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October 17, 2006

Single-shooting Galen Clagett

Roy Meachum

Going into the last three weeks election campaigns have taken on a decidedly sexist tone. Galen Clagett's Sunday picnic drove home the point.

In this case the gentler gender is standing on its high heels and bellowing for blood. It may come up short. Again! The last time we sensed this kind of soprano bellowing on the hustings was 2002.

Emboldened by their collective effort the year before, the newly empowered Democrat female activists of Frederick felt they had finally overcome: they took Jennifer Dougherty's victory for their own. Mere male politicians were waived aside.

Their biggest blow in those last elections was Sue Hecht's loss to Alex Mooney. I can't imagine her camp could have been very surprised. After all, she and Ms. Dougherty were roundly booed during their joint appearance in Brunswick in a parade.

That Fourth of July was the omen for both the Democrat ex-delegate's loss in November and Ms. Dougherty's debacle last year when she became the first mayor, at least in modern times, to get wiped out in a primary.

Never mind, the ladies could console themselves in their own version of yesteryear's smoky rooms; they had re-elected Democrat Alderwomen Marcia Hall and Donna Kuzemchak-Ramsburg. Furthermore, Ms. Hall was the board's newly crowned president pro tem.

True, Jan Gardner shapes up as their coalition's sole representative on the Board of County Commissioners. The other likely contenders are men; some are sympathetic to their feminist cause, but their plumbing is still all wrong.

>From all signs and indications, they plan to erase from the community's life Commissioners Mike Cady and John Lovell who do not suit their collective taste. Their support for John "Lennie" Thompson may be because of his penchant for white suits. No other explanation readily presents itself. As a movement, the women weave in and waft out of the "crisis" in growth: his single issue.

At Mr. Clagett's gathering Sunday, his fellow Democrats of the female persuasion were noticeable by their absence. Their presence might have been taken as endorsement of the man who "took Sue's seat," as it has been put. In reality, of course, Ms. Hecht opted out, choosing to run for - and lose - Alex Mooney's chair in the state Senate.

Now they have chosen Candy Greenway to take on Mr. Mooney and she was there Sunday; of course Clagett campaign manager Mick Strine invited her to speak. That's how those things go. Also on hand were Lieutenant Governor-wannabe Anthony Brown and a raft of other state-wide Democratic politicians, or their duly appointed representatives. All made their points.

Not heard and not seen were Ms. Hall and Ms. Ramsburg but, hey, winning their re-elections last year left them with little to say. It might have been harder for Commissioner Gardner to explain; I'm sure she came up with something. After all crisp fall Sundays can always be used for tripping door-to-door.

Sue Hecht may have also figured her time could be better occupied pounding sidewalks. The excuse would seem infinitely more plausible if any of her other lady Dems showed up. They didn't - except Ms. Greenway, as noted.

On Ceresville Mansion's rolling lawn, I faced the reality behind the rumor that has brought political hot stoves to a high boil in recent weeks: Ms. Hecht and her camp have decided Mr. Clagett is expendable. Worse: the sole Democrat vote on the county's legislative delegation has become the enemy. On par with Republican Pat Hogan? Damned near.

Come November 7, I am told, the ladies will try mightily to replicate last year, when they denied City Hall to Democrat primary winner Ron Young: that's what the figures show. Republican underdog Jeff Holtzinger skated home free, in a victory that caught him by shock.

The women's weapon of choice is reportedly a single-shot ballot in the District 3 delegate's race. They plan to vote for nobody but Ms. Hecht. They count on their formidable front as sweeping Mr. Clagett back into retirement.

After all, the same tactic drove him from office exactly 20 years ago. On that time, it was deployed by the ultimate good ol' boy: James E. "Doc" McClellan.

Does anyone else see the ironic humor in that fact?

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