Politicking in the dog days of August


Micah Edmond, right, a Republican candidate running in Alexandria for the 8th Congressional District to replace the retiring Jim Moran, helps a couple plan their train ride while stumping at a Metro station on Aug. 7. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

The commuters streamed out of Alexandria’s Eisenhower Avenue Metro station in the warm August evening, pausing only to accept the cards handed out by a political candidate.

“Hi, I’m Micah Edmond and I’m running for Congress,” said the candidate, pressing his deeply abbreviated biography and policy statements into their hands.

Fewer commuters than normal came through the gates in the after-work hours Thursday, but fans coming back from the afternoon Nationals game, other fans headed to the evening Redskins game and tourists mixed in.

“I’m running for Congress, I’d appreciate your vote,” the candidate said, handing out another card from his stack. Most people took it, glanced at it and moved on. It’s August; it’s time for vacations, swimming pools and cool drinks at an outdoor table. No one wanted to talk congressional politics.

Then, Josh and Terri Shepherd approached. “Are you the candidate?” Josh asked. “Tell me where you stand on ...” And they were off on a minutes-long discussion of the military, foreign affairs, economic development and bipartisanship.

Edmond is a Republican, although his card mentions that word only where it says he has a “record of working with Republicans and Democrats to enact bipartisan solutions to get things done.” It’s a smart choice in the heavily Democratic 8th Congressional District.

Don Beyer, the Democrat that Edmond will face Nov. 4, has more money and better name recognition. While Edmond was shaking random hands at the Metro stop, Beyer was meeting with nonprofit and environmental leaders at his home. He’s also spoken to the Arlington County Democratic Committee this week, and is planning a fall campaign kickoff event Aug. 16 at Arlington’s Quincy Park.

There are no factory gates in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax, where political candidates used to gather to shake hands and seek votes. But there are 18 Metro stops in the district, and Edmond has hit 15 of them.

He’s an African American Jew who spent eight years in the Marines. He’s been knocking on doors in the less affluent neighborhoods of Alexandria, speaking at black and Hispanic churches and seeking out those who don’t normally vote. Now, he had a live pair interested in him. He sealed the deal when the Shepherds offered to take a stack of his cards to distribute to their neighbors, and when they asked to take a photo with him.

“We usually hear from Democratic candidates in our neighborhood, and to hear from a Republican is a nice change,” Josh said.

“We’re pretty conservative,” added Terri. “We’re pro-life, very strongly. If you’re not willing to protect the most vulnerable, who will you protect?”

As the young couple headed home, Edmond grinned and turned back to his task. Another train had pulled in and he had more cards to distribute. “Hi, I’m Micah Edmond and I’m running for Congress ...”

Patricia Sullivan seeks out news about Alexandria and Arlington County for the Washington Post.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Local