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Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
Breaking News: Campaigns Underway for Arms Control Person(s) of the Year?

Arms Control NOW

As three days of voting near their conclusion, exit polls indicate that two nominees are currently leading the field in the hotly contest Arms Control Person(s) of the Year competition.

Last year's winner, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind), nominated this year for:

... his courageous and unflinching leadership for prompt Senate approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty despite months of partisan division in the Senate on the treaty. More info here and here.

And NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino, Kazakhstan's Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Umarov, and their international partners for:

... securing material containing 10 metric tons of highly enriched uranium and three metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, which is enough to make about 775 nuclear weapons. The operation is the largest of its kind and is an example of the international cooperation envisaged by the leaders attending the April 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. More info here and here.

Although conjecture at this point, D'Agostino's strong showing may have been influenced by internal NNSA campaigning and a Wednesday afternoon tweet:

Have you voted yet? Make NNSA Administrator D'Agostino the Arms Control Person of the Year: http://bit.ly/hCY8C4

Such campaigning, or simply advice-giving, is reportedly welcome. Jeffrey Lewis weighed in Tuesday via Arms Control Wonk, with his recommendation:

There are three reasons that I probably won't vote to reelect Barack Obama, one of which is the Administration's position on landmines. Last year, I was torn between Lugar and Patrick Leahy, for his tireless efforts on behalf of landmine victims. Having voted for Lugar last year, and with an 11 year old landmine victim on the ballot in 2010, this isn't so tough.

I am voting for Daniel Yuval, in the probably futile hope that it will shame the President into doing the right thing.

Not that politicians have shame. But, you know, if they did.

In addition to the 10 nominations from ACA staff, voters have also written in a number of candidates, including Susan Burk "Special Representative for Nonproliferation, for leading the US effort in a successful NPT review conference," Rose Gottemoeller "for negotiating New START and working tirelessly to inform the Senate and the American public about the critical need for this Treaty," Rogelio Pfirter "former Director-General of the OPCW, for his 8 years of leadership at the OPCW, for safely eliminating 20,000 tons of chemical weapons, and for expanding OPCW membership by 20+ countries," and others.

Campaign efforts can be highly effective in raising awareness about key arms control accomplishments and challenges, as well as winning the competition. Sources indicate that one year ACA had already finished the press release announcing the winner, when a sudden surge in the final two days catapulted a different nominee to victory.

Could that happen again this year? With 12 days of voting remaining, it's possible...

A full list of candidates is here. To vote, visit the poll and enter "2010" as the password. The competition closes Dec. 28.

"Reported" by Jeff Abramson.