By Maddie Fetchiet
Holt Journal staff writer
On Feb. 28, the Republican presidential primary will be held in Michigan, but there seems to be a lack of interest in Holt.
GOP candidates include Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
According to Derek Bajema, Delhi Township trustee, Holt voters are split fairly evenly between Democrats and Republicans, but still primaries have lower attendance than general elections.
“It’s a pretty good gauge of where Michigan and the nation is at. Holt is a pretty interesting mix of blue collar, MSU workers, teachers, state workers, homemakers and kids,” Bajema said.
The economic trauma is no secret to the people of Holt, or the nation as a whole. Holt voters, while mostly undecided about who can get the job done, say job creation and middle-class assistance are among important issues to consider when voting.
Holt resident Nancy Duprest says she often votes as an independent, and that none of the Republican candidates stand out to her.
“Only Obama stands out right now. Whoever is elected needs to help the middle class. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer,” Duprest said.
Other Holt residents remain undecided as well, but some see more promising attributes in some of the Republican candidates.
“I don’t plan to vote in the primary, but I would be most likely to vote for Santorum. I like his moral standpoint,” said Holt resident Mike Koestler.
Nikita Bondar, Holt resident and barista at Biggby Coffee, says the GOP candidates do not stand out to him, but he said he is looking for a candidate who can help Michigan in particular.
“I don’t like any of the candidates,” Bondar said. “I’m not an Obama supporter, but I like his Great Lakes funding programs. Also anything to lower taxes will help.”
Election observers say Romney and Santorum have an edge in winning the votes of Michiganders on Tuesday.
According to Matt Grossmann, assistant professor of political science at Michigan State University, local voters will give more consideration to Romney’s family ties to Michigan.
“The Michigan campaign is between Romney and Santorum in terms of the polls,” Grossmann said. “Romney supported the auto bailout, which is a Michigan-specific issue, plus his dad is remembered as a good governor here.” George Romney was governor from 1963 to 1969.
Bajema also agrees with Grossmann, seeing Romney as the most popular candidate among local voters.
“Romney does what he wants. He said he would fix health care; he did that. He said he would downsize companies to make them profitable again; he did that,” Bajema said. “I think people in Michigan are going to support Romney wholeheartedly.”
Grossman said Santorum runs a strong campaign, noting that his plans to increase manufacturing in the United States will resonate with local voters.
Gingrich’s campaign efforts in Michigan have weakened and focused elsewhere, according to Grossmann. As Santorum’s campaign gained stride, it was clear that Michigan was not Gingrich’s place to make a run, Grossmann said.
While the city of Holt seems fairly evenly between Democrat and Republican voters, Grossman said he expects Obama to win locally, because of current economic trends.
Despite indecision, Michigan voting laws could boost attendance at the primary elections.
According to Grossmann, Michigan voters are not required to register with a political party to vote in the Republican primary. He said anyone can register on Election Day.
As voters make decide whether to vote in the primaries, Bajema says as a nation we must look at the candidates’ whole package.
“You have to look past people’s personality and see their smart ideas,” Bajema said.