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The real competition is about to begin

Well, the West Virginia primary election is over for the most part (some absentee and provisional ballots still need to be counted) and now attention is being turned to November.

I’m not going to say much about the voter turnout for the primary. We published an article in recent days providing the numbers and percentages, comparing them to the last presidential election year of 2016. They were lower, for certain, but, to be honest, I figured they wouldn’t reach the levels they did with all the talk and concern of voter fraud that’s been going on around the country.

Campaigning was definitely unusual over the last few months, with candidates turning to virtual “town hall” events and “honk and wave” apperances instead of the traditional hand-shaking meet-and-greets.

That, of course, was necessitated out of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still taking place despite efforts to “reopen” our states and communities.

But, the primary serves two main purposes, the introduce the voters to those hoping to serve in public office, and to narrow the field for the real competition. We’ve now entered that phase, and it’s going to come fast and furious.

We’ll probably be seeing a few more of the traditional campaign stops in the coming months, but don’t be surprised if there are adjustments made for these novel activities as well. A candidate has the potential to reach numerous communities and hundreds, if not thousands, of residents on a web-based video conference than they do traveling the state to speak to a room of 20 to 30 people.

In addition, there are concerns among some that another COVID spike could happen later in the year. Only time will tell with that, however.

It is going to be interesting to see how campaigning is handled in the coming months, either way, as well as which candidates for which offices focus their attention on the Northern Panhandle.

Not surprisingly, those who did make their way north only went as far as Wheeling. There were a few exceptions. Woody Thrasher made multiple appearances. Stephen Smith hosted a cozy meet-and-greet at a Weirton restaurant. Joanna Tabit came for a visit, sitting down for a couple of media interviews. Paula Jean Swearengin stood along Main Street a few days before the election, holding a banner and waving to passing motorists.

The rest were primarily local candidates, and even they relied more on Facebook and phone calls to get their message out.

I still doubt we’ll get much attention from those seeking national office. West Virginia isn’t considered a battleground state these days, although there may be a few visits to Charleston. Some may make their way to Pittsburgh or Columbus or Cleveland, but I imagine we’ll see more surrogates than candidates in the Northern Panhandle this time around.

There are going to be a lot of topics to discuss as part of this presidential election. Current events have provided our nation with a great deal to consider and discussions will be needed. They are certain to be brought up during campaign stops and debates.

As with anything, it is important for us to listen to the comments and answers from the candidates, as well as pay attention to their actions.

This is a turning point in our nation’s history. What the candidates do, and who we, as voters, support will determine the path we follow, not just for the next four years, but quite possibly for generations to come.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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