Carpenter was elected to the council in 2007 and again in 2010. But party leaders unexpectedly chose Armstrong as their candidate this year at a caucus in March.
“Very infrequently is an incumbent challenged in a primary, and very rarely are incumbents defeated in a primary,” Schantz said.
“That is what makes the Armstrong-Carpenter race so unusual.”
Schantz said the primary in Ward 1 could hurt the Democratic Party if its volunteers become divided and the bad feelings spill over to the November election. If that were to happen, it could benefit Republican candidate William Ferris.
“The winning Democratic candidate has to mend fences with the defeated candidate as soon as possible,” Schantz said.
“On the other hand, a candidate surviving a tough primary has had the opportunity to garner more media coverage and to develop his or her campaign organization and skills.”
The primary in Ward 3 in the city, where Justin Meyer and Kathi McCleery — neither an incumbent — are vying for the Democratic Party line, is more typical, Schantz said.
“The absence of an incumbent is the best opportunity for a candidate to win public office,” he said.
Another aspect of primaries, Schantz noted, is that voter turnout is usually very low. Primaries in previous years have drawn as little as 5 percent among registered party voters.
“If you get 10 percent, you are doing pretty good,” Clinton County Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Greg Campbell said.
But Schantz said primaries still serve an important purpose.
“Primaries are very important because they present the rank-and-file voters with the opportunity to determine the actual party nominee.
“In the absence of primaries, party nominees would be chosen by party meetings or conventions.”
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