Reasons They Stayed Late
The candidate had just cleared out, but Charley Conrad kept going. It was past 9:30 on a Sunday night in a gutted Hollywood Video store and Conrad was hunting for a few final precinct volunteers with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Fred Flintstone eyeing him from ripped-up walls. A blue bucket sat on the floor to catch drips, and 51 brown paper bags were lined up, filed with Brian Moran signs and cheap cheddar crackers to keep poll workers moving Tuesday.
Conrad heads a gay rights group, the Virginia Partisans, and met Moran when the former state delegate was recruiting candidates in Republican territory in Virginia Beach as Democratic caucus chairman. Moran fought against a constitutional amendment in 2006 banning gay marriage
"Moran was out there on the firing line. He was standing up for us, and nobody really asked him to. He just saw how innately bad this was," Conrad said.
Although it passed, Moran's early position helped convince other top state Democrats Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, and Jim Webb to oppose it. That's why Conrad spent another Sunday night in an Arlington strip mall. "That's the character of the man," he said. "That's the main reason."
Prudencia Chism was there riffing on the phone-banking script and thinking about her husband. He fought in World War II, she sewed wedding dresses. When he'd play the piano, she would sing. Their 20th anniversary would have been the day after election day.
"I miss him so much," Chism said, and then began to cry. "He was a plain, simple man who never pretended nothing, only serving his country and his God. What I'm doing here I do in his memory."
He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in April. Moran, after a day of campaigning that began at a Baptist church in Richmond, headed toward the exit and stopped to hug Chism.
"I know you are going to do great. I pray for you. That is the only thing I know how to do," she told him.
"You're going to make me cry," Moran told her, then walked through the glass doors into the parking lot.
"I never dreamed he was going to die," Chism said.
June 7, 2009; 11:52 PM ET
Categories: 2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Election 2009
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