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April 4, 2012

Only the Eight-Ball Knows

Norman M. Covert

Good morning, voters. I am anxious to read what happened yesterday at the Primary Election polls. I was there, but cannot impart any numbers to you. I am, however, assured by history that there were surprises that will make the November 6 election another melee.


I am at a disadvantage at this pre-election deadline. My Waterford® Crystal Ball (a “second”) was little help revealing which direction the ideological wind blew. There was a gut-feeling that a resolute electorate wanted to get this election right, whether Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated.


I dug out the always dependable “8-Ball” from the toy box and let it be the arbiter of my questions in lieu of the Irish/Gypsy orb. Its answers are in parenthesis below:


·        The big local result might be whether Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R) survived the challenge from his friends and neighbors in the newly gerrymandered Sixth Congressional District?  (“Don’t count on it!”);


·        Did Gov. Martin O’Malley get his wish to loosen the Conservative Republican grip on Western Maryland? (“Signs point to Yes!”)


·        Did Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) survive the interference of Frederick County Democrats, many of whom probably couldn’t find a competitive favorite son? (“It is decidedly so!”)


·        As much as anything, what kind of numbers did President Barack Obama garner, running unopposed? Will his numbers mean much at this stage of the campaign as voters look to the decision on the Affordable Care law, the struggling economy and high price of gasoline? (“My sources say, ‘No!’”)


·        Will excitement return to the “Hope ’n Change” cause? (“Ask again later!”)


·        What does it tell you when a registered Democrat affirms his affiliation, but follows that with a curious “For now!” remark? Are Democrats cutting and running? (“Signs point to Yes!”)


·        If so, is this local or national angst? (“Reply hazy, try again!”)


One devout Democrat voter came in the Frederick County Senior Citizens Center Early Voting entrance, the chip obvious on his shoulder. He was on the offensive, even obtuse. Despite clear prohibition against “electioneering,” he wanted to debate the election judge on the merits of being a Democrat and fend off the “lies and innuendo.” He grabbed his Voter Authority Card and tried to sidestep the Voting Unit Judge, who gingerly led him to an open unit.


An unaffiliated voter was allowed to cast a Republican Provisional Ballot when he balked at only being able to cast an electronic ballot for the school board candidates. His ballot will be reviewed along with absentee ballots, but there were no promises the ballot will be counted. (“Don’t count on it!”)


Republican voters seemed wedded to the Voters Guide, which was prepared by Stuart Harvey’s Election Board staff and mailed to each registered voter in the county.


Congressional wannabees crowded the ballot and included newcomers and previously rejected “usual subjects.” You couldn’t tell the players, apparently, without a program.


Without the cheat sheet, the only names recognized by GOP faithful probably include Congressman Bartlett, Sen. David Brinkley (Frederick/Carroll) and the self-destructing Del. Kathy Afzali (Frederick), the latter two choosing to try to unseat their conservative colleague. Curiously neither lives in the Sixth District.


A husband and wife duo shared the same Voters Guide, she voted first and he waited patiently to accept her handoff, poised as if in a 4-by-100 relay race.


I’m not certain that a large percentage of the electorate was ready to choose three new members of the Frederick County School Board. What has struck me is how much animosity permeates this group of people, who bring varied talents, apparently having best intentions for our students. It is a cat fight, whose losers might actually be the winners, not having to leap into the burlap bag and wrestle, or win and be ready for the “slings and arrows….”


·        Will there be winners in the school board contest? (“It is decidedly so!”)


·        One supposes a one-two finish in the GOP Presidential Primary for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (he visited Arbutus two weeks ago) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (he was a call-in guest for former State Sen. Alex Mooney, Sunday afternoon on WFMD-AM). (“You may rely on it!”)


Also, it is probable that despite the visit to Frederick Monday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R., GA) was behind Rep. Ron Paul (R., TX) among the GOP also-rans. (“It is decidedly so!”)


I’m not certain that my little “8-Ball” answering machine was the right choice to guide me through this quagmire, or whether I should have consulted the odds makers in Las Vegas. It is certain yesterday’s result didn’t settle the confused national and local political challenges, or end the anger, mistrust and power brokering.


I should just go rest up for November. (“Signs Point to Yes!”)


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