Shortly after the presidential election, Karetta Hubbard moved the phone lists and maps she used for Jimmy Carter's campaign in Northern Virginia into a downstairs study in her home and prepared to start work immediately on another campaign: her own.
She is one of 10 candidates trying to win one of five nominations to the House of Delegates from Northern Fairfax County in Virginia's June Democratic primary. She is one of dozens of people who started looking toward the next campaign even before the exhaustion of the presidential race had been completely swept away.
"In Virginia there's an election every year," she said, "I figure you need to start planning a year ahead of time. Candidates are really hustling for volunteers even now."
Getting people to vote for you is, in this country, an unending, continually evolving process. On the one end are the candidates, plotting and organizating and trying to figure out how to make people go out and vote the "right" way - and for the most part the intricatcies of the candidate's work are a mystery.
On the other end are voters, many of them bewildered by the plethora of candidates, the conflicting stands on issues and their lack of knowledge about the offices the candidates are seeking.
Karetta Hubbard, 31, represents several aspects of the political process of 1977. First, she is a woman, a woman who came to the realization that she could be a candidate instead of a candidate's wife during several years of developing consciousness.
Postponin gearly dreams of being an catress, she married at 20, became a Navy wife, a mother, a law student's wife at the University of Virginia and then a young lawyer's wife. When her husband Allan decided to go to law school, she decided that was all right because then he could run for public office and "I could sit on the platform next to him wearing a pillbox hat like Jackie Kennedy."
But her husband did not want to run for office. She got involved in politics by lobbying for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia.
She also is a person who decided to cross the line from back room to spotlight after helping to direct Del. Raymond E. Vickery's two successful campaigns. Now she and he will be among the 10 candidates seeking the same prize - one of the five Democratic House of Delegates nominations.
The plan started last March, with - as is appropriate in Fairfax County Democratic politics - "touching base with the party elders to tell them what I'm doing," and asking for advice, she said. But, she soon learned, it was inappropriate to start working on your own campaign while there was a presidential race to contend with.
Hubbard and her husband worked as Northern Virginia coordinators for Carter before the conventions to select delegates to the Democratic National Convention, and she very much wanted to work on his campaign in Northern Virginia.
"When I told the Carter coordinator in Virginia that I was planning to run for the House of Delegates he nearly fell out of his chair," she said. "He said that I'd have to put my own campaign under wraps because it might look as though I was trying to use campaigning for Carter to further my own plans. I hadn't even thought of that."
So when she resumed for unannounced campaign in November, she called "party elders" for advice. "People love to give advice," she found. "One man suggested I call people who have lost in the past and ask them what they did wrong. But I thought that would be a little tactless . . ."
She formed a committee, getting a political science professor at Georgetown University to be her campaign manager, who has subsequently revised his role to be "chief strategist" because of a heavy work load. A friend's husband volunteered to be treasurer, and a woman she met playing tennis, and English teacher, will be the "media-press person." A teacher at Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School will be the campaign coordinator. ("Coordinator" seems to have become a more fashionable word in political circles than "manager."
They now have started meeting in the office in her Reston town house, dividing the campaign into six areas of concentration (such as scheduling and fund raising), targeting precincts, figuring out how many votes she needs to win (between 12,000 and 15,000) and figuring out tha key people to work the precincts.
"In a primary in general, it's the person who gets their people out to vote who wins," she said. "Usually people don't really come out in a primary, although this year the governor's race may stir up some interest. On the other hand, Henry (Howell) and Andy (Miller) may turn people off so much that everyone will stay home."
Former Lt. Gov. Henry E. Howell and former Attorney General Andrew P. Miller are vying for the Democratic nomination for governor in a race that many have predicted will be rather nasty. Supporters of each have already divided the party. As for Hubbard - she plans to stay out of it. "I would be politically unwise for me to come out publicly for either one," she said, "I'd continually have to defend my position, and I'll have enough trouble defending myself."
In November, she sent a letter to 500 Northern Fairfax Democrats telling them of her plans, her qualifications, and asking for their support - both financially and physically. In response, she got $200 - enough to pay for the letter mailing.
Then she started calling. "Basically, you call everyone you know," said Hubbard, who for her 31st birthday last February was given an extra phone line by her husband. She has contacted at least 250 people by phone.
But she found that at this point, most people she has called are not ready to declare their support for one of the 10 candidates going after the five Democratic nominations in the 18th District. There are three Democratic incumbents in the district, Dels. Carrington Williams, Dorothy S. McDiarmid and Vickery. The other challengers are Ken Plum, Lauretta Newport, Barbara Weiss, John Scalamonti, Gary Ecklund, and Perry Mitchell. Formal filing runs from March 31st till April 15, which means that other potential candidates still have time to get into the race.
Then she had to decide how to announce her candidacy. At a breakfast? In front of the county courthouse? She settled on an event sure to be attended by most of the "key" people - last Tuesday's meeting of the Fairfax Democratic Committee.
She prepared a press kit with a copy of her announcement speech, a picture and a biography. The plans that started in her head last March have been activated.
"At first when I'd tell people I was running I couldn't help giggling," she said. "But I don't giggle anymore."