When you work for newspapers, you’re never allowed to engage in politicking, so it was with some trepidation I agreed to be a poll worker earlier this week. By that, I mean standing in front of one of the local polling places handing out literature in favor of a candidate.
That candidate was Tom Dernoga, described here, who was running for state’s attorney. He was a conservative Democrat and I’m a Republican; nevertheless, a friend of mine who was doing local organizing for the campaign was desperate to get someone to do the 7-9 a.m. shift at the local middle school. I’d heard Mr. Dernoga speak and felt I could back him. Prince George’s County is overwhelmingly Democrat and few Republicans even bother running for office there.
So I showed up, clad in a Dernoga T-shirt and looking like I’d just crawled out of bed. Which I had. A sympathetic neighbor took Veeka to school while I pounced on voters walking through the parking lot, asking them to consider my candidate. Many of them simply wanted to avoid me and the other folks who were passing out literature and so parked within the 100-foot perimeter where one is not allowed to approach people.
You could tell who the pros were at this business. I arrived right at 7 a.m., planted three yard signs by the entrance to the parking lot, then stood awkwardly while others lounged in camping chairs, leaping up only to accost the voters. One helpful woman, who was campaigning almost hopelessly on behalf of someone who was running for the local Democratic central committee, loaned me her chair. We talked about her trip to Israel.
Then someone who was working for immigrant rights showed up with a sample ballot with “my” candidate listed as one they endorsed. That was a relief as two other groups were passing out sample ballots listing other candidates. People would grab those, walk into the voting booth, then just vote the whole slate. Unfortunately Mr. Dernoga came in second to the winner, who, I was told, was backed by the local party machine that runs the county.
Other interesting news. My freelancing for the Economist (they’ve bought 2 articles) finally bore fruit today. I’d gotten an email last Friday asking if I could dash over to the debut convention of Ralph Reed’s newest non-profit: The Faith and Freedom Coalition, and do 400 words on what transpired there. So I dashed downtown Saturday morning to the Mayflower Hotel after foisting Veeka off on Rob who fortunately was hanging out at the house that morning. Met Mr. Reed himself as soon as I walked into the ballroom. It wasn’t hard to pick up quotes that morning and I was home by early afternoon. The article is here.