Did Obamacare influence vote?

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 15, 2013

Political misses, Obamacare and what we don’t know …

There are times when I’m reminded of how much I don’t know. Clemmons mayor-elect Nick Nelson is one of those red flags waving for me. Two years ago he visited The Courier to announce he was running for village council. He asked what I thought of his chances against three well-regarded incumbents.

Slim to none, I counseled.

He led the ticket in 2011 with his clever “Pick Nick” campaign. Last week, he swamped incumbent Mayor John Bost by a two-to-one margin. The young Republican conservative politician is a vote magnet. He may have a political future well beyond Clemmons. He’s a Davie High graduate, giving him links west of the Yadkin River. He’s newly married to a Morgan Elementary School teacher. Her classroom greeted her return after an Election Day absence with cutouts of her and Nick labeled “Mr. and Mrs. Mayor.” The picture of Nelson with a top hat looked very much like Abraham Lincoln.

Did Obamacare play a part in last week’s Clemmons election? If so, a Republican landslide is in the forecast for the 2014 elections. A relative newcomer to Clemmons, Tea Party conservative Bill Lawry finished third last week for village council. He advertised “Conservative” boldly and in red letters and promised not to meddle in the lives of Clemmons folks.

I had him slated for a respectable last place finish.

Lawry has borrowed a line from the medical profession’s Hippocratic oath, “Do no harm.” That’s a pretty good slogan for anybody, particularly a politician.

On the flip side, I had expected “Check Chuck” Houska to win last week on the strength of his fine work creating the Tanglewood dog park. Dog lovers would reward him, I reasoned. He finished fourth. One of the newspaper’s letters to the editor labeled him a Democrat — a kiss of death, apparently, in the very red village. Houska was a Democrat but had switched to non-affiliated. Like the North Carolina judicial races, the village council is non-partisan, but that doesn’t keep voters from projecting their own political affiliations on the races.

Two years ago, Clemmons voters punished incumbent village council members for proposing a $6 million bond referendum to upgrade a section of Lewisville-Clemmons Road. All three lost. Twenty-year incumbent Mary Cameron was the only remaining member on the board linked to that referendum. Some figured to boot her this time. She finished a comfortable second. She has fostered a generation of new Clemmons leaders — including serving as mentor to Nick Nelson when he first became interested in village government.

The proverbial Law of Unintended Consequences tends to get in the way of many government adventures. The unintended consequence of the $6 million referendum in Clemmons two years ago has been a reordering of the village political offices. Three councilmen and now Mayor Bost have been replaced. Obamacare may prove to be the biggest, best example of good intentions going awry. Nothing is going right for President Obama’s signature project. Democratic incumbents are in a panic about facing the voters next year. Pundits are already projecting the program’s failure could doom a Hillary Clinton presidential bid in 2016. GOP candidate John McCain suffered fallout from a public tired of President George W. Bush in 2008. Similarly, Mrs. Clinton or any Democratic nominee could feel the wrath of voters who want another change.

Political axiom: Sometimes voters get tired of a politician.

— Dwight Sparks