“Welcome to the Fray” 

Scenes from Virginia’s weirdest political tradition - the Shad Planking.

click to enlarge Covering yourself with stickers – sometimes, for rival candidates -- is a Shad Planking tradition. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Covering yourself with stickers – sometimes, for rival candidates -- is a Shad Planking tradition.

Cigar smoke ascends to the heavens, along with the souls of a few thousand crucified fish. Confederate flags wave gaily. Handguns hang on the hips of open-carry advocates -- hey, you never know what might go down while you’re waiting in the food line. It can only be the 63rd Shad Planking, the annual Virginia ritual of glad-handing, trash-talking and beer-drinking.

Surrounded by tape recorders and handlers in blue Oxfords, U.S. Senate candidate George Allen waxes expansive: "It’s the way politics really ought to be. It’s bipartisan and just a lot of good folks from all over Virginia gathered here in these pines. And smile. And eat and drink and mostly be happy."

Tea party favorite Jamie Radtke, a former receptionist for Allen, is going up against him for the Republican nomination. "We just need something different. It’s not personal," she says. "Sending a career politician to D.C. and thinking it’s going to be different this time around isn’t being realistic."

This is Radtke’s first Shad Planking as a political candidate. "Welcome to the --" She looks around at the khaki-wearing, beer-sloshing, campaign-stickered crowd.

"Welcome to the... the fray! Welcome to the fray."

Slideshow
Shad Planking 2011
Shad Planking 2011 Shad Planking 2011 Shad Planking 2011 Shad Planking 2011 Shad Planking 2011 Shad Planking 2011 Shad Planking 2011 Shad Planking 2011

Shad Planking 2011

By Scott Elmquist

Click to View 14 slides

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