EDITORIAL: Madison County voters have spoken loud, clear

Nov. 10—In all, 36,198 Madison County residents exercised their civic right to vote in the general election that culminated Tuesday.

And they spoke loudly and clearly, with the majority favoring Republicans in every contested race at the county level and higher.

In most cases, it wasn't even close. The GOP dominated straight-party voting, 10,526 to 6,219. Republican incumbents won, and Republican challengers won.

Republicans were in such demand that even Democrat Terri Austin, who has been an excellent state representative of the Anderson area in the Statehouse, lost for the first time in 11 general elections. She was nosed out by Republican Kyle Pierce, 8,888 votes to 8,555.

How can this Republican romp, this red tsunami washing over Madison County, be explained? Well, it's complicated.

Certainly, the county has been trending red for several elections.

Certainly, the shaky economy with the Democrats in charge at the federal level, had an effect.

Certainly, the party's conservative values resonate with many folks in these parts.

But there's more to it than that.

Both local parties put forth some good candidates for this election, but the Democrats left too many races uncontested. The Democrats who did run campaigned hard. Most felt they had a legitimate chance at winning.

In the end, though, the superior organization of the local Republican Party, even if fractured by factions, had a bearing on this election.

And this election was an important one. A county commissioner was elected, a sheriff was elected. So were County Council members, county government department heads, state representatives, a state senator and a U.S. senator.

All are Republicans.

Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, you can probably see this isn't all good. When one party dominates like this in elected offices, people whose beliefs and values fall more in line with the other party are, in some senses, left by the wayside.

So here's a challenge to Republicans who will take (or remain in) office Jan. 1: Listen to voices from the other side and focus on sound public policy, not just serving your party constituents.

And here's a challenge to local Democrats: Get better organized, but don't give up. Continue to make your voices heard. Come back stronger and better for the next election.

The county needs you, Democrats, even if the majority of voters said differently Tuesday.