BERLIN – The field for
the District 38-B House of Delegates race got much more crowded as the filing
deadline came and went this week with a total of seven candidates, including
three Democrats and four Republicans, vying for two seats.
field features several familiar faces including a long-time incumbent, two
current Worcester County mayors and the chairwoman of Worcester’s Republican
Central Committee, along with a couple of other challengers. The diverse field
includes three Democrats and four Republicans, two women and five men and two
candidates from Wicomico County and five from Worcester County.
Headlining the field is
sitting District 38-B Delegate Norman Conway, who is chairman of the
Appropriations Committee and has represented the district in the House since
1987. Pocomoke Mayor Mike McDermott, who is also commander of the Worcester
County Sheriff’s Office investigative division, was the first to throw his hat
in the ring back on May 27, while Berlin Mayor Gee Williams officially filed
Republican Central Committee Chairwoman Marty Pusey, director of prevention
services for the Worcester County Health Department, filed on June 24. Democrat
Bernard John Hayden, an Ocean City resident, filed on June 29, while Republican
Kaye Kenney, of Parsonsburg in Wicomico County, filed on June 30. Rounding out
the field is Republican Joe Schanno of Ocean Pines.
With three Democrats and
four Republicans in the race, there will be challenged primaries on both sides
on Sept. 14 and the top two vote getters from each party will advance to the
general election in November. In the general election, the top two vote getters
will win the two District 38-B House of Delegates seats, regardless of their
political parties or their geographic home bases.
For years, Democrats
have controlled the two District 38-B House seats with Conway having served for
the last 23 years. The late Bennett Bozman served along side of Conway for 15
years before passing away in 2006 and current Delegate James Mathias has served
in the House in District 38-B since.
When Mathias opted to
seek the district’s vacant Senate seat, only one incumbent, Conway, remained in
the field for the House seat, opening the door for several potential
challengers from both parties and very diverse backgrounds. For many, the
potentially wide-open field was as good a reason as any to jump into the race.
“I started thinking
about it four or five weeks ago, but when I saw there were just four candidates
for two open seats, I started to seriously think about it,” said Hayden this
week. “Now, everything changed with some late filings, but when there were just
four candidates for two open seats, that is not democracy. That’s the original
thing that got me started on this.”
Hayden managed retail stores in Ocean City in the 1970s before embarking on a
career in journalism that took him all over the state from Annapolis to
Baltimore and back to the Eastern Shore again. He remains active in the media,
monitoring the “Maryland on My Mind” blog among other jobs he has in the resort
area. He is currently a security officer at a north-end condominium.
“I hope to draw on my
wide range of experiences,” he said. “For some reason, people seem to think a
candidate is not qualified unless he or she held some prior office. That’s
simply not true. Everybody is qualified to run for office.”
The apparent dearth of
candidates in the District 38-B House race, at least until the days leading up
to the filing deadline, led other candidates to file for the seat.
“At the time I got in
the race, there was only one other Republican and I felt strongly we needed to
challenge the existing democratically controlled delegation,” said Pusey this
week. “People on the Lower Shore deserve better. The tax and spend practices of
the dominant party need to be changed.”
Pusey intends to draw on
her vast public service and private sector experience as she attempts to break
the stranglehold the Democrats have had in the district for decades.
“I’m pro-small business
and pro-agriculture and I know how hard it is for people to start a new
business or expand an existing business in this climate of over taxation and
regulation,” she said. “I understand the difficulties with health insurance and
unemployment and I understand how now narrow the profit margin is. The solution
is to offer incentives to grow business rather than tax and regulate.”
Like many of her
Republican brethren, Pusey said one of her primary goals is to make District
38-B, which includes all of Worcester and Somerset counties and a portion of
Wicomico County, and all of Maryland, more business friendly.
“We have a beautiful
area with great schools and we should be able to attract new businesses,” she
said. “We need to find the places where government can help do that, not deter
it. We all benefit when that happens.”