IT’S NOT OFTEN that a popular official wins the primary election to return to office, then announces he is pulling his name off the ballot for the fall election.

Good thing. It’s a slap in the face to voters of that party who now have no say in who they can put in office.

But that’s what Rod Wilt did. Despite the fact that voters in his district have been loyal to him during his 10 years in office, he threw them a curveball when he pulled out of the race after winning the primary.

So why did he pull out?

He gave the stock reason of all politicians and coaches who quit their jobs — they want to spend more time with their families.

OK. So a few months ago he didn’t realize that? What changed? Anybody that just fell off the turnip truck, please raise your hand.

Naturally, questions about Wilt’s reasoning have been bandied about in coffee shops and watering holes. Immediately when people think of politicians leaving office, they wonder about scandals, illnesses or other job offers.

Is Sen. Bob Robbins going to pull the same thing and step out and Wilt be named to fill his spot? Great minds are working out there and conspiracy theories abound.

But it very well could be a ploy. It may be the age-old trick of setting up somebody else for the job — somebody who might have had a tough time winning the primary if other Republicans ran against her. Oops, did we say “her?” We meant “candidate.”

Didn’t it seem odd that as soon as Wilt stunned the voters, Mercer County Commissioner Michele Brooks stepped to the forefront and said she was interested in the job? It was almost as if she were ready to give a prepared acceptance speech.

We believe that the party is going through the motions. Mercer County Republican Committee Chairman Bill Kirk already has appointed 10 local committee members who will be among the 14 who will review candidates and make their choice. The 17th District also includes sections of Crawford and Lawrence counties.

Kirk said the names of applicants will be released this coming week. Will Captain Kirk push the committee to beam up Brooks?

If that was to happen, it might be the best thing for the county. If Mrs. Brooks managed to get elected, it would be a great way to get rid of her as a commissioner. She’s one of two votes on the Woodland Place million-dollar giveaway and her alliance with Commissioner Olivia Lazor has been costly to taxpayers. How much damage could she do when she is only one of 203 votes instead of one of three in the county?

It will be interesting to watch the political maneuvering. But it is a bad system when voters don’t really get to pick the person they want representing their party. The system should be changed to allow for emergency voting in these situations.

The way it is now, Republican voters have been disenfranchised, and they can thank Rod Wilt for that.

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