for grabs.
Anyone who follows city politics closely guessed that Martini and Schmitt would be the two vying for the job come November. Being already in local politics, they had the advantage of name recognition.
Unfortunately for Gene Newhall, the third mayoral candidate in the primary, he has never been able to muster enough of a support base in numerous attempts at city office — probably because he usually runs on the basis of disliking the sitting officials, not on his own merits.
The Ward 2 council race, however, was much more of a toss-up with six new faces seeking the office, being left vacant because Councilman Phil Salerno is being termed out. If the number of signs around town were to be the predictor, Bob Lopes was sure to win (which he did), and the second ballot spot for November went to Ed Lawson, a longtime local businessman. The second spot for the Ward 2 race was really anybody’s guess. On the Tribune’s website we ran statements from each of the candidates in response to questions about local issues, and while Lawson’s answers were informed and intelligent, nothing in them made him rise about the rest as a likely vote getter, at least in my opinion.
That is one of the major tricks of politics at any level, especially local: get in to begin with and establish the name recognition that leads to re-election or election to other offices. That is what gives guys like Reid, his son Rory Reid in the governor’s race and Martini and Schmitt an advantage at election season. In some cases, they bring experience and institutional knowledge to the job, in other cases they ride coattails and in others it is more of the same old thing. What will we get this year?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to get body checked by angry hockey fans.
Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.