By Clint Confehr
Senior Staff Writer
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum was the overwhelming winner of a straw poll taken at the Marshall County Republican Party meeting Tuesday night when the county party chairman made no endorsement and complimented the field of contenders.
Meanwhile, Marshall's GOP chairman, Mike Sherrell, told more than 30 people in the Russell's Catering dining room that the party has an opportunity to get a "foot in the door" of the County Courthouse Annex by offering a candidate for property assessor since the incumbent isn't running again.
"We have one person who is thinking about it," Sherrell said.
As for the GOP Primary for Republicans to nominate a candidate who would challenge President Obama in November, Sherrell said, "It's more up in the air than it was. It's not going to be settled on Super Tuesday.
"Our candidates are better than our president," the county party chairman said, calling the party primary campaign "vetting by mudslinging." Others have advised that such attacks on Republican candidates will be long past by the time the campaign starts, he said, but that by then "It will be best to be indoors [because of] the mudslinging" during the general election campaign leading to November balloting.
"The candidate who comes through the fire will be tempered," he said. "Vote for the candidate of your choice, but vote."
Long-time Republican and a former state House candidate, Jim Moon, suggested that those at the party's monthly meeting conduct a straw poll to measure the group's sentiment regarding Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
Total participation was lacking since County Elections Director Tristan Arnold counted more than 30 people attending.
The next day, Arnold released a second report from the Election Commission Office to state the voter turnout so far since early voting started in the primary on Feb. 15.
Overall, early voter turnout is down 3 percent, according to Arnold's spreadsheet that on Wednesday compared the first six days of early voting this year to the early voter turnout in 2008. So far, 337 people have voted early at the Marshall County election office. There were 282 voting in the Republican primary and 55 voting in the Democratic primary.
While calling for a Republican candidate to run for property assessor, Sherrell said, "It's a god job. It pays well. There are good benefits."
State law governs much of the work at the assessor's office, he noted.