- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Thelma Roque has come to be one of the defining names of the increasingly volatile, ever-expanding D.C. Council race in Ward 3.

Thelma Roque is not necessarily real or among the living, which is convenient. She cannot be held responsible for what is said in her name.

Hers is one of the slew of pseudonyms waging a peculiar but sometimes entertaining political war in the wilds of cyberspace, as exhaustively detailed by Martin Austermuhle in a blog titled: “The Many Identities of Jonathan Rees.” Mr. Rees, of course, is among the horde of Ward 3 candidates — the exact number possibly eight, but subject to change.

Mr. Rees is said to have some of the itchiest writing fingers in cyberspace, whether he is posting on DCist.com, DCpages.com or on one of the various neighborhood message board sites.

Many of the editors of these sites have expressed a numbing fatigue in the ramblings involving Mr. Rees, short-sighted as the plea is. Any post involving the Ward 3 candidates is certain to inspire a huge amount of traffic, complete with readers offering their best literary imitation of Mr. Rees’ distinctive prose. Of course, that distinctive prose has a way of showing up in all too many comments under all too many different names, as if to show that Mr. Rees is the best one-man debate club there ever was.

The existence of a Thelma or a Roque remains highly questionable, and certainly baffling to those who could not find her name listed in the various D.C. databases. Her emergence begs a question: Why would anyone outside Ward 3 care at all about its political goings-on? Mr. Austermuhle, an editor with DCist.com, has linked Mr. Rees to as many as 28 aliases, accurate or not. Not surprisingly, Mr. Rees has denied the charges and claims to be a victim of the operatives working on behalf of Sam Brooks.

If so, then it is Mr. Brooks who is slamming Mr. Brooks in order to make it appear as if Mr. Rees is slamming Mr. Brooks. That is rich stuff.

Or perhaps it is all the fault of Thelma Roque.

It was the contention of Thelma Roque that an Advisory Neighborhood Commission member violated a multitude of campaign laws after taking up the cause of Mr. Brooks. Thelma Roque never has made clear her interest in these nefarious activities, other than as a concerned citizen.

The actions of Thelma Roque led to more accusations.

It seems that Mr. Brooks leaves little old ladies stranded in the middle of busy intersections and is conducting his campaign from his home in Des Moines, Iowa. To his credit, Mr. Brooks has made a promise to move to Ward 3 if duly elected.

Or something like that.

All the trickery in the Ward 3 race has a way of making your eyes roll up into the back of your head, and nothing against Thelma Roque.

In a recent development, the D.C. shadow senator, whatever his name is, has opted to join the Ward 3 fray. In his case, winning the part-time gig would result in a significant step up in pay and the ability to come out of the shadows.

With eight candidates and however many more to come, the winner is liable to need only seven or eight votes, assuming the dead are no longer permitted to vote in the District, and that includes Dudley Moore.

Thelma Roque undoubtedly is analyzing the political worthiness of the shadow senator, which is fitting. After all, it takes a shadow citizen to know a shadow senator.

As it turns out, Thelma Roque is developing what political candidates inevitably crave, which is name recognition.

She is becoming an urban legend and may not even know it.

Wherever you go in Ward 3, you are peppered with the following: “How about that Thelma Roque?” If Thelma Roque ever leaves cyberspace, the Ward 3 race just might be hers to win.


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