BERLIN – Incumbents edged out challengers in two of the County Commissioner primaries held Tuesday, among a flurry of primary races that set the stage for the general election.
Only 34 percent of registered voters overall in Worcester County turned out for the primary vote this week.
Five commissioner districts saw a primary race between candidates from the same party, with two districts essentially deciding the overall winner this week, with no candidates from the opposing party filed to run.
Four candidates vied for the District 1 Republican nomination after Commissioner Bobby Cowger decided not to run for re-election. Merrill Lockfaw, a former county employee, took 54 percent of the vote, with Larry Ward receiving 27 percent, Bill McDermott getting 16 percent, and Jerry Clauss getting 7 percent.
“We were very pleased. We were ecstatic,” said Lockfaw. “That just gives us a lot of encouragement to move on to the general election.”
Lockfaw faces Democrat Jimmy Schoolfield in November.
Commissioner Virgil Shockley, longtime incumbent in District 4, beat out challenger Tommy Tucker, with 60 percent of the vote to Tucker’s 40 percent.
Shockley said he was pleased to win the Democratic nomination, but he did say the turnout was disappointing.
“I was surprised at the low turnout … in District 4 we usually vote pretty good,” Shockley said.
Shockley wondered if people are so frustrated with national politics that they think they cannot make a difference by voting locally.
“If you don’t vote, you’re never going to make a difference,” Shockley said.
Shockley said he had to be woken up with the news of his victory, when the votes had not been completely counted by late evening.
“I appreciate the people having faith in me. It is an honor they trust you enough to vote for you,” said Shockley. “For the most part, it was a vote saying, you’re doing the right thing. You’re on the right track. We trust you’ll listen to both sides and be objective.”
Shockley faces Republican Ted Elder in the general election.
The District 5 Republican primary victor, incumbent Judy Boggs, said a win always makes her feel great. Boggs defeated political newcomer Bob Thompson, who caught some flak from the community recently for taking a job as Ocean Pines general manager while running for commissioner to represent part of Ocean Pines.
Boggs took 54 percent of the primary vote, and Thompson took 46 percent of the ballots cast.
“I’m really grateful that the people of Ocean Pines want me back as their commissioner,” said Boggs.
Boggs faces another political newcomer, Democrat John Bodnar, in November. “I don’t do any singing and dancing about the win until after the general election,” said Boggs. “I don’t take anything for granted.”
Four of the seven county voting districts face a general election contest between a Republican and a Democrat.
The Districts 2,3, and 6, seats have been essentially determined, with each candidate running unopposed in the general election.
In District 6, defeated incumbent Commissioner Linda Busick has vowed to run a write-in campaign to regain her spot among the county’s top elected officials from victorious challenger Jimmy Bunting.
District 2 incumbent Jim Purnell, who retained his seat in the primary, District 3 Commissioner Bud Church, who faced no opposition at all, and District 6 primary victor Bunting will take their seats as commissioners, unless a surprisingly strong write-in campaign surfaces.
In the Worcester County Sheriff’s race, the field was cut from four to two. Republican Reggie Mason Sr. defeated fellow Republican Dave Catrino, with 67 percent of the vote to Catrino’s 33 percent, in the primary. Democratic Sheriff candidate Bobby Brittingham squeaked past fellow Democrat Carroll Overholt, with 51 percent to 49 percent.