What is the point of a primary?

First to again provide full disclosure, Michael Vasquez is president of M V Consulting, Inc. Mr. Vasquez ran from April 2013 – April 2014 as a candidate for the New York 22nd Congressional District on the Republican ticket. We have disclosed this on the Bio and About pages, as well as the category” 2014 Congressional campaign – former candidacy. Rep. Richard Hanna is the incumbent in the Republican primary for that race, with Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney as the challenger on the Republican ticket (who was endorsed by Michael Vasquez in April 2014). The race for the NY-22 has no Democrat challenger.

In recent comments about our posts across the internet, some seem to have glossed over these facts or believe we have not made this clear and we wanted to again be direct on this point. Given this reality, we have returned from our self-imposed hiatus (because of the then-current conflict of interest) to continue our efforts to provide political commentary from the local to international level. We remain focused on the facts, and our commentary is from a Conservative Republican view. Our interviews remain politically neutral. We remain open for appropriate comments from any source; and welcome comments from any candidate, incumbent, news media and/or other credible source – whose correspondence we provide VERBATIM, as always.

We hope that this again clarifies what we do and where we stand.

Now we have said all of this as we will be discussing primaries and how that relates to the public and political debates. As we have often done, we will use our home State, and the current on-going Republican primary battle as an example of what we believe. Some will dismiss this article because of the above, others will not. All we can say is if there is a question about what we state, don’t spread a presumption – ask us to clarify and we will. That is what the comments section is for, and we thank you for using it.

Back on January 4, 2012, we addressed in part the definition of a Primary and a Caucus – as both relate to a Presidential election. You can see more in that article here – Caucuses and Primaries: what are they and why have them. A key point, that is true of Primaries at all levels is this

“A Primary, as stated in part above, is a direct vote of each voter with the tally being a direct representation of their views.”

This is true, though in some States, like New York, each primary is restricted to members of that political affiliation. Thus only Republicans vote in a Republican primary, Dems in theirs and so on. Not all States have this condition. Ultimately though, the primary is still a directly reflection of the voters beliefs.

To get in a Primary, candidates must seek signatures on a petition. Each State may have different requirements, and there are Federal requirements for Congress and President as well. Those petitions take place a couple of months before the actual Primary race, and determine who will be on the ballot. For New York, in the race for Congress, the requirement is 1,250 signatures from members of whatever political affiliation to be able to be on the ballot.

As an example, Claudia Tenney and Richard Hanna both got more than 2000 signatures to get on the ballot. Mike Kicinski, who hoped to be a challenger as well, thought he had 1300 signatures, but upon review had less than required and did not get on the ballot. Michael Vasquez, withdrew from the race to endorse Claudia Tenney before the deadline on signatures, thus also not being on the ballot.

Lincoln Douglas Debate
Now this is the important part. The public, specifically Republicans in the above example, spoke out via their signatures. Their combined voices made a simple statement. That statement, we believe, was to have more than one option to choose from. The people were not convinced that Rep. Hanna was the best representative, and wanted to opportunity to compare him to others willing to represent them.

That is no small thing. In nations across the world people die to be on, or removed from, elections and political office. America is one of the few nations where anyone can have an opportunity to speak to the public and convey their message. In America, we then peacefully get a chance to weigh those options and decide through peaceful voting and majority rule. It’s simplicity belies how uncommon this is in the world, and history.

Thus a Primary is about the voice of the people speaking out and being heard. It is bigger than any political party, bigger than any one candidate.

Once officially on the ballot, the candidates go about speaking to the public, advertising on radio, television, direct mailings, lawn signs and a host of other venues. They speak about their records, their intentions, and any proof of these things. Normally at some point the candidates also have one or more debates, giving a direct and clear choice for the public to choose from. At least that is what is supposed to happen.

In the NY-22, that is not happening. In other races across the country, from local to federal levels, there are debates ongoing. But not everywhere. That is a slap in the face to the public in our opinion.

When the public signed their names, they factually stated that any candidate must justify why they are running for an office. The public placed an obligation on the candidates to prove their worthiness. In America, elected politicians are supposed to serve the public – debates are just another part of that service in our opinion.

Yet, in the New York 22nd Republican race, this is not happening. The public is being denied their right to chose, the obligation for the candidates being waived. Not by legislation, not by a lack of qualified people. The public is being denied the ability to chose the best representative because the incumbent doesn’t want to debate. That’s it.

“Time Warner Cable News invited the two candidates to a debate, Tenney accepted the invitation immediately, but it took months before Hanna’s office eventually denied the request.”

It took months to get a no answer. To deny the public a chance to determine who is the right choice. A denial to openly and unequivocably demonstrat to the people who is the most qualified to Represent the people in Congress and speak as their voice. A refusal to do the very thing that people signed their names to have happen.

Elected officials should not have this power, and we believe they don’t have it. Across the nation there are debates among democrats, republicans, liberals, conservatives, and everyone else. The public is being presented with their options, and listening as proof is being provided. But in at least the NY-22, the incumbent feels he is above that, apparently.

Rep. Hanna’s campaign states that he feels he is being portrayed unfairly, and thus he does not wish to debate. Yet, we would present this thought, can anyone name a single candidate in any race ever, who felt they were fairly treated and that their opponent was completely accurate? We don’t believe such an example exists. In fact, we believe that if such is the case, it is imperative for the candidates to debate to prove to the people what is in fact reality.

The point of a primary is an expression of the voice of the people, and an example of the obligation to serve. It is a keystone of the political system that has allowed the nation to transfer political power without bloodshed. It is part of a system essentially unique in the history of the world.

If politicians can arbitrarily deny the will of the people, to shut down their voices and choices, then what is the point of a primary or even an election? If elected politicians, like Rep. Richard Hanna as an example we are familiar with, can just self-determine what aspects of serving the public they want to do at their whim, why not go back in time to feudal England?

If your candidates, and or elected politicians, tell you they don’t care about your voice or the obligation they have to serve the public, via a debate and honest answers to your questions, then you have 2 choices in a Primary:

  • Blindly elect the incumbent and submit to a neo-noble class being created in America


  • Vote them out of office

    The choice, like the power, is yours.

  • About the Author

    Michael Vass
    Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

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