G.O.P. Stays Strong In Some Suburbs, But Not Howard

… Republicans continue domination in Harford, Carroll …

baltimoresun.com

By Larry Carson and Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

11:15 AM EDT, November 3, 2010

Republicans maintained their dominance in the Baltimore suburbs of Anne Arundel, Carroll, and Harford counties according to Tuesday’s election results, while Democrats stayed firmly in control in Howard County.

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold won a second term with 50.6 percent of the vote and Harford’s David R. Craig, also a Republican incumbent, was re-elected easily. In Carroll, Republicans took all the seats on an expanded five-member county commission. Meanwhile, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, a Democrat, was easily re-elected to a second four-year term with a 62 percent margin.

Newly elected officials were preparing for their roles in running local governments.

Haven Shoemaker, the Hampstead mayor who will become one of the new Carroll County commissioners, said, “We will have to reach out to each other as colleagues and forge consensuses in order to get anything done.”

The Republican victories in Baltimore’s outlying suburbs continue a movement that has been building for years.

“Harford has been trending Republican for 20 years,” drawing on its rural conservative roots and people moving from eastern Baltimore County, said Donald F. Norris, director of public policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Anne Arundel’s waterfront tends to attract wealthier people and military retirees, as well as northern county residents who vote like those in conservative parts of Baltimore County.

“Carroll County is and always has been Republican,” Norris added, similar to some parts of western Howard.

Anne Arundel

In Anne Arundel County, two opponents — Democrat Joanna L. Conti and Green Party candidate Michael Shay — challenged Leopold, who spent two decades in the House of Delegates prior to becoming county executive in 2006. With 98.5 percent of districts reporting, Leopold led 50.6 percent to 43.8 percent over Conti with all but absentee votes counted.

“I very much appreciate the continued confidence and support of the citizens of the county,” said Leopold. “We hope to continue our record of fiscal discipline in difficult economic times while making strategic, targeted investments in the county’s future.”

He also said that Tuesday’s referendum reaffirming the location of a slots parlor at Arundel Mills Mall would bring jobs and revenue to the county.

Conti said, “Of course I’m disappointed in the way it turned it out, but I have no regrets. I think we ran a strong campaign and I spent 14 months getting the issues out that I thought were important to the county.”

Leopold is generally popular for his commitment to constituent service and for keeping his pledge not to raise property or income taxes. But he has been dogged in recent months by allegations that he sexually harassed a former county employee.

Republicans will have a 4-3 advantage on the county council, which will have five new members. Democrats Daryl Jones, who represents District 1, and Jamie Benoit, who represents District 4, the only current members of the council on the ballot, won new terms in their heavily Democratic districts against Republicans John E. Moran and Charlotte K. Weinstein. The rest of the council seats — vacated through term limits and primary losses — will have new occupants.

In District 2, Republican John Grasso beat Democrat Dan Klosterman and in District 3 Republican Derek Fink won over Democrat Charlie Parks. District 5 Republican Rich Ladd defeated Democrat Paul Rudolph and District 7 Republican Jerry Walker beat Democrat Torrey Jacobsen. In District 6 Democrat Chris Trumbauer beat Republican Doug Burkhardt.

Howard

County Executive Ulman, a Democrat had more than 62 percent of the vote against Republican Trent Kittleman, and all five county council incumbents — four Democrats and one Republican — won new terms.

“We stepped out and we led the way on the environment and we led the way on health care. … Once again we showed that Howard County will come together and we will solve our challenges even in tough times,” Ulman said in his victory speech.

After the results were clear, Kittleman said, “I wish we had been more successful, but I felt we ran a good race.”

“I think the most important thing is that the movement of the people that got involved this year for the first time is really being felt across this country, even if Maryland is a little slow on the uptake,” she told her supporters at Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville. “Regardless of what happens, I am personally thankful for getting the opportunity to meet everyone.”

Democrats seemed immune to local Republican efforts to catch the wave that swept the GOP to victory in many places nationally.

Republicans Dennis R. Schrader and Robert L. Flanagan, veteran elected officials who served in senior posts for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., made strong bids for District 1 and District 3 council seats but lost to Democrats Courtney Watson and Jen Terrasa. Republican incumbent Greg Fox won re-election, as did Democratic incumbents Calvin Ball and Mary Kay Sigaty.

Howard’s General Assembly delegation also remained heavily Democratic. The party, which has a 30,000-voter advantage in party registrations, holds two of the three state Senate seats and six of eight House positions, and all incumbents were leading Tuesday night.

School board incumbents Frank Aquino and Sandra French won re-election, but five other candidates were bunched in a tight race for two other open seats; absentee votes could decide winners.

In courthouse races, Democrats took all three Orphan’s Court judgeships, displacing Republican Joyce Pope with Democrat Leslie Smith Turner. Republican court clerk Margaret Rappaport and Register of Wills Kay Hartleb won their races, though Hartleb’s margin is small.

Sheriff James Fitzgerald, a Democrat, also won a new term, and incumbent state’s attorney Dario Broccolino, a Democrat, had no opponent. School board incumbents Frank Aquino and Sandra French were leading in early tallies, with five other candidates bunched tightly together.

Carroll

Carroll County voters chose an entirely new group of five commissioners this year, each running from a specific district, instead of the three countywide candidates who formerly ran the county. A 2004 referendum approved the expansion, and four years later the General Assembly approved a map outlining five districts.

The new board members — all Republicans — are fairly inexperienced. Voters ousted two incumbents in the Republican primary, and the third declined to run. Only one of the 10 candidates, Robin Bartlett Frazier, who served one term and lost her seat in 2002, has experience in leading the county.

“It could be a real learning curve, but it could also mean new ideas,” said Tony Rome, political science teacher at Carroll Community College. “But, if the average Joe is paying attention, he might be worried about the inexperience.”

Republicans have dominated Carroll politics for decades. In a county with nearly 112,000 voters, the GOP outnumbers Democrats by more than 22,000.

Frazier won in the 1st District against Democrat Tina Mawhinney and write-in candidate Steve Reynolds. Shoemaker survived a last-minute challenge from Democrat Charles E. Bevard in the 2nd District. Republicans Dave Roush, Richard S. Rothschild and Doug Howard also won in districts 3, 4 and 5, defeating Democrats Doug Mathias, Michele W. Johnson and Hugh M. McLaurin, respectively.

“Our main concern will be with spending and how to balance things out,” said Frazier, who will represent the Taneytown area.

Harford

Most of Harford’s major races were decided in the Republican primary, though 61 percent of Harford’s voters still turned out. About 91,000 of the nearly 150,000 voters cast ballots, and that included 11,000 early votes and nearly 5,000 provisional or absentee ballots. By comparison, in the 2008 presidential election, turnout was nearly 70 percent.

Election officials had earlier predicted a high turnout, given the county’s strong Republican numbers and steadfast support of Ehrlich, who was seeking to return to the governor’s office.

Incumbent Craig won the Republican primary for county executive and did not face Democratic opposition Tuesday. He, along with council President Billy Boniface and Councilmen Richard Slutzky, Joe Woods and Chad Shrodes — all Republicans — were unopposed in the general election. Incumbent James V. McMahan, the only Republican council member facing a challenge, defeated Democrat Jack Feldman.

Democratic Councilman Dion Guthrie also won, as did Democratic Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti with 52 percent of the vote. Sheriff Jesse Bane, the Democrat incumbent, had a similar lead against challenger Jeffrey R. Gahler.

The county is also starting a gradual transition from an appointed school board to an elected one. Nonpartisan races in the primary pared the list of 14 candidates to six, two each in three councilmanic districts. Bob Frisch won in District A and Rick Grambo in District D In District B, Cassandra Beverley won the school board seat with 51 percent over Ron Easton.

Joe Burris, Lindsey McPherson and Kellie Woodhouse contributed to this article.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2010, The Baltimore Sun

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