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As Long as We Remember...

September 29, 2006

Day-Glo Neon Orange

Edward Lulie III

The rumors that NASA wanted my yard signs removed because they were a visibility hazard to the space shuttle were untrue. I discovered that the stunning Orange Day-Glo will wilt and fade into weak lemon-colored hue after a few weeks of exposure to the summer sun.

Still, as a great value for the money spent, they were a success. (If you still see any out there, please take them down.) It was a special moment for me in those last days to travel to new neighborhoods only to find the orange and black of my yard signs had already arrived.

Although I lost my bid for county commissioner, it was a great experience and I ended up only a few dozen votes out of 8th place. That was a respectable finish considering there were 14 candidates and considering the lateness of my entry and my limited resources.

I can claim to have helped set the tone and subject of the race, excessive growth and portable classrooms. My campaign took me to new places around the county and let me meet some great people. I also learned the hard way that hot summer afternoons were just not designed for walking door to door.

Across Frederick County you were just as likely to see my signs in the yards of Democrats as in those of Republicans. Of course that's a problem when you needed 7,000 Republican votes to get through the primary.

Despite that, I am not in favor of having crossover primaries where anyone can vote for any party's primary candidates. In those states where it is allowed, party loyalists tend to cross over and vote for the weakest candidate possible. That helps their party's candidate to succeed in the General Election.

I was very surprised to discover that I was not a "Real Republican." Amazingly this claim came from some who were themselves former Democrats. Now it is true that I was registered as an Independent for a time and that I worked on several of Democrat Beverly Byron's campaigns. How does that make me less of a Republican? Wasn't Ronald Reagan a Democrat once upon a time as well?

Then there is the litmus test presented as a reason to vote for some candidates (all of whom were on what I called the "developers dream team") that they had to be "Real Republicans."

Because candidates for commissioner seats in the General Election will need votes from Democrats, the "Real Republicans" label is likely to haunt Mike Cady, John Lovell and Charles Jenkins. Interestingly many of the people behind the groups pushing the "Real Republicans" ad were former Democrats themselves but tacked to the winds of changing political climate in Frederick County and changed affiliation.

Particularly there are the special interests (developers, lawyers, etc) who want first and foremost to have their views prevail and will spend heavily to do so. I think they largely wasted their money because their candidates will not be getting many Democrat votes (in part due to the "Real Republican" label; the BOCC contest is centered on quality of life and growth, both non-partisan issues) and their opponents are poised to win precisely because they will get strong Democrat support.

Low voter turnout was a factor, too. During the campaign I ran into many graduates of the FCPS system that had no clue what the Board of County Commissioners was or what they did. I blame the school board for not teaching citizenship and civics. That weakens our system of government, and makes graduates less likely to vote. Why vote when you don't know what is at stake or what the election is all about?

I owe so many people thanks for their help and support. Alex Mooney and Mike Hough, in particular, were wonderful. They and their staff (and I and my wife and sons) spent many hot afternoons and evenings trudging door to door and handing out materials.

They didn't have to do that but were kind enough to help me. "Citizens for Quality of Life" and "Friends of Frederick County" were enthusiastic and hard working. Although non partisan they worked tirelessly to help the candidates (like me) who shared their concern for Frederick County's future.

To them, (my many friends as well as fellow candidates: Dave, Janice, Kai, Lenny, Mickey, Bob, Richard, Stephanie, Bob, Mike, Robert, Kenneth, Michael, Rene) and everyone else that waved signs, worked polls and walked with us, I send my deepest appreciation and sincere thanks.

Maybe I will try again. In the meantime I urge everyone to get involved, read up on the issues and candidates and most importantly to simply get out and vote. It does indeed make a difference.

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