Last Wednesday on WFMD's Mid Maryland Live radio program, current County Councilman Tony Chmelik announced his intent to run as a write in candidate for County Council District 2.
About half way into the radio interview, the mayor of New Market called into the program to endorse Mr. Chmelik. In complete honesty during the radio interview, Mr. Chmelik admitted that he had underestimated the campaign of his victorious opponent Steve McKay.
Councilman Chmelik pointed out rightfully to WFMD host Tim May that Mr. McKay supported County Executive Jan Gardner's 84 million dollars in spending increases to Frederick County's budget over the past several years. He then went on to explain how Candidate McKay ran a campaign based on lies and openly smeared him in public.
Mr. Chmelik boasted that his campaign knocked on 1,900 doors in the district’s Republican primary with positive feedback. In that primary Mr. McKay received 1,909 votes to Mr. Chmelik’s 1,616. The Democrat nominee Lisa Jarosinski, ran unopposed and received 2,599 votes.
Councilman Chmelik pointed to Steve McKay as the chief activist of RALE (Residents Against the Landsdale Expansion. This organization has cost the county millions of dollars due to lawsuits. He also questioned Mr. McKay's Republican credentials as the real reason for his write-in campaign. He claims that McKay was not conservative enough to represent Council District 2.
The councilman continued to wonder aloud on the radio about Mr. McKay’s unwillingness to join other Republicans in a united slate, inferring that Mr. McKay might be a shill for the Gardner Campaign.
A Thursday interview on WFMD with Republican county executive candidate and current state Del. Kathy Afzali made it clear that she is supporting Mr. McKay even though he has declined joining her slate. Mr. McKay has the Republican Party's endorsement and Delegate Afzali went on to say that she and Steve share many of the same opinions on growth in Frederick County, despite suspicions that McKay is closely aligned with Republicans for Jan Gardner.
Mr. Chmelik was again interviewed with a follow up on WFMD on Saturday during Frederick Forum program. He again doubled down on the activist claim against Steve McKay stating that "activism has no place in Frederick County government.” He then offered that he is an independent candidate all the while claiming Mr. McKay isn’t really a Republican.
Research shows that a truly independent candidate would see the flaw in a partisan loyalty claim as justification for an independent write-in race. This is even more perplexing following Ms. Afzali simply shrugging off Mr. Chmelik’s claims of Mr. McKay's own progressive loyalty.
Councilman Chmelik should clarify his anti-activism remarks. He should be reminded of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees the freedom of activism as a natural right of citizens in a healthy and balanced representative republic.
The leftists-leaning blogs are calling Mr. Chmelik the Sour Grapes Candidate. Indeed, his tone of voice on the radio had hints of anger not yet set aside from the June primary. Many of the Republican grey bearded pundits, who have followed local Frederick County elections for decades, can't point to a single write-in success beyond one upset in a Thurmont Municipal race years ago.
Claiming to be an independent write-in candidate while questioning another candidate’s party loyalty is the single greatest flaw in Councilman Chmelik's attempt to attract voters. He needs to focus on how he's better qualified to be a councilman than his opponents. The primary race is over and Mr. Chmelik needs to understand that it’s not Mr. McKay’s fault that he had a more persuasive argument in the primary. He failed to persuade enough voters that McKay’s criticisms were dishonest and shallow.
Could Mr. Chmelik win? He just might, but only if the stars align perfectly. Democrat Jarosinski and Republican McKay could split the so called "soft Republican" vote along with a few progressive voter enclaves. These voters were never going to vote for him anyway. His ultimate prize must be the conservative block of Republican voters in District 2 and those unaffiliated voters who were barred from voting in the Republican primary.
Independent campaigns like the ones facing Earl Robbins and Bud Otis are hard enough. Write-in campaigns are an even tougher slog but Chmelik will need one heck of a ground game fast to be successful in his endeavor with the little time he has left before the general election.