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In Prince George's, candidate Baker picks up a snow shovel

The endless snow has set back local government, local business and local living. But one person may have gained ground--at least politically--from the wintry mess: Rushern L. Baker III, who used his campaign for Prince George's County Executive Monday as a vehicle to help snowed-in citizens.

After sending out email and text blasts to find volunteers over the weekend, Baker was out yesterday in Capitol Heights personally digging the elderly and those with medical conditions out of their homes, the candidate said.

"In some cases we're digging out driveways. Right now we're working on a senior citizen who's on dialysis. ...Just whatever people need," Baker said on a phone call with the Post from the neighborhood.

When it comes to judging whether the government is doing its job, there are few things more tangible and visible than snow removal. If the snow is still covering your block, you haven't been served, plain and simple. The storm, therefore, has taken on an inherently political element (see this report by Sandhya Somashekhar and Ann E. Marimow for more on this).

Given that, Baker's decision to roll up his sleeves could pay dividends, at least in the communities he helped. And don't be surprised if you see the photo in this post--provided by the campaign--on a campaign flier one day.

"This is the kind of campaign I said [I wanted] all along," Baker said. "I want to show people how we should govern as a community."

His campaign spokesman, James Adams, said "slightly over 100 people" expressed interest in volunteering, and that they cleared somewhere between 35 and 100 walks/homes.

The help was appreciated by residents of the Wilburn community, many of whom are senior citizens, said Daisy Cherry Maggett, president of the Central Civic Association, who was out with Baker Monday.

"They've done a wonderful job," Maggett said.

Her view on the local government's response was less glowing.

"We haven't had a plow in here to do very much," Maggett said. "I feel terrible about it. ..... We pay high taxes out here. I don't believe that as taxpayers we get our fair share of services."

County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), meanwhile, said in an interview Monday the county has faced, "an overwhelming snow storm. ..... People who have been working this storm have been working five days consecutive. Many of them are staying in hotels and have not seen their families. They're going in to get some rest and they come right back to work."

Johnson, who is term-limited, said a top priority has been identifying and assisting residents who require dialysis or chemotherapy. He encouraged anyone in that situation to call 911 if necessary to get help.

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  February 9, 2010; 12:17 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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Next: O'Malley acknowledges Md. snow challenges, asks for patience

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