To the editor,
The Republican Party in Alexandria has adopted a high-risk strategy for trying to elect three candidates to the City Council in the election May 5. It actively is asking the electorate to plunk or target vote for only those three. To dramatize this campaign it has created a cartoon elephant it calls Plunkee. Cute, but is it smart?
The alternate strategy, pursued by Republicans in past races, has been to field a full slate of candidates. The theory is that each will have a coterie of friends and neighbors who will come out and vote for other Republicans as well. This clearly has not paid off in recent elections.
So now we have Plunkee. The theory here is mathematical. By targeting votes to two or three candidates, it might be possible to elect one or more of them, rather than have the votes spread over six candidates. The problem is that the hard core Republican vote in Alexandria peaks at 35 percent. The remainder are either Democrats or independents. We can assume Democrats will not be enticed by the elephant. That leaves the independent vote, which could be the difference maker.
Plunkee would seem to hold little attraction for independents. They are so described because they vote for individual candidates and not by party. This raises problems for the Republicans because their chosen candidates are relatively unknown to the public.
Democrats consistently have brought forward candidates who have been active in boards, commissions, civic associations, the schools, and/or local humanitarian groups long before they ever attempt to run for office. Alexandrians get to know and respect them.
By contrast, GOP challengers too frequently seem to be scrambling to assemble a resume of local participation. In the upcoming election, for example, one Republican endorsed candidate has been in the City less than two years and a second has been here only a couple years longer. While they may be individuals of ability and good character, they have yet to prove their worth in the community. All the public knows about them is their ambition.
While Plunkee may tickle Republican stalwarts and rankle some Democrats, my hunch is that when the votes are counted on May 5 the elephant may turn out to be a turkey.