When I first moved back to North Carolina, in 1995, the Presidential election campaign that would pit and incumbent Bill Clinton against Bob Dole and Ross Perot was just heating up.
At that point, I had lived in — and voted in — a half-dozen states, from Massachusetts to New Mexico. So I was aware that the rules about voting — and particularly about voting in Primary Elections, varied substantially for state to state.
The Democratic Primary that year was pretty tame. After all, not many folks want to take on a sitting President.
By contrast, the Republican race was pretty interesting, including, among others, Dole, Pat Buchanan, Phil Gramm, Pete Wilson, and a former Governor of the state I had just come from: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
I had a lot of respect for Lamar, which is what everyone in Tennessee called him. After all, he had famously donned a red and black flannel shirt and walked all the way across the state during his first gubernatorial campaign. And he was an exemplar of an increasingly rare species: a moderate, pragmatic Republican.
Though my voting track record up to that point had leaned toward Democrats, I thought I might want to vote for Lamar — at the very least, to make sure that we had two moderates, and not a flame thrower like Buchanan, on the ballot in November.
To my delight, I discovered that, in my new state of North Carolina, I could register "Unaffiliated" and, when Primary day rolled around, vote in either party's primary. So that's what I did.
You might want to consider the same strategy. This year's March GOP Primary Election in Moore County includes two key races that you might not want to miss.
First, John (JD) Zumwalt is running for the District 52 seat in the NC House of Representatives, challenging four-term Rep. Jamie Boles.
Second, the seat on the Moore County Board of Commissioners currently occupied by Randy Saunders is being sought by two Republicans: Frank Quis and Bob Zschoche.
There's no Democrat running for either of those seats. So, whoever wins the March Primary wins the seat.
Even if you are a Democrat, changing your registration to unaffiliated would allow you a voice in those key races, which arguably have more local impact than the races further up the ballot.
If you’re not currently registered — or if you'd like to change your registration — the time to do so is growing short.
You must be registered no later than twenty-five days prior to the date of an election. So, for the March 15 Primary, you need to have completed a registration form and mailed it to the Board of Elections in your County by Friday, February 19.
You can find information on registering and download registration forms on the NC Board of Elections website at ncsbe.gov or the Moore County Board of Elections website at www.moorecountync.gov/board-of-elections.
The County Board of Elections is located at 700 Pinehurst Avenue in Carthage. The phone number is 910-947-3868.