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As Long as We Remember...

May 19, 2009

Where's Jennifer?

Roy Meachum

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and I did not agree; her political strategists said she could win the governor's race by concentrating her efforts (and expenditures) after Labor Day. She tried, and had her head handed over by Republican Bob Ehrlich.


Brave or foolish, Democrats should whisper that warning into Jennifer Dougherty's ear. The once and future candidate for anything that comes along may be fearful of overspending her good-will coins; indeed, as I said, I think she went into that venue's bankruptcy by chasing Roscoe Bartlett. She never had the resources to challenge the king of the Sixth Congressional District.


In the process, however, she managed to thoroughly alienate the considerable constituency of Andrew Duck. He ran a very respectable race in 2006; as a matter of record, she failed to improve Mr. Duck's position. To me that means her backers simply replaced his, and that figures a zero game to the local Democrats. The Republicans won when another fresh face got splattered. From conversations, I came away uncertain that Andrew Duck's name will appear on a ballot again.


Is it now Jason Judd's turn?


Ms. Dougherty announced after Mr. Judd's campaign was already launched. To the non-noise of one-hand clapping, the ex-mayor said that she was willing to sacrifice four more years in City Hall. The insidious question? Who asked her? She has already torn into pieces and bits any hope that she can organize and unify her party. Mr. Judd still could.


The Frederick native son has staged several impressive rallies, including a chili-taster that chiefly gave people an excuse for turning out. On a rain soaked Sunday afternoon about 75 crammed into his parents' house. Being there was more important than anything said or otherwise done. Frankly, I was impressed when County Commissioners' President Jan Gardner stood in the foyer and wrote out a check. (Del. Sue Hecht was – of course – not there; she has long been the mainstay of all attempts to boost Ms. Dougherty into elected office.)


At this past Saturday evening's Second Street Shakespeare performance I was only mildly surprised to encounter Mr. Judd; it was Maryland Shakespeare Festival's best attended appearance since Pushkin and I enjoyed ourselves on the Hood lawn. The English pointer responded nobly to productions by the same group, although the name was changed.


In answer to my question, Mr. Judd said he had no recent Jennifer sightings; meanwhile there was a gathering the next day in my neighborhood for him. The candidate allowed as how he makes about a half-dozen appearances a week. In the two blocks closest to our North Market Street house, Pushkin and I have counted four Judd signs and a single "Jennifer;" that's in addition to both their placards in the city's Democratic Party headquarters' windows across the street.


There are a few sightings of Ms. Dougherty now and again. The gentleman dog and I were looking in a window when we heard my name. Both turning we discovered it was the candidate. That was more than we heard from her mouth the first two years she occupied City Hall. But then we've been told the first modern mayor to lose office in a primary is cultivating a kinder and gentler personality. We'll see.


Meanwhile, I scratch my beard and Pushkin rakes his black-and-white coat with wondering what's going on.


Since March 16, when she stood up on her hind legs and said she'd have another go at City Hall, Jennifer Dougherty's campaign has consisted of whisperings, while in the past we've heard roars. Maybe she has become aware not many people want another four years torn with strife and petty feuds. It's about time.


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