Make Clint Barkdoll wrong today – let’s have an election turnout greater than 25 percent

November 2 – Attorney Clint Barkdoll has been saying for the last few months that off year election turnout is historically low.

Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed Election Day this morning during the Big Talk on First News.

Jansen said, “I would like to challenge people to make Clint Barkdoll wrong. I’m challenging Republicans in Chambersburg today. Make Clint Barkdoll wrong. Get over 30 percent participation in this. Maybe get over 40 percent.”

Barkdoll laughed, “That would be great.”

In Chambersburg, the mayoral race is between Ken “Hockey” Hock and Marvin Worthy.

Ryan said, “What I see is a campaign that is much like the Biden campaign out of the Worthy camp. A lot of slick videos. A lot of people knocking on doors on behalf of the candidate, but when it came down to it, I’ve seen a lot of hand shaking and a lot of eye to eye contact out of the Hockey camp.”

Barkdoll said, “Turnout will be everything today. Turnout will be somewhere around 25 percent and in a local race like that, it really will boil down to which candidate can motivate their supporters to come out. I’ve heard similar things as what you just said. I know the Worthy campaign, I was surprised, they had ground troops out, if you will, even pre-Labor Day and the old rule of thumb in politics is that the campaigns start in earnest after Labor Day in the fall, but he had people out on the ground at least early into August, if not before. It’ll be interesting to see how that translates. We know historically a lot of these people can get motivated, voters say they’re supporting the person and then they don’t show up to vote, particularly younger voters and it’s very hard for a candidate to get those people to show up at the polls to vote and that’s always a challenge for a campaign. I think that mayoral race is going to be very close. I don’t know what the final numbers are going to be, but I think both of them have certain constituencies that are very motivated and because it’s borough-wide it’s more difficult necessarily to handicap than these local precinct races where I think those candidates have much more on the ground feel on what those voters are doing. So that locally is the race I’m going to be really watching tonight.”

Jansen added, “If anybody is voting for James Kinton on the Republican side, I don’t get it. Because he’s misled people by saying there’s two extremes, I’m running in the middle. In my opinion. Somebody show me where Ken Hock has been an extremist in any way, shape or form. He’s a businessman. He loves the community. He wanted to do this to serve. He trusts Camacho to run the police force. He knows he’s doing a great job. There’s no extremism there. I don’t get it. A weak mayor race and you jump in as a write-in candidate and say you’re for liberty. We do see one candidate on one side that may I question some of his activism points that he’s expressed.”

“Reimagining,” Ryan said. “Marvin Worthy is for reimagining.”

Jansen continued, “But then you’re trying to paint Ken Hock as some kind of ideologist, extremist? He’s never presented himself that way in any way, shape or form and I just really question why somebody would put themselves in that position.”

Barkdoll said, “These third party candidates often can play a spoiler role. They really have no chance of winning, but we’ve seen this locally. We’ve certainly seen it at the state level, even at the national level. So that is a little bit odd just in that respect. I believe he is running as a libertarian and my understanding is that he’s actually on the ballot as a libertarian candidate. You can’t vote straight ticket anymore, but if someone walks in and sees that libertarian label, there may be two, three percent of the people that would vote for that person and that very well could make the difference in a tight race like this.”

Ryan said, “So it was the Eichelberger versus John Joyce race and it was Travis Schooley who got used up in that one, right?”

Barkdoll confirmed, “That was on in the very recent past and again, arguable, that made a difference. The more notorious one nationally was the Ralph Nader effect in Florida in 2000. A lot of experts and political scientists say that cost Al Gore the White House in 2000 because Nader peeled off two, three percent of the vote and we know the Florida outcome, Bush was declared the winner by just a few hundred votes, so this is a very real dynamic in politics. In a close race, you get a third party candidate, they very well could persuade the outcome of the race.”

Jansen said, “People would be wise not to allow someone. He’s playing spoiler and you don’t really understand his motivations. No one should be getting a vote if that’s all they’re doing. It just defies reason that anyone would think he’s actually going to win because he’s not.”

Ryan chuckled, “I’m not that guy and I’m not the other guy. Well, what’s your stance?”

Chambersburg Borough Council could also see a shift after today.

Barkdoll said, “One thing about Chambersburg that we’ve said in the past, Franklin County wide, Republicans have over a 2 to 1 voter registration advantage, so it’s almost impossible county-wide for a Democrat to be elected to any office. But those numbers are not true for the Borough of Chambersburg. There are precincts and in the borough in general, it’s a much closer voter registration to a 50-50. We’ve had in the recent past, Democrats even elected as mayor of Chambersburg. I think at the council level, the incumbents always have an advantage. They’re out there, day in and day out, whether they’re doing ribbon cuttings or just interacting with constituents. They have very much a built-in advantage. I think these challengers, they need to point these issues out. I think the pulse of the public very much is not in favor of some of these things that council has recently done, but again, will those people be motivated enough to come out and vote and can they overcome what otherwise is a pure incumbency advantage in some of these local races?”

Ryan added, “If you look at what’s happening in the Biden administration and all the overreach and all the dismissal and all the walking away from the microphone, much like our borough council president has a thoughtful, thank you Miss Jansen, thank you Mr. Everly. You see this stuff happening on a national platform. If you want more of this on a local level, then you already know where your vote is going to go. It’s going to go to the left side of the aisle. I think people if you associate that with the Biden administration they would be running in the other direction, wouldn’t you think?”

Barkdoll agreed, “Biden does not have any coattails at this point. Even among Democrats. You look at the polling the last few weeks, his numbers are eroding everyday with Independents and Democrats. So to the extent that a president carries the top of a ticket even in these off year elections, it is not a good year to be running as a Democrat, whether you’re running for the Governor of Virginia or you’re running for borough council or a local school board race. So that does I think give a real advantage to Republicans. It may not be as pronounced locally, but, once again, if you’re getting into a one, two, three percent margin, that could be a margin of difference based on someone’s reluctance to vote even because of the presidency. That’s the other factor here. Democrats may just not be as motivated because of their lack of enthusiasm for Biden. So it’s not like they’re not coming out and voting for a Democrat, they may just stay home. Again, that is very much an advantage if you’re a Republican running this year.”

Jansen pointed out, “We keep hearing now, it’s hard to believe Terry McAuliffe (candidate for VA Governor) keeps just doubling down on the message that seems to be defeating him. Great little back-and-forth showing their final messages yesterday and Terry McAuliffe is just sticking with the old dog whistle argument. If you hear anybody talking about dog whistles at this point and bringing up terms like racist, they have nothing to offer. They are just totally going on maybe I can scare people about the other side and get them to vote against them. It shouldn’t work. People shouldn’t be fooled by that. I’m hearing a little of that language around here in Chambersburg. You see somebody using those words, they have nothing to offer as far as a good candidate or a good policy. They’re just trying to scare people into voting for who they want voted for.”

Barkdoll said, “That race is slowly but surely slipping away from McAuliffe. Not only have all the polls been moving in favor of Youngkin. He’s got the momentum here, but you saw yesterday Larry Sabato at UVA, he runs that Crystal Ball, probably the most prominent political center in the state of Virginia. He moved the race yesterday to lean Youngkin, meaning that Youngkin now has the advantage. Sabato is pointing out these same things that we’re talking about with Biden that Democrats and Independents in Virginia just are not real motivated right now to vote. They don’t like what’s happening in Washington. Republicans are a lot more motivated. In the last 50 years, only one time has someone been elected governor in Virginia whose party was in the White House and that was Terry McAuliffe who was first elected when Obama was in office. You put all of that together, things are very much lining up in a good way for Youngkin, the Republican challenger.”

Be careful of the misinformation being spread.

Ryan pointed out, “Make sure you remember, someone’s running around Third Ward (in Chambersburg) saying that Dom Brown was going to do this whole sidewalk action here. We brought Dom Brown in here. We sat Dom Brown down and had a thoughtful conversation. I didn’t hear Barb Beattie at Borough Council deny that that was a narrative that was out there. That somebody in that Beattie camp was saying something about Dom Brown who was championing sidewalks. That’s a lie. That is a lie. And I didn’t hear Bar Beattie after someone asked her on Borough Council, wasn’t it Valerie Jordan that said what’s going on in Third Ward? Will you deny any of your camp or your handlers with spreading this rumor? We already know from Dom Brown that that was a lie that was circulating and enough with that.”

Barkdoll said, “It seems like there are a lot of these sort of things being spread around about these council candidates and there’s a lot of money being spent on these races as well. Again, if you’re voting today, hopefully you’ve done your homework prior to today and really learning what the true positions of all of these candidates are. Don’t be necessarily relying on what one of their competitors or someone in an opposing camp may be saying about the people that are running.”

Jansen asked, “Will we get a final number on how much was spent? I mean this is a tiny town, weak mayoral position and we’re hearing that there’s numbers being spent on this and I have to question why.”

“We’ll get those numbers,” Barkdoll confirmed. “We’ll get those within the next few weeks because they’re going to have to report that in their final campaign finance reports. As will some of these local school board races. I’m hearing the same thing about these school board races, which is really remarkable because as we know, these are volunteer positions and the idea that someone or groups are spending thousands of dollars, I’ve never seen it before. So I’m going to be really watching for those final reports in the next few weeks to see how much was spent, where was the money coming from and where was the money being spent?”

Jansen said, “We’ll make sure we bring that out so people can know who was behind these different things, who was trying to manipulate or change things at the local level.”

Speaking of school boards, there are a lot of write-ins and people are really actively participating in these local elections.

Barkdoll said, “I’ve never seen this level of activity in local school board races with these write-in campaigns and some of these write-in candidates are spending money and remember these are volunteer positions, but they are spending money on ads and signs and direct mailers and they even have poll workers around the county today in these various districts. I’ve never seen anything like it. There is no question, though, these write-in candidates have a very difficult battle ahead of them. They have already lost out on many of those mail-in votes because they declared their candidacies so late in the cycle, but it’s also just difficult for write-in candidates to win. It’s not impossible, but very much an uphill battle. I will say, going back to our discussion on Chambersburg, some of these write-in candidates seem to have very motivated bases and supporters behind them and any time there’s enthusiasm, there’s certainly absolutely a chance one or more of these people could win. The one in Chambersburg (Joan Smith versus Noelle Purdy) that will be a write-in winner because there’s no one on the ballot. So one of those write-in candidates will be declared the victor later this week when the write-in votes get canvassed.”