The Olympics are held every four years, but not really. With both a Winter and a Summer Games, it means the Olympics roll around, in one form or another, roughly every two years for about 10-15 days, then swoop out of our lives quickly.

The Olympics are held every four years, but not really. With both a Winter and a Summer Games, it means the Olympics roll around, in one form or another, roughly every two years for about 10-15 days, then swoop out of our lives quickly.

There are times in the midst of the campaign cycles on a local, state and federal level that we wish the campaigns were the same way — 10-15 days and then we can be done with it. But that is just a pipe dream.

In reality, the primaries coming on August 7 will be just a checkpoint on the way to the finish line of the campaign season in November. And make no mistake about it, the campaign season has well begun.

Locally, we have a few local primaries for that Aug. 7 primary date.

There is a Democratic primary to determine who will compete against Rep. Lynn Jenkins for U.S. House District 2. The winner of the Democratic primary for Crawford County Commission between incumbent Linda Grilz, former incumbent Tom Moody and challenger Tim Gintner will be the next county commissioner — there are no Republican opponents.

The other battle is for the Republican nominee for state Senate District 13, between incumbent Bob Marshall and returning challenger Jacob LaTurner. There’s a story from this race that highlights the silly season of politics we all find ourselves in.

It was revealed earlier this month that the director of the Kansas National Education Association’s UniServ Southeast, a group that provides services to teacher unions and their members, sent out an e-mail that asked union members to switch their voter registration to vote in the Republican primaries and to support (among others) Marshall in the upcoming election. This email, from Tony White, who is based in Pittsburg, calls for folks to register as a Republican and vote for Marshall, a moderate Republican, to fight the “radical conservatives.”

Predictably, those “radical conservatives” found the e-mail and were outraged that White would call for switching one’s party just for the sake of voting in a primary. (The Republican primaries are closed to non-Republicans. Both Democrats and independents may vote in Democratic primaries.)

But it was just another sign of the silly season of politics.

Because here’s the long and short of it: Nothing White called for was illegal. There is no legal barrier that would keep a person from registering as one party or another, and changing one’s party the day after the primary. It’s perfectly legal and it would work the opposite direction, too. That said, it’s also questionable from a moral standpoint to promote that people lie about one’s party affiliation so they could influence a primary. Looking at it as black and white, it’s legally white but looks pretty grey to most people.

At the end of the day, it might not make much of a difference. Crawford County Clerk Don Pyle said that maybe only 50 people have changed their registration, and that it’s likely that not all had even seen that e-mail. Instead, what will determine that primary will be the effects of redistricting or the public’s view of the legislature or even (gasp!) the public’s view of the two candidates.

These sort of stories are distractions. Neither White’s call for action nor the subsequent outrage have anything to do with whether Marshall or LaTurner would better serve Southeast Kansas. It’s hard to see the forest through the trees, so here are a few tips for what to focus on this campaign season:

• Remember that the candidates, at least locally, have a genuine desire to help the community. Each one of them believes they can help improve this community and none of them want to see the community struggle, whether by their actions or those of others.

• Pay attention to what the candidates say and tune out distractions. For instance, Marshall had no involvement in White’s email while LaTurner did not spark the response. Instead, seek out the candidates themselves and see where they stand on issues that matter.

• Brush up on the issues. In the weeks to come, we’ll help with this by writing about the issues. We’ll start printing candidate questionnaires  leading up to the primaries, then again when the general election comes. We’ll be writing stories to help you differentiate the candidates. But knowing what the major issues are will help give clarity when looking through the fog of campaigning.

• Vote for who you want. Ultimately, it’s your choice and your voice. There’s no essay portion of the ballot to explain your choice. All anyone asks is that when it comes time to vote, that you would make your vote count. Good luck to all this campaign season.

For the Morning Sun