SARANAC LAKE – as expected, turnout was low across the North Country in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary, which saw Mitt Romney win New York and four other states across the Northeast.
The former Massachusetts governor has taken over as the clear front runner in the race for the Republican nomination. his closest contender, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, suspended his campaign weeks ago, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul are far behind in total delegates.
Romney won handily in Essex, Franklin, Clinton, Warren and St. Lawrence counties. Paul came in second in each county.
According to unofficial results posted to the Essex County Board of Elections website, 753 voters went to the polls in Essex County on Tuesday. the Franklin County Board of Elections website reports that unofficially, 388 people voted in the primary election.
Clarence Duprey worked the polls at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake. He’s served as an election inspector for several recent primaries.
“It’s been dead,” Duprey told the Enterprise at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, “and I don’t think we’ll see an influx anytime soon.”
The same was true at the North Elba Town House on River Street in Saranac Lake. Workers there said they’d seen just 18 voters as of about 5:30 p.m.
Workers at both locations were thankful for any company they received throughout the day. they even thanked the Enterprise for sending a reporter out because then they had someone new to talk to.
Election officials have stated that holding three separate primaries would result in a low turnout. Congressional primaries are scheduled for June 26, and statewide primaries will be held Sept. 11. the general election will take place Nov. 6.
Outside the town hall, few voters wanted to chat about their choices in the race, but one Saranac Lake man, Dominick Bernardi, who lives on Broadway, was excited to talk about his support of Paul.
“I think he might be too old to do well in the general election,” Bernardi said, “but he might catch on.
“The way I see it, there’s no difference between the two main parties,” he added. “They both have this ‘too big to fail’ attitude about corporations. and the little person is feeling further and further left behind.”
Bernardi said he views Romney and Democratic President Barack Obama as “flip-floppers,” ready to change their positions on issues when it’s politically expedient.
He also chastised the modern Republican Party for getting away from its roots.
“This party, the GOP, was founded on principles of personal liberty, of ending slavery,” Bernardi said. “And they always want to run a moderate. Well, thank God Abraham Lincoln wasn’t a moderate.
“It’s just not what it used to be. It’s all tied up in social issues like gay marriage. Those are matters of private and personal business.”
Some candidates for state and federal office were eager to tell the Enterprise about whom they voted for.
Kellie Greene of Sackets Harbor, a conservative Republican running for New York’s new 21st Congressional District against Plattsburgh Democratic Rep. Bill Owens and Watertown businessman Matt Doheny, said she still supports Santorum.
“I will vote for Santorum,” she said in a phone interview shortly before noon. “First of all, I’ve been a Santorum supporter for quite a while. I’m more closely aligned to him out of all of the candidates. we both ran with low campaign funds and a grassroots effort, and values-wise, I’m very much in line with everything Santorum stands for.
“We’re both staunch Christian conservatives, and for me it’s a no-brainer, and has been for a long time. He’s still on the ballot, and it’s our right and opportunity to voice our opinions. I’m not just going to vote for the guy who is going to win, but for who I believe would be best.”
Republican Assemblywoman Janet Duprey said in an email that she publicly endorsed Mitt Romney “quite some time ago” and is sticking with him.
Two Republican challengers to Duprey in New York’s new 115th Assembly District, David Kimmel of Cadyville and Karen Bisso of Plattsburgh, declined to say whom they voted for, although Bisso said in an email that when the general election rolls around, “I will be voting for the best candidate to defeat the worst President this country has ever had.”
Doheny also declined to say who he voted for, citing a voter’s right to a secret ballot.
“For people to vote their conscience, they must be assured their ballot is secure and private,” he said in a statement sent to the Enterprise. “While I understand the media’s curiosity about my vote, I have always preferred to keep my choice of candidate to myself.”
Owens didn’t have a vote to cast on Tuesday. his spokesman, Sean Magers, said in a statement that Owens agrees with Obama “on some issues and disagrees with him on others.
“On the whole, he has not been impressed by the economic ideas put forth by mr. Romney and would not vote for him,” Magers said. “That said, it is a personal decision for everyone to make on their own.”