09.14.10 Liveblogging from Silver Spring – 12:40pm
Here I stand in front of Forest Knolls Elementary School (precent 13-11) on primary election day. As many predicted, it has been a slow day, with campaigners overwhelming voters. This is State District 19, where incumbent senator Mike Lenett is facing a determined challenge from state delegate Roger Manno.
Lenett has the most campaigners here — as many as five at a time — handing out granola bars branded for the candidate. Manno is also represented, as are several delegate campaigns, a county council candidate, and public employee unions.
The most striking phenomenon of the day has been the number of voters who are just steaming about Lenett’s campaign. These folks are so upset about it that they are not waiting to be drawn out on their opinion. Quite to the contrary, they are marching up to the Lenett campaigners and sharing their disappointment and disgust about the turn the senator has taken in the past week to two. It is during this time that Lenett has stepped beyond run-of-the mill distortions and personal attacks (which the Manno campaign has also engaged in) to engage in overt race-baiting and fear-mongering reminiscent of Karl Rove.
Many of these voters are making a point of their of how recent their conversion to Manno has been, some saying that they had intended to vote for Lenett until the past week. Indeed, your blogger nearly fits into this camp. Though Progressive Neighbors — whose steering committee I sit on — endorsed Manno, I had no strong feelings about the race before Lenett’s descent into darkness, which has included not only hints at Manno-as-Muslim terrorist, but also arrogation of the Holocaust as a campaign tactic.
Lenett’s campaigners have remained stoic and civil in the face of voters’ complaints. The campaigners themselves seem disappointed in their candidate and bewildered by his recent decisions, while they gamely stick to the script in supporting him.
In front of Forest Knolls Elementary, there is no other conversation that matches the commentary on Lenett, in terms of quantity or intensity. If this precinct is representative of District 19, Mike Lenett will be in store for major comeuppance today. And his campaign will be remembered for committing suicide at the 11th hour because its candidate could stop himself from revealing his tortured soul.
©2010 Keith Berner