Mathias, James Face Challengers In Senate Race

BERLIN – After Tuesday’s
official filing deadline, the field is set for the District 38 State Senate
race with a pair of favorites and a couple of dark horses set to vie for the
seat vacated by retiring long-time Senator Lowell Stoltzfus.

There were few surprises
in the District 38 Senate race when the filing deadline expired on Tuesday with
the two heavyweights, Delegate James Mathias (D-38B) and Republican challenger
Michael James leading the field. While he didn’t formally file until late May,
Mathias made no secret about his intention to seek the Senate seat, which
includes all of Worcester and Somerset counties and a portion of Wicomico

Similarly, while James
did not formally file for the senate seat until June 18, he also made his
intentions clear to square off with Mathias in a rematch of sorts from the 2006
House of Delegates race. Little is known about the two other candidates to file
for the District 38 Senate seat and an upset is certainly possible this fall,
but it appears Mathias and James are on a collision course.

Charles Mickey Lehrer, a
Somerset County Democrat from Crisfield, was the first to throw his hat in the
ring back on May 17. The last candidate to join the race was Rick Carey, an
unaffiliated candidate who filed just last Thursday.

With Lehrer in the race,
there will be a Democratic primary on Sept. 14 and Mathias will have to
campaign and prepare for that initial contest before focusing his attention on
the general election on Nov. 2. On the other hand, James, without a Republican
challenger, will get a free pass.

Carey’s entrance in the
race as an unaffiliated candidate also creates some intrigue in the District 38
Senate race. Because he is unaffiliated, Carey also gets a free pass to the
general election, provided he meets the criteria to qualify as a candidate.
Carey must submit a petition to the county’s Board of Elections by Aug. 2 with
the signatures of at least 1 percent of the voters who voted in the last
election to qualify as a general election candidate.

The elections board must
verify the signatures on the petition to qualify Carey as an unaffiliated
candidate, but assuming everything checks out, he could siphon some votes from
the other two candidates in a race that will likely come down to the wire.
Neither James nor Mathias seemed overly concerned this week with the other
candidates this week.

“It doesn’t change what
we’re doing,” said James. “We’re going to continue to work hard and focus on
our campaign. I really don’t know anything about the other two candidates, but
I would assume Delegate Mathias and I would be the two candidates facing off in
the general election.”

Similarly, Mathias said
this week he is maintaining his consistent message.

“We’re not overly
concerned about who has filed or who we’re running against at this point,” he
said. “Folks out there are going to have some choices, but right now, we’re
working hard as we continue going forward to ask for people’s continued support.”

Mathias said he is
working from one end of the vast district to the other and keeping open the
lines of communication with his constituents.

“Everyday, people are
telling me what’s on their mind and I want to continue that dialogue,” he said.
“I have and always will be responsive to the people and I want to continue and
maintain that.”

James hopes to
capitalize on the groundswell of momentum for change.

“It comes down to if the
voters want new blood, somebody from the private sector with a track record of
running a business and creating jobs,” he said. “We need job growth and we need
people in the General Assembly who understand how to do that.”