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Democrats rally party spirit during down year

August 27, 1999

Democrat picnicBy BRENDAN KIRBY / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




WILLIAMSPORT - Washington County's most fervent Democrats braved rain Thursday night to rally the troops in a year that does not even feature an election.

Rick L. Hemphill, the chairman of the local Democratic Central Committee, said the party would raise about $2,500 from the picnic at Williamsport Red Men Lodge.

"We expected between 250 and 300 people, and I'd say we have somewhere around there," he said.

Hemphill said it is difficult to generate enthusiasm the year after a gubernatorial election. Years like this are a lull between the governor's race and the presidential contest.

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"These are the died-in-the-wool yellow-dog Democrats," he said.

In addition to the price of the tickets, the Democrats raised money by auctioning off items, such as homemade pies and political memorabilia.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. paid $30 for a set of miniature major league baseball playing cards.

"I don't know how much it's worth," he said. "It's for a good cause - the Democratic Party."

The party used the event to promote a party summit that will be held Oct. 30 in Upper Marlboro, Md. The summit will kick off a statewide, yearlong get-out-the-vote drive for the 2000 election.

Party officials said they hope to send two busloads of people from Washington County.

Local party activist Randy Changuris handed out cards for "10,000 for 2000" a statewide effort to draw 10,000 volunteers for the Democratic Party.

"I see this as an opportunity to be in the loop," he said.

Washington County Commissioner William J. Wivell was one of the few Republicans who showed up at the Democrats' picnic. He even bid on one of the items that went on the auction block.

Wivell joked that he was dropping off his change of party registration form to fellow County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz.

On a serious note, he said it is important for elected officials to reach out to all voters.

"It's one county, buddy," he said. "I'm just trying to put in an appearance."

Tickets for Thursday's picnic were $12 in advance and $15 at the gate. Hemphill said the party kept the price low because it was more important to energize the faithful than raise money.

"We'll make a little less money if it builds the party a little more," he said.

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