Shaken, Stirred and Spilled
It seems as though everyone is writing about last Tuesday. The results were so mind-altering, so earth-shattering that you can't really blame the keyboard commandos for being drawn to this story like so many moths to a flame.
Let's start locally. The much-ballyhooed Gardner/Young battle ended with a whimper, not a roar. Jan Gardner will be our first county executive, but probably not because so many embraced her message of increased school spending and making developer’s pay more. No, the real reason she was victorious had more to do with voters casting their ballots in protest against her opponent.
A review of the County Council candidates, who came out on top, shows us that Jan's appeal wasn't universal. At this point, at least four of the Council will be Republicans, none of whom concurred with her campaign messaging. Still to be decided is the District 1 seat, where teacher Jerry Donald, a Democrat, is tied with Republican Ellen Bartlett, the wife of former Congressman Roscoe Bartlett.
That race is a surprise. Mrs. Bartlett should have won that race with relative ease. There are plenty of Republican voters in that district; Mr. Donald was a virtual unknown, while the Bartlett name is known everywhere. Mr. Donald is a really smart, capable candidate, while Mrs. Bartlett was something other. She seemed distracted throughout, and her performance at the Brunswick candidate forum is legend.
During her Brunswick debate with Mr. Donald, she was asked about a statement on her website highlighting her plan to cut waste from the county budget. She looked to the back of the room of voters, spotted Blaine Young, and called out "Hey Blaine, what are we going to cut out?"
Back to the dichotomy between Jan Gardner's message and the electoral results. If voters elected her for her message, how does one explain the fact that both Kirby Delauter and Billy Shreve won in their races? Billy Shreve won one of the two countywide seats, a voting test equivalent to the county executive race. Mr. Delauter was probably the one person most vehement in his opposition to the Gardner agenda; now he'll get to vote on it!
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If I failed to discuss the Maryland General Assembly races, you'd wonder what happened to me. You can take the boy out of Annapolis, but you can't take Annapolis out of the boy!
The House of Delegates saw a major shift. While there are seven new Republican members, the shift is NOT toward a more conservative ideology. In fact, the House has seen a dramatic shift to the radical left.
How, you ask? Look at who lost their seats. The few remaining conservative-leaning Democrats are now gone. When I served in the House, names like Johnny Wood, Kevin Kelly, Murray Levy, John Arnick and Tony Fulton helped keep the ship of state on a relatively even keel. Now, those guys are gone, some to retirement, some to God's hand, and at least one to this election cycle.
In Western Maryland, there are no elected Democrats in the House or Senate west of Frederick County.
So, while there are more Republicans in the House of Delegates than ever in this modern era, there are still far too few to matter in most situations. With a couple of Democrat defections, it may be possible to overturn or uphold a gubernatorial veto, but nowhere near enough to impact regular order.
A couple of upsets are worth mentioning. Del. Norm Conway (D., Worchester/Wicomico), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, lost his re-election bid. It's almost unheard of that the chair of a committee could lose a seat, more so when it's the chairman of the most powerful committee in the legislature. In a real stunner, one of Chairman Conway's most powerful principle deputies, Del. John Bohanon (D., Lexington Park) also lost his bid for re-election.
A couple of local legislative races warrant analysis. In District 3, Democrat Senator Ron Young was truly tested by political newcomer Corey Stottlemyer. Corey has an incredibly bright political future, and Senator Young was a little lucky this time. He'll be vulnerable in four years.
Delegate-elect Carol Krimm deserves everything she's achieved. She was the top-vote getter thanks to hard work and sacrifice. She'll make an incredible state representative. Her seatmate, Karen Lewis-Young benefitted from the majority Democratic registration in District 3. Republican candidate Paul Smith just wasn't able to close the deal.
In District 3B, Bill Folden did close the deal. This race wasn't so much about money, it was about retail politics. Mr. Folden did it very well, Steve Slater, his Democratic opponent, didn't. Bill Folden is a legend in youth sports in the Brunswick/Jefferson area, and he was able to capitalize on that and his work in law enforcement.
Over in District 4, Michael Hough completed his journey from the House to the Senate. He started by eliminating Sen. David Brinkley in the primary, and no one believed his Democrat opponent, attorney Dan Rupli, ever really had a chance.
The question is whether Senator-elect Hough will have any influence in a Senate led by President Mike Miller (D, Calvert/Prince George’s).
In District 4, uber-popular Delegate Kelly Schulz emerges as the top vote-getter. Delegate Kathy Afzali also returns to Annapolis, and these two will be joined by David Vogt, who ran a sort of Claude Rains campaign. Mr. Vogt was the quintessential “Invisible Man,” the only thing most voters knew about him was that his name appeared on signs all over District 4 with the names Hough, Afzali and Schulz. In his case, that was enough.
The governor's race deserves its own column, so we'll save that for another day.