Lexington’s Gardenside community has become a political battlefield, with some Donald Trump supporters going to extreme lengths to protect lawn signs from those who steal or destroy.
Rusty Brown, on Celia Lane, has had to secure his Trump and Mike Pence signs to his front lawn using a stake and metal chain after two others were stolen. And if those security measures weren’t enough, Brown, who works in mortgages, installed a motion-activated flood light in the front of his house as well. One of Brown’s neighbors has even hoisted his Trump sign in a tree to make it harder to reach.
In a presidential campaign of firsts, it’s been a particularly bad year for sign shenanigans throughout Fayette County, according to both parties.
To make his harder to steal, Brown rigged two Trump signs together with two other handmade signs: One has a list of “9 logical reasons to vote for Trump/Pence” (number one being “Trump is our best shot to make America great again”) and “9 logical reasons to vote for Hillary/Kaine” (number one, “None I can think of!”). Brown also wrote a message berating the thieves who he believes “are following in the footsteps of ‘crooked lying Hillary.’”
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“It all started when the two candidates got picked,” said Brown, who has never bothered with political lawn signs before and who doesn’t vote party line. “I went to get a sign at the Republican headquarters and they didn’t have any.”
Between early September and Oct. 12, Brown bought 20 Trump signs from the candidate’s website, 16 of which he has given out free to other supporters in the area. Each sign cost $10 plus shipping..
Brown’s first Trump sign lasted two weeks before it was stolen. The second sign he put up stayed up for about 24 hours before it was gone.
If a lawsuit wasn’t an issue, he thought of rigging up an electrical current to the signs to zap the thieves.
“In our lawsuit-happy society, you’ll have some slug that gets 12 volts and file a lawsuit and then I have to spend money to defend myself,” Brown said. “I actually voted for Ted Cruz in the Republican primary in Kentucky, but once Trump was nominated, I got on his bandwagon.”
“I have reservations about Trump just like everybody does, but they are nothing in comparison to the reservations I have about Hillary Clinton.”
Both the Fayette County Democratic and Republican parties have seen more lawn signs swiped this year than ever before, representatives say. Over the past few weeks, Carol Rogers, the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Fayette County for the past decade, said her office has had about six people come in every day looking to replace stolen Trump signs. Her advice to them was to move the signs closer to their homes and to consider bringing them inside at night.
One of the people Brown gave a Trump sign to was Logan Weiler III, who lives a few blocks away on Della Drive and works in fire security.
Sometime in the past week, Weiler was out for a walk around the neighborhood at dusk when he saw some teens grab his sign and run off with it. Weiler chased them for about four blocks, yelling. The teens never dropped the sign and kept going.
“I did my best but the youth got the better of me,” Weiler said.
After getting a new sign from Brown, he decided to fasten it to a tree limb in the front of his house.
Weiler and Brown both spoke of other residents around Gardenside who have also had their signs pilfered. Weiler plans on putting out more signs as election day draws near, regardless of what may happen to them.
“It’s so systematic, it appears to be more than just mischievous kids because the kids I’ve observed stealing them are not from this neighborhood, which means they’re probably being paid,” Weiler said.
Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso