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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Frederick Democratic Primary Race for Mayor Heats Up

George Wenschhof

Karen Young
Democratic infighting is nothing new in The City of Frederick elections and this year’s primary election for mayor promises to be more of the same.

Galen Clagett
This time it is city alderman Karen Young facing off against delegate Galen Clagett and the fireworks are starting early with Young accusing Clagett of using a push poll to make her look bad.

"Young should get used to hard-hitting polls, Clagett says", was the headline of an news article written by Patti Borda that appeared yesterday in the Frederick News Post.

During a telephone interview Karen told me she was disappointed and that she wanted to run a positive campaign.

Young said Clagett is known for his lack of respect of women and his actions illustrate why many women do not run for office.  She added it only makes her work harder to help the next generation of women enter politics easier.

She told me she will not conduct a push poll and she hopes the campaign will focus on the issues and who has a better vision for the future.

Clagett did not return repeated calls prior to publication.

The city primary election is September 10 and this early heated exchange between Clagget and Young is not new for Democratic candidates for mayor.

The early campaign smiles always seem to fade as accusations fly and hard ball campaign tactics are utilized by candidates who often know each other well.

In spite of a Democratic voter registration advantage, a Republican mayor was elected in 2005 and 2009.  The last Democratic mayor; Jennifer Dougherty, who served one term from 2001-2005, is often blamed for the loss of former mayor Ron Young (D) to Jeff Holtzinger (R) in the 2005 election and for the loss of Jason Judd (D) to Randy McClement (R) in the 2009 election.

It is widely known Jennifer was livid, that as an incumbent, she was challenged by former four term mayor Ron Young.  In an act of desperation, Jennifer would try to tie Ron Young to the infamous “Black Book” scandal involving a local madam that took place during the last term of Republican mayor James Grimes, who Jennifer beat in the 2001 election.  Ms. Dougherty’s hardball action backfired and she would lose the primary election to Young.

It appeared to be a surprise to unknown Republican mayoral candidate Jeff Holtzinger, he won against Ron Young and was elected mayor.  Reports, at the time likened Jeff to a “deer caught in the spotlight” when he was informed election night he was the next mayor of The City of Frederick.
Holtzinger’s election resulting from the low city voter turnout and support from disgruntled Dougherty supporters.

In 2009, Dougherty would try for the fourth time to become mayor.  She was beat handily in the Democratic primary by newcomer Jason Judd, who was previously unknown in political circles.

Prior to the general election, I reported a Dougherty supporter paid for a robo-call to city voters urging them to write-in Jennifer Dougherty.  Once again, a Republican would win the mayor race.  This time it was Randy McClement who narrowly beat Jason Judd.

Jennifer is at it again, running for mayor for a fifth time.  This time as an Independent, she will once again impact the outcome.  She has to be hoping low voter turnout, split between three candidates, combined with siphoning off supporters from the losing candidates in the Democratic and Republican primaries, will result in her victory. 

A bitter and bruising primary often makes it difficult for supporters of the losing candidate to vote for the primary winner in the general election, which may play to Dougherty’s advantage in a close three-way race.

So far, incumbent Republican mayor Randy McClement does not have an opponent. Former mayor Jeff Holtzinger, who will have residency entanglements, is reportedly anxiously waiting in the wings to make his announcement.

Stay tuned….
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