The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Playing at the ploy just isn't going to work down the road



In last week’s Sentinel was a story about sheriff candidate Bob Songer claiming Sheriff Rick McComas’ announced early retirement was actually a political ploy. According to Songer, McComas’ motivation was to set up a political candidate as an incumbent, thereby giving that candidate an advantage in the election.

Our concern is not whether or not that really was the sheriff’s motivation: that’s sheer (and unproductive) speculation. What is of interest is the fact that the ploy in question—leaving office early to set up an advantage for a candidate who would then be an incumbent—has taken place in history, in various places around the county, and it does continue to take place.

It shouldn’t.

Elections are best left to the voters, not to politicians already in office. Granted, millions of dollars are spent in elections to sway those voters, and money talks even if people don’t always listen. Interest groups in this country can’t actually give their money to voters to vote for their preferred candidate, at least not openly or legally, so they spend it trying to change minds.

But when a person in office decides to set up a preferred candidate as an incumbent, that person is basically saying he or she doesn’t want the playing field to be level for the voters. They’re changing the plane of the field in a particular direction. Is it legal? Sure. Is it right? Well, why don’t we ask voters that question? Let’s go ask voters how they feel about their right to make up their own minds about candidates without influence from an already elected official, as opposed to more or less being told—in a very backhanded way—by someone already in office they should vote for a particular candidate and giving that person an edge.

Does anyone actually imagine such a ploy is not thoroughly transparent? Even if a politician is completely honest (that almost smacks of an oxymoron) about retiring early, does he really think the public will just go, “Oh, well, bless his heart, he must be bushed and really doesn’t want the extra money he’d earn by finishing his term!”

It’s quite possible such a move could even evoke a backlash response, just because it is so blatantly obvious or at least suspect.

Why bring this up now? Because this area is a Grand Central Station of hot rumors, and one’s going around right now that some office holders are plotting to do this very thing in the near future. People are already talking about how disgusting that is and how they’re darned (to paraphrase) if they’ll vote for the candidate who gets set up as an incumbent.

Are the rumors true? Only time will tell, and as stated earlier, speculation is counterproductive. We will make it clear that none of this discussion is aimed at current candidate for sheriff Marc Boardman, who however one feels about his qualifications to become sheriff is a good man and of course is not even in the position of being an incumbent. But let it be said here and now that if down the road certain rumors turn out to be accurate, warning was given.


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