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Montgomery County’s Annapolis Delegation To Remain Solely in Democratic Hands

Despite several well-funded challengers, Republicans fall short for fourth straight election

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The Maryland State House

Martin Falbisoner

Montgomery County’s state legislative delegation—consisting of 32 members, including one senator and three delegates from each of the county’s eight districts—has been all-Democratic since 2006, when the late Republican Del. Jean Cryor of Potomac lost a bid for re-election from District 15.

And the delegation is going to stay that way for at least the next four years—as Republican efforts to break the Democrats’ long-time domination fell short in Tuesday’s balloting.

The GOP had hoped that Gov. Larry Hogan’s popularity might help to propel some of their candidates in two jurisdictions—District 14 and District 15—where Democrats are less dominant than elsewhere in the county. But, despite Hogan’s capturing of nearly 45 percent of the vote countywide—the best showing by a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Montgomery County in more than 50 years—the Democratic candidates in those districts triumphed handily Tuesday.

Republican hopes were perhaps highest in District 15, which stretches from Potomac to the Frederick County line—where former state Board of Education member Laurie Halverson of Potomac was seen as the GOP’s best shot at capturing a state delegate seat. But Halverson and her slate mates, attorney Harvey Jacobs of Potomac and retired Army officer Marc King of Germantown, fell to the Democratic slate of Del. Kathleen Dumais of Rockville, Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo of Boyds and Lily Qi of North Potomac—a long-time aide to County Executive Ike Leggett—by margins in the 2-1 range. And District 15 Sen. Brian Feldman of Potomac defeated GOP challenger David Wilson of Poolesville by 71 percent to 29 percent.

In District 14, state Sen. Craig Zucker of Brookeville defeated his Republican challenger, Robert Drozd of Silver Spring, by 72-28 percent, while Democratic Dels. Anne Kaiser of Silver Spring, Eric Luedtke of Burtonsville and Pamela Queen of Olney all were easily re-elected over the Republican slate of Kevin Dorrance, Patricia Fenati of Damascus and Michael Ostroff of Burtonsville.

Several well-funded Republican delegate candidates in the southern part of the county—Bill Day of Bethesda, Linda Willard of Chevy Chase and Dave Pasti of Rockville—fared no better in their challenges.

While its partisan composition won’t change when the 2019 session of the General Assembly convenes in January, there will be a significant turnover in the faces of the county delegation: Nearly one-third of the delegation will be comprised of legislators who have not previously served in Annapolis.

A combination of retirements and pursuit of other offices have contributed to the departure of several of the delegation’s most senior and influential members—including Sen. Richard Madaleno of Kensington, vice chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, and Del. Bill Frick of Bethesda, the House of Delegates majority leader since 2017. Madaleno ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor, while Frick lost a bid for the nomination for county executive.

Other notable departures include Del. Sheila Hixson of Silver Spring, who first arrived in Annapolis in 1976 and was the second most senior member of the House of Delegates; Del. Charles Barkley of Germantown, first elected in 1998; and Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez of Chevy Chase, a member since 2002. Hixson is retiring, while Barkley and Gutierrez ran unsuccessfully for County Council.

This year, Republicans filed candidates for less than half of the seats available in the county delegation. Of the 15 Republicans on the ballot for senator or delegate, a half-dozen filed affidavits with the State Board of Elections saying they had raised and spent less than $1,000—an indication that they were filling slots on the ballot without mounting an active campaign.

Republican hopes this year of breaking into the Montgomery County delegation were clearly focused on districts 14 and 15—the only two districts of the eight in which the GOP filed a full slate of legislative candidates.

Both of these districts, which cover the northern portion of the county, have Democratic majorities in terms of registered voters—but also contain a larger number of Republican and independent voters than the more heavily Democratic area in the county’s southern region.  Hogan came close to winning both District 14 and District 15 on his way to his first statewide victory in 2014.

Nonetheless, there were also couple of Republican delegate candidates who sought to mount active challenges in districts in southern Montgomery where the Democratic registration advantage is upwards of 3-1. In part, these candidacies arose out of efforts by former county Republican vice chair Ann Hingston—a Bethesda resident and former Reagan administration official—to try to restore the GOP as a force in county elections.

Day, a Bethesda resident and Rockville attorney, filed in District 16 at Hingston’s urging—, as did Chevy Chase resident Willard of Chevy Chase in neighboring District 18. Willard is an attorney and former U.S. Senate staffer.

Like many Republicans running this year in Montgomery County and around the state, Day clung firmly to the coattails of the popular incumbent governor—describing himself as a “Hogan Republican.” He also sought to emulate the formula that first brought Hogan to victory four years ago, by taking a hard line against tax increases while sidestepping several controversial social issues.

But he won only 11 percent of the vote Tuesday, as Del. Ariana Kelly of Bethesda garnered 31 percent, followed by Del. Marc Korman and attorney Sara Love, both also of Bethesda, with 29 percent each.

Day, the only Republican running for the three delegate slots in District 16, raised nearly $42,000 to mount a highly visible campaign with online ads and omnipresent yard signs. In contrast, the only other GOP candidate in District 16, Montgomery County Republican Central Committee member Marcus Alzona, filed affidavits saying he had raised and spent less than $1,000 in his Senate bid against Democratic incumbent Susan Lee. Lee won, 80 percent to 20 percent.

Willard was the only Republican running for delegate in District 18, where the Democratic registration over the GOP approaches 5-1. Willard reported raising nearly $34,000 for her candidacy in the district, which stretches from Bethesda through Chevy Chase to Silver Spring, and includes all of Garrett Park and Kensington and portions of Rockville and Wheaton.

Willard won just 8 percent of the vote, as Del. Al Carr of Kensington and Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) Vice Chair Emily Shetty of Kensington each took 30 percent of the vote, with former congressional aide Jared Solomon of Chevy Chase winning 28 percent.

After emerging from a bruising Democratic primary in June, three-term Del. Jeff Waldstreicher of Kensington was unopposed Tuesday for the District 18 Senate seat, and will succeed Madaleno in January.

In District 19, which stretches from Silver Spring north to the outskirts of Rockville and Gaithersburg, Pasti—a Derwood resident and Rockville-based attorney—was another of the handful of Republicans to mount active campaigns for delegate. A first-time candidate, Pasti reported raising nearly $29,000.

The two other Republican delegate candidates in District 19, Martha Schaerr of Derwood and Helen Domenici of Rockville, filed affidavits saying they had raised and spent less than $1,000. Domenici, who did not appear to campaign actively after filing, did bring a well-known Republican name to Montgomery County politics: Her father, the late U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, represented New Mexico in the Senate for more than one-third of a century.

Former MCDCC member Charlotte Crutchfield of Silver Spring topped the field in District 19 with 26 percent of the vote, while Del. Bonnie Cullison of Aspen Hill won a third term with 25 percent, and attorney Vaughn Stewart of Derwood took 24 percent. Pasti had just 9 percent, with 8 percent apiece for Domenici and Schaerr.

The Republican candidate for state Senate in District 19, Alirio Martinez, was disqualified by the State Board of Elections in August after he moved out of the district, leaving only Democrat Ben Kramer and Green Party nominee David Jeang competing for the Senate seat. Kramer captured 88 percent of the total vote Tuesday, with 11 percent for Jeang and 1 percent for write-in candidates.

Kramer, a Derwood resident and three-term member of the House of Delegates, will join Waldstreicher of District 18 as the two new members of the county’s eight-member Senate delegation in January. Kramer, son of former County Executive Sid Kramer, will succeed Roger Manno of Silver Spring, who gave up the Senate seat to run unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in the 6th Congressional District.

For more election results, click here.

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