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Monday, September 6, 2010

Primary Nears for Frederick County State Delegate and Senate Races

George Wenschhof

Last Friday, I wrote about the debut of "Early Voting" in Maryland and opined on the outcome of the Frederick County vote in the county commissioner race. Voters will decide in the Primary Election the five Republicans and five Democrats who will move on to the General Election held on November 2. You can read that column here.

Today, I will look at the state senate and state delegate races in Frederick County, Maryland. The county is roughly split in half with the the northern and western regions falling into district 4 and the central and southern regions falling into district 3. In each district, voters elect one state senator and three state delegates.

District 4 has long been dominated by Republican representation due to a large voter registration advantage. There is no reason to expect a change in party affiliation in this year's election with Republican incumbents favored to win reelection. However, the race for the open delegate seat in district 4-a where voters elect two delegates, could be interesting between the many Republican candidates vying for it.

Incumbent Republican Joe Bartlett, who was elected in 1998 with the strength of his father's name (MD Sixth district Congressman Roscoe Bartlett), decided not to run after revelations of his using state funds to pay his girlfriend rent came to light. As a result, a slew of Republicans filed to run for this open seat.

One time Democrat, and now Republican Dino Flores is joined by Frederick County Republican Central Committee chair Kelly Schultz, long term county commissioner John "Lennie" Thompson and Kathy Afzali. Of these four, look to see John Thompson win and move on to the General Election.

Local attorney Flores is certainly qualified, but doubtful to win more votes than Thompson. Afzali has been battling her fellow Republicans by trying to claim she is more Rush Limbaugh "like" than they and using the phrase "don't let the good old boys win". It is highly unlikely her strategy will be successful. Frederick county Republican chair Kelly Schultz will be competitive, but the name recognition of Thompson will be hard to overcome.

Look to see the vote difference between the Republicans. If Stull wins, but the vote is close, it may indicate this is his last term in office.

Incumbent Republican Paul Stull, who was first elected in 1994, is the other Republican expected to win the primary. He succeeded Tom Hattery, the last Democrat to hold that seat. Hattery challenged and beat Democratic Beverley Byron in the Democratic primary for the western Maryland 6th district congressional seat. He was beat by Republican candidate Roscoe Bartlett, who is still in office and running for reelection.

Scott Geunthner is an "Unaffiliated" candidate on the ballot after securing enough signatures to be listed. Do not expect him to impact the race in any significant manner.

The local Democratic party, which has struggled for some time to field competitive candidates in this race, continued the trend, with only one candidate Ryan Trout filing for the two delegate seats. The Democratic party added Bonita Curry to the ballot after the filing deadline had expired. While Ryan Trout is a newcomer to politics, Ms. Curry has long been involved in volunteer efforts for Democratic candidates. They will not have a contested primary to show off their positions on issues which would benefit the voters in district 4-a should they be elected. While they will both move on, they are not expected to be competitive in the General Election.

In district 4-b, where voters will elect one delegate, the lone Democratic candidate is Timothy Schlauch. He has run a multitude of times and deserves credit for having done so. While he will move on to the General Election, do not expect him to beat incumbent Republican Donald Elliot who was first elected in 1986. However, at age 78, one has to be thinking how many more years will he run for office. Elliot is facing a contested primary against Kathryn Freed. But, it should not be close.

Popular district 4 state senator David Brinkley received a bye from the media in regard to his domestic problems with his wife resulting from his tryst with his administrative assistant. As a result, he is easily favored to win reelection.

In the primary, he will face little known Republican Kathryn Freed. The only Democrat to file, Sara Lou Trescott will move on to face Brinkley in the General Election. It will be interesting to see if Brinkley's alleged infidelity with an aide will be brought up after the primary.

In district 3, it is again the Republicans who have contested battles with Democrats having an interesting match up for state senate.

In district 3-a, where voters will elect two delegates, the Democrats have an uncontested primary with incumbent Galen Clagett and Candy Greenway.

Democratic delegate Sue Hecht's retirement has created an open seat and expect the Republicans to be very competitive and possibly pick up a seat in this district which favors Democrats in voter registration. Ms. Hecht's support by the voters exceeded her effectiveness in Annapolis, making this open seat vulnerable for Democrats.

Ms. Greenway's frequent appearances on the local cable political talk show "Pressing Issues" earned her the nickname "Clueless Candy" as her comments on issues showed her lack of knowledge. So, it is dubious as to how well she will do against Republican opponents in the general election.

Incumbent delegate Galen Clagett has done an excellent job representing the voters in district 3 and deserves another term in Annapolis. His membership on powerful state committees, including Appropriations, is a benefit to Frederick County.

Former delegate Pat Hogan will be favored to finish on top in the Republican primary and could easily win in the General Election, making this a pick up seat for Republicans. He lost to delegate Galen Clagett by only a couple of hundred votes four years ago.

Chris Huckenpoehler and Chuck Knapp are a toss-up in the battle for the other Republican seat. Huckenpoehler made it through the primary in last year's City of Frederick alderman race, but fared poorly in the General Election.

Another Republican; Scott Rolle will appear on the ballot, even though he has withdrawn from the race. A well known former Frederick County State's Attorney, his inclusion on the ballot may confuse some voters.

In district 3-b, where voters elect one delegate, the battle is between Republicans Charles Jenkins and Michael Hough, who are vying for the open seat vacated by Rick Weldon when he went to work for the City of Frederick.

Much Republican infighting has transpired in this race, beginning with the appointment of former Frederick County Commissioner Charles Jenkins to replace the departed Rick Weldon.

Michael Hough has a huge fund raising advantage on Jenkins and also enjoys the support of state senator Alex Mooney and Frederick County Commissioner Blaine Young.

Hough has also used the I'm more conservative than you and I signed a "no tax increase" pledge against Jenkins. While Jenkin's claim to fame has been proposed legislation combating illegal immigration. Look to see this race be much closer than the supporters of both candidates would prefer.

It would appear this is an excellent opportunity for Democrats to take advantage of the turmoil within the Republican party and pick up a seat.

Unfortunately, only perennial candidate Paul Gilligan is on the ballot and the Republicans will catch a break. A nice guy who has sound positions on environmental and land management issues, he has been unable to catch on with voters in this district.

This will mark the third time Gilligan has run for this position and the second time he will be the Democratic party nominee. Don't look to see the third time be the charm for the former Mayor of Burkittsville,

The state senate race in district 3 promises to be close and one to watch election night. It is also a good possibility for a pick up for Democrats.

The Democratic winner will face three term incumbent Republican Alex Mooney.

Don DeArmon will be facing Ron Young in the Democratic primary. Unlike, when Mr. Young defeated Mayor Jennifer Dougherty in the 2005 City of Frederick primary, there has been little to no friction or turmoil in this state senate Democratic primary.

Hopefully, this bodes well for the Democratic nominee and the winner will go on to defeat ineffective state senator Alex Mooney.

Both Democratic candidates are well known in district 3-a with Ron being a former four term mayor of the City of Frederick and Don DeArmon twice being the Democratic nominee for congress in the Maryland 6th congressional district.

Both have been supportive of Democratic candidates for all positions over the years. It is not unusual to see Mr. DeArmon's front and side yards, across from Culler Lake in Frederick, adorned with Democratic candidate signs.

Ron Young has once again shown his ability to place campaign signs everywhere, but remember, he did the same in the 2005 city election and lost to a political unknown; Republican Jeff Holtzinger.

Don DeArmon has much more cash on hand than does Ron Young which could be to his advantage when it come to closing the deal with voters through media, direct mail, and other get out the vote efforts.

However, Ron's secret weapon this time around is his wife Karen who is his campaign manager. Karen ran an excellent campaign for alderman in the City of Frederick election last year, finishing first and earning the mayor pro tem designation.

Mr. DeArmon's singular issue he has made a point of getting across to voters is he intends to "fix I-270". An ambitious task and one he hopes frustrated commuters can relate to.

A local business owner shared a story with me recently that sums up the primary race between these two Democrats. Upon his arrival home from work, his wife informed him she had met a nice man today who had stopped by the house. His name was Don DeArmon and he was running against Alex Mooney.

Her husband said to her I thought you were supporting Ron Young. She said oh, yes she was, but really liked Don DeArmon.

Stay Tuned....


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