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September 22, 2009

Let the Games Begin

Roy Meachum

After Frederick City primaries last week, Republican friends insisted on talking about how Democratic winner Jason Judd’s chances were doomed in November, saying the Democratic winner would get his butt whipped when everybody could vote. There was also comment along the line his working for a union makes him anathema to local citizens.


Much of last Tuesday’s appalling turnout could be directly traced to the lack of excitement generated by GOP candidates. Ron Tobin’s last-minute withdrawal, for health reasons, short-circuited grand plans for his party’s conservative wing. Whereas they had endorsed Tuesday’s winner, Randy McClement, they furiously worked earlier behind the scenes to convince Mr. Tobin to file. His agreement came late, which is why he appeared as a last-minute entry.


When his endorsement switched, a Frederick City official offered “Randy’s a very nice guy;” but then went on to say the downtown owner of a bagel shop was weak on knowledge on how to get the mayoral job done. In the initial fervor that accompanied Mr. Tobin’s announcement, Republican leaders provided all sorts of material Tuesday’s Democratic winner might use.


Staring GOP advocates in the face, most of all are the city registration numbers: registered Democrats number 15,118 while Republican rolls count 9,825; a bunch of scattered parties account for about 500, while 5,810 independents round out the lists. There’s no indication of anti-union sentiment among those who declined to declare themselves either Republicans or Democrats.


Moreover, none of my GOP buddies gives credit to the organization built by Mr. Judd that encompasses 500 very active, mostly young people. Their enthusiasm strikes an old journalistic jade as refreshing; the opposite to wary folks who tag along for purely political purposes. He has much more in his favor.


From the outset the mayoral hopeful has enjoyed the political savvy and contacts that accrue to Ron Young from his modern record of serving in City Hall. On all fronts, he and his wife have displayed an energetic enthusiasm for Mr. Judd’s candidacy. Karen Young hectored me to meet Jason Judd and brought him to the front parlor of this old house.


There can be no doubt that having lost their first choice, conservatives will now rally behind “nice guy” Randy McClement, but without the all-out enthusiasm Mr. Tobin excited in their political hearts. A holdover theme plasters the Democratic candidate a carpetbagger whose political ambitions go way beyond City Hall; the carpetbagger allegation scarcely applies to the Thomas Johnson High graduate. Furthermore, in our conversations, he has displayed no enthusiasm for moving again; he spent years in Asia organizing projects that promoted democracy.


From where I sit, equally nice guys face off for the biggest chair in the city in November. They are unequal in forces and resources. The real difference can come from the way they wage their respective campaigns. Partisan tactics and the spreading of half-truths are not characteristics of either personality. I hope neither falls into the trap of allowing others to toss mud, in his name.


Randy McClement and Jason Judd, let the games begin for the highest municipal honor Frederick City can bestow.



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