Mara: Blame It on the Rain?
Staff writer Petu[la Dvorak caught up with Patrick Mara, who is challenging council incumbent Carol Schwartz in the Republican primary.
It was a slow day in Precinct 8, "one of the slowest I've seen in eight years," said Erik Gaull, who was handing out fliers for the state Democratic committee, something he's done for many election cycles in the past.
There were the usual retirees, who were greeted by name at the polls. "How's the garden club?" "How are the grandchildren?", they asked each other.
It was fertile ground for Patrick Mara, the Republican challenger to incumbent Carol Schwartz (R-At Large).It's one of the city's most heavily Republican precincts.
"This is where a lot of the Republicans are," he said. "I've knocked on most of their doors, two times even."
"Patrick! I almost slammed the door in your face. You came right at dinner," one voter told Mara, as he extended his hand to him.
They talked about the issues, agreeing and disagreeing here and there. Mara was still unsure after the man left for the polls whether he got his vote.
It's dangerous, politically, to get too aggressive. So Mara used Gaull to screen potential voters.
If they refused Gaull's literature about Democratic candidates, Mara stepped in.
If Gaull knew then, he helped Mara out.
"Ah, Harry and Alma Gates," Gaull said, as he watched a couple walk toward the leafy green recreation center that is the neighborhood polling station. "Democrats," he said, out of one side of his mouth.
Mara left them alone.
But Alma Gates, a former ANC commissioner, coached the young candidate a bit as she walked past him: "You should say,'Thank you for voting'."
And Mara did, quickly.
The rhinestone "Obama 2008" pin on one woman's jacket looked like a sign. But she refused Gaull's literature. "I'm a Republican," she snapped at him.
"It's a complicated town," he said.
When a luxury car pulled into the parking lot, Mara perked up. "Maybe one of mine," he said.
It wasn't. Then, Carol Schwartz's bumblebee yellow convertible pulled into the lot. One look at Mara, and they pulled away, returning about 10 minutes later, after Mara had gone.
The morning rush had brought about 50 voters, Gaull estimated.
There were a few who came out specifically to vote in the Mara-Schwartz showdown. But most said they came, "because I never miss an election," said Jack Koczela. "It's you civic responsibility."
Voter turnout would probably surge again in the afternoon, depending on the weather.
Mara looked at the cloudy sky.
"I just hope it doesn't rain. If it rains, I'm in trouble," he said. "I need the turnout. If it rains and I lose. I'll blame it on the weather."
David A Nakamura
September 9, 2008; 12:30 PM ET
Categories: 2008 District Election
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