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Democrats, put your thinking caps on

September 21, 2010

My friend Tom and I are pretty much apolitical. But just because we don't care who wins doesn't mean that we don't like to -- if at all possible -- influence the political process by stirring up a bunch of gook.

With considerable interest, we have watched the efforts of Washington County Democrats as they try to place a state senatorial candidate on the November ballot to oppose Del. Christopher B. Shank.

Riding a wave of tea party anger, Shank surprised state Sen. Donald F. Munson in the Republican primary by successfully portraying the incumbent as a more wild-eyed version of Karl Marx.

Munson, who has handled the loss with all of the dignity and gravitas of a tot who has just lost his firetruck to a second-grader in the sandbox, tried for a time to figure out how he could become the Democratic nominee, allowing him to face off against Shank for a second time.

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This would be an election before all Washington County voters, and not just the ones who think Barack Obama was born in a Tanzanian brothel.

The Democrats, for their part, had not bothered to field a candidate for Senate, assuming Munson was unbeatable.

Now, they are regretting this oversight because they believe Democrats and moderate Republicans could win if they combined forces against an ultraconservative opponent.

The model they use is Delaware, where the tea party happily nominated a woman for U.S. Senate who had dabbled in witchcraft, can't handle her finances and believes that Queen Victoria was too much of a showgirl. Now, the Democrat is considered a shoo-in against her, even though, technically, no one knows his name.

So Munson wanted to run against Shank in the general election as a Democrat, and a couple of actual Democrats want to run as well. But they can't. The problem, as usual, is too many "government regulations" that prohibit a party from filling a vacancy on the ballot unless it is to replace an existing candidate.

I have no idea what that means. No one does. But the state election board is saying that basically the Democrats are out of luck. Since the Democrats had no primary winner, there is no "vacancy" that the Democrats could fill with a "replacement."

Democrats have struggled to find a loophole, but, being Democrats, logic is not a strength.

Enter my friend Tom, who says this: In all likelihood, the Democrats did indeed have a winner in the race, even though the Democrats and the state election board might not realize it. Someone on the Democrat's side had to write in somebody's name, right? You know how in any election there's usually a stray vote or two for Bozo the Clown, Mickey Mouse or Bob Bruchey -- well, even if there's only one write-in vote, that person or cartoon character would be the winner. Who knows? Munson himself might have gotten a couple of write-in votes, in which case he already would be the Democratic winner.

But suppose it's a Mickey Mouse. There is every chance in the world that M. Mouse is not a legal resident of Maryland Subdistrict 2B. Therefore, in strict accordance with Maryland law, since he was a "winner," he would be a "candidate" who would have to be "replaced" because his ineligibility leaves a "vacancy" on the ballot. So that vacancy would have to be filled, even though it's unlikely the Democrats have anyone who is more qualified.

For the record, Tom and I hate to do their thinking for them, but this was an obvious path that no one was bothering to pursue. Again, we are not here to influence elections. We are only here to help.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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