When I first heard about a local couple featured in the same obituary, the cynic in me figured it was not real. After a quick search, I found it, and I thought I would share the story.
Funeral services were held this week for Gene and Mary Gray Bunting, who met in elementary school and have been together in love since. They married on Oct. 14, 1946 and have four children, nine grandchildren and six grandchildren. They were dedicated to their community in many different ways as well as their church and family. As seems fitting for their lifelong courtship, the couple died less than 24 hours apart.
The obituary read, “Eugene “Gene” and Mary Gray Bunting, lifelong Selbyville residents, crossed over the river into the arms of their Savior within 10 hours of each other last week. They were both 90. Mary passed on the evening of June 12, 2018 at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, Md. Hours later, on the morning of June 13, 2018 at his home in Selbyville, without earthly word of his wife’s death, Gene responded to the call and followed her to heaven to continue their love story from their 72 years of marriage.”
It’s an incredible conclusion to a long life together.
It was an interesting primary election on Tuesday and here are some of my reflections.
•Although it’s still a low number, voter turnout was better than I expected in Worcester County. Of the 30,687 voters in Worcester, 26.9 percent (or 8,264) turned out to vote. Turnout for registered Republicans was much higher at 31.4% due to at least three races being up for grabs on primary day, compared to 21.9% for registered Democrats.
As an interesting aside, of the total registered voters in Worcester, 54.4% are now registered Republicans or 16,706, were Republican, while 13,981 were Democrat.
In neighboring Wicomico, of the 52,726 voters, a slight majority goes to the Democrats with 26,388 compared to 22,636 for Republicans.
•Early voting this primary election saw 2,005 people, including 1,200 Republicans and 805 Democrats. The state average was 6.17% compared to Worcester’s 6.53%.
With early voting, it was interesting to see the totals didn’t jive across the board with the election day results.
For example, in both the Worcester County sheriff and state’s attorney races, the leader after early voting did not hold on for the win.
In the sheriff’s race, Mike McDermott held a 156-vote advantage after early voting, while Bill McDermott had a 112-vote lead over Kris Heiser. Both candidates squandered their leads as the various precinct totals came rolling in.
•Months shy of completing his first term in office, Ocean City Councilman Wayne Hartman was elected to the House of Delegates this week by virtue of winning the Republican primary.
Hartman had more of a challenge than I expected from Republican Joe Schanno, securing 1,932 votes, or 49.2%. Schanno came in second with 1,538 votes and 39.2% of the vote.
It was thought all along that Hartman’s experience edge as an elected official would propel him to Annapolis. That played out as expected on primary day.
•While time has a way of dulling past recollections, I can’t recall a similar level of vitriol tossed at one candidate in local elections like that strewn at Mike McDermott over the last few weeks.
The ramp up of the smear campaign, which featured largely unfair and unsubstantiated accusations by Facebook posters and an online blogger, seemed to have an impact, as McDermott was ahead by a solid margin (591-435) after Early Voting but that lead quickly evaporated on election day. McDermott’s lead had shrunk to 101, 671-570, after three precincts and that trend continued. In the end, Crisafulli ended up winning the election date vote, 1,839-1,522, to earn an overall total of 2,274 votes (44.9%) compared to McDermott’s 2,113 (41.7%).
Along with the public relations hit his campaign took, McDermott was also hurt by Sheriff Reggie Mason’s constant support for Crisafulli and open criticism of his campaign on Facebook as well as at local events.
In the end, it was all too much for the former delegate to overcome.
•Matt Crisafulli and Kris Heiser announced their election bids early and campaigned robustly ever since. I would argue they campaigned harder than anyone else on the ballot this week. That combination of announcing early and nonstop campaigning since making their intentions known was a recipe for success. That’s not always the case in elections, but clearly the hard work paid off for both.
In fact, a Caine Woods resident in Ocean City shared a story with me recently about how Heiser was walking around the streets of her community on Kentucky Derby day in May. The state’s attorney-elect approached her home and spent some time mixing it up with the house party guests.
Although the house was full of out-of-town guests, Heiser was able to secure a couple votes that afternoon because she was well-spoken, experienced and friendly. Above all, the fact she was knocking on doors in Caine Woods, a housing community with a small number of year-round residents, on a Saturday night while the Kentucky Derby was on resonated with the property owners. There was no questioning her commitment.
Both Heiser, who announced her bid last October, and Crisafulli, who filed on the earliest day possible in February 2017, came out early and rode the momentum.
•It was clear in the months leading up to the primary election that many defense attorneys were targeting Interim State’s Attorney Bill McDermott because he worked under Beau Oglesby, the former state’s attorney turned Circuit Court judge.
According to many in the local legal community, while Oglesby was under consideration for the judicial bench last fall and winter, the impression was he was overly relentless with prosecuting nearly every crime to the max degree. It was an effort to prove himself worthy of the judicial post, according to defense attorneys. A search of incidents during that time period does not overtly confirm that, but it’s difficult to get an accurate picture from online court records of their claims. What is telling is a look at campaign contribution reports for the Heiser camp. The numerous donations from local defense attorneys confirms she was definitely the favored candidate as far as Ocean City defense attorneys go.
In addition, Heiser built a solid backing among the Ocean City area business community with many big names around these parts throwing significant contributions her way.
•A three-person race to represent the Republican Party in the general election for the Worcester County Register of Wills seat was a blowout. Current Deputy Register of Wills Terri Westcott, who has worked under Register of Wills Charlotte Cathell for 18 years, grabbed a commanding lead after early voting and continued to dominate on election day, securing 2,516 votes, or 56.4%. Finishing a distant second was Aaron Redden, who received 1,046 votes. Westcott advances to the general election against a Democratic challenger.
•Despite being a Republican in a liberal state, Gov. Larry Hogan appears suited for a second term at this point. That’s because the Democratic Party elected an extreme candidate as its representative on Tuesday.
It didn’t take long for Hogan, who is scoring favorably in all approval polls, to pounce on his general election opponent, Ben Jealous. In a statement issued at 9:29 a.m. on Wednesday, the morning after the primary, Hogan Communications Director Scott Sloofman gave us a precursor to how Hogan plans to paint his foe in November.
“Ben Jealous throws caution to the wind in pursuit of his extreme agenda,” Sloofman said. “His risky and irresponsible schemes would require massive middle-class tax hikes that would wreck our economy and put thousands out of work. As Marylanders learn more about the dire economic consequences of his plans, they will realize that Governor Hogan is the only candidate who can be trusted to pursue commonsense, bipartisan solutions that will grow Maryland’s economy and keep taxes in check.”
In a sign of things to come, Jealous responded and took exception to those remarks. Jealous will need to attack Hogan to stand a chance in November.
“I am not running to the left. I am not running to the right. I am running towards the people of our state. Healthcare, education, ending mass incarceration, ending the student debt crisis, and protecting the environment are people issues. And unlike Larry Hogan, I have the vision, the plans, the experience, and the courage to risk my own political standing for progress,” Jealous said in his acceptance speech on election night. “Voters will have a choice between an economic vision which does too little for too many while the future slips away, or my vision to build a clean-green economy that works for everyone. We can lead the nation in building an alternative energy future.”
Jealous, the youngest person ever named former national president and CEO of the NAACP, added, “I know there is skepticism that Larry Hogan can be beaten. Well, we’ve got a message for those who think this race is already over. Larry Hogan is going to lose in November because he is not ready to run against someone who knows how to build a true people-powered grassroots campaign.”