History shows razor-thin Bucks County Commissioners race in 2023

With the 2023 election cycle approaching, all eyes will be on which party controls the Bucks County Commissioners’ race next November. Current registration data show that race is too close to call.

As of August 8, 2022, party registrations in Bucks County were as follows: Democrat (42.4%), Republican (40.8%) and Other (16.7%). Since May 2022, the GOP has gained ground on the Democrats. Back in September 2021, the Democrats had 10,485 more voters than the GOP in Bucks County. With a margin now of 7,545 voters between the two parties in August and nearly 80,000 Independent voters in the mix, nothing is for certain when it comes to picking the three most-powerful government leaders in Bucks County.

The Commissioners’ race is also the race where an Independent candidate faces impossible odds. The election law automatically gives the losing major party one seat on the three-person board. Given that Independents cannot run in the primaries, the system virtually guarantees two-party control in Doylestown. But Independent voters will play a big role in picking the 2023 race’s third-place finisher, and it is that candidate who determines if the Democrats or Republicans run the Commissioners’ office.

The past two Commissioners’ races came down to an average of 686 votes between the third-place candidates. And in 2007, Charley Martin beat Steve Santarsierro by just 1,479 votes after a third-party candidate received 5,771 votes.

Here is a brief look back at the Commissioners’ races to 2003, based on county and newspaper records, of that third-place race. In three of the five races, the margins were so close that Independents probably had a big impact.

Third-Places Races for County Commissioner

2019

Robert Harvie (D) 75,197

Robert G. Loughery (R) 74,533

Margin: 644 votes

2015

Charles H. Martin (R) 48,134

Brian Galloway (D) 47,406

Margin: 728 votes

2011

Robert G. Loughery (R) 50,351

Det Ansinn (D) 40,267

Margin: 10,084

2007

Charles H. Martin (R) 50,723

Steven Santarsierro (D) 49,244

Jay Russell (Constitution) 5,771

Margin: 1,479

2003

Charles H. Martin (R) 52,681

Joyce A. Hadley (D) 40,980

Arthur Farnsworth (L) 4,012

Margin: 11,701