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Dougherty visits downtown Hagerstown

September 13, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- Following a week of mudslinging and discussions of pigs and lipstick in the national political scene, old-fashioned, door-to-door politicking happened Saturday morning in Hagerstown.

Democratic nominee Jennifer Dougherty is running against U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., and Libertarian candidate Gary W. Hoover Sr. for Maryland's 6th District seat in Congress.

Saturday morning, she knocked on doors in Hagerstown, introducing herself as, "Hi, I'm Jennifer Dougherty, and I'm running for Congress."

Dougherty walked the length of Jonathan Street, shaking hands, high-fiving with children and listening as people talked about their lives and their struggles.

Her first stop was at Just Us Hairstyles, where barber Leonard Cooper is excited about this election.

"She's bold," Cooper said after Dougherty left. "If she's been mayor, I'm sure she knows a lot."

When asked, Cooper said he votes all the time.

"I love voting," he said.

This year, he's been selling Barack Obama T-shirts. "It's really exciting. We have a black man running for president. That should tell you something," he said.

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"If he gets in, I'm going to bust out in tears, run down the street and go crazy," Cooper said.

One woman said she was "speechless" after Dougherty introduced herself. People running for office don't come to their neighborhood, Teshia Campbell explained later.

"We'll be there in November," Campbell's husband, Marcel Campbell, told Dougherty.

Marcel Campbell and several others said they knew who Dougherty is.

"That's how you can tell you're loved and doing very well," Campbell told Dougherty as they talked on his front porch.

"I know who you are. I'm from Frederick, too," said a man Dougherty met on the street.

Dougherty served as mayor of Frederick, Md., from 2002 to 2006 and owns Jennifer's Restaurant, an Irish restaurant in Frederick. The 6th District includes all of Washington, Garrett, Allegany, Frederick and Carroll counties, and parts of Montgomery, Harford and Baltimore counties.

"It's very rare someone comes around here," Payne Monroe told the candidate after Dougherty knocked on her front door. Monroe sat on her front porch in a purple housedress as she talked with Dougherty.

"In this neighborhood, people have gotten to a point where they don't care anymore," she said.

Monroe, a single mother, told Dougherty about her children, and about how hard it is for her to find a job, even though she has an associate's degree.

"I'm literally almost counting nickels for groceries," Monroe said.

She and Dougherty also talked about the presidential race, and whether the MARC train will ever run all the way to Hagerstown.

The people she talks to ask what she's going to do about gas prices, and are worried about job security, Dougherty said before her canvas started Saturday morning.

They also often ask about government spending, she said.

"We want to hit every street in Hagerstown, but it's important to hit the heart of the city and that's here," said Kevin Moriarty as he walked down Jonathan Street with his candidate. Moriarty is the campaign worker who organized the canvassing.

"Every person has to feel like they matter," Dougherty said. "For people who work every day and chase their kids around, you've got to go to them," she said at the end of her visit in Hagerstown. She was heading to Hancock in the afternoon.

Dougherty decided not to use automated phone calls during her campaign, she said. The automation, no matter how cost-efficient, creates a layer, some say an annoying layer, between the candidate and voters, she said.

Canvassing serves an important purpose, and people appreciate the effort, she said.

"Obviously it's impossible to knock on every door, although I love it," she said. "It helps ensure you're not in a bubble," she said.

"Remember me when you get way up there," Nedra Keyes told Dougherty after the two finished chatting on Keyes' front porch.

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