Rick Santorum’s decision this week to suspend his presidential campaign deals a blow to Republicans in North Carolina who had hoped to have a hand in shaping the GOP ticket for November. But there are still plenty of reasons for all registered voters to participate in the May 8 primary.
For a while, Santorum’s prolonged campaign against Mitt Romney reminded political observers of Hillary Clinton’s efforts against Barack Obama in 2008. Despite its late date in the campaign season, North Carolina figured prominently in the fight for the Democratic nomination that year. Republican voters hoped to play a similar role as Romney, Santorum and Newt Gingrich battled back and forth in caucuses and primaries at the start of this year.
Now, with Romney the presumed nominee, there’s less motive for Republicans in North Carolina to crowd the polls for the presidential primary. But it would be a shame if the GOP faithful stayed home in droves. There are too many other important races and issues on the May 8 ballot, including the proposed amendment to the N.C. Constitution that would ban same-sex marriages and a bond referendum for Nash Community College.
And North Carolina still figures to play a prominent role in the 2012 presidential election. The state is still very much a battleground that will command campaign visits and attention from both parties.
In other words, stay tuned. The race for the White House and other important offices in North Carolina is far from finished.