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Absent the Poster King, the mayor’s campaign sags.

Putting Scott Bishop Sr. in charge of Mayor Anthony Williams’ petition drive was clearly a bad call. It’s not just what Bishop did—the sketchy signature-gathering that helped get the mayor kicked off the Democratic primary ballot. It’s what the veteran political operative wasn’t doing.

Before he became a renegade petition wrangler, Bishop was famed as the Poster King, a legend for his speed and ingenuity in sign-hanging. Now that the mayor needs some grass-roots campaigning to pull off a write-in bid, he could sorely stand some of that old Bishop magic.

Instead, at the corner of 16th and Corcoran Streets NW, a “Williams Mayor 2002” sign sits in the shrubbery, having been summarily shed by its host—a no-parking sign. All over the city, the mayor’s first wave of campaign signs has met the same fate. The paper has curled; the blue ink has faded to a sickly, unpatriotic shade. The posters have slumped to the eye level of a toddler or a basset hound—two constituencies not known for their turnout on Primary Day.

“While we hope they would withstand the elements, they’re not intended to be permanent,” says campaign spokesperson Ann Walker Marchant.

A second round of posters was printed on thicker stock and included a verb: “Re-elect Williams Mayor 2002.” But the mayor’s minions, it seems, still took for granted that voters wouldn’t need to see his first name, as if he were Giuliani or Nixon. Only the third and latest edition of signs begins to rise to the demands of a write-in campaign: The posters now include the mayor’s first name—choosing the more official “Anthony” over the more populist “Tony”—and the word “Democrat” in red. The colors are darker; the paper is crisper. And for the time being, anyway, the new signs are tacked up high for all to see. CP