Category Archives: Eastern Shore

Analysis: Van Hollen Wins Rural Straw Poll

Chris Van Hollen received 80% support in a straw poll for the U.S. Senate primary held at a summit of rural Democrats. So far, only Van Hollen and his colleague in the U.S. House, Donna Edwards, have jumped in the race for the Democratic nomination.

In heavily suburban Maryland, how important are rural voters in a Democratic primary? The following table shows the share of all Democratic primary voters in Maryland’s three rural regions in the 2008, 2012, and 2014 Democratic primaries:

RuralPDemFor purposes of this table, Western Maryland includes Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick and Carroll Counties. Southern Maryland is Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties. The Eastern Shore includes the nine counties east of the Bay. (Of course, these counties also include some urban and suburban areas.)

Together, these three regions hold approximately one-sixth of Maryland’s Democratic primary voters. Despite their reputation as mostly Republican turf, no candidate will want to ignore this many voters. Moreover, the media market centered on Salisbury is also far cheaper than the other Maryland markets.

Democratic primary turnout in rural Maryland has differed by 2.1% or less than the State as a whole and has not been consistently higher or lower than the rate for all Democrats:

RuralPDemTOThe difference hasn’t varied that much regardless of the overall level of turnout. However, the 2012 results suggest that, perhaps, rural voters are slightly less likely to stay away in low turnout contests. In that race, rural turnout exceeded the rest of the State by 1.5%. In contrast, rural Democratic primary turnout was lower than the State as a whole in the higher turnout 2008 and 2014 primaries.

Top Six Eastern Shore Young Guns

1. Brian Kemmett – Brian is managing the biggest state senate race of the cycle–Jim Mathias’s reelection. In 2010, he was a Regional Field Coordinator for the O’Malley Campaign. That alone justifies his inclusion on this list. Brian was also a Regional Field Director for the state party in 2012 and attended Salisbury University. In between elections, he was a Canvass Director for Progressive Maryland and worked in US Senator Barbara Mikulski’s office..

2. Jake Day – The Salisbury City Council President also happens to be a Veteran and holds Masters degrees from Oxford and Carnegie Mellon. (For undergrad, he was a Terp). He’s also a Lieutenant in the National Guard. Jake has also worked for the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. He could give Andy Harris a real race one day. He previously served on the City Planning Commission.

3. Josh Hastings – Josh is waging a strong campaign in a solidly Republican district for Wicomico County Council. Currently the lobbyist for the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, he was previously an aide to Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee Chair Joan Carter Conway. Could succeed Rick Pollitt as County Exec one day.

Anonymous: Truly a nice guy. Smart & dedicated to the Eastern Shore.

4. Laura Clay – There are very, very few good professional fundraisers in Maryland. Laura is one of them. She did finance on both of Frank Kratovil’s Congressional Campaigns and is now helping Bill Tilghman post surprisingly big numbers in his MD-01 bid.

5. Robby Sheehan– The Director of Government & Community Relations (and Deputy Chief of Staff in the President’s Office) for Salisbury University is one of the youngest people working in Annapolis (provided you don’t include interns), period. He previously worked for the powerful House Appropriations Committee Chairman Norm Conway. Currently working on a Master’s Degree, this guy has big things in his future.

6. Dennis Teagardin – Dennis’s influence extends far beyond the Shore to the Baltimore Suburbs (where he’ll likely take a seat on the Central Committee in July) and to Montgomery County (where he is Delegate Kirill Reznik’s Legislative Aide). However, this Ocean Pines native and Jamie Fontaine protege will forever be intricately tied  to the Shore. If there were a competitive congressional in MD-01, he’d be a solid field director.

Anonymous: He is president of Baltimore County Young Dems and a candidate for Central Committee for District 11 (he is on the slate with Sen. Zirkin and Delegates Stein and Morhaim).  He is currently on the Central Committee by function of being President of Balto County YD.  He is generally seen as a potential successor to a Delegate seat in 2018, should one come open, and is active on a number of campaigns and fundraising efforts.

Anonymous: He is president of Baltimore County Young Dems and a candidate for Central Committee for District 11 (he is on the slate with Sen. Zirkin and Delegates Stein and Morhaim).  He is currently on the Central Committee by function of being President of Balto County YD.  He is generally seen as a potential successor to a Delegate seat in 2018, should one come open, and is active on a number of campaigns and fundraising efforts.

Another Take on D38

D38
Lower Eastern Shore Districts 38A, 38B, and 38C
Editor’s Note: John Hayden was the author of the Maryland on my Mind blog from Ocean City. He offered this alternative view to my post on the races for delegate in District 38 on the Lower Eastern Shore.
I think your analysis of the District 38 delegate races is appropriate, based on campaign fundraising reports. From a Democratic point of view, I like that your report gives Mary Beth Carozza reason to to feel overconfident.
IMO, Norm Conway should be rated as safe, and Judy Davis-Carozza should be rated a toss-up. Norm met his wife when they were both students at Salisbury University (then Salisbury State). They were both career educators in the Wicomico County public schools. Norm and his wife personally know nearly everyone in his Salisbury district. He nearly lost in the sprawling 38B in 2006, but learned his lesson and came back with a strong campaign in 2010 and won easily. His new single-member district is safe for him, IMO.
You’re correct that 38C is the most Republican leaning of the subdistricts in 38. However, the local backgrounds of the candidates is going to be a big factor. Carozza departed the Eastern Shore to go to college, and never returned, until last year. It’s true that she worked briefly for Ehrlich, but most of her career has been as an inside-the-beltway professional working for people like Rumsfeld. Nearly all her support comes from Republicans she knows from her years on Capitol Hill and in DOD. (I’ve reviewed the list of her donors closely.)
The Judy Davis bio is a mirror image of Carozza’s bio. Judy came to the Eastern Shore to attend Salisbury State, and has lived on the Shore her entire adult life. She married, raised a family, and taught in public schools in Wicomico County and Worcester County.
You’re probably aware of the Democratic Emerge program. Judy was handpicked for the first Emerge class in Maryland, which was held last winter. Judy made a lot of contacts through Emerge, and she will have the endorsement of teachers statewide. Those two networks should enable her to raise significant funds after the primary, when Democrats focus on the general election.
Also, I’m hopeful that both Mathias and Conway, and Mike Busch, will point Democratic contributors in her direction. District 38C is one of the few places Democrats can hope to pick up a delegate seat, to offset possible losses in other districts. I suspect that key people in the state’s Dem fundraising network will understand the opportunity to pick up a delegate seat, and will support Judy.

Lower Eastern Shore D38 Delegate Races

D38AEastern Shore District 38A

Redistricting has radically reconfigured District 38A. Whereas the previous version included all of Somerset County as well as portions of Wicomico, the new version dropped all of Wicomico but now incorporates all of Worcester’s municipalities–Berlin, Pocomoke City, and Snow Hill–except Ocean City.

The trade makes the district much more favorable to the Democrats. The portions of Wicomico lost were mostly Republican. The new sections in Worcester are among the most Democratic areas in that county. As a result, the Democrats have a real shot at taking out incumbent Republican Charles Otto, who was first elected in 2010.

His challenger is P.J. Purnell, who was elected to the Crisfield City Council in 2004 and then mayor in 2006. Crisfield, however, is a small town and contains just 8% of 38A’s population. Nonetheless, at 73, Purnell has long roots in the area. Both Otto and Purnell are from Somerset. Making inroads into the new Worcester portions of the district will be critical for both campaigns.

In their January filings, Otto had $9K in his campaign account but Purnell did not even file a report. Of course, as a sitting delegate, Otto has not been able to raise funds during the session. The question remains whether Purnell has taken advantage of the time to raise funds needed for his campaign.

General Election Rating: Toss Up.

D38BEastern Shore District 38B

The old District 38B elected two delegates but has now been divided into two new subdistricts. The new 38B leans Republican but is nonetheless more Democratic than the old version which elected two delegates.

District 38B now encompasses Delmar, Fruitland, and most of the white portions of Salisbury. Fruitland is a bit more Democratic than the areas around it, which have been carefully placed in 37B. The black sections of Salisbury have been included in 37A to facilitate the election of a minority-preferred candidate.

The new district should easily reelect powerful Appropriations Chairman Norm Conway who has represented this area since 1987 and came in a strong first in 2010. Del. Conway had a robust $90K in his campaign account and no doubt has the ability to quickly raise more. He has a serious opponent, Delmar Mayor Carl Anderton.

But Mayor Anderton had only $2.5K in his campaign account in January, though he could have raised more in the intervening months. And Delmar comprises only 12% of 38B so he will need to work to get known in the rest of the district.

General Election Rating: Likely Conway (D).

D38CEastern Shore District 38C

District 38C takes in eastern Wicomico and northern Worcester Counties–the most Republican areas in both counties. The Democrats don’t have much of a prayer here, though two–Judy Davis and Mike Hindi–have filed. Sole Republican Candidate Mary Beth Carozza was Deputy Chief of Staff for Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

Democrat Judy Davis, former special education teacher and longtime activist, is not a Shore native but nonetheless has real ties in the area. While someone who knows Shore politics well commends her campaign, she needs more than the $1400 reported in January to mount a serious campaign, especially in a district that is so uphill for her party. Mike Hindi, a lifeguard in Ocean Pines, filed an affidavit attesting that he has raised less than $1K.

Don Rumsfeld has regularly held fundraisers for Carozza in St. Michaels. As of January, she had raised $73K and had $51K left in her campaign account. And of course, since she is not a sitting legislator, she has been able to raise more since.

Rating: Safe Carozza (R).

The Hottest Senate Race in Maryland

D38Eastern Shore District 38

District 38 includes all of Somerset and Worcester Counties as well as much as Wicomico County. It is divided into three subdistricts and features some of the most interesting races in this election cycle. Unlike in much of the State, the general is the real show here on the south Shore.

The Senate race is probably the hottest general election contest in the State. Democratic Sen. Jim Mathias faces a tough challenge from Republican Del. Mike McDermott. This is a battle royale between two long successful politicians.

Mathias, a former mayor of Ocean City, served one term in the House before winning election to the Senate in 2010. McDermott is a former mayor of Pocomoke City and police chief in Snow Hill who won election to the House in 2010.

In January, campaign finance report filings revealed that McDermott had just $20K cash on hand compared to an impressive $208K for Mathias. He will need every bit of it. District 38 is red territory. Though Mathias won in the tough Democratic year in 2010, his margin over his GOP opponent was just 1.4%.

Somerset is the most Democratic county in the district–Obama carried it by 1.9% in 2012–but it only cast 16% of the district vote in 2010 and Mathias narrowly lost it. Worcester cast 46% of the vote but is more Republican–Romney won it by 18%. Nevertheless, Mathias who hails from Ocean City won it with 52% in 2010.

Portions of Wicomico comprise the remainder of the district. Wicomico is more narrowly Republican, as Romney won by just 5%. But the best Democratic precincts in Salisbury are in the neighboring black-majority District 37A. Mathias narrowly lost in Wicomico in 2010.

McDermott represents the same people as Mathias so any incumbency advantage is limited. Mathias will need all of his political skill as well as his mighty campaign war chest to beat the Republican lean of the district for a second time.

Backed by Rep. Andy Harris, one of my Eastern Shore sources describes McDermott as “to the right of Genghis Khan” on both social and fiscal issues. No one would confuse comparatively moderate Mathias with a Western Shore liberal but the difference between him and McDermott cannot be missed.

This race will help shape both Senate caucuses in the future. McDermott’s election will drag the GOP further to the right, bad news for its long-term statewide viability. A loss by Mathias would also weaken the strength of Democratic centrists, pulling the caucus to the left and increasing party polarization.

I expect Senate President Miller to go all in to support Mathias in the general election. Can the Republicans do the same for McDermott? And can McDermott raise enough cash once the session ends to run a viable campaign of his own?

General Election Rating: Toss Up.

Polls Support 7S Predictions

Red Maryland recently published the results of a poll of upcoming Republican primaries. The results are in line with my recent predictions for the primaries in two Eastern Shore districts. Incumbent Sen. Steve Hershey leads former Del. Richard Sossi in District 36.  Del. Addie Eckhardt has a good chance to unseat incumbent Sen. Richard Colburn in neighboring District 37.

RMDPoll

The key caveat–and why I am not making any ratings changes based on these polls–is that the number of respondents in each district is low. In the Hershey-Sossi race, there are just 87 respondents and in the Colburn-Eckardt race, there are only 58. Another problem is that figuring out who will vote in these low turnout events is not easy.

Indeed, based on this many respondents, the difference in support for Colburn and Eckardt is not statistically significant. Put another way, there is a more than 1 in 20 chance that the difference in support among actual voters is zero or that Colburn actually leads Eckardt.

On the other hand, the sample size and the differences in the levels of support for the two candidates are large enough in the Hershey-Sossi race to indicate that Sossi probably really does trail Hershey. The small number of respondents renders the actual size of Hershey’s lead unclear–the range around the estimated level of support for either is huge. But one can say that Hershey is ahead by some amount greater than zero with reasonable certainty.

Colburn v. Eckardt in Top Senate Primaries III

D37Eastern Shore District 37

This is the third in a series on the top Senate primaries in the State (Part I and Part II).

District 37 (R): This primary matchup between Sen. Richard Colburn and Del. Adelaide (Addie) Eckardt is almost as personal as the one previewed yesterday in neighboring District 36. Colburn and Eckardt have served together in the General Assembly since 1995. According to The Quinton Report, Colburn walked up to Eckardt and on the night she filed and said “You used to be my friend.”

Colburn was elected in 1982 to the first of two terms in the House of Delegates. In 1990, he sought the Republican congressional nomination and came in third with 12% of the vote in a highly fractured contest. When very conservative Democratic Sen. Frederick Malkus, Jr., retired, Colbun won election to the Senate in 1994, easily winning the primary and then the general by 10%.

Eckardt is the most serious challenger Colburn has faced since gaining his Senate seat. Beyond being smart and likeable, she has also represented most of the same people as Colburn for nearly two decades. They are both known quantities.

Colburn also goes into the primary with less money than Eckardt as he has $32K in his campaign account to her $44K. Neither can raise money during the session, so they will have little time to raise much more before the primary occurs in June.

One advantage held by Colburn is that he already represents all of District 37. Eckardt represents District 37B, which elects two of the three delegates. Much of the advantage, however, is illusory. District 37A was drawn as a majority-black district, and so has comparatively few Republicans. In 2012, only 18.5% of registered Republicans lived in 37A–only around one-half what one would expect if Republicans were evenly distributed.

Moreover, Eckardt has decided to strike when Colburn is at his weakest. He has been under scrutiny for ethics questions, having spent “more than $40,000 in meals, gas, lodging, flowers and Baltimore Orioles tickets” out of his campaign funds, as reported in the Daily Times. The article has led to editorials calling for Colburn to “clean up his finances.”

On top of that, Colburn has had a very public divorce with allegations of an affair with his aide. His now ex-wife was even thinking of running against him but agreed to support him politically once they agreed to a divorce settlement.

Eckardt also appears more respected in the General Assembly than Colburn. While the number of Republican senators remains few, Colburn has somehow never managed to hold a Republican leadership position according to his bio. Eckardt chaired the House Republican Caucus for five years. However, it’s well known that a lack of respect in the Assembly often has little relation to political support at home.

In her remarks to the press, Eckardt expressed an interest in policy, even speaking about making health care reform work, rather than the usual staple of Republican talking points:

“Even though there’s been a lot of difficulty with the exchange, this is one of the most exciting times to be here in Annapolis because we’ve had 140,000 new people get on the Medicaid medical assistance who didn’t have heath care ­before, and that’s really important,” ­Eckardt said. “But we have to make sure it’s cost-effective and we have to make sure that, as we go forward, it’s a functioning system, because otherwise we would just be putting more money in technology and not getting the results. I’d rather see money go to care for individuals.”

Yet, she remains a firm conservative, especially on social questions. Colburn tends to position himself more as a regional champion, playing on the Shore as a victim of the State.

Needless to say, this will be an exciting contest. They’re both from Dorchester so neither has a home bailiwick. If anyone can topple Colburn, it should be Eckardt. Both seats in 37B will be open, so this race will likely feature high turnout amid an unusual level of interest in state legislative contests. Rating: Toss Up.

UPDATE: A friend on the Eastern Shore says that Colburn provides very good constituent services and has a reputation of being very responsive to individual requests, which will aid him in his hour of need in this tough primary.

Top Ten Senate Primaries II: District 36

Hersheymailer12010 Stephen Hershey Mail Piece

Part I in this series is here.

District 36 (R): This one is a complete grudge match between Sen. Stephen Hershey and former Del. Richard Sossi. Hershey beat Sossi, a two term delegate, by just 124 votes out of 10,774 cast in the 2010 Republican delegate primary.

Unique among all districts in the state, voters in District 36 may not cast a vote for more than one delegate from each of the four counties in the district. Hershey and Sossi are both from Queen Anne’s, so their primary was a head-to-head contest between them among Republicans across the entire district.

If imitation is the best form of flattery, then Sen. Nancy King has reason to be pleased. Hershey copied her Sleepy Saqib mail pieces (see above). Despite having two terms under his belt and a large money advantage, Sossi lost thanks to what he describes as labelled “a smear campaign.”

In the meantime, Hershey has continued to move up in the world. When E.J. Pipkin decided to leave not just the Senate but the State, many, including Hershey, Sossi, and Del. Michael Smigiel, applied for the vacancy.

District 36Eastern Shore District 36

Vacancies are usually chosen by the county party central committees of the party that held the seat. Four Republican Central Committees–Cecil, Caroline, Kent and Queen Anne’s–were involved in the decision. However, two voted to support Smigiel while two others supported Hershey, so Gov. O’Malley got to make the final choice between the two men.

O’Malley stated he picked Hershey due to his broader support in the last election but others speculate that Smigiel never had a shot due to his implacable opposition to O’Malley’s gun legislation. Smigiel vowed to run for the seat but ended up filing for reelection.

Between leaving the House and filing for the Senate seat, Sossi  served as Congressman Andy Harris’ liaison to the same four counties that he represented as a delegate–not a bad job for someone seeking to return to office.

Hershey has the money advantage–$38K to $28K for Sossi–but Sossi can attempt to close the gap during the session. He’ll also have more time to campaign with no day job. At the same time, it’s hard to overlook that he’s damaged goods after having lost and failing to gain the endorsement of any county central committee.

One potential boost to Sossi would be if Rep. Harris endorsed his former employee. But so far, Harris has not tipped his hand in the press and has made no donation to either candidate. Sossi would also gain if his former delegate colleagues agreed to slate with him. I have no information on that front (feel free to post on Seventh State’s Facebook page).

Right now, it’s hard to see why–having turned him out of office–the voters would turn back to Sossi over a candidate who is now stronger as an incumbent. Rating: Lean Hershey.