Republican Committee War: Pipkin-Smigiel Slate Wins Majority Seats
The drama may just be beginning for the Cecil County Republican Central Committee as members of different factions elected in Tuesday’s primary learn to co-exist– or not.
The crowded field of candidates –22 people vying for 9 seats– and the war of words on various Internet bulletin boards and comment pages was a never-ending source of local political entertainment– especially for Democrats– in this election season.
With all 19 regular precincts reporting, a slate spearheaded by Sen. E.J. Pipkin and Del. Michael Smigiel, both R-36, appeared to have won control of the party committee. However, absentee and provisional ballots could alter the final outcome since some candidates were separated by just a handful of votes.
The current chairman of the committee, Joe Carabetta, barely hung on, coming in 9th place in the crowded field. Several other current members of the committee, including Robert Amato and Allen Andrichyn, finished out of the running.
The campaign featured rival slates and feuds over whether a slate assembled by two state legislators had the right to call itself ’tea party tested, tea party approved,’ when some of its members boycotted a non-partisan candidates’ forum hosted by the local tea party group. The local tea party group, as part of its nonpartisan stance, also declined to endorse any candidates in the election, including some of its own members who were running for seats on the GOP Central Committee.
While several ‘tea party’ members ran for the GOP committee, only Ted Kolodzey gained a seat, finishing in seventh place with ,1,874 votes.
The Pipkin-Smigiel slate largely consisted of candidates recruited from the Young Republicans Club that is linked to Pipkin-Smigiel. The YR members of the slate were: Mike Dawson, Michael Dunn, Theodore Patterson, Carrie Taylor and Chris Zeauskas,– all of whom won seats in Tuesday’s balloting. Another member of the slate, Joseph Tropp, an officer of the YR-related “Repbulicans of Cecil (ROC) club, lost.
In addition, the Pipkin-Smigiel slate recruited two newer members of the current Central Committee– James Hutchinson and Brad Carrillo– to join the slate, as well as Pipkin-Smigiel loyalist James Mullin, the county Commissioner representing the 1st District. Hutchinson and Mullin won seats, but Carillo did not.
That slate published ads and campaign materials claiming it was “tea party tested, tea party approved” and that set off a firestorm of protest from the local tea party organization, the Cecil County Patriots.
So a counter-slate of “tea party” activists challenged the Smigiel-Pipkin slate. The tea party slate included Donna Caudell, Jackie Gregory, Kolodzey, Peter Oliphant, Harry Hite III and F. Gaylord Moody III. Another tea party activist, Tom Kenny, chose not to join the slate and ran an independent campaign. Only Kolodzey managed to grab a seat on the GOP committee.
Oher independent candidates were Tina Sharp, who is well known in GOP circles and previously ran for county Court clerk; Devon Perry, a Towson University student; and Anneliese Johnson, a mother of three and a graduate student. All three failed to win a seat.
The top vote getter was Zeauskas, with 3,083 votes. Carabetta’s 9th place spot was snared with 1,869 votes.