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April 24, 2009

"Turtle" Jennifer

Roy Meachum

Aside from her declaration on City Hall steps, ex-mayor Jennifer Dougherty seems to have disappeared. What a difference from her recent campaigns!


Even in her ill-fated race against Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, JENNIFER signs popped up everywhere, including a volunteer fire company on Baughman's Lane. I didn't know organizations funded by public monies, private donations and governmental, could engage in politics, at least so brazenly.


Many of the same houses that wore her label when she ran for mayor blossomed with visual affirmation that they were all for her. I have seen nothing comparable in the weeks since she officially proclaimed her intention of having another go at City Hall. Rival Jason Judd's name, on the other hand, at several spots, asks for voters' support.


I know, I know: There is a political credo that holds anything done or spent before Labor Day vanishes in the empty cleft of voters' minds. Serious question to this dictum came in Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's try for Annapolis. By the time her campaign awoke, in mid-September, it was all over: Republican Robert Ehrlich had already won.


According to the political grapevine, Ms. Dougherty's going door-to-door, using her charms to help people forget what a charnel house she made of City Hall. Her death list consisted of middle and upper municipal executives. Stuart Seale, director of the Weinberg Center for the Arts, felt her knife. He became her victim when she tried to make a point against the center's board of directors. The current mayor, Jeff Holtzinger, was also squeezed out by her, along with another half-dozen city employees. Jennifer Dougherty amounts to gross bad news. And that may be why she has been slow to organize and present a good front.


Her dismal political record appears another point. She has run for mayor four times and won only once, against a seriously compromised candidate for re-election. Otherwise she has consistently lost: for House of Delegates, Congress and the Board of County Commissioners. Goodness knows how many thousands of dollars she threw away in the political winds, or the number of people betrayed; those with faith in her potential as an elected official.


It ain't there, folks. Given a chance, she booted it away, becoming the first mayor not to win re-election the first time around and in the primary. She and her cohorts may wrongly believe ex-mayor Ron Young was the reason she lost the Democratic primary four years ago. In simple fact, there's no one to blame but herself. She beat herself.


Former Dougherty supporters have already declared for Jason Judd in his first try for office in his hometown. By the way she moved up here when she was accepted at Mount St. Mary's; she's a Washington, DC, native. What that means in the present situation, Mr. Judd has longer local roots that enable him to summon to his side more people and more money.


In any event, far from the shining icon she represented as the first woman to take over City Hall, Jennifer Dougherty can be a burden to other Democratic candidates. That may be why she has eschewed boldness in favor of trying to convince voters one-by-one.


The ex-mayor figures to lose by all odds. I wrote a column that appeared on on November 11, after her thorough drubbing by Congressman Bartlett the previous Tuesday: "Please, Jennifer, Not Again."


That strong sentiment still holds: Why is she putting the community through this – again?


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