With this post I turn my attention to signs for candidates for Maryland State Senate, starting with District 9. Gail Bates is giving up her current House of Delegates seat for District 9A in order to run for this Senate seat, which became open when Allan Kittleman decided to run for Howard County Executive. Bates is unopposed in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side Ryan Frederic and Daniel Medinger are vying for the right to run against her.

Here are the signs, in alphabetical order by candidate, along with my comments, according to the criteria I’ve previously discussed.


This is a good sign, especially for using only two colors. The “BATES” is large and readable in a clear serif typeface, and the smaller “Gail” in a script typeface adds a nice informal, almost personal, note. The integration of the Maryland flag-inspired banner is also done very well; note that the banner is outlined to prevent confusion between the sign background and the white parts of the banner.


This sign does some things quite well, and one thing not so well. The good news: The sans serif typeface used for “FREDERIC” is bold and readable; it really sells the sign. The serif typeface used for the smaller “RYAN” is also a good choice and complements the main typeface well; having the “R” be slightly larger than the “YAN” is also a nice touch. Finally, the red star to the right of “RYAN” both balances the composition and makes it more dynamic—note that the star is slightly off-center to the right, which adds visual interest. Overall, it’s an uncluttered and powerful design.

Now for the bad news: Printing “STATE SENATOR” and “DISTRICT 9” in red ink on a dark blue background makes them almost unreadable, particular if you’re driving by rather than walking.


The main thing I don’t like about this sign is the “VOTE DANIEL” banner at the top. It looks just a tad odd, and I feel like it’s undersized relative to the rest of the sign. Otherwise the sign is competent and unexceptionable.

The results: This sign contest is a good example of “might have been.” The Ryan Frederic sign design is really strong, but I think it was sabotaged by the color choice on the lower text. I understand the desire to echo the red star at the top of the sign with red at the bottom of the sign and thus tie the thole design together. However ultimately this is a campaign sign, not a print ad or direct mail piece, and I think a campaign sign has to meet more stringent criteria for readability than designs in other media. This stumble on the part of the Ryan Frederic sign opens the way up for the Gail Bates sign to claim victory.

In my next post I’ll evaluate signs for State Senate candidates in District 12 and 13.