Anthony Cobb's father, David, was a radio announcer for the station that broadcast the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville -- the man who is said to have nicknamed the country and western town in the middle of Tennessee "Music City U.S.A."
Mr. Cobb, a 52-year-old Irvington resident and Republican candidate for president of the Baltimore City Council, hopes that enough of that show business magic rubbed off on him to draw voters to his fight against Democratic incumbent Mary Pat Clarke.
"I think anybody who tries to be a practitioner of politics rather than a student of politics has to have a little bit of ham in them," Mr. Cobb said last week as he campaigned at Mondawmin Mall in West Baltimore. "The ham is the part that responds to people's desire to hear what you have to say, and I believe local government should be like that.
"People want to talk about getting trash removed and their property tax decreased, and if you truly enjoy talking to people and connecting with them, that's the impulse, not just ego, that makes a person want to do theater and run for public office," said Mr. Cobb, director of program operations for the National Federation of the Blind.
"It's taking time to talk with everybody who will take the time to listen about stuff that matters. There are a lot of scared people out there, and they want to talk."
To that end, Mr. Cobb has been going door-to-door and taking hiscampaign to places such as Mondawmin Mall, walking up to strangers after the evening rush hour, putting out the glad hand, smiling wide and saying with a Dixie accent: "Hi there, I'm Tony Cobb, and I'm asking for your vote on November 5."
Not many were interested in more than a few seconds of dialogue, but some did take the time to hear Mr. Cobb out.
"Politics is so often not a matter of partisan labels; it's so much more often a matter of chemistry between people who are dedicated to common goals," Mr. Cobb said. "Any public official in the city of Baltimore will have such a challenge in the upcoming years that he or she will be unable to afford working in isolation, and I would excel over that which Clarke has demonstrated up to now."