- The Washington Times - Friday, November 1, 2002

Behind every successful politician, there's a Joe Crawford. . Mr. Crawford, champion BMX bicycle rider, punk-rock aficionado and college student who has not decided on a major, also is a field coordinator for the re-election campaign of Rep. Constance A. Morella, Maryland Republican.
As the Nov. 5 election approaches, Mr. Crawford is one of the campaign workers who puts up campaign posters in front yards, stuffs envelopes and hands out leaflets telling voters why Mrs. Morella should be re-elected.
Folding leaflets and stuffing envelopes with letters to voters is his least-favorite job on the campaign. "But they have to be done," he said.
The high point in his 5-month career on the campaign trail came during a June 28 fund-raising luncheon for Mrs. Morella at a downtown hotel. President Bush was the guest of honor.
"I got to meet him and shake his hand," said the 20-year-old Mr. Crawford. "It was very surreal. It was a pretty incredible experience."
The president's fateful words to Mr. Crawford: "Hi, how are you doing?"
More than an in-between job to fill in employment gaps, there's conviction and career ambition behind Mr. Crawford's efforts.
"I know a lot of young people in my generation who gripe about the system and want change," Mr. Crawford said. "They think they can do that by carrying a sign and marching in a picket line."
Mr. Crawford believes any changes for the better come from constructive action rather than complaints. He wants to be one of the builders of the future.
"I'm thinking about going into politics," he said.
He hopes to get a Capitol Hill internship after the election before returning in the fall to the Pennsylvania State University, from which he is taking a year off. The Morella campaign is a steppingstone in his career.
"It really gives you a lot of first-hand experience of what politics is really like," he said.
To the limited extent campaign workers fall into any category, Mr. Crawford is fairly typical, said Tony Caligiuri, campaign manager for Mrs. Morella.
"You get people from all kinds of backgrounds," Mr. Caligiuri said. "I'm not sure what Joe's political philosophy is, but they tend to be varied around here."
Campaign workers described Wednesday of this week as a typical day at Mrs. Morella's campaign headquarters in downtown Bethesda. Workers sat at tables stuffing envelopes with leaflets and putting them in piles. Other workers slid posters with Mrs. Morella's smiling face over frames that will be planted in residents' front yards.
The office operates with six staff members. They were joined by 17 volunteers on Wednesday.
Mr. Crawford was hired full-time by the Morella campaign in May. He would not disclose his salary. A typical day at the office for him begins around 11 a.m. He sorts through mail and distributes it to senior staff members. Later, he meets with volunteers and directs them to the normal array of volunteer duties, such as envelope tables or yard-poster assembly.
At other times, Mr. Crawford's schedule depends on the needs of the day. Typically, that will include delivering signs to homes where residents have agreed to post them.
On less-routine days, Mr. Crawford also has confronted the controversies so often associated with politics.
Sen. John McCain was the guest of honor at a Sept. 19 fund-raising luncheon for Mrs. Morella at a Bethesda restaurant. A group of protesters, including one with a bullhorn accusing the Arizona Republican of organized-crime connections, were the unwanted guests.
On another occasion, Mr. Crawford was passing out leaflets near the Bethesda Metro station when a Democrat stopped to vent several insults about Mrs. Morella, none of which Mr. Crawford will repeat.
"He was so blatantly partisan, it just made me feel discouraged," he said.
This week was Mr. Crawford's first week out of a cast after breaking his leg while riding his bicycle. He used a weekend day trip to Baltimore to ride around the area and do stunts on his BMX bicycle, the kind used in "extreme sports" for flipping, midair twists and precarious slides down stairway railings.
The riders are supposed to land on their wheels and keep riding. During one slide down a railing, Mr. Crawford landed on the ground while his bike slid away from him.
Other times, he listens to punk-rock music and reads high-sounding treatises on economics or philosophy. "I try to read a lot of alternative literature because it offers a different perspective on the world that makes you think."
He lives at his parents' New Market, Md., home, but hopes to move to Capitol Hill if he can get a political internship after the election. His mother teachers third grade and his father keeps track of the nation's uranium and plutonium inventories for the Energy Department.

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