Originally created 06/10/02

Candidates get creative with name recognition

The South Carolina primary is Tuesday. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

AIKEN - For candidates seeking political office, name recognition is key.

How some get that recognition is a testament to creative marketing.

Rep. Charles Sharpe, R-Wagener, the lone GOP candidate for state agriculture commissioner, has been handing out packets of sunflower seeds since last year.

He has handed out nearly 40,000 bags and has 20,000 more on order. Volunteers and a church youth group wanting funds for a mission trip packed the bags for him.

"As I go around the state now, people tell me they got them last year. They planted them, and they came up and they want some more," Mr. Sharpe said. "It is really a good little gimmick because they see those flowers, and they remember Charles Sharpe."

Lt. Gov Bob Peeler, one of seven Republicans vying to face Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges in November, also has a gimmick. Mr. Peeler, who runs a family-owned dairy, was in Aiken on Saturday with his 19-foot-long, 14-foot-tall fiberglass dairy cow.

One of the people who volunteers to pull the cow through the state for Mr. Peeler said children and adults love the gimmick.

"I think it keeps his name in circulation," said Luke Brown, of Lexington, S.C.

Rep. Gresham Barrett, R-Westminster, who is running for the 3rd District congressional seat, hands out Nestle Crunch bars with slips of paper stapled to them that read: "Enjoy the crunch. Join the Barrett Bunch."

Mr. Barrett is not the only candidate in that race with a rhyming gimmick.

Sen. Bob Waldrep, R-Anderson, who has sponsored a bill to keep water in the Savannah River from being taken by other cities, hands out bottles of water with a label that reads: "Don't let Atlanta take the Savannah."

Jon Ozmint, who is running for attorney general, passes out mints as a play on his last name. He faces two GOP opponents in Tuesday's primary.

"We're going to win this race and have the freshest breath doing it," Mr. Ozmint joked.

Winning breath also is important to Maj. Gen. Stan Spears, who is running for re-election as state adjutant general. Supporters hand out business cards with his picture attached to a stick of Wrigley's spearmint gum.

Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or matthew.boedy@augustachronicle.com.


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