Monday, September 29, 2014

Politics on a First-Name Basis

With municipal elections approaching, there are campaign signs out in yards and on poles along the street. For many offices, there is a preponderance of first names.

Of the candidates for mayor, Muriel Bowser uses only her first name on yard signs, both names on the signs fastened to light posts and utility poles. Carol Schwartz has some with both names, some with just Carol. When questioned about this back in the 1990s, she said that signs reading "SCHWARTZ" tended to bow around the pole and read as "WAR" to a head-on view. David Catania, an independent, and Bruce Majors, a Libertarian, use only their surnames. Faith Dane, who has run for mayor in every election of at least the last two decades, gives only her first name--the picture of a woman holding a bugle is to remind those who can be reminded that she had a big number in the musical Gypsy a half century and more ago.

Of the at-large candidates,  Calvin Gurley and Anita Bonds provide their surnames in larger type than their first names. Eugene Puryear and Thomas White print both names their names in equal sizes. Elissa Silverman has her first name in a larger, bolder, serif face, her surname in smaller, thinner sans-serif: the effect is something like an eye chart with a few rows missing. Khalid Pitts gives only his first name, and picture. I had to take off my glasses and peer at the tiny "paid for" line to discover his surname.

Among the candidates for attorney general, Lorie Masters prints her surname somewhat larger, and Karl Racine prints his much larger. Edward Smith could be considered to split the difference, for his signs read "SMITTY".

I suppose that the trend has been around since the days of Honest Abe, and I expect that "I like Ike" buttons are affordable in political memorabilia stores. Still, is informality a preferred quality among candidates?

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