This week’s election was a fascinating one, and here are some of my thoughts.
•Mary Beth Carozza is the story of this election on the local front.
When asked over the last few months my prediction on the State Senate District 38 race, I simply said I thought it would be tight and the winner may not be known election night.
That was not the case and it was not as close as many thought. Carozza won 53% of the vote, or 24,441, compared to 21,597 for incumbent Jim Mathias. Some may say a 2,844-vote margin of victory is tight across a large district, but I would disagree, considering Mathias won the seat in 2010 by just 1,052 votes over Michael James and 1,353 votes separated him and challenger Mike McDermott in 2014.
This seat was won in Worcester County this year with Carozza receiving 2,287 votes more than Mathias, who took Worcester in his previous Senate elections. Mathias won Somerset by six votes and Carozza won Wicomico by 563 votes. The candidates’ home county decided this race.
•Throughout this year, Gov. Larry Hogan targeted five Senate races he was hoping to flip from Democrat controlled to Republican. That “strive for five” effort eventually swelled to eight districts that were viewed as susceptible to a change in party, including the shore’s District 38 Senate seat held by Mathias. The two-term incumbent was clearly targeted by Hogan and the Republicans and this district, with its conservative tendencies, was ripe for the GOP’s taking.
However, when the ballots were counted late Tuesday night, it was clear the statewide effort was a major failure with only two districts – 38 and 42 – moving from a Democrat to a Republican. Five of the remaining six districts were easy wins for the Democratic candidate with the District 8 race currently featuring a Democrat in the lead but absentees and provisional could change the outcome. That race is inconsequential in the grand scheme.
What does all this mean? It basically indicates the Democrats will continue to control Maryland. Tuesday was significant because Hogan’s power in Annapolis remains limited to a degree because his vetoes of legislation will continue to be overridden by the Democratically-control Senate and House.
In a press conference this week, Hogan acknowledged the effort was unsuccessful despite a lot of his time and party money being spent trying to elect Republicans in those districts. When asked by a reporter Wednesday if there was anything else he thought he could do, Hogan said, “Well, we got pretty involved in a lot of those races. We raised a lot of money. I did television commercials, and I went multiple times in those districts. There was just too much of an albatross around their necks from Washington, I think, to get them over the line.”
•On the Worcester County Commissioners front, none of the winners surprised me this week. However, I did expect a couple of the races to be closer. Republican incumbents Bud Church (District 3) and Chip Bertino (District 5) each cruised, as expected, with 66% and 63% of the vote, respectively.
Going into Tuesday, I thought the District 1 (Pocomoke area) and District 4 (Snow Hill area and more) commissioner races would be close, but they were not.
I watched the results closely Tuesday night. In District 1, after the first precinct totals came in, challenger Josh Nordstrom held a one vote lead over Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw. Nordstrom dominated the second precinct, however, leading to a 183-vote victory, or 54% of the vote.
It was much of the same in District 4 as in 2014. Incumbent Ted Elder held a 68-vote lead after early voting and expanded that margin to a final lead of 219 votes, or 54% of the vote, over a former 16-year commissioner, Virgil Shockley.
•Prior to the absentee ballots being read Tuesday night in Ocean City, it looked like Emily Nock was going to win a council seat. It was clear Nock came on strong in recent weeks and did exceptionally well on election day. In fact, Nock was in second place after all the election day machines were read. Before absentees, Matt James had 1,684 votes, Nock had 1,123 votes, Mark Paddack had 1,121 and Lloyd Martin had 1,111 votes. It was the absentees that propelled Martin into third place and sent Nock down to fourth place. Martin earned 16 more absentee ballot votes than Nock. That decided the election.
Nonetheless, Nock should be extremely encouraged by her finish in this election. She should try again in two years.
•Staying in Ocean City, I maintain more harm than good was done by the city mailing a letter and purchasing ads in local papers opposing the charter amendment referendum.
It rubbed voters the wrong way. While there were many folks who were reporting that in advance of election day, the voter tallies tend to confirm the sentiment as well. Absentee ballots, which were mailed in early-October and had to be returned the day before election day at the latest, show the referendum to be tight with 68 for it and 63 opposed. Election day totals were much more skewed toward the “for” side with 1,220 votes opposed to 985 against.