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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.

1 comment:

montybarnes said...

"Two years ago both Republican candidates Kirby Delauter and Bud Otis won these two positions."

Another correction:
It was four years ago, not two.