Thank you for visiting our website

Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Frederick Co. MD Dems - Fired up and Ready to Go!

George Wenschhof

Being a Democratic activist in a red county within a red district in an overwhelmingly registered Democratic state has its challenges. Yet, this year with the enthusiasm being generated by Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for President, new hope is being generated in the region.

The Presidential election always has the highest turnout of registered voters which is one of the reasons some local City of Frederick activists have called for the city election to move to coincide with the Presidential election. Presently, the City of Frederick turnout for their general election is in the 30% range - their city election is next year in 2009. In the 2004 election the statewide number of registered voter turnout was 78%. In Frederick County, it was 82% and the 6th District was 80%.

The state of Maryland and their 10 electoral votes have long gone to Democratic candidates for President. In reviewing statistics on the Maryland State Board of elections website, in 2004, the statewide vote for Democratic candidate John Kerry was 56% and incumbent President Republican George W. Bush had 43%.

In Frederick County, Maryland in the 2004 general election, the vote was completely the opposite with President George W. Bush receiving 60% and Senator John Kerry receiving 40%.

The 2000 general election also produced similar results when former Vice-President Al Gore ran against Texas Governor George W. Bush. The statewide totals were Gore 57% and Bush 40%. In Frederick County, the results were Bush 60% and Gore 40%.

The other race on the ballot in November is the 6th district House seat held by Republican Roscoe Bartlett for the last sixteen years. In the 2004 election, Democratic candidate Kenneth Bosley received 29% of the vote in the 6th District to Bartlett 67%. In Frederick County, Bartlett received 65% and Bosley 35%. Two years later in 2006, Democratic candidate Andrew Duck improved those numbers in the 6th district to Bartlett 59% and Duck 38.4%. In Frederick County, Duck received 44.8% and Bartlett 52.7%.

Further compounding the problems for Democrats in Frederick County is the overall county voter registration is only 4% of the statewide total. So when campaign materials for the candidate for President are made available closer to Election Day, less are sent this way than to the more heavily populated areas in the state.

In spite of all of this, local Democrats have reason for optimism. Bob Kresslein, chair of the Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee recently shared with me their plans for the upcoming election.

Mr. Kresslein has long been involved in local Democratic politics. He first joined the United Democrats of Frederick County (UDFC) in 1981 at the age of 26 after moving here from Howard County. He would later serve as President of UDFC from 1988-1992. He was appointed to the local state central committee in 1994 and 1998. He was first elected to the central committee in 2002 and became chair in 2005 when his friend and mentor, Tom Slater stepped down from the position to run for City of Frederick Alderman. Kresslein was reelected chair in 2006 and is also serving a term from 2006 to 2010 as the Deputy Treasurer of the Maryland State Democratic Party.

Undaunted by past statistics, Kresslein is optimistic about the prospects for Democrats this fall. He told me "I am truly gratified and excited about the level of commitment that we have experienced" as he talked about how the local central committee has over 300 volunteers who will be helping in the overall effort.

They plan to staff the campaign office located at the corner of Fourth and N. Market Street in Frederick, Maryland so stop by and say hello.

Also planned is community canvassing, phone banking, participation at "In the Streets" and the "Great Frederick Fair" as well as other community events.

They have also set up a coordinated effort with the Dougherty for Congress and Obama for President campaigns.

Another reason for local Democrats to be happy, are the recent voter registration numbers released by the Frederick County Board of Elections. This showed 7.007 new registrants from January 1 through June 30. Out of this number, 44.5% were Democrats, 29.9% were Republicans and 24.6% were Unaffiliated. Also important to note is 42.7% of the new registrants fell in the 17-25 age range. This gain by Democrats now has the overall registration in Frederick County at Republicans 43.6%, Democrats 38.1% and Unaffiliated 17.9%.

The excitement of the Obama/Clinton primary race for the Democratic nomination for President has also led J. Burke Miller to begin the process of re-establishing the Frederick County Young Democrats organization. At 23, he already has a Facebook page with 40 friends and looks forward to holding his first official meeting. Kresslein provided him with contact information with the Young Democrats of Maryland to help him with the organization process.

I spoke with Mr. Miller recently and he shared with me the following as to why he chooses to get involved:

"In the past few months, the national political atmosphere has shifted and for the first time in my life, that shift includes young voters. I saw a lot of my peers vote for the first time during the Presidential primaries and most of their drive can be traced to the positive emotions generated from both Senators Clinton and Obama.

Still, as the spotlight finally included young voters, I believe that they finally felt obligated to be dutiful and get involved. This wave of activism is what the Frederick Young Democrats is hoping to ride and I think that if we can strike while the iron is hot and turn the newly interested into the newly active, our chapter can demonstrate just how democratic our county has begun to and will continue to lean."

The turnout of young voters can easily have an impact on this election. Historically, across the country the turnout of younger voters in the general election has not been good. However, this year, the Obama campaign may well reverse that trend and increase their turnout.

If the Unaffiliated registrants also vote for change and frustrated Republicans stay home, we may well see a different local outcome in the fall.

Frederick County, Maryland and the Maryland 6th district demographics have long been troublesome for Democrats. However, optimism abounds and hope for change is strong.

Let's see what November has in store for Democrats in Frederick County and the 6th district. One thing you can count on is local Democrats will be working hard at getting out the vote.

Stay tuned.

No comments: