Election Projection 2014: Anne Arundel County

Screenshot of the original - click to view

Screenshot of the original – click to view

Anne Arundel County is the home of the state capital of Annapolis, the state’s major international airport at BWI-Thurgood Marshall, the state’s largest shopping mall at Arundel Mills, one of the state’s largest casinos at Maryland Live, and Fort Meade, which has been the major beneficiary of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) relocation program, as well as the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA). Population growth has been concentrated in the western area of the county, where the military base, mall, and casino are located. In redistricting, only a single precinct was moved: a precinct in Severn/northern Odenton containing the communities of Pioneer City and Shamrock Cove was shifted from District 4 to District 1.

While the county has a reputation for voting Republican, trends suggest that a major shift may be underway.

Past Results:

Presidential:
2012: Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan (R) 48.8%, Barack Obama/Joe Biden (D) 48.7%
2008: John McCain/Sarah Palin (R) 50.0%, Barack Obama/Joe Biden (D) 48.2%

Gubernatorial:
2010: Robert Ehrlich/Mary Kane (R) 54.2%, Martin O’Malley/Anthony Brown (D) 43.4%
2006: Robert Ehrlich/Kristen Cox (R) 56.9%, Martin O’Malley/Anthony Brown (D) 42.0%

County Executive

Incumbent: Laura Neuman (R) – Lost primary
Filed Challengers: George F. Johnson, IV (D), Steve Schuh (R)
Projection: Lean R Hold

Past Results:
2010: John R. Leopold (R) 50.4%, Joanna Conti (D) 44.0%, Mike Shay (G) 5.4%
2006: John R. Leopold (R) 51.0%, George F. Johnson, IV (D) 48.9%

The County Executive race was once seen as an easy win for Steve Schuh, but it has turned into a dead heat as George Johnson’s campaign gained serious momentum in October, despite being vastly outraised by Schuh.

George Johnson, IV (D)

George Johnson, IV (D)

George Johnson IV ran for this office in 2006, after serving for 12 years as the county’s elected sheriff. After losing a close election to John Leopold 49%-51%, Johnson was appointed Superintendent of the Maryland Natural Resources Police, a position he still holds today. Johnson’s path to victory will be getting the Democratic base to turn out – and not vote Green Party. Mike Shay took over 5% of the vote in 2010, and while this didn’t make the difference in the race, it would have brought it within one percentage point.

Del. Steve Schuh (R)

Del. Steve Schuh (R)

Steve Schuh is a state delegate from Gibson Island who has compiled a very conservative voting record while in the House of Delegates. He has long been seen as the front-runner in this race, and it wasn’t even considered an upset when he defeated sitting County Executive Laura Neuman in the Republican primary. Many people expected him to be appointed to the position when John Leopold resigned. He owns a string of Greene Turtle restaurants along with business partners Derek Fink (a county councilman) and James King (a former delegate) and has strong financial backing.

Schuh will win if Democrats fail to turn out their base and win independent voters. While his business credentials are solid, Del. Schuh’s voting record may serve to alienate some would-be Neuman voters. He would have to hope that his war chest will provide him enough outreach to win them back.

Campaign Finances as of the August 26 filing deadline:

  1. Steve Schuh (R) raised $1,164,240, cash on hand $225,322
  2. George Johnson (D) raised $181,952, cash on hand $72,349

Click “read more” for an analysis of every council seat.

District 1

Incumbent: Daryl Jones (D) – term limited
Filed Challengers: Pete Smith (D), Bill Heine (R)
Projection: Likely D Hold

Past Results:
2010: Daryl Jones (D) 54.1%, John E. Moran, IV (R) 45.8%
2006: Daryl Jones (D) 55.4%, John Edward Lindner (R) 44.5%

District 1 - click for larger size

District 1 – click for larger size

Councilman Daryl Jones’ life since re-election in 2010 has been a rollercoaster ride. After pleading guilty to failing to file tax returns in 2011 and was sentenced to five months in a federal prison, which he served in South Carolina. The Council then voted to remove him in 2012, on the basis that he was no longer living in his district. Following a ridiculous series of council meetings (during which the councilman representing Glen Burnie called it a “ghetto”), Peter Smith was chosen to replace Jones on the council. In 2013, however, the Court of Appeals ruled that Jones had been illegally ousted, and Smith resigned while Jones retook his seat.

Councilman Daryl Jones (D)

Councilman Daryl Jones (D)

All indications point to Smith regaining this seat in 2014; Jones is term-limited as well as politically damaged. The district runs along the western edge of the county from Hanover to Brooklyn Park, and contains several Democratic towns which tend to outweigh the Republican tendencies of Linthicum. The district also picked up the Pioneer City area in Severn after redistricting. Smith faces a challenge from Republican Bill Heine, but given the makeup of this district and his popularity while briefly serving on the Council, Smith should easily win here.

Campaign Finances as of the August 26 filing deadline:

  1. Peter Smith (D) raised $51,311, cash on hand $7,262
  2. Bill Heine (R) raised $1,000, cash on hand $1,000

District 2

Incumbent: John Grasso (R)
Filed Challengers: Andy Werner (D), David Sgambellone (L)
Projection: Toss-up (Werner/Grasso)

Past Results:
2010: John Grasso (R) 53.2%, Dan Klosterman (D) 46.6%
2006: Ed Middlebrooks (R) unopposed

District 2 - click for larger size

District 2 – click for larger size

Councilman John Grasso ended his county executive bid in favor of seeking re-election to his council seat, representing Glen Burnie and Severn. However, Grasso has some liabilities. He referred to Glen Burnie as a “ghetto”, an odd decision considering his best-performing precincts were in Glen Burnie. He also didn’t win the 2010 primary in a particularly convincing fashion: he topped fellow Republican Gary Middlebrooks by only 74 votes. Grasso won’t face primary opposition this year, but he will be facing a tough race against Glen Burnie community leader Andy Werner.

Councilman John Grasso (R)

Councilman John Grasso (R)

This is a very real pickup opportunity for Democrats. Many of the districts precincts have very low turnout, especially in Glen Burnie. District 2 gave 51.32% of the vote to Barack Obama in 2012, compared to 50.24% in 2008. This district may very well be the key to control of both the County Council and the County Executive race.

Campaign Finances as of the August 26 filing deadline:

  1. Andy Werner (D) raised $45,448, cash on hand $14,688
  2. John Grasso (R-inc) raised $660, cash on hand $28,922
  3. David Sgambellone (L) filed ALCE (raised/spent less than $1,000)

District 3

Incumbent: Derek Fink (R)
Filed Challengers: Theresa Martin (D)
Projection: Safe R Hold

Past Results:
2010: Derek Fink (R) 58.3%, Charlie Parks (D) 41.6%
2006: Ron Dillon (R) ran unopposed

District 3 - click for larger size

District 3 – click for larger size

This is the safest seat in the county for Republicans. Councilman Derek Fink, who is also a business partner of Steve Schuh, is eligible to run for a second term. This district contains the area around Pasadena, Lake Shore, and Riviera Beach. Voters here tend to vote strongly conservative, as evidenced by the ballot question results of 2012, as well as recent election returns.

Councilman Derek Fink (R)

Councilman Derek Fink (R)

Fink will face a challenge from Democrat Theresa Martin, although he is expected to win a second term handily.

Campaign Finances as of the August 26 filing deadline:

  1. Derek Fink (R-inc) raised $47,960, cash on hand $57,466
  2. Theresa Martin (D) filed ALCE (received/spent less than $1,000)

District 4

Incumbent: Jamie Benoit (D) – term limited
Filed Challengers: Andrew Pruski (D), Chike Anyanwu (R)
Projection: Safe D Hold

Past Results:
2010: Jamie Benoit (D) 60.0%, Charlotte Weinstein (R) 39.8%
2006: Jamie Benoit (D) 61.2%, Sid Saab (R) 38.7%

District 4 - click for larger size

District 4 – click for larger size

Councilman Jamie Benoit (D)

Councilman Jamie Benoit (D)

The Fourth District is exactly the same as the past ten years, except for the Pioneer City area in Severn which has been moved to the First District. It is in west county and includes Maryland City, Odenton, Gambrills, and Crownsville. The close Democratic primary was won by school board president Andrew Pruski. Given the heavy Democratic lean of west county, this is a safe Democratic seat.

Campaign Finances as of the August 26 filing deadline:

  1. Andrew Pruski (D) raised $45,530, cash on hand $4,324
  2. Chike Anyanwu (R) filed ALCE (received/spent less than $1,000)

 

District 5

Incumbent: Dick Ladd (R) – lost primary
Filed Challengers: Michael Anthony Peroutka (R), Patrick Armstrong (D)
Projection: Toss-up

Past Results:
2010: Dick Ladd (R) 62.8%, Paul G. Rudolph (D) 36.9%
2006: Cathleen Vitale (R) 73.9%, AJ “Tito” Baca (D) 26.0%
2002: Cathleen Vitale (R) 69.8%, George Maloney (D) 30.1%

District 5 - click for larger size

District 5 – click for larger size

While an overwhelming margin of victory, Dick Ladd’s 62.8% was actually the lowest vote percentage won by a Republican in District 5 since 1998. This district, which includes Millersville, Severna Park, and Arnold, is a consistently Republican district which nevertheless is the most socially-liberal of any of the four districts Republicans currently hold.

Councilman Dick Ladd (R)

Councilman Dick Ladd (R)

Councilman Ladd was highly unpopular, particularly after he voted for the county’s implementation of the rain tax, which is exceptionally unpopular in Severna Park. In a heated five-way primary, Ladd took third place while Pasadena attorney Michael Peroutka won with 32.5% of the vote.

Michael Peroutka. Photo: The Quinton Report

If the name Peroutka sounds familiar, he ran for President in 2004 on the Constitution Party ticket, where his campaign pledges included a “return to a Republic of Sovereign States based on Biblical principles.” Peroutka also sits on the board of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate movement which advocates for the secession of southern states, a “society dominated by European Americans,” and has been designated as a hate group by the SPLC. It has been pointed out that the Constitution Party sees both the Democratic and Republican parties as corrupt, so Peroutka’s choice to run as a Republican for both County Council and the county’s Republican Central Committee is even more questionable.

Given Peroutka’s extremist nature, this race has been moved from “Likely R Hold” to “Toss-up.” Several Republicans, including Larry Hogan and Steve Schuh, have distanced themselves from Peroutka. Democrat Patrick Armstrong, who handily defeated Peroutka ally David Whitney in the primary, has been vaulted from being an obscure also-ran to a serious contender, and posted exceptional fundraising numbers in August. Armstrong’s campaign will need to stay strong all the way to the finish, as much of Peroutka’s most effective campaigning came in the last week of the primary.

Campaign Finances as of the August 26 filing deadline:

  1. Michael Peroutka (R) raised $117,411*, cash on hand $678
  2. Patrick Armstrong (D) $26,423*, cash on hand $16,770
*Peroutka's fundraising total for the cycle includes
$80,000 in loans from himself. Armstrong has loaned his
campaign $3,229.

 

District 6

Incumbent: Chris Trumbauer (D)
Filed Challengers: Dean D’Camera (R)
Projection: Lean D Hold

Past Results:
2010: Chris Trumbauer (D) 52.8%, Doug Burkhardt (R) 47.2%
2006: Joshua J. Cohen (D) 59.3%, Rene Swafford (R) 40.6%

District 6 - click for larger size

District 6 – click for larger size

The 6th District, made up of Annapolis and Crownsville, is on paper a reasonably safe Democratic district. However, low turnout in downtown Annapolis has led to local races skewing less Democratic than voter registration records suggest they should. Republican Mike Pantelides’ successful campaign for Mayor in 2013 shows that an enthusiastic, hard working campaign can actually win an election in Annapolis (albeit by a tiny margin). Annapolis is considered the base of Democratic support in this district, as Crownsville is much more rural and conservative.

Councilman Chris Trumbauer (D)

Councilman Chris Trumbauer (D)

Councilman Trumbauer faces a well-funded Republican opponent in former police officer Dean D’Camera. He will have to work harder than former Mayor Josh Cohen did to win Annapolis, and take some security votes in Crownsville as well. For D’Camera to win, he will have to overcome Annapolis’ historically Democratic lean, focusing on the high-earners who live along the Severn and South Rivers, and try to shut Trumbauer out in Crownsville. However, the Republican wave of 2010 only gave the GOP candidate 47% of the vote here, so Trumbauer should be fine.

Campaign Finances as of the August 26 filing deadline:

  1. Dean D’Camera (R) raised $85,535, cash on hand $37,047
  2. Chris Trumbauer (D-inc) raised $75,020, cash on hand $62,191

 

District 7

Incumbent: Jerry Walker (R)
Filed Challengers: none
Projection: Safe R Hold

Past Results:
2010: Jerry Walker (R) 61.5%, Torrey Jacobsen (D) 38.3%
2006: Ed Reilly (R) 58.3%, Eric Lipsetts (D) 33.6%, Robb Tufts (G) 8.0%

District 7 - click for larger size

District 7 – click for larger size

The 7th District is made up of Crofton and south county. South county is very conservative, while Crofton is split about 50-50. However, Councilman Jerry Walker is very popular within Crofton, as well as being very well-funded. After defeating fellow Republican Michelle Corkadel 55.2-44.8% in the primary, Walker will be unopposed on the ballot in November as no Democrats filed to run against him.

Councilman Jerry Walker (R)

Councilman Jerry Walker (R)

 

 

Other County Offices

While Democrats have a shot at winning both County Executive and control of the Council in 2014, a full sweep of county offices still lies in the distant future. If George Johnson performs well this year, it may encourage more Democrats to run in 2018 for some of the other offices.

State’s Attorney

Incumbent: Anne Colt Leitess (D)
Filed Challengers: Wes Adams (R)

Anne Colt Leitess took over the State’s Attorney job when longtime officeholder Frank Weathersbee retired in early 2013. This will be the first year a Democratic incumbent other than Weathersbee will have their name on the ballot since 1984, so this will be a good barometer for Democratic support in today’s county.

Clerk of the Circuit Court

Incumbent: Robert P. Duckworth (R)
Filed Challengers: none

Longtime clerk Robert Duckworth swamped his primary foe Gregory Mauchline 82.6-17.4%. He faces no opposition in November and will win his sixth term as county clerk.

Register of Wills

Incumbent: Lauren M. Parker (R)
Filed Challengers: Jacqueline Allsup (D)

Lauren Parker has not faced meaningful opposition for this post since 2006, when Jacqueline Allsup posted 46.1% against her 53.8%. The 2014 general election will be a rematch of that race, so this serves as the best possible way to see which way the county’s voters are trending.

Sheriff

Incumbent: Ron Bateman (D)
Filed Challengers: Joseph James Delimater, III (R)

Ron Bateman is an extremely popular sheriff, increasing his vote share from 52% in 2006 to 58% in 2010. The best part about his campaigns, though, is when people paint out the letter “e” on his campaign signs so that they read “Batman for Sheriff.”

Bateman is running against Republican Joe Delimater, who has these views on what constitutes “law:”

American law is based on the view that the moral law of the God of the Bible is controlling in all cases.  In the Declaration of Independence this moral law is referred to as “the laws of nature and of nature’s God”.

When human beings, God’s creatures, draw up constitutions and statues and ordinances and regulations, these enactments are dependent for their validity on their being in harmony with the moral law I just mentioned.

If these man-made actions conflict with God’s moral law, then they are not law at all.

 

Judge of the Orphans’ Court – 3 members

Incumbents: Judith L. Duckett (R), Nancy C. Phelps (R), Gordon H. Witherspoon (R) – Witherspoon did not file for re-election
Filed Challengers: Nancy B. Hirshman (D), Phyllis Beardmore (R), Rose Brooks (R), Mike Jacobs (R), Michael J. Ragland, Sr. (R), Alan Rzepkowski (R), Valerie Vollmers (R)

These seats are always up for grabs; most people don’t know who the incumbents are when voting. Democrats have to be frustrated that only one candidate filed for the three seats. Republicans are likely to hold all three seats until Democrats can at least put up a full slate.