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'Wig' party stands apart from crowd

January 19, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

Walk me through this again. Precisely how does GOP candidate Daniel Vovak believe that wearing a replica of a powdered wig will help him win a seat in the U.S. Senate?

It sets him apart, yes, I get that. But I'm thinking it doesn't really set him apart in a good way. Look, if you're a Republican right now and you want to really separate yourself from the pack, try being honest. That's an approach that apparently none of the others have thought of yet.

But a wig, I don't know. "Never underestimate the power of a big wig," said Vovak, who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Paul Sarbanes and is running on the Republican ticket as "The Wig Man."

"The wig works," he said.

Maybe for some people, but not for me. It's too - I don't know, too Beatles. "I am the wig man/I am the walrus." And a powdered wig at that. Goo goo a-choo.

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For one thing, judging by Vovak's photo, he needs a new style of wig. It's like he was shooting for James Madison, but bagged Phyllis Diller. Instead of a dignified, pulled back, hint of a curl at the end, his looks more like an Altoid blew up. It's not something you would see at a constitutional convention, it's something you'd see at The Dress Barn.

It also looks a bit - I don't know how to describe it exactly, except to say it looks a little front-heavy. Like maybe he has it on backwards or something. If he's trying to be hair-apparent to a Founding Father, the concept needs work. He doesn't need a debate coach, he needs Sagittarius.

It works in this respect, though. You see him in that cake-topper and all of a sudden, you forget all about asking him stuff like his position on abortion. He's going to get a free pass on the issues because no one's going to get past the lettuce. And it has good, political-slogan potential. "Toupee Canoe and Tyler Too."

I hope he starts a trend. I hope the next candidate who comes into the newspaper offices to be interviewed is dressed like some rum-running pirate with a wooden leg and a parrot.

A powdered wig. Somehow, I don't think this is what Newt Gingrich had in mind when he was talking about a Republican Revolution. For one thing, even if you are elected, there's no way you can wear that get-up to the Capitol and still get past security. It's a look that doesn't say "Senator," it says "one musket short of an armory."

Still, Vovak calls himself a viable candidate by noting, plausibly, that if the Republicans can nominate Mike Ditka - which they tried to do in Illinois - then just about anyone can wear the cloak of viability.

Not to say the former coach of da Bears wouldn't have made a good Senator, but his appearances on ESPN make Goldie Hawn look like Golda Meir.

Part of the Vovak psyche was explained to me when the story about his candidacy mentioned that he used to be a newspaper editor.

Say no more.

He also has run for office on several other occasions, including the time he attracted a staggering 17 percent of the vote in a race for mayor of Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Vovak might regret having set the bar so high for himself the first time out, since it is success that he has had trouble replicating. In fact, most of the time, he's had trouble just getting on the ballot to begin with.

In 2003, he ran for president, but inexplicably failed to pick up the state Democratic endorsement in Iowa. Clearly, the mistake was running as a Democrat; they probably thought he was too normal. You might have thought that for a party with Howard a whoopin' and a whompin' in the front row, the Wig Man and the rest of the Star Wars bar scene might have fit right in, but apparently, that wasn't the case.

Shunned by the Democrats, he tried to run as an Independent in the aforementioned Illinois Senate race, but failed to get on the ballot because he was way past the registration deadline. He appealed to the Supreme Court, where you might think a powdered wig would be an asset, but was rejected.

Now, he is a Republican and is optimistic of his chances because "I believe people in Maryland want someone with whom they can relate."

Which explains why he came to Hagerstown. In Hagerstown political circles, he barely gets a reading on the bizarrometer. But once again, I think he's picked the wrong party.

He should have run as a Whig.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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