Most of the races in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties are very sleepy this year. The judicial races have become a surprise exception. Though there are still votes that have yet to be counted, it looks like challengers upset a member of the incumbent judges slate in the Democratic primary for circuit court judge in both counties.
Maryland judicial races have an unusual process. After being appointed by the Governor, the incumbent judges must face the voters and any other candidates that decide to run. All candidates are placed on each party’s ballot. All of the candidates who place high enough on any party’s ballot continue on to the general election.
Though they lost the Democratic primary, the incumbents will also continue to the general because they still won one of the top four spots in the much lower turnout Republican primaries. In both Montgomery and Prince George’s, the challengers are African-American women and the incumbents are white men who were appointed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
Ademiluyi Upsets Bereano in Prince George’s
In Prince George’s County, April Ademiluyi beat incumbent Judge Byron Bereano in the Democratic Primary for Judge of the Circuit Court. The daughter of African immigrants, Ademiluyi is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and received her law degree from George Mason. According to currently available numbers, Ademiluyi won 105,725 votes to 87,017 for Bereano, the son of controversial lobbyist Bruce Bereano.
Bruce Bereano was convicted of campaign finance fraud in 1994–he got his employees to make campaign donations and then illegally reimburses them under the guise of lobbying expenses. Besides going to jail, he was disbarred and lost his license to practice law.
Neither stopped him from coming back as a highly influential lobbyist or from exerting influence on judicial nominations and elections.
[Bereano asked] his friends to contribute to something called the Prince George’s Committee to Elect Sitting Judges. This is a campaign committee for five Circuit Court judges — four of whom were recently appointed by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) — seeking 15-year terms to the bench in the 2020 election. One of them happens to be his son, Judge Bryon Bereano, appointed first by Hogan to the District Court, then late last year, to the Circuit Court.
Stranger still, consider the identity of the man chairing the sitting judges’ election campaign in Prince George’s County: That would be Alexander Williams, the former federal judge and close Bruce Bereano ally who is surely Hogan’s favorite Democrat. Hogan has rescued Williams from retirement, appointing him to several key appointed posts. Those include his role as chairman of the Appellate Courts Judicial Nominating Commission.
Bruce Bereano has also been heavily involved in Anne Arundel judicial races.
Despite losing the Democratic primary, Byron Bereano will also appear on the general election ballot. He won a spot with just 4,970 votes — all that was needed in heavily Democratic county home to few Republicans. Bereano attended the University of Baltimore School of Law and formerly worked at Lerch, Early and Brewer.
Pierre Edges Out Fogleman in Montgomery
In Montgomery, challenger Marylin Pierre beat incumbent Christopher Fogleman. Pierre gained 79,673 votes to 77,976 for Fogleman who was appointed by Gov. Hogan. Pierre, a former army lieutenant and Howard law graduate, ran as a progressive alternative to the incumbent slate. Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin was her sole endorsement from an elected official.
This was Pierre’s second attempt as an insurgent judicial candidate. In 2018, Pierre failed to win either party’s nomination. However, she nevertheless did quite respectably for someone not part of the incumbent slate in a contest that is below the radar of most voters.
Fogleman served for three years as a public defender in the 1980s. The American University law graduate also was appointed by former County Executive Ike Leggett to the county’s Juvenile Justice Commission. Fogleman served for ten years, including as the commission’s chair.
Like Bereano in Prince George’s, Fogleman will advance to the general election due to his success in the Republican primary in which he earned 14,085 votes compared to 6,893 for Pierre.
The outcomes in the two party primaries were strikingly reversed for the other incumbents. Incumbent African-American Judge Bibi Berry ran away as an easy first place in the Democratic primary with 106,128 votes — over 23,000 votes more than the second place candidate. But in the Republican primary, Berry came in fourth with 11,492 votes, which is roughly 3000 votes less than her white male running mates.