They have been at it night and day for two months, stalking the vote at civic forums and coffees from Accokeek to Langley Park, and now, as the end nears, what the 22 candidates for Prince George's County Council remember most about their campaigns is an eight-lane slab of concrete known as the Beltway.
Which is more probably, than what many voters of Prince George's remember about the 22 candidates.
Overshadowed by the fierce county executive race and physically intimidated by the task of attempting personally to cover 550 square miles of electoral turf, these council candidates have accepted their lots as the forgotten people of the 1978 election.
They have grown accustomed to attending candidate forums where there are more candidates than citizens and to combing the daily and weekly papers in a futile search for their names.
"It's terribly frustrating to work so hard for so little recognition and exposure," said John Burcham, one of 11 Republican council candidates. "But what else can you expect with this ridiculous system."
The system that Burcham speaks of with such scorn is one that requires all council candidates - even those running in the five council districts - to be elected by the voters of the entire county. "I think it would be easier," said Ann Schoch, another Republican candidate, "to run for governor in Delaware."
This requirement is particularly frustrating for the Republicans, who face an electorate that is 3 to 1 Demoeratie and has a history of voting a straight party ticket in the lowvisibility council and courthouse races.
The Democratic ticket includes nine incumbents who have managed in one way or another to get their names in the papers over the last four years. Of the Republicans, only three - Burcham, a former councilman and congressional candidate; Melissa Martin, the former party chairman, and Helen Gullett, the ex-wife of former county executive William Gullett - have much name recognition.
And, unlike their Democratic opponents, who have made slate politics a way of life, the Republicans have no central organization or campaign fund to rely on. They cannot even rely on the coattails of Lawrence J. Hogan, their popular county executive candidate.
Hogan told the council challengers months ago that they were on their own. "He said he would do his thing and we would do ours," said Gullett. "I think it would have helped if Larry had tied his campaign with ours, but he's always run as a loner."
Helen Gullett said she waited 20 years for her chance to run for public office and offer the voters "someone who cares about people, who is not controlled by the special interests that donate so much money to the Democrats." Her time has come, and now she thinks she has a chance to win, with one caveat: "I'll win if the people know I'm running."
The 11 Democratsare confident that they will repeat the 1974 sweep regardless of whether the voters know they are running. Ten of them are firm believers in the value of slate polities and the 11th, Sue V. Mills, has already established her vote-getting strength by beating the dominant party slate in the primary.
Mills, who made her names as an opponent of court-ordered busing in the county said that she has maintained her independence from the council slate and County Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr. "When people ask me about Hogan-Kelly. I don't give an opinion," Mills said, "I just say vote for Sue V. Mills."
The other Democratic council candidates have found on the campaign trail that Kelly is the focal point of most of the voter hositility.
"I haven't encountered much anger about the council," said Francis Francois, the mammoth, bearded veteran who is considered the council intellectual. "I think our efforts to control growth and rezone the county have met with approval."
Parris Glendening, the eager young political science Professor who is seeking a second term, has attempted to enliven the subduced campaign by proposing that the council be reduced from 11 members to seven.
"Sometimes we're like a hard and it's hard to filter out who is lending it," said Glendening. "But I'm not certain say bill will get through. Everyone will start looking to his left and right saying: "Well, it could be him."
Some Democratic council candidates have already started looking to the left and the right, wondering which of them will be the one to go on the chance that a Republicans wins next week. The most vulnerable Democrats appear to be Floyd Wilson, who got the lowest vote total in the primary, and Deborah Marshall, one of the two nonincumbeats on the Democratic slate. Wilson and Marshall are the only Macks on the ticket.
Burchan, who became the first Republican in 20 years to be elected to a county office when he won a County Commission seat in 1970, is thought by his Republican colleages to have the best chance of succeeding this time.
The candidate running for the [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] seats are:
John Burcham, Republican: Da'rell Richard Cleanwater, Republican: Francis B. Francois, Democrat: Helen J. Gullett, Republican: David G. Hartove Jr. Democrat: Sarah Ade Komonca, Democrat: Dethorne Raglan Marshall, Democrat: Melissas L. Martin, Republican: Sue V. Mills, Democrats Ann Shocs, Republican: Norris W. Sychor Jr. Republican: and Floyd E. Wilson. Democrat.
Running from District 1 are: John Back, Republican, and Park P. Casula, Democrat From District 2, ParrisK. Glendening, Democrat and John M. Lindsey, Republican, From District 1. Gerand T McDonangh, Democrat and Sylvestor Vaughers. Republican. From District 4, Charas L. Elliott, Republican, and Age Landry Leonard.,Democrat. And from District 5, William B. Amstatt, Democrat, and Janet N. Maur, Republican.