Critical Primary Filing Deadline Looms Next Week

BERLIN — With the clock ticking on the filing deadline for candidacy in the upcoming primary and general election, several local offices, including three Worcester County Commission seats, have just single candidates thus far and could be essentially decided as soon as next week.

The official filing deadline for state and local elections is next Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 9 p.m. and in several cases, just one candidate has filed thus far. While there are still three business days for new candidates to file, some seats appear to be one-horse races and could essentially be decided when the clock strikes nine on Tuesday. There is another Aug. 4 deadline for non-principal party candidates, such as Libertarian or Green candidates, along with petition candidates and write-in candidates, for example, but by and large, some races will likely be settled before the public ever hits the polls.

Of particular interest are the Worcester County Commissioner races, where single candidates have filed in three of the seven districts as of late Thursday. If no other candidates file by Tuesday, nearly half of the make-up of the County Commission could be in place in late February with the primary and general elections still months away.

For example, current Ocean City Councilman Joe Mitrecic is the only candidate to file thus far in District 7 and could ostensibly win the seat as early as Tuesday. Similar situations are playing out in District 1 where incumbent Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw is the only candidate to file thus far, and in District 2, where Diana Purnell is the only candidate to file thus far to replace retiring Commissioner James Purnell in the county’s minority district.

Every other county commissioner district has at least two candidates thus far, and some have multiple candidates, setting up what should be a lively primary and general election season. In District 3, for example, incumbent County Commission President Bud Church, a Republican, is being challenged by Democratic candidate Mike Maykrantz and if no other candidates come forward, the two will face off in the General Election in November. In District 4, incumbent Democrat Virgil Shockley has filed for re-election, as have two Republican challengers for the seat, Kathryn Danko-Lord and Ted Elder. If nothing changes before next Tuesday, Danko-Lord and Elder will compete in the primary on June 24.

In District 5, the Ocean Pines district soon to be vacated by the retiring Judy Boggs, Tom Wilson currently stands as the lone Democratic candidate while three Republicans, including Chip Bertino, Grant Helvey and Ray Unger, have filed. The three Republicans will face off in the primary with the top vote-getter advancing, while Wilson will get a free pass to the General Election if nothing changes Tuesday.

In District 6, Republican incumbent Madison Bunting is being challenged by Republican Linda Busick, who once held the seat before being displaced in the election four years ago. If nothing changes by Tuesday, Bunting and Busick will face each other in the primary in June to decide the outcome, provided no petition or write-in candidates come forward.

On the state level for the Lower Shore, each of the races has at least two candidates and at least one will have as many as three.

Democratic Senator Jim Mathias has filed for re-election in District 38 and will be challenged by current Republican Delegate Mike McDermott. If no other candidates file by Tuesday, Mathias and McDermott will square off in November for the seat.

In the newly created District 38C Delegate race, two Democrats, including Mike Hindi and Judy Davis, have filed as has Republican Mary Beth Carozza. If nothing changes before Tuesday, Hindi and Davis will compete in the primary for the right to face Carozza in the General Election. In District 38B, longtime incumbent Democrat Norm Conway is being challenged by Republican and current Delmar Mayor Carl Anderton, and the two will face each other in November if no other candidates come forward. Similarly, in District 38A, incumbent Republican Charles Otto is being challenged by Democrat Percy Purnell.

Back locally, incumbent Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby is being challenged by Democrat Mike Farlow. A pair of Republicans, including incumbent Reggie Mason and George Truitt, will face off in the Worcester County Sheriff race. Two Republicans, Susan Braniecki and Mary Burgess, are vying for the Clerk of Circuit Court seat. Longtime incumbent Charlotte Cathell is currently unchallenged in the Register of Wills race.

Three incumbent Worcester County Board of Education members have filed for re-election, including Doug Dryden in District 1, Bob Hulburd in District 6 and Bob Rothermel in District 7 and each is unchallenged thus far. However, there will be at least one contested school board seat with Democrat Bill Gordy and Republican Joyce Elder filing in District 4. Five candidates have filed for Judge of Orphan’s Court including Dr. Frank Knight, husband of Ocean City Councilwoman Mary Knight who filed this week. Other candidates include incumbents Bill Shockley, Dale Smack and Linda Hess and newcomer Jack Shook, Jr.