GAITHERSBURG, Md. - Labor Day is the traditional kickoff of the fall political campaign season. Across the D.C. area at the parades on this holiday, politicians for Senate and Congress in Maryland were out doing their hand-shaking, baby-kissing tradition.
But with 2016 dominated by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, how many voters are tuned into other races?
In Maryland, the 78th Gaithersburg Labor Day Parade was held. It started back when Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House. While FDR is still well known, the same can’t be said of down-ticket candidates, particularly for the people running for the United States Senate seat from Maryland who are trying to break out of the shadow of Trump and Clinton.
We know politics these days means a ton of Twitter and a fountain of Facebooking. But let's face it -- there are still some old school political traditions that even in the 21st century still hold up.
Chris Van Hollen was pressing the flesh at the Gaithersburg Labor Day Parade. Until now, he has represented only one congressional district as a U.S Representative. But Van Hollen has spent his summer crisscrossing Maryland's 24 counties and 12,000 square miles.
“Old-fashioned handshaking, door-to-door and meeting people in parades is still number one because that person-to-person contact is essential to try and break through the clutter,” said Van Hollen.
Not to be out done on this day was Republican Senate candidate Kathy Szeliga. She was out on a motorcycle at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival as photographed by her campaign.
But both Szeliga and Van Hollen may have same opponent – apathy. We asked some at the Gaithersburg parade whether they have been paying attention to Maryland’s Senate race.
“I'll be honest, no I have not,” said Debbie Muldos.
It turns out many had a similar answer like Muldos. Only a few in Gaithersburg we spoke with on this day said they have paid any attention to this Senate contest.
Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, who is not up for re-election this year, said he understands why voters don't put a Senate race front and center in a presidential year. But it is also why the eight weeks after Labor Day are so critical to the candidates who are running.
“It's a big difference between one congressional district and the entire state of Maryland, so it's a challenge, particularly in the summer time,” said Cardin.
The bottom line – Labor Day might mean the end of the summer season, but it kicks the political season into high gear. There is no time to waste either. There are 63 days left until Election Day.