Voters Might Cross Party Lines in Nov.
Economics, Historic Nature of Races Cited

By Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lee Rapp is a registered Democrat who votes in every election. But this year, the Greenbelt construction company owner said, he will vote for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) because his own party has little to offer small-business proprietors.

Ken Roberts is a Republican, but the warehouse worker and conservative Christian from Ellicott City said he will vote for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) because he thinks this is a historic time.

Tony Tomasetti, a physical education teacher from Gaithersburg, said he doesn't plan to vote for anybody. Although he said he likes Obama, he said he is turned off by the election process.

Democrats and Republicans are trying to win voters as they prepare to go to the polls in November, and when it comes to picking candidates, Marylanders have a variety of views.

"I am a registered Democrat, but being the owner of a small- to medium-sized business . . . business is better served by Republicans," said Rapp, who has construction projects across Maryland.

Roberts said he has voted for Republican candidates in the past because of his Christian values. But McCain has not won his heart for several reasons, he said.

"My feeling this time is that Barack is the best man for the job," Roberts said. "McCain is just too old."

Tomasetti has a lot to say about both candidates, but don't look for him at the polls.

"I have never voted in my life, because it doesn't appeal to me," he said.

Although Tomasetti might be disillusioned with the election process, his wife is not, he said. "She is voting for Barack."

Whoever wins the White House, this presidential election will be historic, with either the first black president or the first female vice president.

Yvonne Briscoe, a receptionist at the Briscoe-Tonic funeral home in Waldorf, said she likes the advances women have made, including those of her niece Kim Briscoe, who directs the funeral home.

Yvonne Briscoe said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has to take some of the credit for McCain's decision to pick Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

The historic nature of this year's campaign is what many people are talking about.

Last week, Brad Arrington of Annapolis struggled to hold back tears as he watched Obama give his acceptance speech on a big screen at the Sideline restaurant in Largo, which he manages for his nephew.

"I remember hearing King, I remember the marches, I remember the burning crosses," Arrington said. "I told my children that if they worked hard and got a good education, they could become president, but to see it almost happening is phenomenal."

Randy Payton, a Bowie businessman, was also enthusiastic.

"This is a moment of history not just for African Americans, but for all Americans."

During the watch party at the restaurant, Payton hugged Hellmut Lutz, a native of Germany and co-director of Prince George's County for Obama.

"For me, this is the next step in the civil rights movement," Lutz said. "I'm from Germany, but three weeks ago, I registered a 69-year-old African American man to vote for the first time."

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