Some thoughts on this week’s gubernatorial election:
- After early voting and election day votes were counted, the Board of Elections in Worcester County had about 4,800 more votes to count through the mail-in ballots and provisionals. On the surface, it would seem some results could change, including the sports complex referendum, for example. However, history shows us the subsequent counts after election day mirror the results seen in early voting and election day. In the sports complex referendum question example, the early voting results showed 1,763 were for and 2,257 were against. The election totals were 6,809 for and 7,167 against, bringing the total to 8,572 for and 9,424 against. It’s just a margin of 852 votes, but again history tells us the 4,822 ballots to be counted will fall along similar lines. All ballots should be counted by next week.
- The contests for the state legislative seats were not expected to be tight and therefore did not receive a lot of attention in the weeks leading up to the election. The contested races went chalk with the incumbents easily prevailing. District 38 Senator Mary Beth Carozza received 72% of the vote to earn a second term. District 38A Delegate Charles Otto cruised as well with 68% of the vote. District 38B Delegate Wayne Hartman and District 38C Delegate Carl Anderton were both unopposed.
- It was a memorable week for Matt James, who was re-elected to his third term on the council but more importantly he and his wife, Allison, welcomed their first child. James made history eight years ago when he became the youngest Ocean City elected official. In all three election bids – 2014, 2018 and 2022 — James has led the ticket, securing the most votes among all council members. It’s been an impressive run for James, who is now tied with Councilman Tony DeLuca as the most experienced council person on the dais with Lloyd Martin wrapping up his 20-year council run this week.
With his third term secured, the next question will be whether James mulls a run for mayor should long-time incumbent Mayor Rick Meehan decide to retire two years from now. Meehan, who was unopposed for his ninth term as mayor this year, continues to be a strong mayor with tremendous energy and enthusiasm. Before becoming mayor, Meehan served on the council for 20 years, including 14 years as council president. He brings a wealth of knowledge and perspective to council discussions and city business. The thought here would be it’s Meehan’s job until he wants to retire. I would not expect James or any other sitting council member to challenge Meehan out of respect for his service. However, when Meehan does decide it’s time to leave local politics, it will get interesting.
- After next month’s swearing-in ceremony, Diana Purnell will be the only Democrat on the Worcester County Commissioners. Commissioner Josh Nordstrom was the only other Democrat on the board, but he lost his re-election bid this week to Republican Caryn Abbott, who received 60% of the vote before mail-ins and provisionals were counted. It was not a huge surprise Abbott won, but it was more lopsided than most expected.
- With the full legalization of marijuana use and possession for adults passed in a referendum this week, it’s going to be interesting to see how the legislature handles retail sales of pot. Lawmakers wanted to hear what citizens thought at the ballot box before tackling these details. One resident emailed this week asking, “does this mean marijuana will be available at grocery stores?” It’s not known yet. There are lots of questions, but the guess is Maryland will mirror what other states have done across the country. What’s clear is a great majority of Marylanders support legalization, as 66% of voters voted for the ballot question. Even with Worcester County’s conservative nature, the “for” legalization won the vote, 10,861 to 7,063. In fact, only rural Garrett saw a majority of voters against the measure.
- Democratic Wes Moore cruised to the governor’s mansion. Within minutes of the polls closing, media outlets were calling the race for Moore over Republican challenger Dan Cox. Exit polling had evidently shown it was going to be a blowout, and the results confirmed it with Moore receiving 60% of the vote. Though Moore crushed him, Cox did win several counties including Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Harford, Kent, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester counties. However, it was the vast margins in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Baltimore County and Baltimore City that overwhelmingly supported Moore.