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February 1, 2008

Another Jennifer Mess

Roy Meachum

Jennifer Dougherty and my columns have been through a lot. They supported her the first time she ran for mayor; then she thought she had the talents and temperament to make a good county commissioner. They sat out that one. In both instances, voters decided otherwise. The third time proved a charm although something else for other Fredericktonians.

The summer before the 2001 election, Jim Grimes demonstrated he was sick and tired of sitting in City Hall's top office. He relented and filed for re-election under pressure, primarily from the business community: the men and women who were turned off by frequent contact with Ms. Dougherty, the entrepreneur. That time around, she won the Democratic nomination while the odds favored Meta Nash. The retiring alderman sought to mark the differences between her and Republican Grimes. It didn't work.

By curious legerdemain, Ms. Dougherty's 12 years scrambling for elected offices were wiped out. To voter hers was a new and fresh face; her gender didn't hurt. Mr. Grimes was further penalized by the death of the good ol' boys political machine. Anita Stup's ascension to the state House of Delegates demonstrated the bosses no longer controlled the county.

As readers know, Mayor Dougherty fell flat on her face when she sought four more years; she was flatly rejected by fellow Democrats in the primary; she never got to bat in the 2005 general elections.

But she's now attempting to ride the donkey into a contest with Roscoe Bartlett. The congressman has demonstrated his popularity at the polls, time after time; Democrats have been hard-pressed to find anyone to run against him.

Andrew Duck appeared on the political scene a little more than two years back; he built an impressive organization and waged a good fight to give his party back the seat. The ex-Army captain fell shy. His performance, however, caused Democratic leaders to encourage him to run again; they stamped endorsements on Mr. Duck before all the voting polls were put to bed.

That must be understood to appreciate how Jennifer Dougherty's entry into this year's electoral wars makes absolutely no sense; as said in an earlier column she is, unwittingly or not, hurting the party. She guarantees division within Democratic ranks that already lack leadership and organization. It's been that way since the former bosses disappeared from the Frederick political forum.

Jennifer Dougherty and her claque leaped into the ensuing vacuum. They refuse to leave. Driven by their candidate's vision that she is destined to rule lesser beings, like you and me, they could be around for years. Rejection by Frederick County Democrats was bad enough, but she's now begging for more. She's cruising for a massive bruising in all the other jurisdictions that make up the sprawling Sixth Congressional District, which time didn't allow her claque to plow.

The reason generally given for Ms. Dougherty's sudden decision to go for the primary is that, somehow, the exercise could help in her struggle to get her old job back. That makes no sense to me, at all. Taking on Andrew Duck and the notables that endorsed him adds to her reputation of always putting herself first.

The local Democrats possess neither the muscle nor the unity to deal with the ex-mayor's rampant and destructive personality. The party continues to flounder in despair and weakness, and that puts Frederick low on the pole of jurisdictions that practice true democracy.

Politically, Jennifer Dougherty remains a big mess that someone must clean up; her party demonstrates no relish for taking on the chore.

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