Competition good for democracy

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Alabama’s state primary elections are now less than a month away, and, for the most part, we see a slate of candidates that will drift into the general election unopposed.

(The noticable exceptions mostly being Republican primary bouts: the Probate Judge’s race between challenger Jon Chase and incumbent Bill English. the District Judge Place 2 race between challenger Gary Black and incumbent Russell Bush and the Lee County Commission District 1 race between incumbent Mathan Holt and Auburn city councilwoman Sheila Eckman.)

We can’t say we expected a vicious or contentious primary season, but we expected more sparks of rivalry on the ballot other than the various electors clamoring to get spots to their respective national conventions.

Where have all the candidates gone?

Perhaps citizens were, by and large, pleased with the performance of their various elected officials, so the pockets of discontent that usually spur election challenges reamin placated.

Perhaps.

We worry, however, that a lack of candidates to choose from could be to our collective detriment.

When candidates for office must debate and challenge others for the office they seek, we, the public, are treated to a much-more thorough airing out of the issues and factors at-stake than we would otherwise be privy to in a challenger-less race.

Competition serves as a whet stone for these candidates, honing their views and messages to best adapt to the electorate whose votes they attempt to gain.

Having qualified, reputable citizens stand for public office is a cornerstone of our democracy, one that erodes every time we have a challenger-free battle.

We could be wrong on all of this, but it makes you stop and think:

Without competition, are these the candidates we deserve? How do we know?

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