This Tuesday, you won’t see any Democrats names on the primary ballot running for Cinnaminson Township Committee this year.
And if there’s no write-in campaign waged, there won’t be any on the ballot for the general election in November.
After the primary, the chair and vice chair—Jim Bernard and Bill O’Connor, respectively—of the township’s Democratic party are stepping down. And O’Connor said he hasn’t even heard of a write-in campaign, something he has been involved in past years.
“Somebody would have sent me an email,” said O’Connor.
That email would have come from a township Democrat asking other party members to write in one or more names at the primary, he said. If a certain number of names were written in, they would be running in the general election.
“I did not send that email yet nor did I receive that email,” O’Connor said.
After Tuesday, the current vice chair said he don’t know what will become of Cinnaminson’s Democratic party. Both chairs are stepping down from the party, which hasn’t even met in town this year.
O’Connor is a former committeeman and mayor in Cinnaminson, running and winning as a Republican in the mid 1990s. He ran again in 2005, that time as a Democrat, but lost.
“I tried to make a political statement,” O’Connor said of switching parties. “But [the Republicans] painted me as a George Norcross clone.”
Prior to 2010, Democrats have filed for candidacy before the primary.
However, last year, there were no write-ins. Instead, former Democratic party members and joined newcomer as independents running for the two open seats.
Incumbents Anthony Minniti and Ben Young to remain on .
O’Connor said there’s just no Democrats who were—or are—willing to put their names out there.
“I think the Democratic party has viewed it as in Cinnaminson, if you want to win, you better do it as an independent,” O’Connor said.
He’s basing this on past campaign literature and comments made about the Democrats, he added.
“People just don’t want to take that type of abuse,” he said.
Not only that, there’s not much money going into the Democrat party here in town.
“The Democrats are wholly underfunded,” he said. “The reality of it is if you can go piece to piece with [the Republican party], you may have a Democratic party in town.”
In 2005, according to reports, the Republicans outspent the Democrats by more than $20K—around $60,000 to the Democrats $38,000.
“It becomes difficult,” he said.
The last time the Democrats met as a group, O’Connor remembered, is March 2011 when they talked about the election last November.
“Jim (Bernard) and I made the recommendation to the party not to put any candidates up to allow the independents to run,” he said. “We said let’s sit a year out, see if we can regroup, and see if we can get bodies.”
But the regrouping hasn’t materialized.
The county Democratic committee met with some local members this past March, but neither O’Connor nor Bernard was present. Calls to the county Democratic party were not returned.
“In the fall, I did ask some people [to run],” O’Connor said. “One just laughed at me. People are concerned about one-party rule, but it’s gotten to a point where no one wants to put their name out there.”
O’Connor does agree however that in a presidential election year, it’s important to have Democrats on the ballot.
“I think it would be wonderful if there was,” he said. “Most people just don’t want to do the battles.”
Independents can file up until 4 p.m. this Tuesday. As previously mentioned, enough write-in votes for Democratic candidates could secure spots this fall.
Two Republicans have already filed for the general election's two open seats—
So what’s happening with the Democratic party here in town? O’Connor doesn’t know and said he hasn’t heard of anyone planning to step up to take him and Bernard’s spots are chairs.
“I would think that someone young with ideals, visions and the ability to organize will either come up with an independent party within the township or a reinvention or re-invigoration with the Democratic party in town,” O’Connor said. “That would be the ideal situation—someone with time, energy and passion.”