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Not running for office pays off

August 29, 1998|By GUY FLETCHER

When he approached the ticket window Friday evening at Municipal Stadium, Rick Baldasarre had no problem announcing his political intentions - or, more specifically, the lack thereof.

"I'm not running for County Commissioner," said Baldasarre, a Hagerstown resident, as he purchased tickets for the game between the Suns and the Delmarva Shorebirds.

For making such a declaration, Baldasarre and everyone else who said they were not one of the 29 candidates running for Washington County Commissioner were entitled to a half-price ticket, cutting the regular $5 general admission ticket to $2.50. The promotion was appropriately dubbed "I'm not Running for County Commissioner Night."

"I think it's a great idea. I think promoting the ball club and making people aware of the political situation is a great idea," Baldasarre said.

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The flip side of the promotion was that commissioner candidates had to pay double the regular price to see the game.

"I think it's the greatest promotion of the political season," said Sue Tuckwell, one of at least three commissioner candidates to attend the game.

Promotions are the lifeblood of minor league teams like the Suns, who have held fireworks displays and Little League clinics, and offered discounts to people who donate canned food to charity.

David Blenckstone, the team's general manager, said a similar candidate promotion was once sponsored by another South Atlantic League team, which was in a state with a crowded gubernatorial race.

With so many people vying for the five commissioner seats this year - 14 Republicans, 14 Democrats and one Independent - it was decided to try it here, he said.

This year's field of commissioner candidates is the largest since 1974, when 38 people ran for the office. The primary election is Sept. 15.

"We just thought there was so much interest in the race this year, and so many people were running, that it might be a neat thing to do," Blenckstone said.

Attendance at the game was 2,924 and 284 fans took advantage of the discount.

"I think it's great, especially on a night when an Orioles farm club is here," said Denny Lefevre of Martinsburg, W.Va. The Delmarva team is affiliated with the Orioles. Lefevre and his wife, Joanne, took the half-price discount.

Tuckwell, a Democrat who greeted potential voters and handed out campaign stickers, said she had no problem paying $10 for her ticket.

"It's a good publicity gimmick, both for the Suns and the candidates," she said.

Paul Swartz, another Democratic commissioner candidate and a Suns season ticket holder, said the promotion brings the various parts of the community together.

"It's about unity, and that's been the theme of my whole campaign, getting the county and the city and the state working together," Swartz said.

The Suns also had a suggestion box available throughout the evening so fans could let County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop what is on their minds.

But Suns owner Winston Blenckstone, David Blenckstone's father, said the evening was all in good humor.

"The candidates that are here are having fun with it, and that's what it's intended to do," he said.

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