Low voter turnout propels some candidates to victory

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It was all about turnout. Or lack thereof. It was quite shocking to me how few people turned out to vote, even for a race in June.

But alas there are winners and losers.

Assemblymember Grace Meng declared victory before she won. Meng came out to accept her win in the Democratic primary for Congress, without having the benefit of being declared the victor. But she didn’t jump the gun, because indeed she cruised to victory.

But her race is not over yet. Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran is waiting in the wings for a fight that will go to November.

You have to hand it to Congressmember Charlie Rangel. He was elected to still another term (the Democratic nomination is effectively a victory for Rangel in November), his 22nd, despite the beating he has taken on Capitol HIll and in the press for the past few years (much of it self-inflicted).

Congressmember Nydia Velasquez was the winner over the Democratic machine in Brooklyn. She crushed Erik Dilan, much to the disappointment of party boss Vito Lopez.

Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries easily won over Councilmember Charles Barron, despite the fact that the media (this column included) seemed to suggest that the firebrand Barron was making a run for it. Now Jeffries has to be seen as one of the rising young stars of the party.

And he will certainly have a good chance to make his mark in Washington. And Barron will continue to be the most controversial political figure in New York City.

On the Republican side, in the race for U.S. Senate, Wendy Long seemed to come out of nowhere to top Congressmember Bob Turner, who at least was the most visible of the candidates. Now Long will face off against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Whether she can make it a race remains to be seen. She will be facing an incumbent with an impressive war chest. But she has shown she can mount an impressive campaign.

So the tiny turnout propels some to victory. Maybe they would have one anyway. But with people around the world holding revolutions in order to have a say in their government, isn’t it a shame that Americans sit home and watch “Runway Model” and “Desperate Housewives,” and yes, even a show called “Jerseylicious” (I swear I’m told by my daughters that its a real show!) They will be the first to complain about their government. And they will be the last to do any thing about it.

We can make elections more attractive to people, perhaps by holding them on Sunday — what is the resistance to that anyway? But the electorate has to care, more than it does now. And now the electorate has seemingly so little interest in what matters. Okay, my lecture is over. Until the next election.