A Third Cog in the Wheel
On July 16th, Earl Robbins made an announcement to his supporters through his social media platforms. The Frederick County Board of Elections had confirmed his signature count for an independent run for Frederick County executive. He is the first to seek the office of county executive without a party affiliation.
This is no small victory for the grass roots Robbins Camp. Currently County Councilman Bud Otis is making an independent bid for County Council-At-Large, yet has had little fanfare toward obtaining signatures for his candidacy. Councilman Otis seems to have hired a consulting firm to work on his behalf to acquire the signatures necessary for ballot accessibility.
Mr. Robbins’ first petition for the ballot fell 183 valid signatures short, according to the Frederick County Board of Elections.
There are numerous errors that can cause a signature on such a petition to be invalidated. Most often it is the way the name is written, or the address of the registered voter is wrong. Those signatories cannot correct their mistake. And entirely different voter must be sought.
Valid signatures totaling 1,794 are required in order to run as an independent candidate in Frederick County. This is roughly 1% of registered voters in the jurisdiction.
In addition to retiring in 2011 as Director of State and Local Government Affairs for Alcoa Eastalco, Mr. Robbins has had a long and distinguished record of public service in Frederick County. He has served as a member and president of the Frederick County Board of Education; a member and president of the United Way Board of Directors; a member and president of the Board of Directors of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce; and a member and president of the Board of Associates of Hood College. In short, his candidacy should not be taken lightly by his opponents.
In a three-way race, Mr. Robbins offers a temptation on the part of disenfranchised Republicans, who made up the 57% of primary Republicans who voted against the eventual winner (43%). This is a viable option for a Republican who can't bring themselves to vote for Democrat Jan Gardner and refuse to vote for the GOP candidate.
Mr. Robbins might very well pull many Republicans away from the Republican candidate at a time when she claims – in an email blast – that she needed to raise $50,000 by August. In that same email she sought to clarify her positions with respect to Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and dispel accusations of left-leaning tendencies.
This clearly shows her campaign for county executive lacks any real excitement and a real lapse in Republican unity as we head into November.
It's also true that County Executive Gardner should be a little worried. That Earl Robbins is centrist enough to pull some moderate blue dog Democrat votes from New Market and other municipalities. She has openly professed to care less if the town of New Market goes financially broke due to heavy handed water and sewage negotiations between the county and the New Market. That position has political consequences.
Democrat residents in other municipalities might rightly feel that Ms. Gardner doesn't care about them. In last year’s county budget, Ms. Gardner gave away over $900,000 to a few select local charities, yet denied Frederick City $100,000 from the same budget for assistance in airport operations.
The 2018 county executive race is crowded now. Both of the major party candidates will need to adapt a new campaign strategy to win in November. Mr. Robbins might very well pull off a victory, depending on how his opponents respond to his candidacy.
Mr. Robbins needs to be meticulously careful, though. If he makes one mistake as he speaks to his growing crowd of supporters, he will get a chorus of abuse from all sides of the aisle.