Story by Chris Graham
Arin Sime might have come out of last week’s Republican Party primary in the 24th Senate District as the big winner – even if his name wasn’t on the ballot.
“It’s very encouraging to me, definitely, because you’ve got to consider, too, that that’s an open primary – so that 47 percent of the primary vote may actually indicate an even higher percentage of the Republican base supporting low taxes. Which really wouldn’t be surprising, but it was certainly encouraging to me to see the vote totals that high in a high-turnout race,” Sime said in an interview on “The New Dominion Show” this week.
Incumbent Sen. Emmett Hanger was the actual winner of last week’s GOP primary – beating back the challenge of conservative Scott Sayre with 53 percent of the 14,000-plus votes cast.
But Sime, the Libertarian Party nominee, can definitely take solace in the fact that nearly 7,000 voters went to the polls to express dissatisfaction with the status-quo representation that they’re getting. A staunch fiscal conservative himself, Sime has been campaigning for change since announcing his candidacy for the seat early last year.
“What needs to happen now is that people who believe in low taxes and believe that state spending has grown too much in the last decade need to continue to send that message. Because if at this point people who voted for low taxes in that primary go and vote for the incumbent this November, they’re not sending the message. In effect, they’re sending the opposite message, that it’s OK, we roll over and accept the fact that government is going to grow too much, and we’re OK with that now – as long as you’ve got an R next to your name,” Sime said.
Sime also hopes to tap into the discontent of those who didn’t vote in last week’s party primary and were among the 65 percent of the electorate who didn’t vote in the 2003 general election.
“There are a lot of people out there who see the two parties as exactly the same – not necessarily the grassroots of those parties, because they’re very passionate about their principles, but the elected leaders tend to behave very, very similarly. I’ve been certainly discontent with that for a long time – so it’s been gratifying for me to see so many people along the campaign trail who feel that same way,” Sime said.
“A lot of these voters really don’t see that their vote counts – they don’t think there’s really that much difference. I’m trying to meet as many of those voters, in particular, as I can one on one – and when I talk to them one on one, I think they realize that I’m not your typical candidate. Certainly I’m not your typical Republican or typical Democrat. I have a mix of views that match very well with the people of this district – and they’re interested in seeing some type of reform and change and an alternative voice in there,” Sime said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.