Wichitan advises candidate to ham it up

By The Active Age | October 26, 2018

William T. Davitt thinks the upcoming gubernatorial election could all boil down to ham. If only a certain candidate would take his advice.

Davitt copied the active age on a letter he sent to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Laura Kelly, who is running against Republican Kris Kobach and  Independent Greg Orman. In it, he urged Kelly to run on a platform of repealing Kansas regulations on ham, which according to Davitt permit an unacceptable amount of water and other ingredients to be added to ham, “leaving it flavorless, uninspired, with no taste.” 

Davitt suggested the issue could mobilize support among senior citizens. I decided to give him a call to see if he was serious, putting me on or, you know, crazy.

The retired lawyer, now 89, assured me he is “absolutely” serious. And a few minutes of conversation convinced me he could still argue a case in court, if two hip replacements would allow it.

“If you talk to someone who’s an elderly person, they will remember back in the 1940s when ham was just delicious,” Davitt told me. “Ham and eggs in the morning – just delicious.” Today, he added, “when you look at ham in the grocery store, they’ve killed the taste, I think, and that’s a damn shame.”

I told Davitt his letter made him seem like a bit of a single-issue voter. Not so, he said. “I’m interested in everything.”

And indeed, a little digging revealed that Davitt has contributed letters to The Wichita Eagle on a variety of topics. Davitt said he’d been through “a lot” of political campaigns, though not as a candidate, and believed his advice was sound. A real-life issue that connects with people does more for a candidate than any advertising campaign cooked up by consultants. Salty cured pork could be that issue.

“Every man, woman and child likes to eat something that tastes good,” he said.

I asked him about himself and his politics. A lifelong Wichitan, he graduated from law school at Notre Dame, passed the bar in 1955 and practiced for 50 years. Liked to dance before hip trouble put him in an assisted living facility (despite which he considers himself blessed with good health). Called himself “more of a Democrat than a Republican.” And don’t get him started on Libertarians.

Democrats didn’t escape his criticism. Kelly campaigns as the education candidate, he noted, but can she get thousands of teachers to go door-to-door for her, which is what it will take to win? Doubtful. He feared that as election results roll in, Democrats will be sitting around some ballroom filled with drinks and food – probably including lousy ham – absorbing another defeat.

“The bigger tragedy,” as he put it, is that schools no longer adequately teach civics and, as a result, many people have no idea who their elected representatives even are.

Not Davitt.

Kelly, by the way, has not responded to his letter. “She’s probably laughing at me,” he said.

But I’m not, and you can probably guess what I’m having for lunch.

Contact Joe Stumpe at joe@theactiveage.com.