Greg Sanders, vice president of Purple Line Now, spent most of Friday carting around 5'10", flat-as-a-pancake version of Gov. Larry Hogan.
If the state's governor didn't have time to hear Sanders' plea for a rail line in person, why not tote around a life-sized cardboard cutout of Hogan instead?
"I'm driving the governor around right now," Sanders said from his cell phone Friday afternoon, somewhere between College Park and Silver Spring, a cardboard Hogan in the front seat. "We showed him some economic possibilities on the way to Bethesda."
The advocacy group pushing for light rail connecting Prince George's and Montgomery Counties fear the governor may decide to pull the plug on the project as soon as next week, and they're taking every possible shot to change his mind. And if not in-the-flesh Hogan's mind, at least the cardboard version.
At each stop, advocates gathered with signs and maps pleading their case in a "virtual tour." They snapped photos with cardboard Hogan and pantomimed conversations. Cardboard Hogan is apparently a very good listener.
"When people talked about how the governor won election, they talked about how he was everywhere. No matter how small the event, he would be there, walk up to people and shake their hands," Sanders said. "This is basically the same thing."
Sanders said that their group has offered to take in-the-flesh Hogan on a tour of the route, but have not received a response. He said he respects the governor's skepticism about economic studies that predict a lot of jobs and development were the project to move forward, but he believes that if only the governor saw the route, he might change his mind.
"The way his skepticism would be cured is if he came through and saw all the congestion," he said. "He hasn't been available. In the absence of that, we're trying to show what he might see if he came and toured the line."
So, the group downloaded photos of the governor from his official state photo gallery page, being sure to pick one that offered a profile and in a high enough resolution so that Hogan still looked life-like. They grafted the picture onto an image of a podium affixed with a state seal, something that would make cardboard Hogan look official.
And they printed him on cardboard to be what they believed was his approximate correct height.
Hogan's spokesman Doug Mayer said that while the governor does not plan to make a decision about the Purple Line next week and currently has no plans to travel the proposed route, the staff was impressed by the advocates' efforts.
"We've been trying to get the governor to be in two places at the same time for a while now," Mayer said. "Glad to see someone figured it out."