Friday, October 01, 2010

“Campaign Season”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a cool, quiet morning in Thompson.

I had been working in my home office for about an hour when a commotion sounded from outside. Quigley and Riley, my Pomeranian and Black Lab duo, began to bark loudly.

“What’s got you so excited today?” I exclaimed. More barking followed my question. Then, sounds of hushed conversation ebbed through an open window.

Impatiently, I rushed to the front door. Both dogs followed attentively. We saw that a line of vehicles had begun to form at the edge of our yard.

In the driveway, a television reporter was beginning his morning news segment.

“This is Stitch Ferez, from WKYC Channel 3,” he announced dramatically. “We are at the home of Geauga County journalist Rod Ice, who is running as a third-party candidate for governor…”

I stood on the porch, battling a sense of disbelief.

“Local experts we have interviewed believe that Mr. Ice will draw a large number of independent voters,” the reporter continued. “With the public feeling restless, it seems possible that he might pull off an upset like we’ve never seen before…”

I leaned over the railing. “Hey, is this some kind of prank?”

A stampede of correspondents began. Suddenly, I was surrounded.

“Mr. Ice!” Ferez shouted. “Would you care to describe your political philosophy for our audience?”

I stammered weakly. “Umm… what?”

A young woman waved her pen. “Mr. Ice, I’m Kristi Krale from The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Would you call yourself a Tea Party candidate?”

Another journalist interrupted before I could answer.

“Mr. Ice, I am Joel Creach from The News-Herald,” he said. “Are you actually a Republican or a Democrat?”

I waved my hands in the air. “I think you’ve made some kind of mistake here!”
Ferez pointed his microphone in my face. “Are you trying to deny your candidacy for governor?”

Krale jumped up and down on the sidewalk. “Mr. Ice, is this part of a stealth strategy for campaigning? Are you trying to stay out of the spotlight while Governor Strickland and John Kasich pummel each other with attack ads and campaign literature?”

My jaw dropped. “Who said I was running for governor?”

“YOU DID!” the crowd cheered, in unison.

I rubbed my eyes. “Okay… and when was that?”

Copies of The Maple Leaf filled the air.

“It’s all in black and white,” Krale said. “Right here!”

I bowed my head. “Right… now I understand.”

Ferez raised his microphone. “Understand? You understand public interest in your campaign?”

“Listen, everyone,” I explained. “The column about running for governor was a personal fantasy. A bit of wordsmithing whimsy. Okay?”

Creach scribbled notes while arguing the point. “Come on, Mr. Ice. We want to print your story. Let’s be honest about all of this…”

“It was a column for my newspaper,” I protested. “Nothing more. Haven’t you ever read ‘Thoughts At Large’ before?”

A silent pause elapsed.

“Well, no,” Ferez admitted at last.

“My column is often a work of fiction,” I said. “Ezekiel Byler-Gregg, Martha Ann Reale, Carrie Hamglaze, Archer, and Mr. X are all made-up characters.”

“Please!” Krale insisted. “Your manifesto is all over the Internet!”

“Manifesto??” I babbled.

Creach waved his copy for emphasis. “It’s great stuff, Mr. Ice! Better than anything we got from H. Ross Perot!”

I sighed loudly. “That was another column for The Maple Leaf. Didn’t you read the disclaimer?”

Ferez shook his head. “I found it posted on There was no disclaimer there.”

“Get on your soapbox!” Krale pleaded. We want to tell the story of a future governor from Geauga County!”

“And tell us how your background in retail management would affect your term as the state’s chief executive,” Ferez added.

I folded my hands. “Okay, if I give you something… everyone will leave?”

Their heads nodded furiously.

“Ahem!” I began, clearing my throat. “Well then, as a business manager, I have learned to provide service to my customers while making a profit to sustain the company. That is the basis for every sound enterprise. If our government followed that level of discipline, partisanship and gridlock would disappear…”

Ferez reached forward with his microphone. “Great stuff. Mr. Ice. Keep talking!”
“As a writer, my task has been to convey information in an impartial context,” I said. “That remains my standard. Truth doesn’t have a political angle. Or at least, it shouldn’t…”

“So, you are a Democrat after all?” Creach smiled.

“No, no!” Krale argued. “He sounds purely Republican!”

I covered my eyes. “None of the above! I’m a Libertarian. The two-party system is broken. Don’t you get that?”

Another wordless moment passed.

“So, are you going to debate Strickland and Kasich?” Ferez inquired at last.

“Sure,” I agreed. “If they meet me on the square in Chardon.”

The television reporter turned to face his cameraman. “There you have it! A challenge by upstart gubernatorial candidate Rod Ice, to the two major-party contestants - meet him in Geauga County, and discuss the issues of this campaign! For WKYC, I’m Stitch Ferenz!”

I shut my door with a sense of satisfaction.

Now, it was time to work on my next newspaper column!

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