Category Archives: Western Maryland

Baltimore County Young Dems Respond

By Adam Pagnucco.

Henry Callegary, Secretary of the Baltimore County Young Democrats, sent us the following response on his organization’s email soliciting straw poll attendees for Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.  The County Executive, who is running for Governor, offered to pay expenses for up to twelve county Young Dems who agreed to vote in the poll.

It’s true that the email was sent out by the Baltimore County Young Democrats. The Kamenetz campaign asked us to pass along information about the Western Maryland Democratic Summit to our membership, and we agreed to do so. BCYD supports opportunities for young people to get exposure to as many events as possible. It’s always been our policy to forward information from Democratic candidates to our general membership, and we invite any and all Democrats to provide us details about upcoming events. 

No response yet from Kamenetz.

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Is Kamenetz Trying to Rig the Western Maryland Straw Poll?

By Adam Pagnucco.

As we have previously written, the Western Maryland Democratic PAC is holding a summit event in Flintstone at the end of this month.  The event will include a straw poll held on Saturday the 29th.  And one prospective candidate is REALLY interested in making sure that event is well attended: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who is running for Governor.

The following email was sent out by the Baltimore County Young Democrats (BCYD) soliciting attendance for the summit.

The contact in the email is Henry Callegary, Secretary of BCYD.  We asked for confirmation and comment from both the County Executive’s office and the three BCYD officers.  None of them responded before publication time, but if they do get back to us, we will print what they say.

We will be interested to see what the other campaigns make of this.  But in the meantime, if you are one of these straw voters, go ahead and rent the best wet-bar and Jacuzzi mega-suites Western Maryland has to offer!  It’s not like you’re paying for them, yeah?

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Possible CD6 Candidates Gather in Western Maryland

By Adam Pagnucco.

With District 6 Congressman John Delaney telling the Sun he is considering a race for Governor and Delegate Bill Frick (D-16) starting a Congressional campaign account, the chatter around CD6 is picking up.  And that chatter is going to reach a fever pitch at the end of the month.

That’s because the Western Maryland Democratic PAC is holding a “summit” event in Flintstone on April 28 and 29.  The event (which requires registration) is described as “charting a progressive course in Western Maryland.”  And top billing in the email announcement goes to two familiar names: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Total Wine co-owner David Trone.

Kamenetz, of course, is running for Governor.  But what of Trone?  His website says he is considering a run for Montgomery County Executive.  But his attendance at the Western Maryland event (and the money he must have contributed to be listed as a “Presenting Sponsor”) suggests that he is keeping a CD6 option open.  Trone’s self-funding capacity allows him significant timetable flexibility.

But that’s not all.  The solicitation states that Delegate Frick and Senator Roger Manno (D-19) will also be attending.  Manno is a labor favorite and is known to be interested in the CD6 seat.

Congratulations to the Western Maryland Democratic PAC for setting up such a juicy event.  Get your tickets here, folks!

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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.

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Top Six Young Guns of Western MD

I’ve focused on the Democrats here but also included one exciting young Republican. The five Democrats:

1. Melissa Joseph – Melissa is whip smart and perhaps the most charming member of Maryland’s political class. With an extensive experience in the offices of Ron Young, Rob Garagiola and Chris Van Hollen, Melissa is a triple threat: she’s effective at the federal, state and campaign levels.

2. Ethan West – At 18, Ethan is a bit of prodigy. Whether with labor groups or on Rob Garagiola’s congressional campaign, Ethan has always proved himself a tremendous asset. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a union political director in Annapolis in a few years.

3. Matt Ferrante – Infectiously charming and smart to boot, Matt will go as far in politics as he wants. We may be talking about Delegate Ferrante in 2018. He was the undeniable breakout star of Rob Garagiola’s unsuccessful congressional bid.

4.  Ryan Trout – An Americorps Alum, Ryan ran a spirited campaign in District 4A as a Democrat–not an easy task. He then moved to Frederick City, served as Ron Young’s Chief of Staff for a few sessions and then got a job at the Frederick Housing Authority. The next time there’s an open seat in District 3A (and no one with the last name Young throws their hat in the ring), count on Ryan Trout being a major factor in the race.

5. Latia Hopkins – While Frostburg State Alum Latia “Tia” Hopins is Baltimore born and bred, she came into her political own as President of the Frostburg College Democrats. She built the club into a respected player inf Allegheny County Democratic Politics. She’s currently in Grad School at George Washington University and serves on the board of the Young Democrats of Maryland.

And one Republican . . .

6. Chandler Thornton – While this Frederick County native is currently studying at American University, he also carries out the truly thankless task of serving as Chairman of the DC College Republicans. Democrats from Westminster to Oakland fear his return. Even before starting college, Chandler blazed an impressive path through the world of Free State Republicans logging time with the state party, Bob Ehrlich’s 2010 Campaign, and in Roscoe Bartlett’s congressional office. More recently, he worked on Romney’s 2012 presidential effort in the early primary state of New Hampshire and later in battleground Virginia.

Chandler is Director of the prestigious Kennedy Political Union (KPU) at American University–an impressive post to have gained, especially for a Republican, at this very Democratic university. Interestingly, the KPU was founded by none other than District 17 Delegate Lou Simmons!

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D1, Pt. II: Allegany County

D1BDistrict 1B in Allegany County

This is Part II in a two part series about District 1 in Western Maryland. While Part I focused on the Garrett County portion of the district, this post centers on Allegany County.

All of District 1B’s population lives in Allegany. Frostburg and a northern section of Cumberland are located in 1B. District 1C is split between Allegany and Washington Counties with 55% in Allegany. The remainder of Cumberland and all of the smaller town of Hancock in Washington County are located in 1C.

Allegany County has been heavily Republican in federal contests. Mitt Romney received 64% of the vote in 2012. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett received 55% of the vote in Allegany even as he went down to defeat to John Delaney with just 37% of the total vote in the entire Sixth Congressional District.

Lately, Allegany has also been quite lopsided in its support for Republicans in statewide contests. Bob Ehrlich won 57% in 2006 and 61% in 2010 in Allegany. Notice that Ehrlich increased his share of the vote in Allegany even as his statewide margin declined. The last Democratic gubernatorial candidate to carry Allegany was Parris Glendening in 1998 with 52% of the vote.

Allegany District 1B has been one of the most hotly contested delegate seats over the past several decades. Incumbent Democratic Del. Kevin Kelly won reelection in 2010 with just 51% over Republican Mary Beth Pirolozzi, a Cumberland City Councilmember.

Kelly originally won his seat in 1986 when he was one of two Democrats elected from a two-member district located entirely in Allegany. He easily won reelection in 1990.

In 1994, Kelly lost the Democratic primary in the newly redistricted single-member District 1B, receiving 43% as opposed to 57% for Del. Betty Workman, his colleague in the former two-member district. But Kelly turned the tables in 1998, winning the primary over Workman by 59% to 41% and then went on to win the general with just 51% of the vote. Kelly beat his Republican opponent with a more comfortable 56% of the vote in 2002 and 2006.

This year, Kelly has no primary opposition but faces Jason Buckel, a member of the Allegany County Republican Central Committee, in the general election. In January, Buckel had just $2.6K in his campaign account compared to $18K for Kelly, though Buckel could raise money during the session while Kelly could not.

Allegany Central

Central Allegany County Partisanship
(Source: Dave’s Redistricting, More Orange is More Republican)

Though Kelly has a long history in this district, no Democrat can ever take anything for granted. Despite its Republican lean, 1B contains some of the less Republican precincts in Allegany located in Frostburg and Cumberland (see above), which should aid Kelly.

D1C

District 1C in Allegany and Washington Counties

District 1C is perhaps best known as the district that unseated the sitting Speaker of the House in 2002. Democratic Speaker Cas Taylor, who brought enormous amounts of state funds home and worked relentlessly to aid Western Maryland’s economy, lost his reelection bid by 76 votes.

Redistricting was more the culprit than the fickleness of Allegany voters. Prior to 2002, 1C was contained entirely within Allegany County. District 1 grew more slowly than the the State as a whole in the 1990s and had to expand east, so 1C had to take in sections of Washington County. While Speaker Taylor won 61% in his home stomping ground of Allegany, he garnered just 29% in the new, extremely Republican Washington portion of the district.

Del. LeRoy Myers, who defeated Speaker Taylor, is retiring after three terms. Two Republicans, Ray Givens and Mike McKay, are competing for the GOP nomination, while Democrat Nick Scarpelli has no opposition within his party.

Swept in as part of the tea party wave in 2010, Mike McKay serves as President of the Allegany County Board of Commissioners. He’s the CEO of a company with six dry cleaning locations. McKay has the support of sitting Del. Myers.

Perhaps because actually having to run a government tends to moderate extreme views on all sides, McKay is now being tea-party challenged from the right by Givens. A Hancock resident, Givens has never held office but was very active in opposition to Gov. O’Malley’s gun safety legislation and supports fracking.

Givens has served in the military, and worked in corrections and law enforcement. In January, McKay reported $15K cash on hand as compared to $10K for Givens.

As McKay lives in Allegany and Givens is from Washington, this primary could well turn into a classic friends-and-neighbors contest that depends on the level of support and ability to turn out voters within each candidate’s home base. Del. McKay should benefit from his experience in office as well as his endorsement by Myers. But Givens could gain energy from gun rights advocates.

Meanwhile, as unlikely as it may sound, Republican 1C is one district where the Democrats hope to make a pick up. Cumberland City Councilman Nick Scarpelli is a local magnate with investments in chains of funeral homes and shoe stores as well as real estate.

Scarpelli is very conservative for a Democrat–he is pro-gun, pro-life and pro-fracking. His major goal is to join the majority caucus and be part of the fine tradition of bringing home the bacon to this long economically challenged region. Scarpelli can self fund and plans to advertise on television–a lot cheaper in the Hagerstown media market than elsewhere in Maryland.

His chances likely depend at least partly on who wins the GOP primary. Scarpelli would have a stronger shot against Givens than McKay. Regardless, he will make this a much more interesting race than one would expect in this mostly Republican part of the world.

District 1B Rating: Toss-Up (Slight Edge to Kelly).
District 1C Rating: Lean Republican (Slight Edge to McKay in the primary).

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D1 Garrett County Ctd.

One of the great things about writing this blog is that I often learn more about Maryland politics through responses to posts. Today was one of those days as I heard from a legislator regarding Garrett County’s Sen. George Edwards and Del. Wendell Beitzel.

While they are members of the minority Republican party, both are good at using their position to maximize Garrett’s interests. Sen. Edwards now sits on the influential Budget and Taxation Committee. While in the House, he was the only Republican allowed to chair a subcommittee. Del. Beitzel sits on the Appropriations Committee in the House of Delegates.

Both are good at the pulling and hauling of politics to get results. They’ve repeatedly protected the interests of the local coal industry. Edwards and Beitzel have also been good at trading support for the overall budget for additional projects that aid Garrett County.

In short, little Garrett punches above its weight in the General Assembly despite its election of Republicans. It helps that District 1’s senator hails from there and that both know how to operate effectively within the legislature.

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D1, Pt. 1: Garrett County

D1Western Maryland District 1

District 1 contains all of Garrett and Allegany Counties as well as the westernmost section of Washington County. It’s the most Appalachian section of the State and in many ways resembles West Virginia more closely than our suburban dominated state.

The division of District 1 into three subdistricts helps assure that Garrett and Allegany can each elect at least one delegate. According to the 2010 Census, three-quarters of District 1A’s population lives in Garrett to just one-quarter in Allegany.

Republican Sen. George Edwards, first elected in 2006, has an easy ride to reelection as he has no primary or general election opposition. Edwards has deep roots in Garrett County politics. He served six terms in the House representing Garrett County prior to his election to the Senate.

Even earlier, he was on the Garrett Board of Commissioners and the Grantsville Town Council. Edwards’ electoral success means that no member of the Senate hails from Allegany even though it population is 2.5 times larger than that of Garrett. Though Garrett punches above its weight in General Assembly representation, the membership of its delegate and senator in the minority Republican Caucus limits their influence.

Garrett is the second smallest and most Republican county in Maryland. Its Republicanism dates back to the Civil War and reflects the pro-Union sympathies of Appalachia. Mitt Romney won 74% of the vote, more than any other county in Maryland by nine points.

D1ADistrict 1A in Garrett and Allegany Counties

Like Garrett, the Allegany sections of 1A are very Republican. Mitt Romney carried roughly 70% of the vote there. Former one-term Garrett County Commissioner Wendell Beitzel, a Republican, followed Edwards as District 1A’s representative in the House of Delegates. Though Beitzel won the GOP primary with just 31% and the general election by 56% in 2006, he faced no significant opposition in 2010. Like Edwards, Beitzel faces no opposition in the primary or general election this year.

District 1 Rating: Edwards Unopposed.
District 1A Rating: Beitzel Unopposed.

Part II discusses the rest of District 1, located primarily in Allegany County.

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