Thursday, July 18, 2013

Haddaway: What's In a Name, Anyway?

One of my cause celebres has long been for the MDGOP to do a better job recruiting and developing talented women candidates and officeholders. It was the topic of an op-ed piece I had in the Frederick News Post last February, and it is a recurring theme on this blog.

I have actively promoted talented, successful women legislators like Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio in the past. And, I was not at all surprised when, earlier this week, apparent GOP gubernatorial front-runner David Craig chose her as his running mate. 

I think it was the best possible pick Craig could have made under the circumstances, as it infuses the 64 year old public servant’s campaign with youth (Haddaway-Riccio is 36), private sector experience (Haddaway-Riccio is a small business owner), some geographic balance (she is from the Eastern Shore whereas Craig’s Harford County, albeit largely rural, can still credibly be characterized as a Baltimore metropolitan area suburb), and – of course – gender diversity.

News of Haddaway-Riccio’s pick leaked out last week, so when the formal announcement finally came, I wasn’t expecting any real surprises.

That is, until I saw the yard sign for the newly-minted ticket.

The sign touts the team of “David Craig and Jeannie Haddaway,” with the hyphenated part of her name lost for some unexplained reason.

I wasn’t the only person to notice this discrepancy.

John Wagner of the Washington Post observed that, “Though she has used her hyphenated last name as a delegate, the ‘Riccio’ was dropped from signs that the campaign debuted on Tuesday. On those, she is simply ‘Jeannie Haddaway.’”

In his report, WBAL’s Robert Lang mentioned this change as well. He later told me that the delegate told him she, “wanted to use her maiden name for the campaign.”

To put things in context, I checked out Haddaway-Riccio’s present campaign website. Indeed, the banner at the top of the homepage reads, “Haddaway for Maryand House of Delegates.” However, she’s referred to as “Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio” in some of the news items that pepper the site.

I emailed Jim Pettit, Communications Director for the Craig-Haddaway-Whatever campaign (and a former colleague of mine from Bob Ehrlich world) seeking clarification on the name issue. 

Unfortunately, the usually efficient Pettit never responded to my inquiry.

Coincidentally, I noticed that one of County Executive Craig’s senior aides, another colleague of mine from Ehrlich country, abruptly defriended me on Facebook.

Now, I did make a few snarky, Vozzellaesque comments on Facebook recently about the naming discrepancy, so I am wondering if these old friends of mine are now annoyed at me and punishing me accordingly. 

If this is the case, one wonders how they’ll react when the shock and awe message machine of Maryland’s Democratic establishment begins its daily assault on Team Craig, assuming they make it through the primary.

And, for the record, I attended a blogger’s session with David Craig in September 2011, and wrote this even-handed if not vaguely favorable post afterwards. So, there has certainly been no history of bad blood between me and Team Craig.

Well…until now, apparently.

Anyway, a friend of mine who attended the Tawes Crab Feast told me there was some casual buzz about the subject. Speculative explanations ranged from the need to shorten the LG candidate’s name to accommodate yard sign space, the alleged reluctance of some conservative voters to support a “hyphenated” candidate, or Delegate Haddaway-Riccio’s desire to stick with the name with which she was first elected.

At this point, your guess is as good as mine.

Personally, I’m more curious to see whether What Is Love, the signature song of another “Haddaway,” will become the new ticket’s theme. This song was made famous, or perhaps even infamous, by a series of sketches on Saturday Night Live featuring the guido-like Butabi brothers.

I could certainly see Craig Campaign Manager Paul Ellington, Political Director Josh Wolf, and Communications Director Pettit driving around the state, full-on Butabi style, in support of their candidate Haddaway, with What Is Love playing in a continuous loop over the car stereo.

Can’t you?

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