Heat cools off electioneering by candidates

THE BALTIMORE SUN

This year's heated election has made candidates so hot under the collar that some have decided to cool their heels inside their air-conditioned offices -- at least until Baltimore's record breaking heat wave subsides.

Candidates are curtailing their door-to-door election pitches -- a baby-kissing, pressing-the-flesh, pavement-pounding staple that most candidates do to amass votes this time of the year. Not even the candidates feel they can win in a race against the weather.

"It's just been too hot. I'm going to give everybody the day off," said Lawrence A. Bell III, the 4th District councilman running for City Council president.

Many Baltimoreans opted to stay inside and crank up the air conditioning. Baltimore Gas and Electric customers set an all-time summer peak demand of 5,938 megawatts at 6 p.m. yesterday, which topped the old summer record of 5,910 megawatts set on July 23, 1991.

Mr. Bell, who is known as a black-belt neighborhood hand-shaker, partially changed his mind yesterday after thinking over. He delayed the start of his community canvassing until 6:30 p.m. in hopes that the temperatures would have dropped by then.

The seven or so folks supporting the Carl Stokes campaign for City Council president went through the neighborhoods of west Baltimore yesterday, albeit armed with lots of water and the knowledge that they would knock off a little earlier than usual.

"The heat has slowed the pace," said the 2nd District councilman's campaign manager, Patrick Scott. "You could stay out for the same amount of time, but you do less. We don't want to put people in mortal danger."

Vera P. Hall, the 5th District councilwoman seeking the council presidency, and her campaign workers have lucked out. Her campaign is concentrating more on community forums -- thankfully held in air-conditioned buildings -- than door-to-door election pitches.

But behind this hot cloud, there is a cool silver lining, say some candidates.

Mr. Bell says he targets the neighborhoods that don't have air-conditioning because the residents are easier to catch up with.

"In the inner city rowhouses, they will be on the steps, and that will be an advantage," Mr. Bell said.

The Stokes campaigners rely on the heat to gain attention from potential voters.

"Because it was so hot out people felt empathy and as a result cooperated," Mr. Scott said.

For 6th District Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi, also a council president candidate, the hot weather is "no different than when playing sports. If you want to win you have to continue."

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