… Helton-Jacobs race close, Glass leading for delegate seat …
There weren’t many surprises in Tuesday’s general election in Harford County to fill most county and state offices.
A veteran state senator appeared to have beaten back a strong challenge and Republicans picked up an additional local seat in the House of Delegates.
Otherwise, incumbents at the county level fared well, as Harford County Executive David Craig and all seven members of the county council were all re-elected, as were Sheriff Jesse Bane and several incumbent legislators in the northern and western parts of the county.
At his headquarters in downtown Bel Air, Craig declared victory over Constitutional candidate Mark Fisher around 9:30 p.m.
“This an unprecedented night,” declared the county executive, who did not have a Democratic opponent, the first time that’s ever happened.
Harford voters also helped to decide the race for governor between incumbent Democrat Martin O’Malley and former governor Bob Ehrlich, a Republican who is hugely popular in Harford and who campaigned Tuesday afternoon in Bel Air.
Though Ehrlich around 65 percent of the Harford vote, it was well below his campaign’s target of 70-plus, which they felt would be necessary if he was to have a chance of beating O’Malley statewide. O’Malley easily won re-election by 12 percentage points statewide.
Also on the ballot for about 55 percent of the county’s voters living in the middle part of the county, including Fallston, Bel Air and Abingdon, was the First District congressional race where Republican Andy Harris turned the tables from two years ago and unseat Democrat Rep. Frank Kratovil, who campaigned in Harford Monday and was back in the county Tuesday afternoon, greeting voters outside Abingdon Elementary School.
Harris was expected to carry Harford County, which along with eastern Anne Arundel County, are the largest blocs of votes in the 12-county congressional district.
Harris got almost 61 percent in Harford to almost 35 percent for Kratovil with 4 percent going to a Libertarian Party candidate.
Voting started at 7 a.m. on a day the weather was certainly cooperative, with the sun shining and nippy temperatures in the mid-40s that had risen to a breezy mid-50s by the afternoon.
County election officials had expected 65 percent of the county’s 149,072 registered voters to participate in this year’s general election. Counting ballots cast Tuesday and in six days of early voting, the turnout was just shy of 61 percent, with between 2 and 3 percent left to count among absentee and provisional ballots.
The only countywide race of significant interest pitted incumbent Bane against challenger Jeffrey Gahler for sheriff. Bane won with about 41 percent of the vote. (See related story).
In the other contested courthouse race, for register of wills, Republican Derek Hopkins jumped to an early lead over Democrat Tom Hopkins, who promptly conceded 10 minutes after the polls closed.
“I’m tickled to death,” Derek Hopkins, who will replace the retiring Harry L.W. Hopkins, said.
Among the most heated local races were in the 34th Legislative District covering the southern third of the county, where three-term State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Republican, was getting a stiffer than expected challenge from former senator Art Helton. The Senate race also encompasses a significant portion of Western Cecil County.
The Jacobs-Helton race turned extremely nasty in the past week, and partial early returns showed the two in a near dead heat in Harford, which has about 60 percent of the district’s vote.
Helton finished Tuesday with a 105-vote lead over Jacobs, but he wasn’t confident of his prospects in Cecil County.
“That’s where I thought it would be,” Helton said Tuesday night from the Democratic Party’s headquarters at Swan Creek Center on Route 40 just outside Havre de Grace. “We had a great Democratic turnout in a lot of precincts, but we don’t know how they voted. But we’re not disappointed with the Democratic turnout.”
But Helton also got some bad news from Cecil County, which has 40 percent of the vote, that he trailed Jacobs by 2-1 in early voting. He lost to Jacobs in Cecil by more than 4,000 votes in 2002 and said he needed to get at least 40 percent of the Cecil vote this year to have a chance.
The race for two House of Delegates seats in the mostly Harford subdistrict 34A featured three-term Democrat Mary-Dulany James, Democrat Marla Posey-Moss and Republicans Patrick McGrady and Glen Glass. One seat was open because incumbent Democrat Dan Riley lost in the primary. Posey-Moss was trying to become the first African American to represent Harford in the Maryland General Assembly.
James led the pack, and Glass had a 1,000-vote lead over McGrady for the second seat, with Posey-Moss a close fourth.
“I knew it was going to be pretty close, but I think I am going to win,” Glass said earlier in the evening Tuesday, adding he worked very hard on his campaign.
Posey-Moss said she was able to talk with Glass on Halloween.
“We both put in our time,” she said, about their campaigns. Whatever the outcome, Posey-Moss said she is ready to work with Glass to collaborate and tackle issues in Annapolis.
In other local House races, Republican incumbents were leading comfortably in Northern Harford District 35 and for two of three seats in Western Harford District 7. Republican newcomer Kathy Szeliga led for the third seat.
In the District 7 State Senate race, Republican J.B. Jennings of Joppa was pulling away from Democrat Rebecca Wier Nelson. District 35 Republican Sen. Barry Glassman was unopposed Tuesday.
Leading in three contested county council races Tuesday were incumbents Democrat Dion Guthrie in District A covering Joppatowne and Edgewood and Republican Jim McMahan in District C covering the greater Bel Air area, but Democrat Mary Ann Lisanti in District F covering Havre de Grace and Riverside got a stronger than expected challenge from Republican Cheryl Davis Kohl.
“It’s going to be a long night,” Lisanti said around 9:45 p.m., when she was leading. “We are waiting just like everyone else.”
The final tally gave Lisanti about 52 percent to 48 percent for Kohl.
Tuesday’s election marked the first time an entire county council has been re-elected.
Also strongly contested Tuesday was the race for a seat on the school board representing county council District A, where the two candidates, Jansen Robinson and Bob Frisch, spent the past three weeks attacking each other’s qualifications and backgrounds in a series of increasingly negative and nasty e-mails.
Frisch led from gate to wire and won with almost 67 percent of the voted.
The two other school board races, in council districts B and D, seemed to hold far less interest for voters in their respective areas. Several voters early Tuesday at Jarrettsville Elementary and Fallston Middle said they weren’t sure who was running.
In District B school board race, Cassandra Beverley of Abingdon defeated Ron Eaton, a former board member from Fallston, and Cassandra Beverley of Abingdon in a dead heat. In District D, Rick Grambo of Pylesville defeated Lorrie Warfield of Norrisville.
For election updates, visit www.exploreharford.com and check out Friday’s edition of The Aegis for full precinct-by-precinct returns.
Aegis staff members Rachel Konopacki and Bryna Zumer contributed to this article.