The filing period for Republican and Democrat primary candidates closed Tuesday at noon. “Third” party candidates are being chosen by convention vote. Everyone who is running for Congress, Governor, State Legislature, statewide constitutional offices, countywide offices and county council filed and paid their filing fees. Now that we know who is running, it is time to begin studying candidates and not waiting until the last minute and depending on some newspaper or special interest group endorsement to decide for whom you will cast your ballot.

This is probably the most important election in our lifetime or the history of the republic. Every vote counts and it is extremely important that we know as much as possible about the candidate for whom we cast our ballot.

Primary elections are when and where the two major political parties select the candidates who will represent them in the General Election in November. The primary elections are set for June 8, only a little over two months away. Individuals who do not vote in one of the primary elections limit their choices and leave important decisions to others. Voters in the general election only have the opportunity to vote for candidates that have been chosen by primary voters or party conventions, unless they are running as an independent petition candidate.

The exception is municipal and school board candidates, who are not selected by political parties. School board candidates file for election in July and only their names appear on the November General Election ballot. The winner in school board elections does not have to have more than 50 percent of the vote and there are no run-off elections. The candidate with the most votes wins. Some members of the Greenville County School Board have been elected with less than 40 percent of the vote, and since they do not participate in primaries, many voters have no idea what the individuals they elect to school boards stand for. That is one reason why the current Greenville County School District debt is approximately one billion dollars and must be paid by county property owners regardless of the status of the economy or their property values.

Fortunately, elected members of Congress, state legislatures and county councils have voting records. Some of the votes are hard to determine, but enough information is available to make a judgment as to whether the incumbent has been representing your values and desires for the role of government.

New challengers entering the political arena may have held other elected office and therefore have a voting record. Other candidates who do not have a voting record pose a special challenge for voters. They must be judged on their statements regarding what they will do if elected and their reputation with individuals and organizations you trust.

We must be aware that some candidates have been well-trained in saying the things that will get them elected with no intention of keeping their word. It is a known fact that some shallow individuals will vote for a candidate based on appearance, sex appeal or personality.

In recent years, the Democratic Party has been taken over by leftists who were the radicals of the 1960s and have a targeted base of radical special interest groups and have been trained in the psychological art of appearing and sounding acceptable to middle America.

At the national level, liberals and Progressives, commonly known as RINOs (Republicans in name only) have often controlled the Republican Party.  They have a distinct dislike for the Southern, Christian, Conservative, constitutionalists who form the backbone of the party. They encourage growing the party by opening the door and welcoming individuals as candidates who are compatible with them but incompatible with grass roots Republicans as well as the Republican Creed and Platform. The significant numbers of RINOs elected to public office as Republicans has resulted in an accusation that there is no difference between the Republicans and Democrats. That was clearly a factor in allowing the election of the current President.

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Mike Scruggs