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Democrats gather at annual picnic to meet, greet and eat

August 25, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

WILLIAMSPORT - At some political functions, candidates are known to shake hands and kiss babies.

At Thursday's annual Washington County Democratic picnic, at least one baby was the billboard.

Neither the cars covered in bumper stickers or candidates covered with buttons took attention away from a baby dressed in a onesie with a slogan across the front asking for a vote for "my pappy."

According to Rick Hemphill, chairman of the Democratic Central Committee of Washington County, the picnic meet-and-greet at Williamsport's American Legion Post 202 drew more than 300 people.

"That's the good thing about this: You get to meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends. That's the interesting part of politics," Hemphill said.

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The picnic draws its biggest crowds during local election years, he said.

In two of the most crowded local races, 12 Democrats are competing for party nominations for five Washington County Commissioners seats, and 10 candidates are running for the Board of Education, a nonpartisan body. The primary election is Sept. 12.

As candidates and constituents milled around a pavilion at the American Legion post, campaign volunteers worked the parking lot, leaving magnets and election materials on unattended vehicles.

For Pat Heck, who is running for a seat on the county's Democratic Central Committee, campaign accessories, such as buttons and glossy fliers, would be an extravagance. She wore a handwritten piece of cardboard to her shirt advertising her run for office.

"This is the no-budget campaign. It's not a very big office, but I think it's important. This is what makes the whole party go," she said.

According to the Washington County Board of Elections, 11 people - including Heck, of Keedysville - are running for eight seats on the committee.

Longtime Democrat Don Ebersole of Williamsport wore no buttons on his shirt, and he said he also has put none on his car. That doesn't mean he hasn't made some decisions already. He is a Douglas W. Mullendore supporter, he said.

In a field of five candidates, Mullendore already has his party's nod. He is the only Democrat running for Sheriff, according to the Board of Elections.

Ebersole and other Democrat picnic-goers said Thursday they are optimistic about their party's prospects this fall.

"I just think a lot of people feel it's time for a change," Ebersole said.

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