A pri­mary source of sup­port

South­ern Mary­lan­ders serve as can­di­dates’ del­e­gates, cheer­lead­ers

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JOHN WHAR­TON jwhar­ton@somd­news.com

Jim Craw­ford of Bryan­town reached out to the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of Don­ald Trump last year and of­fered his sup­port, and waited for a re­ply.

And kept wait­ing, un­til Trump’s cam­paign fi­nally got back to Craw­ford and dis­cov­ered just how lit­tle time was left to pre­pare a slate of del­e­gates for Mary­land’s pri­mary. But Craw­ford also had some good news for them.

“I al­ready lined up 15 del­e­gates for you statewide, of the 24 that you need on the bal­lot,” he re­called say­ing dur­ing his con­ver­sa­tion with Trump’s mid-At­lantic di­rec­tor.

Craw­ford, 68, is among the del­e­gates cho­sen in April through Trump’s pri­mary elec­tion vic­tory in Mary­land. They’ll be trav­el­ing to Cleve­land, Ohio, in late July for the Repub­li­can National Con­ven­tion.

The fol­low­ing week, Amanda Cross of Colton’s Point will be in Philadel­phia as a del­e­gate from Mary­land sup­port­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton in the Demo­cratic National Con­ven­tion.

There’s an­other Demo­cratic can­di­date still in that race, and 17-year-old Natalie Lloyd-Schultz of Lusby is out west, try­ing to help Bernie San­ders win next week’s pri­mary con­test in Cal­i­for­nia.

Craw­ford, the re­tired pro­pri­etor of a ware­house and mail­ing busi­ness, and two or­ganic land­scap­ing busi­nesses, is an ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber of the Charles County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and co­or­di­na­tor for Trump’s cam­paign in Mary­land’s 5th con­gres­sional district. He still restores an­tique cars, and ref­er­ees soc­cer and vol­ley­ball games. As he ar­rived at a cof­fee shop in Char­lotte Hall for an in­ter­view about two weeks ago, Craw­ford was get­ting phone calls from re­porters about fed­eral weapons and child pornog­ra­phy charges against an­other elected del­e­gate, Caleb Bailey, and Craw­ford spoke highly of Bailey’s char­ac­ter when Craw­ford coached him on a sports team. Craw­ford also pon­dered the pos­si­bil­ity of pol­i­tics hav­ing a role in the in­dict­ment, which has led to Bailey’s slot on the del­e­ga­tion be­ing given to an al­ter­nate del­e­gate can­di­date, Dennis Di Bello of St. Leonard.

Craw­ford has seen a lot

of the work­ings of pol­i­tics, in his four un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts to be elected to the state leg­is­la­ture, a bid in 2000 to be a del­e­gate for a Repub­li­can can­di­date who ul­ti­mately lost the state’s pri­mary, and his cur­rent du­ties with the cen­tral com­mit­tee and his hands-on role with the Trump cam­paign.

“I’m re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the vol­un­teers, get­ting the signs out, [and as­sign­ing] the poll watch­ers,” he said. “We dis­trib­uted about 2,000 Trump yard signs in the 5th District be­fore the pri­mary.”

Craw­ford also said he was not sur­prised that he had to take the ini­tia­tive to get Trump’s cam­paign in Mary­land go­ing. “It’s not un­com­mon for a lot of pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns not to be well or­ga­nized early on,” he said. “I was per­sis­tent. My tenac­ity, want­ing to volunteer [and] to be help­ful, paid off.”

He had searched out the first batch of can­di­dates to be Trump del­e­gates on his own, be­cause “I re­al­ized that noth­ing was hap­pen­ing in Mary­land.” Trump’s national cam­paign, like that of the other can­di­dates, even­tu­ally made its official des­ig­na­tion of its cho­sen del­e­gate can­di­dates on the bal­lot.

Craw­ford will drive di­rectly from a fam­ily re­union in Ken­tucky to Cleve­land, while a cou­ple of buses likely will sup­ply most of the state’s del­e­ga­tion with their trans­porta­tion.

“It’s about a $2,000 out-ofy­our pocket ex­pense,” he said, to go to the con­ven­tion, which com­bines “gen­eral net­work­ing and fel­low-ship­ping” with serv­ing on a com­mit­tee and ul­ti­mately tak­ing part in the roll call of each states’ del­e­ga­tion.

What­ever is­sues may arise, he said, “you’re talk­ing with peo­ple from other states, try­ing to co­a­lesce around a national elec­tion.”

Born and raised in St. Mary’s 7th District, Cross was elected two years ago to St. Mary’s Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, and she sup­ported Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) that year, as the con­gress­man lent his sup­port to other lo­cal Demo­cratic can­di­dates in the fall elec­tion.

“We did a lot of door knock­ing in the last elec­tion,” Cross said, and she got a chance to speak with Hoyer about be­ing a del­e­gate for Clin­ton in this year’s pres­i­den­tial race. “We talked about it,” she said. “He told me if I was in­ter­ested, he would put in a good word for me.”

Cross, who works for Tech­nol­ogy Ser­vices As­so­ciates at Patux­ent River Naval Air Sta­tion, as a busi­ness fi­nan­cial man­ager at an Ital­ian Navy joint pro­gram of­fice, said she had been in­ter­ested in sup­port­ing Clin­ton for a long time.

“The chance of hav­ing our first woman pres­i­dent is very ex­cit­ing to me,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of it.”

Cross, 33, said she spoke with the con­gress­man af­ter the party’s state or­ga­ni­za­tion con­tacted the county’s cen­tral com­mit­tee. “You have to be pretty in­volved in the [con­gres­sional] district,” she said.

Cross has been in­volved in pol­i­tics since she was a stu­dent tak­ing part in model Congress and Gen­eral As­sem­bly pro­grams, and more re­cently aid­ing her broth­erin-law’s un­suc­cess­ful bid to un­seat an ap­pointed judge. Cross’ sis­ter, Jodi Stanalo­nis, is a mem­ber of St. Mary’s Repub­li­can cen­tral com­mit­tee.

“It makes for in­ter­est­ing din­ner con­ver­sa­tion,” Cross said.

As a co-chair for St. Mary’s County for Hil­lary Clin­ton, Cross helped with or­ga­niz­ing poll watch­ers, early vot­ing ef­forts and phone-bank­ing ac­tiv­i­ties be­fore this year’s pri­mary elec­tion. “We did some sign wav­ing,” she said, “and some so­cial events.”

Through her dual roles with the lo­cal Clin­ton cam­paign and on the cen­tral com­mit­tee, Cross tried to col­lect and pro­vide lit­er­a­ture from a num­ber of Demo­cratic can­di­dates, in­clud­ing in the U.S. Se­nate race in Mary­land. “We tried to make sure we had all the can­di­dates rep­re­sented at the polls,” she said. “We try to stay as in­clu­sive as pos­si­ble, for every­one.”

Cross is go­ing through at the grass­roots level what Democrats na­tion­wide face, the up­com­ing tran­si­tion from a two-per­son con­test to the likely nom­i­na­tion of Clin­ton and an ef­fort to bring Bernie San­ders’ sup­port­ers on board.

“I don’t want to lose any of those peo­ple. We need their help,” Cross said. “We’re all on the same side, re­gard­less of who’s sup­port­ing who.”

At the same time that Cross wit­nesses the in­ter­play be­tween Clin­ton and San­ders sup­port­ers, she ob­serves the in­ter­ac­tion of mem­bers of the lo­cal cen­tral com­mit­tee and the county’s Demo­cratic club, as well as com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions of Democrats.

“They’re teach­ing each other dif­fer­ent things about pol­i­tics,” she said, in­clud­ing work­ing to­gether on other tasks dur­ing the pri­mary sea­son.

“Those re­la­tion­ships that were made in the pri­mary, we’ll con­tinue to nur­ture and grow into the gen­eral elec­tion,” she added. “We’ve been able to work to­gether in the club at­mos­phere, ... to get more Democrats reg­is­tered and more Democrats in of­fice.”

Three Demo­cratic de­bate-watch­ing par­ties helped to de­velop a rap­port be­tween lo­cal sup­port­ers of Clin­ton and San­ders, Cross said.

“We were all ... in the same room,” she said. “They re­al­ized that they had a lot more in com­mon. You re­al­ize that you’re all work­ing to­ward a com­mon goal.”

Lloyd-Schultz, now in her ju­nior year of home school­ing, saw an op­por­tu­nity last sum­mer to fill a void on the lo­cal level, as San­ders’ cam­paign sought out sup­port na­tion­wide.

“Last July, the cam­paign was call­ing for peo­ple across the coun­try to get to­gether for a live-stream event,” she said. “We no­ticed there was noth­ing in our area. I booked a room at the li­brary, and put the event on their [web] page, posted it on­line. About 30 peo­ple showed up, which was re­ally sur­pris­ing be­cause it was very early on.”

The teenager started a Face­book page, South­ern Mary­land for Bernie San­ders. “We re­ally need it to post phone-bank­ing events and can­vass­ing events,” she said, adding that the Face­book page has got­ten 280 “likes.”

San­ders’ Mary­land cam­paign web­site actually lists Meredith Skot­nicki, Lloyd-Schultz’s mother, as one of the can­di­dates’ South­ern Mary­land con­tacts. The teenager is not yet old enough to vote, but she’s the mem­ber of the fam­ily who’s car­ry­ing out their hands-on par­tic­i­pa­tion, for a can­di­date they both de­cided, al­most si­mul­ta­ne­ously, rep­re­sents their po­si­tion on a va­ri­ety of is­sues.

“We were there about the same time,” Skot­nicki, a 47-year-old eighth-grade teacher at South­ern Mid­dle School, said last week. “It was be­fore he had de­cided to run.”

On the cam­paign’s state web­site, her daugh­ter said, “They were hop­ing to put an adult there. Mom’s been very sup­port­ive.”

Her mother said, “Natalie’s the one who does all the re­search. She’s the one who does all the work.”

And it was the younger sup­porter who joined the team work­ing with a San­ders’ cam­paign rep­re­sen­ta­tive who ar­rived in Charles County to set up a field of­fice be­fore the Mary­land pri­mary, to launch door-to-door can­vass­ing of prospec­tive vot­ers.

“Most of the time, peo­ple weren’t home, or they were not in­ter­ested,” Lloyd-Schultz said, but at least one per­son, who planned to sit this elec­tion out in protest, was talked into go­ing to the polls. “We talked with her for a while,” the teenager said, “and she wound up go­ing out and vot­ing that day.”

Lloyd-Schultz spent most of her time be­fore Mary­land’s pri­mary train­ing other peo­ple to do the can­vass­ing work. She’s now in Cal­i­for­nia, do­ing the same work, or “any vol­un­teer­ing that I can,” in sup­port of San­ders in ad­vance of next week’s pri­mary con­test in that state.

Win or lose, the ad­ven­ture is pro­vid­ing the teenager with her first visit to the West Coast. “I’ve al­ways wanted to go,” she said.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JOHN WHAR­TON

Meredith Skot­nicki, left, en­cour­ages her daugh­ter Natalie Lloyd-Schultz’s sup­port for Bernie San­ders.

Amanda Cross got strong sup­port in her bid to be a del­e­gate for Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Jim Craw­ford of­fered sup­port for Don­ald Trump, and a heads up on Mary­land’s pri­mary.

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