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June 11, 2013

Clagett’s Advice to Young

Roy Meachum

The Democratic Frederick mayoral primary in September is between retiring Delegate Galen Clagett and aldermanic President Karen Young. First, I must my journalist’s hands clean. They were both close friends.


Presumably, Mrs. Young was more “special” to me; I introduced her to her present spouse, state Sen. Ron Young, at alcohol board member Dick Zimmerman’s 4th of July party. We kept company for almost a year. We’ve seen each other several times since 2002; our tone is civil, almost affectionate.


Mr. Clagett barged into my old house and announced he was going to run for Congress; we were that close. When he took on the incumbent, I rushed to comfort him. He had acquired a formidable foe, ex-Democratic machine boss and former delegate James E. “Doc” McClellan, who pushed Royd Smith to Annapolis, instead of former County Commissioner President Clagett. Our mutual attraction was politics; I thought him the most intelligent official in the county.


I no longer think so.


Mayoral primary candidate Clagett approved a poll in which I was called. After preliminary questions, I declared myself invalid, because I knew the contestants privately. I didn’t hear the questions that denigrated her while boosting him. I know now they existed because of Patti Borda’s Frederick News-Post writing, under the headline:


“Young should get used to hard-hitting polls, Clagett says.”


Ms. Borda interviewed him on the phone: “I’m not really prepared to answer questions about a (specific) poll,” and lamely explained: “Polling has always been a part of politics.”


I answered my home number, so I know the intro was meant to trap the unwary. Mr. Clagett reply to the reporter meant simply some political consultant devised the survey; at one point flatly saying his opponent had paid for it. That may have been an improvisation, not among the printed material. Whether it was invented, or not, that descends into slimy tactics. For the record, his opponent told Ms. Borda: “I am Karen Young, and in no way did I authorize the poll.”


Two days later another News-Post story appeared: “Big-league politics.” In that later piece the reporter attributed the source to the candidate herself: “Young says when she enquired who sponsored the poll, the pollster – unaware to whom she was speaking – said Karen Young. If that is true, it crosses the line for us, it involves a deliberate and outright lie. On the other hand, who would believe that Young would sponsor a poll that pushes voters from her and toward Clagett?”


“Puzzling,” Ms. Borda’s News-Post story draws a conclusion.


This is not the first time. Old friends have been wary of the delegate for years; they’ve never trusted him. On the other hand, other friends have been turned off by Mrs. Young; she has been accused of hard-charging and very smart, but honest. In some ways, too honest.


Galen Clagett this time has offended anyone not a backer. Anyway he has his growing business to comfort him.


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