BERLIN — There was closure late last week in the Maryland Senate District 38 race when Republican challenger Mike McDermott conceded the election to incumbent Democrat Jim Mathias, but the lame duck delegate said he would likely return for another shot in four years.
At the close of the polls last Tuesday, Mathias had earned 19,133 votes, or 51.6 percent, while McDermott had tallied 17,905, or 48.3 percent. However, with a lead of 1,228 votes and roughly 1,300 absentee and provisional ballots still to count, Mathias’ pending re-election was put on hold.
After the first canvas of absentee ballots last Thursday, it became clear McDermott would not be able to close the sizable gap and the incumbent Delegate conceded to Mathias last Friday. McDermott said late last week he was proud of the race he had run and although the outcome didn’t go his way, he was pleased his Republican brethren swept most of the elections across the state.
“I’m disappointed in the outcome, but I’m happy for Maryland,” he said. “We just couldn’t get over the hump in this election.”
When the absentee and provisional ballots were counted, Mathias had increased his overall lead to 1,267 votes. He had 19,133 at the close of the polls last Tuesday, including the early voting tallies, and by mid-week this week his total stood at 19,742. McDermott had 17,905 at the close of the polls, and his total had grown to 18,475 by mid-week this week.
Interestingly, Mathias did considerably better during early voting than McDermott. For example, Mathias outpaced McDermott by 808 votes on actual Election Day, but had beat his opponent by 420 during early voting. Mathias scored well in Worcester, collecting 9,332 votes to McDermott’s 8,754, and in Somerset, collecting 3,467 to McDermott’s 2,795. With the relatively slim margin of victory for Mathias, McDermott last week said he was already planning for a potential rematch in four years.
“We’ll give it another try,” he said. “We’re not going anywhere. This is a winnable seat.”
Throughout the campaign, McDermott continually pointed out his opponent’s considerable war chest and the gap between his spending ability in the race compared to that of Mathias.
“I guess I can’t be too unhappy about losing in a race in which I was outspent by about 10-1,” he said. “Despite that, I still only lost by about 1,000 votes.”
McDermott, an incumbent District 38B Delegate, was left without an obvious House district in which to run in 2014 when the districts were redrawn. The 38A District seat was occupied by incumbent Republican Charles Otto, who won handily over Democratic challenger Percy Purnell on Tuesday, and the old 38B District was carved out of a portion of Wicomico where longtime Democratic Delegate Norman Conway was upset on Tuesday. A new District 38C, won decisively by Republican Mary Beth Carozza on Tuesday, encompassed much of northern Worcester County and a small segment of Wicomico.
Essentially, the redistricting left McDermott on the outside looking in in terms of a House race and he set his sights on the District 38 Senate seat and Mathias. Despite the disappointing loss last week, McDermott vowed to continue to push his ultra-conservative agenda on the shore while planning another run in four years.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I will still be active and I’m going to continue to write and do radio show appearances to advocate for the district and the Lower Shore. Governor-Elect Hogan has already reached out to us and I’d be interested in serving in his administration in some capacity. There are a lot of options out there and I’m going to continue to explore them.”