Groundswell, Sort Of

Richardson stylist mixes politics and hair

Grow your hair for peace, John Lennon once suggested. That, um, didn't work out so well. Maybe cutting your hair for Democrats is a better idea. Maybe.

Jonathan Van Voorhees, a former Dallas City Council candidate and hairstylist in the heart of Republican Richardson, is offering a free cut and style to anyone who can demonstrate they've donated $100 or more to the Democratic Party. He also says he'll contribute half the cost of any service he renders to the party or local Democratic candidates if his customers ask.

The response so far, he admits, has been "not great" (surprise!). While some of his clients like the idea, others--Republicans--have chosen to take their business elsewhere. "I did get a couple of e-mails back saying, 'I'm not going to come see you anymore,'" Voorhees says, which given the usual quality of Texas GOP coiffures may not be a bad thing for his business. What self-respecting stylist wants to be responsible for Republican bouffants and televangelist-style pompadours?

Voorhees, an active Democrat, says he's disenchanted with what he calls the mean-spiritedness of the GOP. As a small-business man, he's also concerned about issues like the high cost of health insurance (he doesn't have any) and figures a snip here and there might help turn the tide. "Of course, I could end up being an ex-businessman."

Perhaps not. He may even pick up a few GOP 'dos along the way. Paul von Wupperfeld, a 38-year-old marketing professional and longtime Republican, and Andy Smith, a former chairman of the College Republicans at Texas, are organizing a local Republicans for Kerry group (www.dallasforkerry.com/communities/republicans). So far, they've collected a loose network of about 30 people, von Wupperfeld says.

One Democratic hairstylist and 30 disaffected Republicans. Buzz doesn't imagine Karl Rove is panicking.

"I don't have any illusions that the state of Texas is going to go for John Kerry," says von Wupperfeld, a moderate Republican. In other words, he's like one of the not-so-scary Republican guys being trotted out for the dog-and-pony show that is the GOP's national convention, while the creepy hard-right social conservatives wield the real power on the platform.

In other, other words, they're the disenfranchised--but we bet they have really natty hair.

 
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