TAKOMA PARK – Just after sunrise on a recent weekday morning, Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Largo, was standing on a busy street corner wearing a Cheshire-cat grin.
By 7:30 a.m., the congressman had corralled about eight of his staffers at the intersection of Eastern Avenue and Piney Branch and Chestnut roads, where Montgomery County meets the District of Columbia.
They were bundled in jackets, and bouncing in the chilly air. Some stood strategically on medians, others in front of a tan Victorian house that smelled of fresh laundry, and others were scattered about grassy corners.
All of them waved huge, bright-blue “Wynn for Congress” signs at passers- by.
“I want to let people know that I’m not coasting,” Wynn said of his early- morning campaigning, which he said is about “communicating with the voters.”
If anyone in Maryland’s congressional delegation could afford to coast, it’s Wynn. But he is leaving nothing to chance.
Wynn was first elected to Congress in 1992, when the 4th District was created out of inside-the-Beltway sections of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. He won 75 percent of the general election vote that year, said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research.
In 1996, Wynn pulled 85 percent of the general election vote total, and 86 percent in the general election of 1998.
“We haven’t polled that race since Wynn got in there. He hasn’t had much of a challenge,” Coker said.
Rob Johnson, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, said Wynn’s campaign efforts are admirable. “He’s not the kind of person to sit back on his laurels,” Johnson said.
Even Wynn’s competition respects his campaigning.
“I think he’s wise to have some effort,” said John Kimble, a Republican who in November will challenge Wynn for a third time.
Kimble said he has not been campaigning because he does not have an opponent in Tuesday’s primary. But he plans to start.
“I’m going to do some work to make sure no one forgets about me,” Kimble said, when asked about Wynn’s campaigning.
Wynn, meanwhile, is running on a promise to “provide jobs in the private sector by expanding small-business opportunities.”
He said he anticipates an economic expansion both inside and outside the beltway and he wants to continue to represent the 4th District during that time. In order to do that, he said, he will continue to campaign.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Wynn said, after one of his morning roadside waves.
He planned three such events every week leading up to the primary and said he would do more before the November general election. It’s important for voters to know “I’m not off somewhere … in a marble tower,” he said.
During the Takoma Park wave, drivers in everything from brand-new BMWs to old Ford Festivas, sport-utility vehicles to mini-vans, even school buses, honked their horns, tipped coffee thermoses, saluted and waved right back at Wynn.
“Good morning,” Wynn said, at least 100 times, waving tirelessly. His staffers, though younger, seemed like they needed extra time, and maybe a vitamin or two, to keep up.
Most cars whizzed by throughout the two-hour event, though almost all drivers waved. Some asked questions like, “When’s the election?” or “How are you this morning?”
But, at that hour, one can’t expect everyone to be so chipper.
“You’re blocking traffic,” one man yelled, “waving” out his window, and dodging another car.
Wynn just smiled and waved, the traditional way.