On a chilly primary day in New Hampshire, voters arrived in twos and threes at the Parker Varney School in Ward 10 on the west side of Manchester.
Ward 10 Democrats are socially conservative, non-Ivy League blue collar people and in MSNBC.com’s strictly unscientific sampling Tuesday morning, many of them were voting for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.
“It’s a very stable ward, a blue-collar ward, a lot of really hard working people,” said State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, a supporter of Sen. John Edwards. The average purchase price of a house in Ward 10 is in the $100,000 range.
In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore narrowly beat George Bush in this ward, but two years later, Ward 10 voters backed Republican Senate candidate John Sununu over Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, by 53 percent to 47 percent.
John Moran, a retired postal worker, and his wife, Catherine, who worked in an insurance company and served on the Manchester school board, cast their first ballots in 1940 for Franklin Roosevelt and cast them Tuesday for Kerry.
“He knows the workings of things in Washington, he knows how it operates,” said John Moran. “These other men do not have the full experience he has.” Catherine said at one point they considered supporting Dean. But her husband said, “Out in Iowa, Dean sort of blew his top, don’t you think so?”
Another Ward 10 Kerry voter, Marie Ricard, a housewife with two daughters, said, “I was debating between Dean and Kerry, the two strong people in the campaign. Basically it came down to health care. My husband has a small company so health care’s a big issue. We pay for it privately every month and it’s very expensive. There needs to be some sort of national health plan. Kerry is very strong on that.”
Of Dean’s health care proposal, Ricard said, “I know Dean has done a lot for the children in Vermont. He seemed to focus more on children under 18, which is all fine and dandy, but we want the big plan for adults."
Vietnam veteran for Clark
One Ward 10 voter expressed support for Clark. Vietnam veteran Karl Burman said, “Clark has the best program for veterans and he has the experience: Any man who makes it to four stars must be doing something right.”
Burman said he especially sees the need for a steady hand on foreign policy because his son, Sean, is a warrant officer in the Army, getting helicopter training at Fort Rucker, Ala.
Even though the big show on Tuesday is on the Democratic side, there is also a Republican primary and Ward 10 Republican Michael Coulon showed up at the polling place to show his support for Bush.
Coulon, a part-time Tai Chi teacher and full-time custom picture framer, said, “Its’ going to be a close race (in November). I’d like to see President Bush. I don’t agree with everything he’s been doing, especially giving benefits to foreign workers, but everything else I think he’s been doing a very good job. I really think the Democrats are lacking in solid thinking on foreign policy.”
And who’d be the toughest Democratic candidate for Bush to defeat? “I still think Lieberman,” Coulon said. “I’m very impressed by him, he’s very intelligent and he’s a much more solid candidate than any of the other Democrats.”