See How He Runs

Adrian Fenty runs an intense door-to-door campaign for mayor of DC
Fenty says his volunteers have visited every house in D.C. and he's personally been to more than half of them: "Door-to-door is the purest form of political campaigning." (Andrea Bruce -- The Washington Post)

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By Vanessa Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tomorrow morning, barring foul weather or unwelcome emergency, Adrian Fenty will walk out of the front door of his house at 6.

Three, maybe four friends will be waiting for him. They will take off toward Rock Creek Park for a six-to-seven-mile run. If you show up at 6:05, he'll be gone, say those who have joined him for these Monday-Wednesday-Friday exercises.

This is no fun run. This is triathlon season, and Fenty is in training.

In addition to running, he bikes 30 to 40 miles at least twice a week and swims a half-mile to a mile two or three times a week.

So it makes sense, this plan of his to knock on "as many doors as humanly possible" and personally ask people to vote for him in the Sept. 12 Democratic mayoral primary, to do it for eight, nine, 10 hours straight, on days when the ground was frozen or the asphalt is simmering.

This kind of physical challenge is second nature to Fenty. He is not trying to create the image of a young, energetic candidate; he is a young, energetic candidate. He also is the front-runner in the race, according to the polls. And, at age 35, he is the youngest serious contender for the mayor's office in Washington history.

Retail campaigning is a staple of electoral politics. Every office-seeker does a bit of stumping on the front porch or the street corner. But never has the District seen such intense hand-to-hand contact between a mayoral candidate and the electorate. Since he began his door-to-door blitz in June 2005, Fenty says, his volunteers have visited every house in the city and he has personally been to more than half of them.

"Door-to-door is the purest form of political campaigning," he says, "the most efficient way of campaigning." Go door-to-door armed with a voter registration list and you're much more likely to find whom you're looking for.

The campaign tactic has created so much hype that most people aren't surprised anymore when they open the front door and find themselves face-to-face with Fenty.

"You're ahead in the polls," Holly Bolger says as she and her husband, Bob, chat with Fenty on the sidewalk outside their house in Dupont Circle on a recent Saturday.

Later that day, a supporter who was getting dressed when Fenty knocked on his door catches up with the candidate a few blocks later and hands him a check for $500.

"You will never guess who's standing in my living room!" Robin Erby, 16, gasps to her best friend, whom she calls on her cellphone when the candidate stops by her family's home a few weeks ago in far Northeast Washington.


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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