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Votes

On the Campaign Trail

<b>Leaving the GOP</b>

Nobody doubts that <b>Pat Troy</b> is his own man. The outspoken Irishman has operated a pub in Old Town for more than 20 years, and he has been memorable fixture of city politics. Yet his relationship with the Republican Party seems to have been strained by the candidate-selection process for the special election.

Although he received more votes than any other Republican candidate in last year’s City Council election — amassing 5,809 votes — it was still not enough to win a seat at City Hall. The Democratic candidate with the least amount of votes was<b> Ludwig Gaines</b>, who received 8,010 votes. Nevertheless, Troy felt that his success with Republican voters should have warranted a measure of respect when party leaders were trying to figure out how to chose a candidate for a City Council seat that was unexpectedly vacated in May.

But, according to Troy, that didn’t happen.

"I used to think that the Democrats in this city were corrupt," said Troy. "But Republicans in Alexandria are 10 times more corrupt."

Troy said that he felt excluded from the planning process that organized the May 29 candidate-selecting canvas. Held during a two-hour timeframe on a Tuesday night at short notice, the event left a bad taste in Troy’s mouth. As a result, he said, he has left the Alexandria City Republican Committee. But don’t look for him to take down the photographs of former President <b>Ronald Reagan</b> that grace his North Pitt Street restaurant.

"Local Republicanism is dirty, and it’s all done under the table. Now I realize why they can never win anything in this city," said Troy. "I don’t think Ronald Reagan would have anything to do with them."

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<b>To the Dogs</b>

Greeting voters in Market Square is a time-honored tradition, and campaigning politicians have congregated in the Saturday marketplace since the city’s 18th-century origins. But approaching strangers can be a daunting task, one that requires some finesse.

That’s where Republican <b>Mike Lane</b> has a hook.

While campaigning for former Vice Mayor <b>Bill Cleveland</b> in Market Square last weekend, Lane had a careful strategy that he said he perfected at the Metro stations of Arlington while running his own campaign for the county board in 1999. The system relies on one of Alexandria’s strongest identifiable features: dogs.

Lane would first approach the dog, greeting the canine with a welcoming hand. Then he would make small talk with the owner. Conversation would veer toward politics, culminating with an inquiry into whether or not the dog’s owner was an Alexandria voter. Campaign material was then presented with a smile.

"Alexandria is a dog town," said Lane between greeting dogs. "And Bill Cleveland understands how important dogs are to this city."

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<b>Resignation, Then Silence</b>

<bt>Former Vice Mayor <b>Andrew Macdonald</b> is a man of mystery. Since his unexpected May 8 resignation, he has been tight-lipped about the reasons behind his hasty departure from the public stage — leaving the explanation to "personal reasons." When repeatedly asked to elaborate, the former vice mayor declined to explain.

Even on the matter of the special election to succeed him, he has little to say. When approached Saturday morning in Market Square, Macdonald waved off any questions.

"No comment," said Macdonald.

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<b>Light Reading</b>

<bt>A candidate’s bookshelf is a window into his mind, exposing the personal proclivities and individual prerogatives. Yet for <b>Justin Wilson</b>, the Democratic candidate for City Council, reading time is sparse. He’s got a full-time job with Amtrak, a young son and then there’s the campaign. When asked what the best book he’s read in the last year, the candidate was clearly stumped.

He stared into space for a minute, then responded sheepishly.

"Probably the FY2008 budget," he said with a grin.