Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

November 9, 2011

Another election cycle is over, but the political reprieve will be short lived

The voters of Southwest Virginia have spoken. The ballots have been cast and counted. There are winners, and there are losers. But the long election cycle is over — at least for now.

We are finally free to transition to the long holiday season — if we so choose. Yes, the presidential election is well underway — although the Republican field remains largely unsettled. Is it Mitt Romney? Is it Herman Cain? Is it Rick Perry? Or will another political figure emerge as the new GOP front-runner in the days and weeks ahead? And what about the Democratic ticket? Is no one interested in challenging President Obama for the Democratic nomination?

So while the election may be over, it’s not really over. The 2012 campaign is, for all practical purposes, well underway. But that doesn’t mean we can’t tune it all out — at least for the moment. Not that we should ignore the political process. All citizens must be responsible voters. And responsible voters must keep up with the candidates, the issues and what is happening in Washington, Charleston, Richmond and in their own town or city. However, being a responsible voter doesn’t mean we can’t take a quick breather from the seemingly never-ending political machine in order to get into the holiday spirit. And ready or not — the holiday season is almost here.

I’m personally glad the election is over. Not so much due to the fact that I had to write and coordinate a lot of election stories, but because I can now finally open my mailbox without it being stuffed full of political mailers. Now I can actually find the real mail — you know all of the bills that I love receiving each month — without having to dig through all of the campaign mailers.

As expected, things went pretty smoothly last night in the newsroom. The Virginia-side election officials always do a great job as it relates to getting election results to us in a timely and efficient manner. We were able to call most of the key races in a relatively timely fashion.

I was joined by veteran staff member Bill Archer — with assistance from sports writer Tom Bone — in collecting the election numbers last night from Tazewell, Buchanan, Bland, Giles, Russell, Washington and Wythe counties — all a part of the closely watched 38th Senatorial District race.

Managing Editor Samantha Perry was also hard at work last night, tweeting, mobile blasting and updating our website with up-to-the-minute election results. As a result, folks who were interested in finding out the local election results early simply had to log onto our website, or sign-up for our mobile e-mail blasts. Technology is truly a wonderful thing.

We were able to meet all of our deadlines in a timely manner and deliver a morning edition with the most comprehensive and up-to-date election results for the Southwest Virginia counties. In many ways last night was a test run for the big 2012 elections. Not only do we have a presidential election in 2012, the control of the U.S. Congress will also be back up for grabs.

Voters will also — once again — select a new governor for West Virginia in 2012, and Virginia-side voters will decide the closely watched U.S. Senate race in Virginia that is pitting Democrat Tim Kaine against Republican George Allen to fill the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. Webb, who is not seeking-re-election, has not yet announced what his future plans will be.

So in a way we are only getting a two-month reprieve from all of the election madness. Enjoy the holidays. Enjoy Christmas. Because you can expect a lot of campaigning, and a lot of mudslinging, to ensue as we enter the year 2012.

If the Virginia-side elections are any indication, the mudslinging will probably reach a new level of ugliness in 2012. And in some instances, it may simply reach a whole new level of silliness. As an example, I received a mailer last week that photoshopped the face of a Democratic candidate on the body of a cheerleader. The cheerleader’s outfit said “Obama.” Am I supposed to believe that this particular candidate walks around town wearing a cheerleading outfit? I hope that’s not the case.

Knowing that another long election cycle is just around the corner, I’m in no rush to see the arrival of the year 2012.

I would like to enjoy the rest of 2011 first — especially now that the local Virginia-side elections are finally over.

In fact, I’m taking a well-deserved breather this morning from all of the election madness.

It’s finally over — at least for a month or two anyhow.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s city editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com.

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