Wednesday, 05 March 2014 13:42

Incumbents swept local races in 2010; only one is seeking re-election in 2014, while 29 others are running for the five local offices. file photo - Roland Dorsey

Four running in Senate race, six for County Council — and 20 for House of Delegates

by Ben Boehl

The filing deadline has passed, and the local voters will have the chance to choose from a large number of hopefuls in the 7th District Baltimore County Council and 6th District General Assembly races.
    With three longtime local incumbents — a state senator, a state delegate and a County Council member — announcing last year that they would not seek re-election in 2014, contenders from both parties turned out in larger-than-usual numbers to seek those three “open” seats.
    Twenty candidates are running for the three House of Delegates seats, six are running for the County Council seat and four are running for the Senate.
    While Del. John Olszewski Jr. is widely regarded as a prohibitive favorite in the Senate race, the County Council and House races are considered especially competitive and are being closely watched — not just locally, but by political observers across the county and state.
County Council
    Republican Todd Crandell announced at last year’s Dundalk 4th of July parade that he was running for the 7th District council seat held by four-term incumbent John Olszewski Sr. In November, Olszewski announced he would not seek re-election in 2014.
    Soon, other Democrats entered the race, as  Essex-Middle River Renaissance Corporation  president Joe DiCara, New 7th Democratic Club president C.O. “Bud” Staigerwald, Greater Dundalk Community Council (GDCC) president Scott Holupka, and County Seal Democratic Club president Ron Yeatman all filed for the council race before January.
    Brian Weir, best known as a baseball coach in the Dundalk area, entered the Democratic primary race on Feb. 18.
    The winner will face Crandell in the general election, as no other Republican filed for County Council.
    A Republican has never been elected to the County Council from a Dundalk-based district, but Republicans believe that Crandell can take that seat from the Democrats and the party appears ready to be aggressive in the attempt.
    The Crandell camp announced that former governor Bob Ehrlich will endorse Crandell at a campaign event in April.

State Senate
    After more than 50 years in the General Assembly, 6th District state Sen. Norman Stone announced that 2014 would be his last year in office.
    That prompted Del. John Olszewski Jr. to give up his House seat to go after the soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat. Stone endorsed Olszewski for the position at an event in July.
    It appeared that Olszewski was heading straight to the general election without opposition, but Russ Mirable entered the race as a Democrat on the last day to file to give Olszewski a primary opponent.
    Olszewski said he is looking forward to this year’s election and that it presents an opportunity to meet with residents in the district about the progress the community has made and the process that needs to continue.
    “Working with the community, we have made historic investments in our school systems and community infrastructure, driven crime to record lows, and are finding ways to connect people with more meaningful work opportunities,” Olszewski said. “I am proud of the ways my work in the community and leadership in fighting for the working class has helped make these things happen.”
    Republican Johnny Ray Salling filed for the Senate race as a Republican in August. He will be the GOP nominee; no other Republican entered the race.
    A wild card in the senate contest could be Scott Collier, known for his “Dundalk TV” YouTube channel and his efforts to raise awareness about traumatic brain injuries.
    Collier told The Eagle he would run as an unaffiliated candidate, if he can get petition signatures from one percent of registered voters in the district in order to get on the ballot. He said he would rather take that route than to file as a member of a political party.
    “I’m independent. I like to go for the best person for the job,” Collier said.
    “I don’t like to go for party.”
    According to the State Board of Elections, the 6th District has over 76,000 voters, which means that Collier would need more than 760 signatures to get on the ballot.
    “It gives me more of an incentive to go out there,” Collier noted.

House of Delegates
    Soon after Del. Olszewski announced his run for Senate, longtime Del. Joseph “Sonny” Minnick announced  that he, too, would not seek re-election in 2014.
    That left two open seats, which motivated 11 Democrats and nine Republicans to enter the House race.
    Olszewski said he was not at all shocked that 11 Democrats and nine Republicans came out for his and Minnick’s open House seats in the House race.
    “I was not surprised to see 20 candidates for the House race — only that it was not until just before or at the filing deadline that the numbers finally grew to that amount.”
    Del. Michael Weir Jr. is the only local incumbent seeking another term. He will be joined in the Democratic primary by former delegate Jacob J. “Jake” Mohorovic, CCBC staffer and Baltimore County Human Relations Commission member Eric Washington, Baltimore County Board of Appeals member Ed Crizer, former Baltimore City Councilman Nicholas C. D’Adamo Jr., retired Maryland State Police Deputy Superintendent Larry Harmel,  Anna Pearce, Rick Roberts, Marcus Foreman, Jonathan Campbell and Sparrows Point resident Steven Charles Brown, who filed on the last day.
    After never before having a contested primary in a Dundalk-based district, Republicans now face their first, as nine GOP candidates filed for the House race.
    Republican Bob Long said he hopes all the candidates do not have to spend too much money on the primary and hopes they can save some cash for November.
    “I don’t mind the primary. I just do not like the idea we are going to have to spend money on a primary,” Long said. “Look at Nick D’Adamo. He has over $100,000 in the bank.”
    Long and Ric Metzgar, who led the GOP to its best-ever local performance in 2010, are joined by East Baltimore County Republican Club president Dan Liberatore, Robin Grammer Jr., Mitchell Toland Jr. and Roger Zajdel, who announced their plans to run last summer.
    At the filing deadline, Gary Sparks, Jerry Samotyj and Carl H. Magee all filed for the House race.
    Long noted that anyone can enter the race, but wondered if some of the Republican filers are serious about competing.
    “I just want to know why some of these guys are running. Are they going to have the time?” Long asked.
    “I was a little taken aback by Mitch Toland’s comments that he didn’t have time to file. Well, how is he going to have time to run for office?”
    Toland pointed out that Long also did not file until Feb. 21 and said that Long should be proud that so many Republicans are coming out for the House of Delegates, because it shows the strength and growth of the local Republican Party.
    “Since Mr. Long and I both filed within five days of each other, it would be petty to quibble over who filed first. Mr. Long and I should both be focusing upon upholding the natural rights of the citizens we are contending to represent,” Toland responded.    
    “Additionally, we should be encouraging all the Republican party’s ‘Young Guns’ to engage in the process and run for office. If the voters in my district deem me worthy of the noble challenge of public service, I will do my very best to represent the citizens of District 6.”
    In 2010, the local GOP ticket posted its best local results ever, as Long finished 1,406 votes behind Minnick for the third House slot and Metzgar finished  519 votes behind Long. With two open seats this year, many Maryland Republicans think the locals can take a seat or two in November.
    Republican 7th District Del. Kathy Szeligia sent out an e-mail in the fall calling the Dundalk-based 6th a “target district where we know we can win [in 2014].”
    There has been speculation in both parties that the Maryland GOP will devote money and political resources to the 6th District in order to tip the scales in their favor.