Friday, October 22, 2010

A congressional challenger's name captures the nation's mood

The campaign signs plastered across Virginia's 5th Congressional District have become a minor cult phenomenon: "Hurt U.S. Congress," they say.

The red, white and blue posters advertise the candidacy of Republican Robert Hurt, a state senator looking to win south-central Virginia's House seat. But to a broader group of fans, the signs imply a promise of things to come in the "tea party"-fueled "Year of the Angry Voter" - a seething backlash against the political body Mark Twain described as composed of "the smallest minds and the selfishest souls."

"I think the idea of hurting them by taking away their power is the perfect idea. If you want to do something that really hurts," said Jerry Douglas, who was so taken by the signs that he posted a photo of one to the Internet. "To me, that sign says that. It says, this is what they care about. Power and ability to control our actions. They have hurt us over the last two years, and now is our chance to hurt them."

Even the French have taken notice. In an article titled "La route du Tea Party," French newspaper Le Monde this week said the sign perfectly captures what's different about this year's elections. The writer said it was a "un usage brillant de son patronym" - roughly, a brilliant use of his surname.

Reports on the Internet suggest that Mr. Hurt is trouncing his opponent, incumbent Rep. Tom Perriello, a Democrat, in the battle to dot the 5th District with their signs. Hurt campaign officials say they've heard of the signs being posted well beyond the district's boundaries.

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