Incumbents generally have an edge in any election, but as Tuesday’s Republican primary demonstrated, it can also be a double-edged sword. Carole Jean Jordan easily won over challenger Brenda Bradley, partly because she is one of the most well-known (everyone in the county writes out a check to her or receives one from her) and possibly because Bradley’s campaign seemed more about personal grievances. The flip side of the incumbency coin is the Zorc couple, Tim and Laura. Both of them lost their races – Tim as County Commissioner, Laura as School Board member. Maybe voters simply grew tired of seeing twice as many Zorc campaign signs or decided it was time for a change, especially with a husband and wife on the government payroll. Most likely, it is because they faced strong challengers. Joe Earman is well-liked through the community and probably would have won regardless of his opposition. Peggy Jones was also admired as a popular and successful school administrator, but the size of her win over Laura Zorc (about 8,000 votes) was a but surprising. Eric Flowers almost qualified as an incumbent in the Sheriff’s race. He has been the face of the department for many years and as a result he collected more votes than his three challengers combined. He once asked me what I thought his biggest challenge would be in runnning for sheriff. I told him he looks too young. Of course, he is not too young and I wish I had been in his gene pool.
Laura Moss was possibly the biggest winner Tuesday in her quest for retiring Bob Solari’s seat. Solari had annointed Bob Auwaerter as his preferred successor against Moss and Steve Boyle, but Moss had endeared herself to Vero Beach voters because of her aggressive efforts on behalf of the Vero Electric sale and more recently as defender of the common good in her efforts opposing attempts to sell off City of Vero Beach assets by former City Council members Val Zudans and Harry Howle. Auwaerter was perceived more to represent the interests of Indian River Shores, which came into conflict with the County this past year over a gray water pipe proposed to run under the already distressed Indian River Lagoon.
Brian Barefoot, another Indian River Shores champion, did win a seat on the School Board, which could provide for some interesting meetings.
If nothing else, this Republican primary produced uncontested results that will probably carry through the November general elections.