A.J. Francis’s student government hopes were dashed by an upstart grassroots campaign. (Associated Press)

Never one to shy away from political opinions, or any opinion for that matter, Maryland defensive lineman A.J. Francis has well-stated aspirations to one day become the state’s governor. He held an unpaid summer internship with U.S. Rep Steny Hoyer at his Greenbelt offices, answering phones, sorting mail and helping with meetings, but will certainly never forget the time he lost the election for senior president at Gonzaga High School.

For the second time in as many days, I find myself writing, “Take it away, A.J.” 

“I was sixth-grade president of my class. I didn’t run in seventh grade. It was too much work. I felt like LBJ. Then I ran for senior president in high school. I was ahead in the polls. Then what happened was…it was a funny story.

“There was a kid named Will Pizzano. I’ll never forget that name to this day. Will Pizzano’s in my class. You were supposed to turn in an essay and other stuff, and you were supposed to post your posters before you run so they can approve them. Will didn’t get anything in on time. So he wasn’t allowed to run. 

“But Will was also in the AV class that I was in, where we do the morning announcements. Well, the day of the election, Will happens to be the guy doing the morning announcements. And as we’re all going, right before everyone votes in Homeroom after the announcements, he goes: ‘Look. I’ll end the announcements on this. They wouldn’t let me run, because they said I got my stuff in too late. They’re trying to hold us down. Write in Will Pizzano for your vote and I’ll change the way things work around here.’

“And me, going to school with all boys, a bunch of idiots, thought it was the funniest thing in the world to write in votes for this guy to win the election. So he won by a landslide. There were like 1,100 people in our school and he got like 850 votes. He didn’t even campaign. Didn’t give a speech, didn’t even have posters. He just said that 20 minutes before people voted.

“It was genius. It was grassroots, way before Barack did grassroots, man. It was genius. It was a hell of a campaign ploy. I wish I had thought of it myself.”