Monday, September 17, 2012 at 04:27PM
Let's talk about "bullets".
No, I don't mean those deadly substances fired from guns. I'm referring to political "bullets", and New Hampshire is perhaps the best place to broach the subject because we have so many races in which more than one candidate wins.
Let's take a State Rep race with two winners for example. A "bullet" would be a vote for only one of the two candidates. Thus, a voter is wasting his or her second vote. Why? Because he or she is so enamored with one particular candidate that he or she wants to guarantee that person wins. Voting for a second choice might, the bulleters surmise, cause their favorite to lose.
In other words, a candidate can ask his supporters, "Can you give me a bullet?"
This is what the late Leo Pepino used to do in Manchester Ward 4. Many is the time that other Republicans came out on the losing end because of Pepino bullits in November. Bullets can cost a party the second or third seats in certain districts.
However, they can also come into play in primary races as was apparent in the State Rep race last Tuesday in Speaker Bill O'Brien's two member district of Mt. Vernor and New Boston. Three Republicans were running for the two seats, and any salient analysis of the race can lead to only one conclusion--Bill O'Brien was so concerned that he might be knocked out that he asked his supporters for "bullets"...this despite the fact that he had endorsed Mt. Vernon Selectman John Quinlan for the second seat.
It doesn't take a political genius to figure this out. O'Brien wound up with 700 votes; his former chief of staff Bob Mead (not endorsed by O'Brien) came in a distant second but by a large margin over the third place finisher and loser Quinlan, 478-326.
In other words, by asking supporters only to vote for him, O'Brien ensured the death (politically speaking of course) of the very person he chose to knock Mead out.
Truly, you just can't make this stuff up.
Now, let's say that O'Brien and Mead are both concerned that one of the Democrats will get enough votes to capture one of the two seats in November. Then, both O'Brien and Mead may well be concerned that he will come out on the losing end, and both might ask for "bullets".
Guess what could happen?
You're way ahead of me. This strategy, born out of hubris and the quest for bragging rights, could cause them both to lose; it could cause both Democrats, who most likely won't be asking for "bullets", to win.
Compare the huge gaps between O'Brien, Mead, and Quinlan in the Republican primary to the totals for the unopposed Democrats--538 votes for Woodbury, 483 for Jencks. Rest assured, they won't be asking for "bullets" come November 6.
The problem with bullets is that they can always backfire, a