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
Robert Harvie (D) 75,197
Robert G. Loughery (R) 74,533
Margin: 644 votes
Charles H. Martin (R) 48,134
Brian Galloway (D) 47,406
Margin: 728 votes
Robert G. Loughery (R) 50,351
Det Ansinn (D) 40,267
Charles H. Martin (R) 50,723
Steven Santarsierro (D) 49,244
Jay Russell (Constitution) 5,771
Charles H. Martin (R) 52,681
Joyce A. Hadley (D) 40,980
Arthur Farnsworth (L) 4,012