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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Frederick County, Maryland County Executive and Council Results

George Wenschhof

Turnout was indeed high for a midterm election with a 58.44% turnout with 101,049 votes cast out of 172,907 registered voters during early voting and the 2018 general election.  Early voting favored Democratic candidates and as I suspected unaffiliated and write-in candidates would fall flat.

Frederick County incumbent county executive Jan Gardner (D) won reelection against Republican challenger Kathy Afzali with 51% of the vote.  Gardner (14,682) would win by 6,678 votes over Afzali (8,004) during early voting and she would win after general election day with early voting added in by 7,184 – Gardner (50,974) – Afzali (43,790).  So, on general election day Gardner (36,292) would beat Afzali (35,786) by 506 votes.  Earl Robbins, the unaffiliated candidate for county executive would only receive 4,639 votes total of the 99,502 votes cast for county executive during early voting and the general election.

In the county council race where voters elect two countywide (at-large) and 5 by districts, several races are still to be determined by the count of absentee and provisional ballots

In the at-large race, Democrat Kai Hagen (43,002), Phil Dacey (R) (42,781) and Danny Farrar (R) (42,531) are lock in a close contest to determine the two winners.  Absentee and provisional ballots will determine this race.  However, Hagen with a 471 vote lead over Farrar is in a good position to be one of the winners with the other decided between the two Republicans where only 250 votes separate them.

Democrat Susan Reeder Jessee (40,545) would come in a close fourth and incumbent council president Bud Otis (12,450) who changed party affiliation from Republican to unaffiliated came in last.  Four years ago Otis received the most votes in this race as a Republican candidate and Jessee came in a close third.

The district 1 county council race is another nail biter with Republican challenger Kevin Grubb(10,876) holding a 57 vote lead over incumbent Democrat Jerry Donald (10,819). Interestingly, Donald would come from behind four years ago when he beat Ellen Bartlett (R) after absentee and provisional ballots were counted.

The write in ballot by Republican district 2 council member Tony Chmelik was a dud with him receiving only 749 votes out of the 22,694 total votes cast.  Republican Steve McKay (13,054) who beat Chmelik in the primary election would win easily against Democrat Lisa Jarosinski (8,891) in a heavy Republican voter registered district.

Democratic incumbent district 3 council member M. C. Keegen-Ayer(10,343) would easily win reelection against Republican challenger Joe Parsley (5,974).

In district 4, incumbent Democrat Jessica Fitzwater (11,023) easily beat Republican challenger Jimmy Trout (6,901).

Republican candidate Michael Blue (11,671) would easily win the district 5 council seat vacated by incumbent Kirby Delauter who would be beat by Kathy Afzali in the Republican primary election county executive race.  Democrat Shannon Bohrer  would receive 6425 votes.

Regardless of which party, after district 1 and the at-large races are determined following the absentee and provisional count, the animosity that existed between three Republican council members and Democratic county executive Jan Gardner will not continue.  Republican at-large council member Billy Shreve lost in the Republican primary election to Craig Giangrande in his bid for district 3 Maryland state senate.  Shreve, Delauter and Chmelik who were all antagonists against Gardner are now out of office.

Democrats will have two members on the county council with Fitzwater (district 4) and M. C. Keegen-Aeyer (district 3).  Republicans will have two members on the council with Michael Blue (district 5), Steve McKay (district 2).

The party makeup of the other three council members will be decided following the absentee and provisional count.  The odds favor Democrat Kai Hagen to win one of the two at-large seats.  Which means either Republican Dacey or Farrar will win the other at-large seat.

This means the winner of district 2 race between Grubb (R) and Donald (D) will determine which party will have a majority on the board.

If Hagen and Donald win for a Democratic majority look to see Hagen be made council president.  If Republicans win the majority and Dacey is elected at-large, he could be made council president.  That is unless, McKay, who is known to favor Gardner, votes to support Kai for president.  Who is made county council president will be interesting to watch.

Editor's Update: The first round of absentee ballots will be counted on Thursday Nov. 8 beginning at 10:00 AM by the Frederick County Board of Elections. In the District 1 race, there are presently 425 Democratic Ballots, 232 Republican Ballots and 135 "Others" Ballots to be counted. Democrat Jerry Donald is 57 votes behind Republican Kevin Grubb after the general election.

In the at-large council race where two candidates are elected, there are 3,592 ballots to be counted with the breakdown by party as follows: Democratic - 1953, Republican - 1,003 and Others - 654. After early voting and the general election the three candidates vying for the two positions are Kai Hagen (D) - 43,002, Phil Dacey (R) 42,781 and Danny Farrar (R) 42,531.

Editor's Update:  Vote counting is continuing with the Frederick County board of elections issuing a statement they will finish on Friday Nov.9 and post results in the afternoon.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Frederick County Election Buzz (county council District 1 and 2, state delegate district 3-A and 3-B, state senate district 3)

George Wenschhof
The county council district 1 race, that favors Republicans in voter registration, will likely be close but not as close as it was four years ago when Democratic incumbent Jerry Donald beat Republican Ellen Bartlett (the wife of former 6th district congressman Roscoe Bartlett) when the absentee ballots were counted days after the general election.
 I have known Republican candidate Kevin Grubb for decades and interviewed Jerry Donald during the campaign.  I published a question and answer piece in the Urbana Town Courier.  Both candidates would be a good member of the council and I expect this race to be close again with Donald, who exhibited solid decision making in his first term, securing a second term on the council.
The district 2 county race was made more interesting when Republican incumbent Tony Chmelik, who lost to Steve McKay in the Republican primary election, decided to conduct a write-in campaign.  Lisa Jarosinski is the Democratic candidate in this three person race.

It is no secret Steve McKay and Democratic county executive Jan Gardner are aligned in regard to growth issues. I have interviewed McKay on numerous occasions and find him to be a thoughtful and reasonable person. He would not participate in the Republican Team Hogan effort that is endorsing Kathy Afzali for county executive and Gardner, while not directly supporting McKay, did not go out of her way to help Jarosinski.  This district has a Republican voter registration advantage and they are favored to win. 
Now, with Republican Chmelik conducting a vigorous write in campaign, Jarosinski who was originally considered a long shot, now has an opportunity to win what would be an upset.  While it is late, it is better than never, the Democrats are mailing a slate campaign brochure that includes Gardner and Jarosinski. 
McKay(R) remains the favorite in this race, but do not count out Jarosinski(D) who has campaigned hard throughout the district and would make an excellent council member. I published a question and answer piece with McKay and Jarosinski in The Urbana Town Courier.  Chmelik had not announced his write in campaign at that time.
The state senate race in district 3 will likely be close with the state Republican Party targeting it as a pick up seat for them following Democratic incumbent Ron Young’s narrow victory four years ago.
Republican candidate Craig Giangrande, owner of Frederick County Burger King franchises has received the support of the Republican state Party that has included what has now become the “normal” sleazy attack mail and video ads.
Ron Young, who has worked effectively with a Democratic controlled state legislature, won 4 years ago during the vote conducted during early voting and may do so in this election as well.  
We will not know how the early votes were cast until the general election is concluded.  However, Democrats outvoted Republicans during Frederick County early voting by 3,300 votes with many of these votes cast in district 3.
In district 3 for the state delegate races, voters elect one from district 3-B and two from district 3-A.  Look to see the two Democratic incumbent delegates in 3-A be reelected.  Carol Krimm and Karen Lewis Young have both displayed exceptional constituent service and have developed strong relationships in Annapolis that is helpful to Frederick County.
Out of the two Republican candidates, Mike Bowersox has the better opportunity then James Dvorak for an upset over Karen Lewis Young, who received an ethics complaint from a disgruntled former employee toward the end of the campaign.
The district 3-B race should be one to watch with Democratic challenger Ken Kerr conducting a very dynamic and energetic campaign against well-known incumbent Republican William Holden.
The General Election is Tuesday Nov. 6 and polls are open 7:00 Am – 8:00 PM.
Races are always determined by voter turnout - Go Vote!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Frederick County Election Buzz (Governor, County Executive, At-Large Council)

George Wenschhof

With only three days until General Election Day Nov. 6, the following includes some musings on local elections in Frederick County, Maryland.

One thing to look for as the ballots are tallied is the coattails by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) and County Executive Jan Gardner (D) on positions down ballot in Frederick County.

Governor Race

Ben Jealous, the Democratic candidate for Governor is trailing significantly (double digits) in polling and has to hope for a much higher Democratic voter turnout than four years ago.  Jealous will be looking for higher Democratic turnout in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City and Montgomery County.  Their campaign goal has been one million more voters than 2014. If they get it, look to see a Jealous win.

Four years ago Republican Larry Hogan beat Democratic Lt. Governor Anthony Brown by 65,000 votes (51%-47.2%).

At the end of early voting Democrats are outvoting Republicans (423,562-155,685) and in Prince George’s County (Dem: 90,120 – Rep: 4,933), Baltimore City (Dem: 42,176 – Rep: 2,055) and Montgomery County (Dem: 81,388 – Rep: 14,518).

Democratic registered voters outnumber Republican registered voters in Maryland 2-1, yet Hogan won 4 years ago.  Again, polling indicates an easy Hogan win.  However, keep an eye on voter turnout on Election Day.  A Blue Wave could propel Jealous to victory.

As a result, in this election, many local Republicans have been running with a “Team Hogan” slogan where Frederick County voters in the 2014 general election went for Hogan (Hogan: 50,715 – Brown: 27,682)

Frederick County Executive

I interviewed all three candidates for county executive and published a question and answer with them in an article in The Urbana Town Courier.

Democratic incumbent county executive Jan Gardner has clearly demonstrated over the last four years and throughout the numerous campaign forums during this campaign, she is the most competent candidate for county executive.

Kathy Afzali, the Republican candidate for county executive has extensively used “Team Hogan” throughout her campaign hoping Hogan, who is favored to win Frederick County, will help her to victory as well.

However, the unaffiliated run by Earl Robbins, an experienced businessman who has been active in the community for years who is hoped by some political insiders to have a negative impact on Gardner in this race, could actually boomerang and help Gardner.

The local Republican Party is fractured with the old guard favoring councilman Kirby Delauter who ran for county executive and was beat in the primary election by Kathy Afzali. He has been urging his Republican supporters to vote for Robbins over Afzali.

How to best manage growth continues to be the main issue in countywide Frederick County elections and ironically both Afzali and Gardner are running ads saying they have the best answer for runaway growth in the county.  Interestingly, Afzali who was a Maryland state delegate when Republican Blaine Young was president of the board of commissioners, never opposed the growth policies enacted by his board who I labeled “Blaine and Company”  resulting from their pro-growth and business friendly policies they passed while in office.

In a recent article I point out voter registration in the county shows Democrats (37.2%) and Republicans (38.7%) are essentially tied. Over the last 16 years Republican registration has dropped 7.6% and Unaffiliated gained 7%.  Democratic registration stayed at 37.2%.  So, it can be expected unaffiliated voters will vote more Democratic than Republican and with an unaffiliated county executive candidate, some will vote for Robbins.  However, unaffiliated is not a political party so do not look for them to automatically vote for Robbins.  Look, instead for unaffiliated voters to break Democratic.

Look to see the most qualified candidate Jan Gardner win the county executive race with Earl Robbins receiving less than 15% of the vote – Kudos to him for being the first African American and Unaffiliated candidate to run for countywide office in Frederick County. However, Afzali could run a close race with Gardner resulting from an effective campaign ad blitz and if Hogan wins big in Frederick County.  Afzali, with her last name starting with “A”, is also at the top of the ballot and this positioning often results in additional votes for a candidate.

At-Large Frederick County Council

In this race, voters will be picking two out of the five candidates on the ballot.  The two winners will be part of the seven member council with the other five members elected by districts. I asked these candidates, “What are the two most pressing issues facing Frederick County, and what you would do to address them?” and their answers were published in The Urbana Town Courier.

Danny Farrar and Phil Dacey are the two Republicans running and out of these two, Dacey, a former one term City of Frederick alderman, is likely to run a competitive race.  Four years ago both Republican candidates Billy Shreve and Bud Otis won these two positions.  With the change in voter registration I pointed out earlier, Republican candidates are no longer favored to win countywide races.

Incumbent council president Bud Otis is running for reelection, but this time as an Unaffiliated candidate.  As a result of his often siding with county executive Jan Gardner and the Democratic council members and the often 4-3 vote outcome on growth issues, he came under fire from fellow Republican council members Tony Chmelik, Billy Shreve and Kirby Delauter.  This would lead Otis to change his political affiliation mid-term to unaffiliated.  No unaffiliated candidate has won a countywide election in Frederick County.  However, look to see well known Otis be competitive.

If General Election voting mirrors the turnout in early voting where Democrats out voted Republicans by 3,360 votes, look to see the two Democratic candidates be at the top out of the five candidates for these two positions.  Kai Hagen, a former one-term county commissioner, is looking to reunite with Gardner who he ran successfully with 12 years ago with Republican candidate John “Lenny” Thompson and David Gray with what they coined the “Dream Team”.  The Dream Team victory aided by the Thompson slogan “If Developers win, you lose!”

Hagen, who has been out of office for eight years, received the top votes in the primary election which makes him favored in the general election.  However, Republican supporters of Billy Shreve and Kirby Delauter who both lost their primary election races will not support Hagen.  Again, look to see who has the stronger coattails in Frederick County.  If, Gardner wins easily, this will aid Hagen.  However, with Afzali also running a campaign to stop runaway growth, this will help Hagen as well.

Susan Reeder Jessee ran for at-large four years ago and barely lost, coming in a close third.  A candidate whose parents were actively involved in Frederick County politics, she is well respected across party lines and if elected would exhibit traits many voters long for today.  As a result, Susan will receive Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated votes.

Susan has run hard throughout the campaign going to events across the entire county and would be a positive addition to the Frederick County Council.

This race will likely be very close.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Republicans Drop, Unaffiliated Voters Gain in Frederick County

Illustration | Melanie Douez
Data comes from the Maryland State Board of Elections.
George Wenschhof

Voter party affiliation in Frederick County, Maryland, has shifted over the last 16 years, with Republicans showing the smallest gain. Out of 56,807 registered voters over the last 16 years, Republicans received (12,981-22.8 percent), Democrats (21,059-37.1 percent), and unaffiliated voters (21,193-37.3 percent).
Frederick County voter registration numbers as of end of September 2018 show Democratic registration is within 2,695 voters of Republicans. Sixteen years ago, Republicans had a 10,773 voter registration advantage over Democrats heading into the 2002 gubernatorial election.
Voters who decline to affiliate with a political party are the fastest growing number of voters in Frederick County and follow a trend that extends across the country. Unaffiliated voters in Frederick County have more than doubled in size from 16 years ago, increasing from 18,718 to 39,911 today.
Out of 174,636 total registered voters today, Republicans make up (67,637-38.7 percent), Democrats (64,942-37.2 percent) and unaffiliated voters (39,911-22.8 percent). Libertarian, Green and Other make up less than 2 percent of the registered voters.
Sixteen years ago, out of 117,829 registered voters, Republicans made up (54,656-46.3 percent), Democrats (43,883-37.2 percent) and unaffiliated voters (18,718-15.8 percent).
Maryland is a closed primary election, which means unaffiliated voters cannot vote in the primary election when voters of political parties determine their candidates who will appear in the general election. Unaffiliated voters can participate in nonpartisan primary elections such as the Board of Education race in Frederick County.
Deborah Carter, chair of the Frederick County state Democratic Central Committee, reflected on how Democrats have narrowed the gap with Republicans. “These things do tend to go in cycles,” she said. “Once upon a time, Frederick County Democrats outnumbered the Republicans, and it looks like it’s on track to happen again. However, the party is also evolving. Many old-school Democrats were what we now call ‘Dixiecrats,’ while today’s Dems are younger, smarter and more  progressive than ever before. We’re not only gaining on the Republicans in registrations. Democrats also saw much higher turnout in the primary than the Republicans did, and absentee ballot requests are almost two-to-one Dem. What this says to me is that Dems are more active, more energized and more excited about our candidates.”
Hoda Zaki, Virginia E. Lewis professor of political science at Hood College, noted, “The rise in unaffiliated voters is a sign that voters do not want to commit to one party, but wish to leave the door open to changing their vote depending on the particular election. This fluidity in political identification is related to the changes in both parties’ platforms. As political parties change and shift, voters respond in similar ways. Political parties and voters both are responding to very real challenges in the national and global economy.
“I’m not sure how to explain the drop in Republican voters, unless it can be explained by looking at the age and demographics of voters moving to Frederick County in recent years,” she added.
The chair and vice chair of the Frederick County Republican Central Committee did not respond to a request for comment before publication deadline.
If unaffiliated voters turn out, they will certainly have an impact on many local elections.
An unaffiliated candidate has never won a countywide election in Frederick County. However, two unaffiliated candidates are running in this election. The county executive race features three candidates for the first time: Kathy Afzali (R), Jan Gardner (D) and Earl Robbins (U). Also, the at-large (countywide) County Council race where voters elect two council members has five candidates: Susan Reeder Jessee (D), Kai Hagen (D), Phil Dacey (R), Danny Farrar (R) and Bud Otis (U).
Frederick County Elections Supervisor Stuart Harvey said, “Based on the turnout in the primary election and the increase in voter registration, I expect voter turnout to exceed 60 percent in the General Election Nov. 6, 2018.”
Early voting runs from Oct. 25 through Nov. 1. The General Election is Nov. 6.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Another Lion fades away

Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

George Wenschhof

With the passing of another lion in the senate one has to ask, "Who is in line to take the place of the late Sens. John McCain, Edward Kennedy and others"?
I did not vote for Senator John McCain(R) when he ran for president and often wonder if his pick of a temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified Sarah Palin as a vice president running mate was a harbinger to the election of Donald Trump.
However, countless actions by Senator John McCain over his decades in office, earned my respect.
One of the more important pieces of legislation that has been passed in congress was The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The effort to rein in soft money in political campaigns was known as the McCain-Feingold Act because of the efforts by McCain to reach across the aisle and team with Democratic Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold.
Another pivotal moment in American politics was when McCain reached across the aisle to co-sponsor The Comprehensive immigration Reform Act with Ted Kennedy in 2007. While this bill would ultimately fail, it would turn out to be the last reasonable bipartisan effort on immigration reform in congress.
The video clip of presidential candidate McCain correcting, in a polite manner, the elderly woman who accused Obama of being an Arab during a Town Hall gathering, is forever etched in my mind. "No, ma'am. He's a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign's all about. He's not [an Arab]."
Perhaps, one of his last votes in the senate will be one I never forget. Battling the cancer that would cost him his life, he would return to Washington in July 2017 after he refused to go along with President Trump and a Republican led congress to repeal The Affordable Care Act. McCain's nay vote ended this reckless effort that would have thrown millions of families across the country off of health care.
McCain was an example throughout his career, of what many Americans long for today. A time past when elected officials could argue viciously and fight strong battles for their positions on issues of importance to the health, safety and welfare of Americans.
But, who would throughout the heated fray exhibit respect toward their opponent, mindful that America and Americans come first before political or personal ideology.
I regret the opportunity never presented itself for me to personally meet Senator McCain or to have had the occasion to enjoy a cocktail and conversation with him.
I would have enjoyed thanking him for his service to our country and saying Cheers!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Montgomery County, Maryland Primary Election Results

Marc Elrich
George Wenschhof

Following the first absentee vote, the choice for Democratic county executive remains a close race in Montgomery County, Maryland. Only 149 votes separated three term Montgomery County council member Marc Elrich - 36,117 (28.95 percent) and businessman David Blair - 35,968 (28.9 percent). Elrich would receive support of progressives and Blair, who contributed $2 million to his campaign, received an endorsement from The Washington Post.

A total of six candidates would compete for the Democratic nomination.  Former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow would come in third with 15.2 percent. County council members Roger Berliner received 12.9 percent, George Leventhal - 10.3 percent and Bill Frick - 3.6 percent of the vote.

Due to a computer glitch with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, approximately 80,000 address/change of address changes were not sent to Maryland Board of Elections.  However, these voters were able to cast provisional ballots and may impact the outcome in this contest.

The Democratic county executive winner will be likely be determined after final absentee ballots and the provisional ballots are counted. The Montgomery County board of elections website states in regard to provisional ballots "The canvass will convene at 10 a.m. on July 5, 2018, when approximately 3,167 ballots will be counted.  The preliminary indication of Party breakdown for these ballots is:  Democrat - 2,600; Republican - 300; Other - 250.  It is currently anticipated that this canvass will conclude in one day".  The second absentee count will be on July 6.

If the Democratic county executive race remains this close after remaining ballots are counted, expect a recount.

The Democratic winner will face Republican Robin Ficker who ran unopposed.  Ficker has run for numerous offices over the years and served one term as state delegate.

The state of Maryland elects 47 state senators and 141 state delegates. Montgomery County has six state senators and 18 state delegates on their ballots and only one race remains to be decided.  In the race for the third Democratic state delegate seat in district 16, Samir Paul (10,907) has a 37 vote lead over Sara Love (10,870).  

In district 17, incumbent state senator Cheryl C. Kagan(D) ran unopposed and will face Republican Josephine J. Wang who also ran unopposed.

The three Democratic state delegates from district 17 to advance out of six candidates are incumbent Kumar P. Barve - 26 percent, Julie Palakovich Carr - 24.6 percent and Jim Gilchrist - 20.3 percent.  Only one Republican, George Ivan Hernandez, appeared on the ballot.

When three term state senator Rich Madaleno decided to run for Governor, district 18 became an open seat. In a three way race, Democrat Jeff Waldstreicher would beat Dana Beyer, 49.7 percent - 36.9 percent. Michelle Carhart received 13.4 percent.  No Republican appeared on the ballot meaning Waldstreicher will be elected in the November 6 General Election.

Former NAACP president Ben Jealous would emerge the winner in a crowded field of candidates vying for the Democratic Party nomination for Governor.  He and Prince George's county executive Rushern Baker were essentially tied in polls that also showed as many as 40 percent of Democratic voters remained undecided a week before the election.  Jealous would receive 39.7 percent  and Baker 29.3 percent of the vote.

Jealous and his Lt. Governor running mate Susan Turnbull, a former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, will face Republican Governor Larry Hogan and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford.

Incumbent U.S. senator Ben Cardin(D) easily won his primary and will face Republican Tony Campbell.  Maryland state comptroller Peter Franchot(D) ran unopposed and will face Republican Anjali Reed Phukan who also ran unopposed.  Maryland state attorney general Brian Frosh(D) will face Craig Wolf(R) - both ran unopposed.

Incumbent representative John Sarbanes(D) received 82.5 percent among 4 candidates in district 3 and will face Republican Charles Anthony.  Anthony won a close race among three candidates in the Republican primary with 43.4 percent of the vote.

The announcement by congressman John Delaney (D-6th district) that he would not be running for reelection and would instead pursue a run for the White House, attracted eight Democratic candidates.  David Trone, owner of Total Wine & More, would beat Maryland state delegate Aruna Miller 40.3 percent - 30.6 percent.  Trone ran for congress in the 8th district two years ago and lost to Jamie Raskin in the Democratic primary after spending millions of his own funds.  He would again spend millions self-funding his campaign in this race.

Trone will face Republican Amy Hoeber who won the Republican primary against three opponents with 67.9 percent of the vote.

Incumbent representative Jamie Raskin (D-8th district) coasted to victory receiving 90.5 percent of the vote against two other candidates.  He will face Republican John Walsh who received 45.2 percent of the vote among 3 candidates.

Term limits enacted two years ago led to three open seats in the at-large (countywide) Montgomery County council race.  This resulted in an astonishing number of 33 Democrats running for the four at-large seats.

Favorites Hans Reimer - 12.2 percent, Will Jawando - 9.7 percent, Evan Glass - 8 percent and Gabe Albornoz - 7.4 percent won the Democratic Primary Election. They will face Republicans Robert Dyer, Penny Musser, Shelly Skolnick and Chris Fiotes Jr. in the General Election.

In the district 1 county council race, Andrew Friedson would win in a crowded Democratic primary that included eight candidates.  Friedson, well known from his time working with popular Maryland Comptroller Franchot, would edge out one term state delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez 28.2 percent - 21.3 percent.

Friedson will face Republican Richard Banach who ran unopposed.

Incumbent council member Craig Rice easily won the Democratic district 2 primary with 73.5 percent of the vote.  Rice will face Ed Amatetti who won a contested Republican primary with 52.8 percent of the vote.

In the district 3 county council race, incumbent and former mayor of Gaithersburg Sidney Katz - 52.8 percent would survive a strong challenge by Ben Shnider - 47.2 percent in the Democratic primary.

Incumbent Democrats Nancy Navarro (district 4) and Tom Hucker (district 5) easily won their primaries with 90.6 percent and 67.5 percent.

Democratic incumbent sheriff Darren Mark Popkin will face Republican Jae Hwang in the General Election.  Both ran unopposed.

Montgomery County voters will elect 4 members in the nonpartisan board of education race.  In the primary election voters choose two candidates in each race who will move on to the General Election where voters will elect one.  In district 1 and 5 only two candidates filed and as a result, did not appear on the primary ballot.  They will appear on the General Election ballot.

In the at-large board of education primary, Julie Reiley would lead a crowded field of eight candidates with 32.06 percent.  The other candidate to advance is Karla Silvestre who received 28.13 percent.

Patricia O'Neill - 60.2 percent and Lynn Amano - 23.5 percent won the district 3 primary election.

I asked long time Montgomery County Democratic pol Stanton Gildenhorn what his thoughts were on the primary election results.  Gildenhorn told me he was concerned with the huge personal financial contributions by David Trone in the 6th district congressional race and by David Blair in the county executive race, saying "It is appalling they are trying to buy a seat".  Gildenhorn added "I support campaign finance reform".

Stanton also said "I favor a change in the alphabetical manner in listing candidates on the ballot - a candidate with a last name beginning with A or B receive an advantage". Gildenhorn favors a random manner in picking the order a candidate appears on the ballot.

In Montgomery County, 33.8 percent of the registered Democrats and 14.41 percent of the registered Republicans voted in the primary election.  Democratic voters would make up 85.37 percent and Republican voters 10.83 percent of the total votes cast.

The General Election will be held November 6.


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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Highlights from Frederick County, Maryland Primary Election

Jan Gardner
George Wenschhof

The Republican primary to determine the candidate to face incumbent Democratic Frederick county executive Jan Gardner was one race watched closely. Gardner ran unopposed while three candidates battled for the Republican nomination.
Maryland state delegate Kathy Afzali would prevail over Frederick council member Kirby Delauter and former county budget officer Regina Williams.  Afzali aided by the split vote among three candidates and the largest war chest, won with 42% of the vote.

The November 6 General Election will have three candidates running for Frederick county executive.  In addition to Gardner (D) and Afzali (R), Earl Robbins, a well known Frederick businessman is running as an unaffiliated candidate.

Former NAACP president Ben Jealous would emerge the winner in a crowded field of candidates vying for the Democratic Party nomination for Governor.  He and Prince George's county executive Rushern Baker had been running neck and neck in polls that showed as many as 40% of Democratic voters remained undecided.  Jealous would receive 40% of the vote and Baker 29%.

Jealous and his Lt. Governor running mate Susan Turnbull, a former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, will face Republican Governor Larry Hogan and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford.

Incumbent U.S. senator Ben Cardin (D) cruised to victory in the primary and will face Republican Tony Campbell.  Popular state comptroller Peter Franchot (D) ran unopposed and will face Republican Anjali Reed Phukan who also ran unopposed.  Respected state attorney general Brian Frosh (D) will face Craig Wolf (R) - both ran unopposed.

The announcement by congressman John Delaney (D-6th district) that he would not be running for reelection and would instead pursue a run for the White House, attracted eight Democratic candidates.  David Trone, owner of Total Wine & More, would beat Maryland state delegate Aruna Miller 40%-30%.  Trone ran for congress in the 8th district two years ago and lost to Jamie Raskin in the Democratic primary after spending millions of his own funds.  He would again spend millions self-funding his campaign in this race.

Trone will face Republican Amy Hoeber who won the Republican primary against three opponents with 68% of the vote.

Incumbent representative Jamie Raskin (D-8th district) coasted to victory receiving 90% of the vote against two other candidates.  He will face Republican John Walsh who received 45% of the vote among 3 candidates.

The district 3 state senate race attracted candidates and much speculation after incumbent Ron Young(D) barely won reelection four years ago.  Eight years ago, the four term former mayor of The City of Frederick defeated Republican Alex Mooney.  Young faced two opponents in this election, one of them Jennifer Dougherty who is another former mayor of Frederick and Jennifer Brannan.  Ron would win with 43% and Dougherty would receive 33%.

Young will face Republican Craig Giangrande who crushed Frederick council member Billy Shreve, receiving 77% of the vote.  Giangrande is the Frederick County Burger King franchise owner.

In the district 4 state senate race, Republican Michael Hough ran unopposed and will face Democrat Jessica Douglass who won a close contest with Sabrina Massett.

The district 3-a state delegate race where voters elect two, Democratic incumbents Karen Lewis Young and Carol Krimm survived a bit of a challenge from Ryan Trout and will face Republicans Mike Bowersox and James Dvorak who ran unopposed.

Democratic candidate Ken Kerr and Republican incumbent William "Bill" Folden both ran unopposed for state delegate in district 3-b and will face each other in the General Election.

Voters will pick 3 candidates in the district 4 state delegate race. Republicans Barrie Ciliberti, Dan Cox and Jesse Pippy ran unopposed and will face Democratic candidates Yselo Bravo, Lois Jarman and Darrin Ryan Smith, who also ran unopposed, in the General Election.

Republican incumbent sheriff Chuck Jenkins and Democrat Karl Bickel both ran unopposed and will face each other in the General Election.

The two Frederick County council members elected at-large (countywide) also attracted a lot of attention.  Democrats Kai Hagen, a former county commissioner and Susan Reeder Jessee would win a closely fought race among five candidates including former county commissioner and state delegate Galen Clagett.  Clagett would come in last and Kavonte Duckett, in his first try for office and bidding to be the first African American elected countywide in Frederick County, would come in a strong third.

Susan Reeder Jessee and Kai Hagen will face Republicans Phillip Dacey and Danny Farrar who won against two other candidates in a very close contest.  Also running for one of the two at-large council seats is Frederick County council president Bud Otis who is running as an unaffiliated candidate.  Mr. Otis was elected as a Republican but changed to unaffiliated after his support of Democratic county executive Jan Gardner upset his Republican colleagues on the council.

In the Frederick county council district 1 race, Democrat incumbent Jerry Donald ran unopposed and will face Republican Kevin Grubb who beat Dylan Diggs in their primary.

In a bit of an upset, Tony Chmelik, a Frederick County council member representing district 2, was beat by Steven McKay 54-46%.  McKay is well known locally from his work with (RALE) Residents Against Landsdale Expansion and much of the candidate differences in the campaign were centered on growth issues.

McKay will face Democrat Lisa Jarosinski in the General Election.

In the nonpartison race for board of education, the top eight from 13 candidates advanced to the General Election where voters will elect four.  Incumbent Brad Young led all candidates by a large margin.  Also moving on in order of votes received were Karen Yoho, Jay Mason, Liz Barrett, April Miller, Cindy Rose and Camden Raynor. 

Two candidates were locked in a tight race for the eighth and last position.  They were Kim Williams (4,932) and Marie Fisher-Wyrick (4892).  With only a 40 vote difference, this is a one race that will be decided by counting provisional/absentee ballots.

The Maryland Primary Election also received some intrigue when The Baltimore Sun reported days before the election, the state motor vehicle administration had failed, due to a computer glitch, to notify the board of elections of address changes and/or change of party affiliation done online for as many as 80,000 voters across the state.  These voters were notified they could vote using a provisional ballot.

Provisional and absentee ballots will be counted and the election certified on July 6.  Frederick County board of elections supervisor Stuart Harvey told me 700 absentee ballots had been received.

The primary results were also delayed for one hour when the hours of several voting polls in Baltimore were extended due to some problems opening these polls.

Out of the total votes cast in Frederick County, Democratic voters equaled 49.5% and Republicans voters 44.6%. 


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Monday, June 25, 2018

Frederick County state senate district 3 race, a close one

Ron Young
George Wenschhof
The Maryland June 26 primary election is tomorrow and the state senate race in district 3 has plenty of interesting dynamics at play.  In the Democratic primary, incumbent Ron Young has said this will be his last term, a phrase he has uttered in previous elections.  Ron has been involved in politics his entire life, serving as mayor of The City of Frederick for 4 terms and now as state senator for two terms.  He is well known and after a lifetime in politics has his supporters and detractors. Ron’s length of service and the ability to get things done along with a name recognition that is likely the highest of any politician in Frederick County, may help him eke out a victory.
He is opposed by Jennifer Brannan and Jennifer Dougherty in the Democratic primary.  Brannan is not well known and her campaign efforts have not helped voters to get to know her.  Dougherty on the other hand is known as someone who always appears on the ballot and one who has been divisive in local politics.  This election will mark the tenth time Jennifer has run for office in Frederick County.  Her sole win was in the 2001 City of Frederick mayoral election, aided when she won by 36 votes against more experienced Meta Nash in the primary held on 9/11, a day many voters stayed home. Republican two term mayor Jim Grimes had already beaten himself with a multitude of bad decisions, so the Democratic nominee was assured the win in the General Election.
There is no love lost between Jennifer and Ron. In her first race, Jennifer ran for mayor in 1993 and was opposed in the Democratic primary by African American Gary Hughes.  Hughes received support from Ron Young and beat Jennifer in that primary election.  Republican Jim Grimes would win that election for mayor.
During Dougherty’s only term in office, she alienated voters so badly, including Democrats, leading Ron Young to run against Jennifer and beat her in the 2005 city Democratic primary. Upset at being challenged and beaten as an incumbent, she would urge her supporters to back Republican mayoral candidate Jeff Holtzinger.  Holtzinger would upset Ron in that 2005 city election.
Frederick County Republican leaders are excited about the strong possibility of picking up this seat, realizing neither Jennifer’s or Ron’s supporters will likely vote for the other should they lose the primary.  This had been a Republican held seat for many years with Alex Mooney being the last Republican state senator.  To the delight of many Frederick County voters, Ron Young would beat Mooney in the 2010 election.
Capturing this seat for Republicans however will not be easy.  The Republican primary is also filled with intrigue with Frederick County Burger King franchise owner Craig Giagrande and his significant personal campaign financial contributions facing Billy Shreve, a member of the Frederick County council.
Giagrande has received the endorsement of popular Frederick County sheriff Chuck Jenkins(R) and the conservative Blog 
Shreve was a member of the Frederick board of county commissioners when Blaine Young (R) was president.  When charter government was passed in Frederick County, Blaine Young would face Democrat Jan Gardner for county executive and lose. Shreve would run for county council and win, enduring what must have been a difficult four years for him under Gardner. Obviously, frustrated with his lack of influence in county government and knowing Ron Young(D) barely won against an unknown Republican candidate four years ago, Shreve decided to challenge Ron Young for state senate.
Now, Shreve is locked in a close contest against Giagrande in the Republican primary and may well lose.
Both of the Democratic and Republican primaries for Maryland state senate in district 3 will be close, as will the General Election.  How well the nominees for each political party unite their voters and are able to appeal across party lines will determine the ultimate winner in this race.
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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Republican County Executive Highlights Frederick County Races to Watch

George Wenschhof

The Republican primary to nominate their county executive candidate is likely to be very close.  The winner will face unopposed Democratic incumbent county executive Jan Gardner and Independent Earl Robbins in the General Election.

Republican voters will choose between three candidates.  

Frederick County council member Kirby Delauter makes no secret of his disdain toward Gardner. Delauter is a holdover from the previous and last board of county commissioners, led by board president Blaine Young who I labeled "Blaine and Company" in a 2013 column.  Their mantra of pro business, pro development and privatizing government services ushered in Democratic county executive Jan Gardner who defeated Blaine Young four years ago in the first election for county executive in Frederick County under charter government. 

Delauter and other candidates are still primarily battling over growth issues that have dominated Frederick County politics over the last few decades.

Delauter's primary opponents, Regina Williams and Maryland state delegate Kathy Afzali have taken a more moderate stance toward development throughout their campaigns.

Ms. Williams was a county budget officer who was in a relationship with former board president Blaine Young and was fired from her county position by Jan Gardner following her election victory.  Williams would reach a financial settlement with the county after filing a wrongful termination suit.

Regina is the daughter of Debbie Williams who is well known in the county and who founded The Patty Pallotos Fund, Inc., a nonprofit that provides aide to individuals suffering from cancer.

Maryland state district 4 delegate Kathy Afzali has the largest war chest of the three and would likely be the strongest Republican contender versus Gardner and Robbins in the General Election.  Afzali is a hard campaigner first elected after upsetting popular Republican incumbent Paul Stull in the 2010 primary election.

With each receiving significant support, look to see the winner receive less than 50% of the vote.  It would not surprise me if Afzali emerges as the winner in this contest.


The Democratic primary to select two at-large (countywide) county council candidates will also be one to watch. This race illustrates the division among moderate and progressive Frederick County Democrats.

Former one term county commissioner Kai Hagen is trying to make a comeback after he and the Democratic candidates he ran with were soundly defeated by Republican Blaine Young and Company in the 2010 election.

A lightening rod for voters who support and oppose him, this time Kai is making no secret of his wish to be elected along with fellow Democrat Mark Long.  Long ran for county council in the 5th district and lost to Republican Kirby Delauter in the previous election.  Sadly, Long and his positions on issues is drowned out by the Hagen rhetoric.

Galen Clagett is also trying to make a comeback after retiring as a state delegate following a primary election loss for mayor to Karen Young in The City of Frederick 2013 primary election.  Clagett served as county commissioner for 8 years, 4 as board president and 12 years as a Maryland state delegate. 

There is no love lost between Clagett and Hagen with Hagen highlighting Clagett's support for Delauter and his endorsement of Republican Randy McClement following his primary mayoral loss to Karen Young in the 2013 city election.

Susan Reeder Jessee who, in her first entry into politics, barely missed being elected in the 2014 General Election. She came in a close third and there are indications she will receive strong support again. She may emerge as the leader in this primary election.

Kavonte Duckett wants to be the first African American elected to the county council and is a refreshing voice.  He has exhibited a strong work ethic and sincere desire to represent the voters of Frederick County.

Who will win the second slot along with Susan Reeder Jessee is hard to call.  Clagett and Hagen both enjoy strong support across the county. However, voters may decide they want to move forward and away from the past by choosing a new voice in either Duckett or Long.


In the Republican at-large primary, Philip Dacey, a former City of Frederick alderman, is the front runner.  Who will come in second and capture the other at-large seat will likely be a close contest between Justin Kiska who is running again after losing in 2014 and Jason Miller. Danny Farrar is the other Republican candidate in this contest.


The Republican primary race in county council district 2 between incumbent Tony Chmelik and challenger Steve McKay is another to watch closely.  Their positions on growth once again being the focus.  McKay is a supporter of Democratic county executive Jan Gardner so it will be interesting should McKay win the Republican primary to see if Gardner will support him over Democratic candidate Lisa Jarosinki who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.


Look to see Republican Kevin Grubb win the county council district 1 race against Dylan Diggs.  The winner will face incumbent and unopposed Democrat Jerry Donald in the General Election.


Your vote matters - If you have not already cast your ballot during Early Voting, make sure you go to the polls on Tuesday June 26, 2018.


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