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As Long as We Remember...

November 29, 2017

A United Front Works Best

Hayden Duke

As a candidate I had always said that if I were to lose I didn’t want it to be close. The voters of Frederick City granted my wish – and that of every Republican candidate, on November 7th. It was a clean sweep for the Democrats for the first time in several decades.


While defeat does not offer a seat on the Board of Aldermen, it does allow one to examine all aspects of the campaign. So, what happened?


Blame it on the rain. The weather was miserable on the 7th. There is no doubt about that. I stood outside for the better part of 12 hours and didn’t warm up until Friday – the 10th. This may have kept some voters away, but the impact was minimal at best. If you wanted to vote you had many opportunities to do so before the 7th.


There was undoubtedly an anti-Republican wave that swept across the country on the 7th. It was not a good night to be a Republican, but I don’t think this played an outsized role.


Monocacy Boulevard was closed at Schifferstadt and motorists. It upset voters it that area, and I can’t say that I blame them. Some of them may have taken out their anger at the polls, but I don’t think this represents a major factor by any stretch of the imagination.


Here are the factors that played a greater role.


One is the loneliest number – Until late June I was the only Republican candidate who had filed for the Board of Aldermen. As we got closer to the filing deadline, reporters and residents were asking me where the other candidates were. While some people wondered, the Democrats, who had a full primary of their own, were out door knocking and attending campaign events, getting their name and issues out there. Running for office is something you have to have a passion to do, and I think the passion for running can reflect how you run your campaign.


Primary Day – None of the Republican aldermanic candidates were listed on the ballot and people wondered if any were running. Not having a primary doesn’t always allow for the honing of messages and the trial by fire in front of voters. I believe this was reflected by the very low turnout of Republican voters in the primary.


You’ve got a friend in me – The Frederick County Republican Central Committee (FCRCC) is charged to “secure the election of all duly nominated Republican candidates.” Their mission is not to run a candidate’s campaign for them or to provide that candidate’s sole source of campaign materials. They were very involved in the campaign, sometimes overly so in my opinion.


But, they often did so out of a sense of duty to the Republican team. For example, they didn’t develop the sometimes criticized palm card. They did it because some candidates didn’t see fit to have their own material – or campaign signs for most, or all, of the campaign. There were members who worked incredibly hard, but no volunteer should ever outwork the candidates themselves. Some candidates, post-election, have blamed the FCRCC for their loss. This seems like a page out of Hillary Clinton’s playbook. Blame everyone else. Biting the hand that feeds you comes to mind.


We built this city – One of the more controversial items on the palm card was the piece about “sanctuary city.” One candidate declared it a “nothing burger” and others declared this as a “non-issue.” More than a few voters with whom I spoke mentioned this as an issue. I’m sure they don’t appreciate their concerns being disregarded.


The Republican candidates – including me. It’s like the bacon and eggs metaphor – the chicken was involved, the pig was committed. When you have some candidates who are involved and some who are committed, it can be like, to quote a fellow columnist, putting together a boy band and hoping for a hit song right out of the gate.


When you have a candidate who commits an unforced gaffe which causes all candidates to be asked if they condone – or would commit – election “fraud” themselves – to quote comedian Bill Engvall – there’s your sign. When there is more photo evidence of the Loch Ness Monster than a candidate for Alderman, there’s your sign. The idea of a slate will only work if all candidates bring something to the table and contribute equally. That did not happen this time.


In spite of the electoral outcome, there are so many people who are deserving of thanks and credit – the high school students who door knocked with me; the college students and Central Committee member who did literature drops with me;, the people from out of county who came up to support our candidates and the voters themselves.


I am not discouraged at all, and while I am not running for alderman again, I do have some suggestions on how November 7, 2017, can be the beginning of a resurgent Republican Party in the City of Frederick.


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