BERLIN — In one of the tighter races during Tuesday’s primary, current Ocean City Councilman Wayne Hartman defeated challenger Joe Schanno to earn the District 38C seat in the House of Delegates.
Because no Democrats filed for the seat, Tuesday’s Republican primary would decide the seat, and Hartman came out on top. Two other candidates on the District 38-C Republican ballot, Ed Tinus and Jim Shaffer, drew off a relatively small number of votes, but it was a two-horse race.
Hartman finished with 1,935 votes in the district, garnering 49.2 percent of the votes cast. Schanno finished with 1,538 total votes, representing a percentage of 39.1 percent. Ed Tinus garnered 327 total votes, or about 8 percent, while Jim Shaffer garnered 129 votes, or a little over 3 percent. Despite those relatively low percentages, the third and fourth candidates could have had an impact on the overall outcome by siphoning votes from the top two vote-getters.
The same percentages roughly played out with the early votes cast prior to election day on Tuesday. Hartman finished with 408 total votes on early ballots, while Schanno collected 366.
Hartman did surprisingly well in the District 38C in Wicomico County. The conventional thinking was his support base would be largely in Worcester County in and around the resort area because of his tenure as an Ocean City councilman. Nonetheless, Hartman collected 323 total votes in the Wicomico precints, while Schanno collected 147.
Hartman said the primary election with its low turnout and a low sample size because it is so one-party driven made the outcomes somewhat unpredictable.
“I felt confident going in, but primary elections are much different than a general election,” he said. “I ended up with about 1,900 votes in a relatively small pool of voters, so I was pleased with the outcome.”
Hartman acknowledged his base of support was in Ocean City and around the northern end of Worcester County because of his tenure on the Ocean City Mayor and Council, but was pleased with how he did in the other areas of the district, particularly the precincts in Wicomico.
“I was very strong in Wicomico,” he said. “I did well in Ocean City and in other areas of Worcester. In Ocean Pines, where my main competitor is from, we pretty much split the vote. All in all, I think the results show the voters throughout the district are confident in sending me to be their representative in Annapolis.”
Naturally, Hartman is well-versed on the issues in Ocean City, but his constituency in District 38C is much larger and more rural with unique issues of their own. Hartman said he would draw on his experiences from serving on the Worcester County Planning Commission as he learns the ins and outs of some of the district’s larger issues.
“My experiences on the planning commission will help me,” he said. “We had a lot of the issues with farming, poultry and agriculture in general in front of us. I’ve also learned, starting with running for and ultimately winning office in Ocean City is that nobody has all of the answers and you have to have people you can go to help guide you through some of these things and make informed decisions.”
While he is already planning for the House 38C seat, Hartman will continue to serve on the Ocean City council until after the general election in November.
“The people of Ocean City elected me to serve until November and that is my top priority,” he said. “In the meantime, I’ll start putting together a plan for serving the district. The big thing is getting Mary Beth [Carozza] and Governor Hogan re-elected. This can be a big year for Republicans and a pivotal year for Maryland.”
For his part, Schanno, is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who has never held public office, but certainly is no stranger to politics. He served as director for Gov. Larry Hogan’s Eastern Shore campaign in 2014 and currently serves as special assistant to the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Schanno said he was disappointed with the outcome on Tuesday, but was pleased with his showing against a well-known candidate from the most densely populated area of the district.
“Obviously, I wanted to win, but I’m grateful for the strong outcome and thankful to my supporters,” he said. “I got outspent by about three-to-one, so I was really going against the powers that be.”
Schanno said he will work to make the entire Republican ticket successful in the November general election.
“The real winner here is Ocean City,’ he said. “Not matter what happens now in November, Ocean City is going to have state senator and a delegate from its jurisdiction.”
Schanno wasted no time putting Tuesday’s primary election behind him.
“I went right back to work,” he said. “The day after the election I was back at my job at the DNR and it’s a busy summer. A lot of Democrats who lost in the primaries hold committee jobs, so there will be some new faces around the department.”