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San Jose Mercury News Scott Herhold column
[January 31, 2013]

San Jose Mercury News Scott Herhold column

Jan 31, 2013 (San Jose Mercury News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Once upon a time, politics in Santa Clara County was genuinely fun. People didn't take themselves so seriously, or dislike their opponents so fervently.

To display their affection for the circus, they created a melange of political paraphernalia -- buttons, hats, signs, fliers, key chains, wine glasses, T-shirts, buckles and mugs.

Today, we pay tribute to that vast local swag with this column's first -- and possibly last -- Political Memorabilia Contest.

Here's how it works: You, dear reader, pull out your local political keepsake -- button, flier, sign, whatever. You take a picture with your cell phone and send it to

Except for buttons, we ask for only one item per photo.

Be sure to include your name and the town you live in. If you prefer anonymity, please tell me. For consideration in the contest, we'll need at least your initials and city. You can enter the contest multiple times.

Our distinguished panel of judges will sort through the nominations in four categories: the Wackiest, the Most Historic /Rare, the Most Authentically San Jose and the Best Button Ensemble.

For each category, we'll come up with three finalists. Then readers will get a chance to go online and vote for the winners. The prize Fame. I'll run a column with your name and try to reach you for the story behind your treasure. We've just finished a campaign season and the next one will be on us soon. Here's a moment to examine where we've been.

The template You can get an idea of what qualifies from the pictures I'm including with this column. It's based on my wife's political button collection, with a few other odds and ends.

I can't claim that the Herhold-Janigian collection will produce a contender. The pink "Elect McHugh for Me and You" might deserve consideration in the wacky category, but it's a distinct long shot.

A couple of provisos before you enter: First, the contest is strictly local, and by that, I mean Santa Clara County and very close environs. You may treasure your Ronald Reagan for President button from 1980, but it will cut no ice in this contest.

A keepsake honoring a local figure who runs for statewide office -- say Meg Whitman or Steve Westly -- is acceptable.

Banned The Santa Clara County registrar's office is banned from the contest. In a display under glass, the registrar has what may be the most extensive political button collection in the county. The registrar's office also has an unfair advantage. It handles paperwork for all the candidates.

I should probably also warn you that a Big Kahuna of memorabilia lurks out there, probably the most famous political photo ever shot in San Jose.

The 1976 piece shows then-Councilman Joe Colla posed with a car atop the unfinished intersection of Highways 101 and 280/680, with the words, "Where do we go from here " If you have the Colla piece, by all means send me a picture. Because it bids fair to trounce the others, I may put it in a Lifetime Achievement category.

One last rule: We entertain no hit pieces, or ugly slogans that insult a rival. Yes, they might have been effective. They do not make us proud.

So pull down that canister from the top shelf. Paw through the box in the garage. Send me the photo of your political memorabilia, and, if you prefer, what category you think it should fit. Enlist a younger relative or friend if you're not comfortable with a smartphone.

I'll write a follow-up piece in a couple weeks and then the final choices will be up to you.

Contact Scott Herhold at 408-275-0917 or

___ (c)2013 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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