WASHINGTON – If elected to the Senate, attorney Robin Ficker could have quite a crowd at his inauguration.
In his quest to unseat incumbent Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Baltimore, the Montgomery County Republican claims to have “personally shaken hands with over 600,000 Marylanders.” And he invites many to his swearing in.
“Unlike my opponents, I’ve been campaigning all over the state for the past three years,” Ficker said. He said his campaigning strategy of meeting people — he claims 600 each day for almost three years — is what sets him apart from the seven other GOP contenders in the March 7 primary.
“It’s a lot of hard work to actually get out there and meet voters,” he said. “The other candidates only meet Republican insiders.”
Ficker said he has campaigned every day for 32 months now at shopping centers, all Metro stops in Maryland, every home Orioles and Ravens game, all 25 Wal-Marts in the state and every county’s fair. He also said that he put in 60 days of 12-hour campaigning on Ocean City’s boardwalk.
Just to meet 600 people in a 12-hour day, Ficker would have to meet 50 people each hour, or one every minute and 12 seconds. In an eight-hour campaigning day, he would have to meet one voter every 48 seconds. Taking a break to work, eat or go to the bathroom would mean he would have to meet voters at an even faster clip.
In comparison, Vice President Al Gore, who is campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president only meets about 200 people a day, said a spokesman.
Blair Lee, a columnist for the Montgomery Journal who has followed Ficker for 20 years, said it may very well be true that Ficker has met that many people or at least close to it.
“He’s a dynamo of manic energy … and a genius at getting around” Lee said. “He’s a character.”
But Lee said that Ficker has little chance of winning any election, even with name recognition that Lee estimates at 90 percent.
“There really is no second act with Robin,” he said. “There’s not a serious candidate behind the visibility.”
Because he gives out a numbered card to each person he meets, Ficker is confident of not only of the number of people he has met but also that he is remembered. “I’m the only candidate known statewide,” he said.
His numbers do not faze Ficker’s opponents. Former Howard County Police Chief Paul Rappaport could not say how many people he meets a day but said a number is not important.
“I don’t campaign like that,” said Rappaport, who has run unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor and attorney general. “We run a grass-roots campaign and many people come to me.”
Kelly Kout, a spokeswoman for Montgomery County businessman Rob Sobhani, said he meets about 150 people a day. She says Sobhani’s schedule keeps him from meeting more.
“Ficker can go out there and do that full-time,” she said. “But Rob has a business to run and a family to support.”