Political costume sales not so bewitching this Halloween

Politicians don’t have as much pull as they used to in Washington — at least in some area Halloween stores.

While Sarah Palin and President Obama costumes might have been the go-to getups in years past, 2011 is more about fantasy than debt-plagued reality.

Rip Claassen, who has been running Backstage Inc. on Capitol Hill for 22 years, says the swift-selling outfits this year are inspired by TV shows. Flappers and gangsters, such as the ones in HBO’s Prohibition-era show “Boardwalk Empire,” are a hit, along with Mod-wear reminiscent of the 1960s wardrobe in AMC’s “Mad Men.”

And the manager thinks he knows the reason his stash of political ensembles is proving unpopular: “It’s usually the common theme, but I think [customers] are even too pissed at the political statements to do so!” He added that his shoppers seem to be more “into having fun” this Halloween.

It’s the same scary scenario at Total Fright in Georgetown. Owner Lorenzo Caltagirone said that while zombies, Green Hornet and Green Lantern costumes are big this year, customers aren’t picking out his political products: “Political masks in general sell just because we’re in D.C., but as far as things flying off the shelves — a year or two ago it was the Palin wig — I don’t see any of that going on right now.” He continued with a sigh, “Maybe people are just frustrated with politics.”

But before they become forlorn about not being the costume of choice for trick-or-treaters, Claassen said, lawmakers should know they’re in good company with their slow sales: “Last year everyone was going as Mr. Monopoly, so they could beat him up, because of how the economy is. But I think they don’t find it funny anymore.”