BERLIN – Single-term incumbent Worcester County Commissioner Linda Busick was toppled from her District 6 seat by challenger and political newcomer Madison “Jimmy” Bunting in this week’s Republican primary race, but Busick vowed this week to fight on as a write-in candidate.
“I’ve been on a pretty good high all day,” Bunting said on Wednesday.
Bunting received 62 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, while Busick received 38 percent, 652 votes to 396.
The turnout of 1,048 Republican voters comprised 45 percent of District 6 Republicans.
“I think it was pretty decisive. I think it said what people wanted,” said Bunting. “It wasn’t close, that’s for sure.”
Busick herself gained her seat at the county table four years ago by knocking off one-term incumbent Tom Cetola.
“I might have rode in a little bit on people wanting change and getting rid of the incumbent,” said Bunting. “People understood I was honest and really wanted to do something for the county… I’m really honored that the people came out and voted for me like they did.”
District 6, since it was formed and first elected a County Commissioner in 2002, has not returned an incumbent from election to election. The first District 6 Commissioner, Cetola, lost the Republican primary to Busick in 2006, with Busick defeating Arlene Page in the general election, followed by Busick’s loss to Bunting in this year’s primary.
Busick, like Cetola, will mount a write-in campaign, seeking to keep her seat. Cetola was not successful with his write-in effort in 2006.
“People deserve to have more than one candidate put before them,” Busick said.
In county races, defeated primary candidates do no have the opportunity to change parties and run in the general election.
“The only option left for me is write-in, but write-in isn’t easy,” she said.
Busick said that with Bunting, a “good old boy,” people would get a commissioner who looks out for developers and is a friend to rezoning.
Bunting will not, Busick contended, maintain the rural nature of the county. Her opponent’s idea of economic development will put more traffic on Route 589 and increase taxes, since tax incentives must come from somewhere in the county budget, she said.
“We will not have what we have today and it will not be for the better,” Busick said.
Busick said she does not offer false hope of a miracle economic recovery and the rebirth of the housing market overnight.
“People want to hear fairy tales. They don’t want to hear reality,” Busick said.
Financial analysts she has spoken to say that the economy really has not begun to enter an upswing, she said.
The key issue, Bunting agreed, is economic development and development in the northern end of the county, to create enough jobs to increase the tax base.
The primary race, Busick said, was not about whether she had done a good job as commissioner, but about Bunting being a local and her being a “come here,” and about making promises that can’t be kept.
“I am not going to bend over for special interest groups or my friends,” Busick said.
Busick said she would be filing paperwork as a write-in candidate this week. Then she will get back in the campaign trail next week.
“I’ll be out pounding on doors Monday,” said Busick. “I’m not going down without a fight … This has not gotten me down, it’s gotten me a little bruised but what else do I have to do? I’m going to do it.”
Some have said that write-in campaigns are useless, but Busick says she will forge ahead.
“What other choice do people have? The only choice they have is nothing or Mr. Bunting,” said Busick.
Bunting is not worried about the continued competition, despite expectations that the District 6 race would be decided during the Republican primary election, and that the November general election would be little more than a formality.
“I was actually going to keep campaigning anyhow,” said Bunting. “I want as many people to come out and vote for me to get a real good message out that people want me in the position.”