It's the cheaters that annoy Dan Nataf so much; the ones who post political signs illegally.
"When people are populating the area with illegitimate signs, they are creating an image of false support," said Mr. Nataf, a Severna Park Democrat running for the House of Delegates. "It's plainly unfair for those who obey. We lose out."
Candidates for county and state offices are told about the rules of the political name game when they register to place their names on the primary ballot, said Gary Bowman, chief of the outdoor advertising section of the State Highway Administration.
Road agencies for the county and state prohibit placement of signs in public medians and rights-of-way, they are told. But that doesn't mean the candidates play by the rules.
"This year we've got more people running and these candidates obviously want to get elected," Mr. Bowman said.
State road crews have removed about 100 illegal signs from state rights-of-way in Anne Arundel County since June, Mr. Bowman said. About 300 signs in improper areas were pulled up across the state.
Meanwhile, county workers picked up about 40 improperly posted signs during two days last week, said Mary Ann Roesler, a county sign enforcement officer. In addition, Ms. Roesler said her offices have received about 25 complaints over the last three weeks about signs obstructing views or being unfairly placed.
That's nothing, said Mr. Bowman. He receives five to 10 calls a day from Anne Arundel county.
"As it's getting close to the elections, more signs are going up and that makes many people concerned whether candidates are being fair," Ms. Roesler said.
Mr. Bowman said he received five complaints about signs of Larry Walker, a Democratic county executive candidate, along Route 648 and I-97 last month. A sign promoting Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg for governor was removed from the the Bay Bridge in (( June. Two signs supporting Ed Bach, a Republican candidate for the House of Delegates in District 33, were removed after county inspectors found they violated the law.
Clerk of the Circuit Court Mary Rose, a Republican candidate for state Senate, has had five signs pulled down after the county deemed them illegal, according to Ms. Roesler.
Yesterday, Mrs. Rose said it is all part of the name game.
"It's all part of politics," she said. "They come up, they come down."
The illegal advertisements do cost money though, Ms. Roesler said. A candidate who posts signs illegally on state property could be fined up to $500. County fines start at $50 per sign for the first day, $100 a sign for the second and rise to $500 a sign for five or more days.
If the sign stays on county land for a week, a candidate could owe $2,500.
But Mr. Bowman said no one has been fined for illegal signs in his 18 years at SHA.
"We give people a warning that their signs are illegal if we get a call, and if our trucks see them when they are out, on our property, they go down and they can come get them," Mr. Bowman said.
"Everyone complies when they realize the mistake," Ms. Roesler said.
Signs usually are posted illegally because volunteers are unfamiliar with the laws, Ms. Roesler said.
But Ms. Roesler warns candidates that it is their responsibility to keep track of where their signs are placed.
"We expect candidates to tell their volunteers the rules and make sure they comply," she said.
Democrat Steven Easthaugh, a candidate in Maryland's First Congressional District, set the record for illegal signs with 50 in Anne Arundel County, according to Ms. Roesler.
About 12 signs endorsing Robert Duckworth, a Republican candidate for Clerk of the Circuit Court came down over the past few weeks.
Neither Mr. Easthaugh nor Mr. Duckworth could be reached for comment yesterday.
State inspectors took down about 15 signs advertising Mike Canning, a Democrat candidate for District 33 House of Delegates race Monday.
Mr. Canning paid Precision Signs in Beltsville $2,000 to place about 70 signs supporting him throughout the county. He says he thought the company knew the rules.
"Usually the problem is that people are taking down other people's signs, but here I am taking down my own," he said.