Mark Warner, Ed Gillespie meet at Shad planking … and Bob Brown catches it in classic political photo

By Lynn R. Mitchell

One of the best photos taken during Wednesday’s historic Shad Planking showed Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner laughing as he greets a laughing Republican Ed Gillespie who is seeking to boot him out of the seat, so to speak. Under the pines in Wakefield, Warner was wearing a blue long-sleeve Oxford shirt while Gillespie was dressed in a blue shirt and navy jacket. No ties on either.

The picture was captured by photographer Bob Brown who has done it again with his photography  magic. Classic. Kudos to Brown and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The photo can be found on page B-1 of the Metro section in hard copy. The online version can be found here.

It wasn’t unusual to hear that the two senate candidates kept it “clean and cordial, ” according to RTD political reporter Jim Nolan who has an account of the day’s activities and sightings (“Politicians walk the Shad plank”).  That’s what the Shad planking is all about:

In its early days the event functioned as a political Miss America pageant for the Byrd Democratic machine, where groups of white men in coats and ties would gather to look over candidates and decide the slates for local and statewide offices.

Over the years, the shad has stayed the same — cooked over a fire on wooden planks by members of the Wakefield Ruritan Club. But the event has evolved to be more inclusive and bipartisan, reflecting a diversity that has Democrats in U.Va. baseball caps sipping red Solo cups next to cigar-smoking Republicans.

“It’s much more relaxed,” said [former Governor George] Allen. “It’s not pretentious. People from all over Virginia go to it and they get together, and you can talk to people and they can look you in the eye and ask questions, and follow up questions,” he said. “It’s the way politics ought to be.”

Politics and fish and beer, and a way to remember it. Love that photo, Bob Brown….

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