Allan Lichtman: Behind in bid for Senate seat





On a recent Monday in Hyattsville, as bleary-eyed drivers made their morning commute, Allan Lichtman was already breaking into a sweat trying to get their attention.

In pinstriped pants, a white-and-blue striped shirt and red tie, he stood on a small sliver of concrete median at a hot and humid intersection. With every passing car, he waved his hands and peered into the windows with a smile, as if to say: C'mon, give me something -- a wave, a honk, anything.

This is what you have to do when you are going against the odds, he explained after two hours of arm-numbing waving. This is what you do when you are lesser known, out-moneyed and looking for a fighting chance.

This is how you run the race of an underdog.

For more than 30 years, Lichtman, 59, has studied politics -- as a history professor at American University, an analyst for CNN and an author. Known in some circles for his guides to predicting presidential elections, he has spent his career observing politics from the outside. Now, as one of 18 Democratic candidates for Maryland's open U.S. Senate seat, he is looking for a way in.

It's hard to ignore a man standing at Route 1 and East West Highway at 7 a.m., waving directly at you and pointing to a half-dozen volunteers -- each holding signs with his name -- at all four corners of the intersection.

About half of the drivers responded with some kind of acknowledgment -- a honk or wave back. Some ignored him. One trucker threw an empty bottle at him.

This was about par for the course.

For weeks, Lichtman has owned the intersections of Montgomery and Prince George's counties. It is part of the guerrilla, grass-roots style of his campaign. He has not come close to matching the millions in campaign funds of U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D). Neither does he have the name recognition of Cardin or former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume. He trails both in polls.

So he spends most days passing out fliers during rush hour in Metro stations, hand-waving at intersections and knocking on doors. The recent Hyattsville offensive was the starting point of a 16-hour day that would take him from Bethesda to Baltimore, with few breaks in between....


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