Every attendee at the 68th Shad Planking will get one vote in the VirginiaCaseSearch.com Presidential Straw Poll. However, when it comes to the time-honored Sign Wars—a contest to see which campaign can plaster the landscape with the most yard signs—who wins and who loses is a reflection of who has the most volunteers and deepest pockets. Signs start going up on the road to Wakefield days before the annual fish fry, and part of the strategy is to prevent opposing camps from taking yours.
A Sign War victory gives a candidate bragging rights but doesn’t necessarily predict a win in the primaries or general election. In 2009, Democrat Terry McAuliffe easily won the Sign Wars, supposedly planting 25,000 signs, but Republican Bob McDonnell took the governor’s race. Brian Moran didn’t even participate in the Sign Wars that year, deciding instead to stay on the sidelines.
Matt Lewis, in an article for HumanEvents.com, described the commitment to winning the Sign Wars: “Allen advisor Chris LaCivita once swam across some chilly April waters in order to place a George Allen sign on a small island (which was on the way to Wakefield). He also was famous for using a truck-ladder to staple signs to phone poles. This was done so that they would be visible (and hard for anti-Allen folks to tear down).”
These efforts may seem silly to some, but the Sign Wars are serious business at the Shad Planking, with some candidates going to the extreme. In a “can you top this” move, Terry McAuliffe hired a plane to fly over the event, trailing a banner that read “New Energy. New Jobs. Vote Terry.” Talk about the ultimate volley. This year, several 2017 candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and U.S. Congress will attend the Shad Planking, and we wonder if they are plotting their strategy. Good luck to all, and may the best campaign win.