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Published: Sunday, 10/27/2002

Frantic pace marks campaigns' last days

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Marcy Kaptur, left, and Sandy Isenberg seal mailers at Lucas County Democratic headquarters in Toledo as fall election campaigns wind down. Marcy Kaptur, left, and Sandy Isenberg seal mailers at Lucas County Democratic headquarters in Toledo as fall election campaigns wind down.
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No matter their politics, hopeful candidates racing from fashion shows to football games to Halloween parties to a political ball yesterday seemed to share a common vision: Getting home before midnight so they would be fresh for this morning's round of pancake breakfasts and church services.

“If you saw my calendar you'd never ever think about running - ever,” State Rep. Teresa Fedor, campaigning for an Ohio Senate seat, said near the end of a six-event day.

But standing atop the steps leading to the University of Toledo's Glass Bowl, where she gave football fans “another reason to vote for me” - a Riesen candy - she quickly got her second wind.

“It's just amazing what you can do in one day's time,” she said, estimating she would talk to at least 1,200 people yesterday.

Optimism abounded in the 10-days-before-Nov. 5 frenzy, even though yesterday was chilly and gray.

Tim Kuhlman, a Republican write-in candidate for Lucas County probate judge, even praised the rain, saying it made pounding in yard signs easier. Much of his day was spent delivering 1,000 signs.

“I don't ask anyone to do anything for me that I don't do myself,” he said of putting up signs.

The same could have been said by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), Lucas County Commissioner Sandy Isenberg, Abbey Mortemore who is campaigning for the Ohio House District 46 seat, and Ms. Fedor.

They gathered at Lucas County Democratic headquarters downtown to stick mailing labels on brochures featuring World War II's Rosie the Riveter and local Democratic women candidates.

“This is known as Democratic family togetherness,” Ms. Isenberg said as she worked with about a dozen women at well-used wooden tables.

She and Miss Kaptur, who have made an annual event out of such work for decades, shared stories from years of politics with Ms. Mortemore, who is new to the campaign trail.

An older man at a bowling alley where Ms. Mortemore stopped to greet voters had criticized her pantsuit, complaining, “You're a woman politician trying to be a man.”

In response, Miss Kaptur laughed about a man in Lorain County - which is a new part of her district - who asked her yesterday: “Are you married?” She gamely replied, “Is that an offer?” But she said later she wondered how often her male counterparts get that question.

Most questions thrown at candidates last week were much closer to the point of the races.

Cathleen Voyles-Baden, a marketing director for a group of nursing homes who is campaigning as a Republican for state representative in District 48, said she'd been asked about abortion, government assistance for prescription drug costs, and college tuition costs in telephone calls she made to voters.

She was making preparations yesterday to knock on 5,000 doors in Old Orchard today - with the help of a sizeable campaign crew - and telephone 1,000 voters in the evening.

Meeting and greeting voters in such great numbers comes with significant sacrifices.

Phillip Barbosa, a project coordinator with a development group who is running for the Ohio Senate as a Republican, said he bought season tickets to UT football but had yet to see a full game. Last night was unlikely to be any different, although he spent hours before the game talking to voters.

His day started with a call from his uncle telling him he had read in yesterday's Blade that Mr. Barbosa has been appointed to a three-year term on the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs.

But Mr. Barbosa had such a full agenda today - including a fashion show organized by Toledo's First Lady Cynthia Ford and pre-football game tailgate parties - that he didn't have time to confirm his appointment, let alone learn more about his duties on the commission that deals with problems and programs concerning Spanish-speaking people.

“I can't even remember what I did this morning,” he said yesterday evening.

Although many candidates were headed to several Halloween parties, few had found time to think up a creative costume - let alone don it between their other engagements.

“I'm dressing up as a candidate,” said Arlene Singer, a Toledo Municipal Court judge running for Sixth District Court of Appeals as a Democrat.

Judge Singer, who left home at 7:45 a.m. yesterday for a candidates' forum in Sandusky - where she gave a three-minute speech on her background - made her next stop the fund-raiser tea and fashion show that Mrs. Ford organized to benefit Aurora House. Then she was off to the Red, White, and Blue Ball, at least two Halloween parties, and - with a bit of luck - a quick trip through the grocery store.

About the only thing to eat in her house was peanut butter, Judge Singer, said. But that hardly appeared to be a problem. She couldn't remember when she had last eaten a meal at home.

But being seen at many events and knocking on many doors is the name of the game for politicians this time of year, said June Boyd, a real estate agent running as an independent for the District 48 state representative seat.

At Mrs. Ford's fashion show and tea, Ms. Boyd appeared in a black leopard suit and hat, but didn't go from table to table shaking hands, fearing such full-fledged campaigning would be unseemly at a charity event. But at the political Red, White, and Blue ball last night, she planned to work the room and today she is to start a walking campaign to knock on 1,000 doors.

“You've got to take your message to the people,” she said.



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