James Concedes As Mathias Pulls Away For Victory

BERLIN – With all but a smattering of absentee and overseas ballots left to count, State Senate District 38 Republican challenger Michael James late last week conceded the election to Democrat Jim Mathias, sending the district’s current delegate back to

Annapolis for four more years.

Going into last Friday’s canvas of absentee ballots across the district, which includes all of Worcester and Somerset counties as well as a significant chunk of Wicomico County, Mathias led James by a mere 247 votes, but it was quickly becoming apparent the deck was stacked against the Republican challenger. By the end of the day on Friday, catching Mathias became statistically improbable and James conceded the election.

“I recently called Jim Mathias to congratulate him on his victory in the District 38 State Senate race,” he said in a statement. “I am also in the process of contacting many friends and supporters who have been so supportive to me and my family during the last year as we vigorously campaigned throughout

Worcester, Wicomico and

Somerset counties. It has been an honor and a privilege to take part and compete in this election.”

When the polls closed on Nov. 2, Mathias led James by a mere 146 votes, moving the decision to the estimated 1,600 absentee, provisional and overseas ballots still to be counted. After the first batch was canvassed in the days following the election, Mathias had increased his lead to 247. When the final totals were added after last Friday’s canvas, the lead had grown to 631.

According to conventional wisdom, absentee and overseas ballots typically follow the percentages of the general election pretty closely. However, this particular election appeared to break the historic mold. Mathias gained 2,447 more votes during the different absentee counts, or roughly 55 percent, while James added 1,972 votes, or roughly 45 percent. At the close of the polls, Mathias led James by just 1 percentage point.

In the end, Mathias had earned 23,527 votes across the district, while James’ total came in at 22,896. A breakdown of the totals by county suggests the election was won in

Worcester where Mathias gained 11,184 votes to 10,139 for James, for a difference of 1,045. James actually beat Mathias in Wicomico by 347 votes and in

Somerset by 67 votes. However, with the outcome decided last week, it’s important to note Mathias has never lost an election, from his days on the Ocean City Council and as mayor, to his House of Delegates election and now the State Senate.

Mathias was naturally pleased with the outcome this week and took the time to thanks those closest to him.

“I’m just very grateful to God, my family, all of my supporters,” he said. “This started about a year and a half ago, when I sat down with [wife] Kathy, mom, the family, my close friends, and we decided this was the best course. I’m very grateful to my entire team.”

Mathias said early on he quickly learned the length and breadth of the socio-economically diverse district.

“We built a tremendous team and I’m grateful for every one of them,” he said. “We had 100-plus people on our core team and everybody worked so hard. This is a huge geographic district, almost an hour from one end to the other, and I think I put about 16,000 miles on my truck in the last few months.”

For his part, James said despite the outcome he was pleased to have participated in the process, if only to have opened dialogue and advance some of his positions on the issues.

“Though I wish the outcome was different, I truly believe we influenced and helped shape the agenda for the

Eastern Shore with our ideas, our positions, and with the honest and assertive nature of our campaign,” he said.

Mathias said James called last Friday to congratulate him on the victory and the door was left open for some open dialogue between the ideologically different candidates.

“When the smoke clears, we’ll maybe go to dinner and discuss some of the issues facing the district,” he said. “He has strong ideas about a lot of the stuff facing us and he can be a good resource. He thought that was a good idea.”

In a broader sense, Mathias said he hopes to draw from the collective resources in the county as he prepares to make the move from the House to the Senate.

“I am going to put together a working group, a cabinet of sorts, to bring people together,” he said. “It will include business leaders, farmers, watermen, representatives of the stakeholders in the district, to consult with as we go, to be better educated on some of these issues as we go forward.”

As a Democratic candidate in a decidedly hostile election for many of his party peers, Mathias said he was pleased the voters in the district looked past partisanship.

“We knew it was a very tense political time,” he said. “The economy has been very slow to recover. The watermen, farmers, the business community, families – everybody’s struggling and we knew it was a challenging time. We just got out there and gathered our support and worked hard to win.”