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September 19, 2005

A Holtzinger Victory

John P. Snyder

Unless a paternity suit arrives with his name on it, I believe the mayor's race in the City of Frederick is Jeff Holtzinger's to lose. I have no hard data to buttress my claim, just a gut feeling that Ron Young's road to victory is much more difficult than his opponent's.

I recently had a chat with a very dear old friend. We try to avoid discussions involving politics, because he is a loyal, yellow-dog Democrat and I am not. This gentleman was born in Frederick 80 years ago and never left. He has voted for a Republican only three times in his life (Agnew in '66, Nixon in '72 and Reagan in '84).

He told me that he was impressed with Jeff Holtzinger and was anxious to vote for him. When I pressed him for an explanation, he said Ron Young had his 16 years in the saddle and it was time for a new generation to take over.

In this case Holtzinger's party affiliation didn't matter. It struck me that in order to win Mr. Young cannot afford even minimal erosion of support from the rank and file of the Democratic Party in Frederick.

Mr. Holtzinger lacks the partisan baggage that his opponent has. He will, as evidenced by my friend's inclinations, be able to attract Democrat voters.

Does anyone believe that Ron Young, previously big supporter of Jennifer Dougherty and Sue Hecht could attract enough Republican crossovers to make a difference? Possibly, of course, but not likely.

I know that Mr. Young will have a loyal following with plenty of volunteers. He will have decided edge over Mr. Holtzinger on signs. He knows where the bodies are buried around town.

But sooner or later, he'll discover what Sue Hecht discovered two years ago. And that is that the further you get away from the downtown Armory, the less hospitable the city becomes for Democrats.

When Mr. Young was winning four consecutive terms, subdivisions like Whittier and North Crossing didn't exist. Whittier was Dave Lenhart's home territory. They are Republican and they vote.

Further, I would expect Republicans to unite behind Mr. Holtzinger. And that means activists working to get out the Republican vote on election day.

Republicans like to think Frederick County is a place where Democrats are seen but seldom heard. A chance to deny an old Democratic warhorse an opportunity to get back into the fray will be an appealing call to arms for the Republican faithful. Look for a lot of excitement at the Republican tent at the Frederick Fair this week.

Jeff Holtzinger can plausibly make the case that he can rise above party labels and help solve the problems that face the city. Just a 15% defection of Democrat voters combined with a strong Republican turnout would pose quite a problem for Mr. Young. He needs every Democrat vote, including the sore-headed Dougherty supporters, to win.

There is nothing written in stone yet, but my gut tells me things from time to time, and right now it's yelling.

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