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Shad and the almighty vote

Published 10:49pm Thursday, April 18, 2013

If there was one thing on the mind of everyone at Wednesday’s Shad Planking, it was the non-attendance of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

While his Republican opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, fired up the receptive crowd with pledges of small government and job creation, McAuliffe’s only impact was the questions his absence raised.

The Wakefield Ruritan Club that hosts it calls the event bipartisan, and McAuliffe apparently received the same invitation Cuccinelli did.

It doesn’t take Einstein to work out why the Democrat didn’t show. There weren’t enough potential votes at the right-leaning event to make it worth his while.

In a political climate that seems to be growing increasingly dyed in the wool between the two sides, it’s a great shame politicians frequently take this attitude instead of reaching across the divide.

McAuliffe mightn’t have won a single vote by fronting up at the planking. He probably would have been booed — as who could have been a couple of his operatives, standing next to me near the front of the stage, booed Cuccinelli.

But he would have had the chance to argue his case to a lot of folks who probably rarely hear firsthand what the other side has to say.

He also would have had the chance to eat some oily, boney fish, cooked the old-fashioned way.

Or maybe that’s the real reason he declined the invitation — after trying it in 2009, when he attended the planking during an earlier gubernatorial run, he decided he just doesn’t like shad, and wanted to stay as far away from it as possible.

“It’s beautiful weather,” said Colton Kerrigan, attending Wednesday with fellow National Rifle Association members Dave Hazel and James Morton.

“We just come to show our support to anyone that comes” to speak on the stage, he said.

Rhodes Ritenour, there from Richmond with his father Bill Ritenour, said, “I come for the gubernatorial years. It’s a good opportunity to spend time with friends and learn more about Virginia politics.”

Ivor’s Will Kitchen said he has been attending the planking “since it started,” though he didn’t look that old.

“It’s just being with the crowd, meeting people I haven’t seen in a while,” he said. “Get to know your (political) officers a little better.”

You never know, McAuliffe may have been able to extract a vote from one of these randomly sampled folks. Stranger things have happened.

Vote or no vote, I know they would have sooner seen him attend and heard what he had to say.

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