Working for your vote

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Election season is in full swing and that means one thing &045; everybody wants your vote.

Shelby County, a bastion of Republican voters, was visited by three GOP candidates for Governor this past weekend. I doubt too many other counties have had such exposure in such a small period of time. Covering the visits for the newspaper, I was offered the opportunity to see three different campaign styles at work.

Greenville businessman Tim James visited three Shelby County cities on Friday as a part of his Small Town Tour of Alabama.

It was his first campaign stop in the county. James, for the most part, looks to have chosen the old-fashion way of campaigning. He is basically going house-to-house and business-to-business asking for people’s vote. He has also chosen to directly contact newspapers offering to sit down with any editor or reporter and answer their questions and explain his views.

U.S. Congressman Bob Riley also made his first campaign stop to the county. Riley had a rally at Heardmont Park on Saturday. The rally was not just a speaking engagement but more of a choreographed event. There was a band, women dressed as Southern Belles, food, an Uncle Sam impersonator, and Riley’s wife, Patsy, who was gladly giving out her self-authored cookbooks.

I asked the campaign people about Uncle Sam and they said he is a minister from Sylacauga. The patriotic man, they said, is a Riley supporter who follows around the campaign city-to-city in his van which is painted in campaign colors and bears the Riley for Governor slogan. If only more candidates had supporters like that.

Not to be forgotten, Lieutenant Governor Steve Windom was at Oak Mountain State Park on Saturday morning taking part in a charity fishing tournament. Windom has basically taken up residency in Shelby County having made several stops in the county over the past few months. He apparently realizes how large a voting block Shelby County has become.

On the local level, candidates are doing everything to get the word out about their campaigns as well. Whether it be a huge color billboard on Interstate 65 or a musical campaign-jingle sent out by a phone bank, Shelby County voters, I’m sure, have gotten the message their vote is in demand. Other campaign tactics have included the traditional newspaper, radio and TV advertisements.

Some candidates have chosen the direct mail route. Hoping to get positive information out about themselves and in some cases negative, true or untrue, information out about their opponents.

I ran the Buck Creek Festival 5K run on Saturday morning. One candidate, we won’t name names, came a long way to getting my vote. The temperatures at 9 a.m. that morning were already blistering and the prospective public servant greeted tired and hot runners at the finish line with ice cold bottles of water bearing his name and the office he seeks. I can’t say I can be bought but I give the candidate credit for creativity.

And lastly, we cannot forget those about three-foot by two-foot signs stuck in the ground everywhere. On my thirty-minute drive home from work every night, I bet I could count over 100 of them. From what I have heard from municipal and county leaders, there

are more of those signs that have been pulled up from the ground already than there are still in the ground.

Candidates know the name of the game is name recognition. Even if you don’t always know their views on every issue, you are more likely to vote for John Doe who has a sign on every corner than Jane Doe who doesn’t