QUENTINSBURGH- The 2018 Presidential Campaign is well underway in Freedemia, and the 6 official candidates are pushing themselves as why they should be the next president. However, in the first month or so, clear front runners have emerged in incumbents Rosenthal and Houser and in Tweetbook CEO Katherine Nelzer. At the same time, one candidate has fallen steeply behind- Lily Mae Clarington.
Lily Mae Clarington was originally expected to be a strong candidate considering her success as mayor of Vandover. It’s not unusual for mayors to run for president- then-Franklinsburgh mayor Tom Morganson ran against current president Angela Rosenthal and only lost by a hair, becoming the vice president until his resignation to be with his family in a difficult time back in 2016.
However, what worked to stimulate the Vandoverian economy is not what most Freedemians want or need, and the social issues she championed don’t come close to the more important things on Freedemians’ minds.
President Rosenthal’s proven leadership and Nelzer and VP Houser’s big ideas for infrastructure have pushed them to the forefront. Polls show Freedemians want progress, to continue developing as a world power. Nelzer pushes cyber security to help keep the nation safe. Rosenthal points to major successes such as hosting the 2016 Pancontinental Games, the first time Freedemia has ever hosted something that big on the international stage. Houser, Nelzer, and even Barson all point to technology and infrastructure being the way forward. Schluderman pushes for Freedemia to be more outspoken and deliberate in not supporting countries with human rights or civil rights violations.
In contrast, Clarington, while pushing for Freedemia to be a world leader in pacifism, mostly pushes nude tourism. While tourism has helped Freedemia greatly, a poll showed 78% of Freedemians don’t think it’s what will move the country forward.
In the most recent poll, Clarington had only 1.25% of the vote, literally trailing “other”, and had even dropped to 4th place in her home city of Vandover, where she’s doing best.
In the first debate, Clarington was largely considered the clear loser- in an otherwise civil debate, her comments drew fire from almost every other candidate on the stage, Rosenthal attacking her leadership and fitness for the office, Houser blasting her expertise, and Nelzer ripping her plans to shrink the military 85% in the name of pacifism to shreds. Clarington dropped 4% in the polls after the debate, going from 6% to 2%. Ironically, Nelzer picked up most of the extra voters.
Clarington has been working hard to try and prove that she’s a serious candidate. Recently, she’s targeted Quentinsburgh, the largest city in Freedemia and the city most known for being split among candidates. Her new ad campaign, “Clarity with Clarington”, tries to show that she wants to be clear with the voters, and she has been making an effort to be more detailed on some proposals. In a recent town hall at the Cardenia Center in downtown Quentinsburgh, she clarified her stance on taking on the clothing industry, explaining it’s not to make less people wear clothes, but to help small business owners and clothing makers across the country. She also explained that her reasoning behind pushing nude tourism so hard is that it brings in large amounts of money that aren’t burdening citizens, money that can be put towards healthcare, infrastructure, and education.
Clarington was also careful to dress formally for the event, unlike some past events in Vandover, which Clarington had done completely nude and the debate, where she had worn nothing but a painted on outfit. While social and public nudity are widely accepted nationwide and barechested equality is the norm, being nude during a formal campaign event or a debate is generally seen as extremely unprofessional, helping to lead to the image of an “unfit” candidate.
It appears her recent efforts are helping some. A poll done after her recent campaign events in Quentinsburgh asking whether voters in attendence saw Clarington more favorably or less favorably showed 68% saw her more favorably after her explanations. However, that 68% may not translate into votes. It appears only time will tell. But with Rosenthal, Houser, and Nelzer collectively taking home almost 3/4ths of the voters already, there may not be room for Clarington to make up the gap.
VANDOVER- Meanwhile, in Vandover, Clarington faces a new challenge- her legacy.
Clarington’s term limit as the mayor of Vandover is up at the end of 2017 (part of the reason why she ran for president). Clarington has actually been a very highly esteemed mayor for several years, having been in office since 2010 and frequently championing favorability ratings of 70% or more. As is custom with successful mayors that want their work to continue, Clarington endorsed a candidate that she knows well, Annette Zirchall, daughter of famous nude activist Harold Zirchall.
Annette Zirchall has largely the same policies as Clarington: Nude tourism, trade, infrastructure, and continuing to be a leader in anti-censorship, anti-clothes industry, and pro-worker policies. Zirchall also champions education, something that goes beyond Clarington’s platform, pushing for more success stories like Jennison Nudist University’s opening back in the 1940s. Laneston and Vandover together constitute one of the largest metropolitain areas in Freedemia, but Laneston is home to most of the universities, other than Jennison Nudist University and Vandover University. Annette pushes for new campuses, including two new community colleges and a long proposed Vandover Institute of Technology and Engineering (VITE), to act as a balance to the liberal arts, nude arts, and arts-centered JNU.
Zirchall is generally even more popular than Clarington, and was expected to be a shoe in. Her education policy lines up with what more than 70% of Vandoverians have pushed for, and, at least in Vandover, Clarington’s policy is seen as successful and progressive. However, things have started to change since the start of Clarington’s… rocky campaign. Zirchall has struggled to distance herself from Clarington, and as support for Clarington has died, so has a lot of Zirchall’s support.
The biggest wild card in the Vandover mayoral race is Caroline Addison, who dubbed herself “the people’s candidate”. While Addison herself is a nudist and has even gone to a couple campaign events wearing just painted on clothes or an open jacket and a skirt, she strongly believes that Clarington’s emphasis on nude tourism and city growth has left native Vandoverians behind.
“There’s nothing wrong with tourism. It’s great, helps our economy boom. There’s nothing wrong with nudism. I’m a proud nudie myself. There’s nothing wrong with incentives to bring new people here. Heck, beautiful world renown beaches, nudism, and one of the best nude arts scenes in the world? I’d want to move here too. But when our leaders put tourists and newcomers over our city’s own people who are here today, there’s a serious problem. I’m here to do what’s right for native Vandoverians, to work on schools, transportation- for residents and employees too, not just the tourists-, healthcare, tackling the continuing public restroom shortage- You know, the important stuff that helps ALL of us, not just the tourists from the other side of the world.”
Between Addison’s surprisingly strong mayoral campaign and Clarington’s faltering presidential campaign, things aren’t looking great for Zirchall. Just the other day a billboard independent of the campaigns went up near JNU in Vandover, with a picture of the moment Clarington endorsed and introduced Zirchall, and the caption: “If this leadership isn’t good enough to lead our country, why should it be good enough to lead our city?” Zirchall’s association with Clarington is bringing her down, and it might be hard to recover. For the first time, Zirchall trailed Addison 42% to 55% in recent polling.
In a recent press conference, PWN Laneston/Vandover asked Zirchall what she thought of Clarington’s campaign. Zirchall didn’t have much of an answer, stating she thought Clarington needs to be clearer on her actual ideas. Zirchall seems to be distancing herself from Clarington, trying to present herself as a candidate with similar good ideas but different leadership.