Oh, what a crazy ballot we weave

February 07, 2008|By TIM ROWLAND

All righty then, who are we going to vote for next week in the Western Maryland congressional race?

Do we want the guy with the restraining order? Or maybe we go with the dude who spent the weekend in jail. How 'bout the cat who was recorded on "The Daily Show" saying that he ran in a previous race because the black incumbent left his wife for a white woman? Then there's the guy who says he's running because he has no chance of winning and basically hates the whole system.

Whew, tough decision.

Which is the guy who said he "loves a good Jew"?

He's got to be way up there. You know the saying: "As goes the Jewish vote in Clear Spring, so goes the 6th District."

One question - how in the world did we the voters manage to land such a revolving freak show on one congressional ballot? What, the circus bus pulled into town and everyone spilled out and immediately filed for public office?


Eleven people file for office and the argument can be made that, of the bunch, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett is the most sane, reasoned statesman among them? Vegas wouldn't make book on odds that long.

And please. For the two or three candidates of the bunch who actually might be normal, my apologies. I don't mean to lump you in with the rest of this Ripley's Believe it or Not green-room assembly, but you have to admit that this guilt by association can't be helping serious candidacies.

You're campaigning on Election Day and somebody comes up and asks, "Do you have fewer than three peace orders against you? You do? Great, you've got my vote."

One candidate in past years perennially ran, and lost, in another district closer to the cities. But redistricting moved him into ours, a fact for which he's grateful. "In the 4th District, there's no way a man of European ancestry stands a chance. There's just no way."

Well, pull up a chair Lord Baltimore, you've come to the right place. Welcome to White Males 'R' Us. Of course, that makes it harder to discriminate if you're up against a white man, so given these slim pickings, he fell back on age. Bartlett is 81 and "could drop dead at any time," he said.

Gotta admire the flexibility.

And speaking of flexibility, top award goes to the candidate who has been able to campaign around jail time. That shows focus, in my mind. He had a warrant against him in which he was charged with failing to pay some of his $35,000 in child support, but authorities had not been able to track him down. Until now.

Here's a tip. A small one, but take it for what it's worth: If you're on the lam, it might not be such a good idea to slap campaign posters of yourself up on every street corner. If you're wanted by authorities, try to refrain from granting interviews to the local newspaper with the idea that it will run a story about you, complete with your picture. Just a thought.

Make the police earn their pay. Even Barney Fife would think that this case was too easy to crack.

The would-be congressional representative wound up turning himself in, following a couple of phone messages from the fuzz. "The minute I realized there was a serious problem, I jumped," he said.

Ah, a man of action. I like it. The split second he realized that stiffing a child to the tune of $35k could - possibly, just maybe - be seen as a negative, he didn't just sit there dunking his index finger in his milk. He didn't wait for the public opinion polls, he didn't consult a focus group. He took charge.

We need that attitude in government. If, instead of sending troops into Iraq, President Bush had checked himself into the caliboose for the weekend, all of history might have been different.

And in the end, since the odds are good that any given member of Congress sooner or later will end up in jail anyway, isn't it good to get it out of the way before one assumes office?

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

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