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IN OTHER WORDS: A whopper of a campaign story

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Maryland state Sen. David R. Brinkley probably won't topple incumbent Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett in Tuesday's Republican congressional primary, but his campaign sure is going down swinging.

The Brinkley campaign took Mr. Bartlett to task last week, accusing the 85-year-old congressman's campaign of implying in a mailer that Mr. Brinkley has been complicit in Maryland's regularly escalating state budgets.

The dust-up came a week after Brinkley campaign spokesman Don Murphy accused fellow GOP primary candidate Delegate Kathryn L. Afzali of embellishing her legislative accomplishments and suggested her campaign "whoppers" make her better suited to work at Burger King than in a state or national legislature.

When Mrs. Afzali criticized the comments as sexist, Mr. Murphy apologized to Burger King for suggesting she was fit to work there.

This time, in response to the slight from the Bartlett campaign, Mr. Murphy issued a news release that blasted Mr. Bartlett's "anemic record" and accused his campaign of exaggerating Maryland's budget growth while neglecting to mention that Mr. Brinkley often has opposed budgets in the decidedly blue state.

"Blaming David Brinkley for the spending of a Democrat-controlled legislature and Democrat governor is like blaming the Wright brothers for 9/11," Mr. Murphy said.

The comment was a change of pace for the Brinkley campaign, part of a crowded field of GOP challengers that mostly has beaten up on one another rather than the heavily favored Mr. Bartlett.

So while it's probably never a good idea to invoke Sept. 11 in the name of political mudslinging, it's not like the Brinkley campaign had much to lose.

Best laid plans

Bishop E.W. Jackson of Chesapeake had it all planned out.

A 4 p.m. news conference on Capitol Square in Richmond on Thursday would be held to thank supporters for gathering the requisite number of signatures to get him on the GOP primary ballot for U.S. Senate in June.

Only problem? He didn't show up.

The reason? A late delivery of 100 signatures from Northern Virginia (candidates must submit 10,000 signatures, with at least 400 from each of the state's 11 congressional districts) diverted campaign staff to a "search and rescue" mission while new paperwork had to be crafted to reflect the new total.

"At 3:45 we were headed to the scheduled press conference at the Capitol Grounds Bell Tower when the call came," Jackson campaign manager Gregory Aldridge said in a statement. "I had to decide between utilizing the extra one-hundred signatures and making it to the press conference. We only get one chance to get the submission of materials right with the state board of elections. … The state would obviously not give us a second chance, but I hope the journalists who waited for us at the bell tower will. I am truly sorry to have wasted their valuable time."

The last-minute flurry apparently was worth it. The Republican Party of Virginia certified Mr. Jackson's candidacy Friday evening after he turned in 11,188 petition signatures just ahead of the deadline Thursday.

And having witnessed the debacle surrounding the GOP presidential primary ballot process in Virginia apology accepted.

Politics as usual

It was supposed to be a debate for Democrats, but Don Folden Sr didn't see it that way.

Before the Washington City Paper's debate among candidates for the Ward 7 D.C. Council seat, Mr. Folden plopped down in the center chair of a table at the front of Ray's the Steaks at East River. Organizers implored him to move. After all, he already had debated his Republican rival, Ron Moten, at a Denny's.

Mr. Folden didn't budge, so they let him participate. It's a good thing they did, because the audience was treated to gems like "Y'all can boo all you want, I don't care," and, with a sweeping gesture to the Democrats, "You better pray and hope Ron Moten wins, because none of them can beat me."

Of course, his clever observations and witty remarks might not have left much of an impression on the crowd, since they were overshadowed by the jabs being thrown among the actual invitees. After all, it's not every day that a debate question about an incumbent's connections to Wal-Mart prompts a rejoinder about another candidate being arrested for soliciting a prostitute.

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