— NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - When Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast on Monday, it blew into the thick of election season and turned political signs into dangerous projectiles.
Most lawn signs that promote state and local candidates are held in place by wooden stakes or steel bars. Either material, hurled by a hurricane-force winds, could injure someone and give new meaning to the term "attack ad."
Mindful of the threat, campaigns asked supporters to stash the signs as winds from Hurricane Sandy picked up speed yesterday. The Category 1 storm gusted at more than 90 mph when it hit the mid-Atlantic on Monday. Winds up to 60 mph were measured inland in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts state Sen. Barry Finegold noted various reasons to store the signs, aside from the potential danger.
For one, they can blow onto a neighbor's property and pose a nuisance. Also, he said, “They’re not inexpensive."
The larger ones cost about $100 apiece.
New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Colin Gately said people's safety was paramount.
“We’re telling folks, ‘If you can get out there, take down your lawn signs,’” he said. “Whether it be a deck chair or anything like that that’s not firmly secured down, things can take off in high winds.”
Even with the warnings, plenty of signs were left to the elements. Campaign material was found toppled, mangled and in some cases shredded along a stretch of highway in Haverhill, Mass. Some cardboard signs were torn to bits, leaving behind empty wooden frames. Smaller signs attached to metal rods were pushed over, and in some cases the rods were twisted.
Of course, signs were the least of the campaigns' worries.
Political events were called off as the storm barreled through a week before the Nov. 6 elections, and it appeared the politicking wouldn't resume until mid-week, at the earliest.
“It made sense. The reality is you have to take precautionary measures to make it through the storm," said Congressman Frank Guinta, R-N.H.
Dustin Luca writes for The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass.