CECIL COUNTY CHATTER: Smigiel, Pipkin: By the Numbers, Got His Number
Smigiel Tries to Skewer Del. Rudolph; Here Comes the Judge?
Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) just couldnât resist getting in a snipe at Del. David Rudolph (D-34B) even though Smigiel wants to put the House of Delegates behind him and last week officially filed his candidacy for a Circuit Court judgeship in Cecil County.
Smigiel filed a proposed redistricting map in September with the Governorâs Advisory Commission that would shift two precincts that voted heavily for Republicans in the last election out of his own 36th District and into the Democrat Rudolphâs district. Rudolph won re-election last year by a tiny margin over Ted Patterson, a Republican who is a central figure on the Smipkin political machine âslate,â and a third-party candidate.
The Smigiel proposal would shift Precincts 5-1 and 5-3 from the 36th to 34B. Precinct 5-1 voters cast their ballots at the North East firehouse while 5-3 residents vote at Elk Neck Elementary School.
In 2010, 5-1 voters went for Smigiel with 919 votes, to 607 votes for Democratic challenger William Manlove, or a 3-2 margin. The same precinct supported Smigielâs political ally, Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36) by a 2-1 margin over Democratic challenger Steve Mumford.
In precinct 5-3, Republicans outnumber Democrats in voter registration, 1,800 to 1,394, with 833 unaffiliated voters, according to recent Election Board data. In 2010, that precinct went for Smigiel with 1,128 votes to Manloveâs 772.
Smigielâs map only deals with the ânorthernâ section of the Cecil County portion of the 36th and doesnât specify where else in the multi-county district other changes might be made.
Smigielâs map has the chance of a snowball in Houston of going anywhere, since Rudolph is highly-regarded by the Democratic leadership in Annapolis and if anything the Democrats would re-draw his district to be more favorable, not less. (The redistricting plan for state legislative districts will be unveiled officially by the governor in January when the General Assembly convenes for the 2012 session.)
But Smigiel has butted heads with Rudolph for years and obviously couldnât resist a potential parting shot. At the time he filed his map with the state panel, Smigiel had already informally announced his candidacy for a judicial seatâin a fundraising letter that immediately got him into hot water when it misappropriated the official seal of the state Administrative Office of the Court. [See previous Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2011/09/smigiel-launches-cecil-county-judge-campaign-with-major-legal-flub-cribbing-official-seal-of-state-courts/ ]
Smigiel made it official on 10/13/11 when he filed his papers as a judicial candidate. There are two seats at stake on the 2012 ballot and the two current judges have already filed to defend the seats. Judge Keith Baynes filed his candidacy 3/11/11 and Jane Cairns Murray filed her candidacy on 10/6/11.
A state advisory panel that reviews judicial campaign conduct is believed to be reviewing Smigielâs âsealgateâ incident, which he said in an apology letter was an innocent âmistakeâ by a campaign volunteer.
But Smigielâs sucker punch at Rudolph, seemingly an attempt to settle old personal or political scores, hardly inspires confidence in the aspiring judgeâs qualifications in the judicial temperament department.
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E.J. Pipkin Holds Fundraiser for State Goals; Do Cecil Co. Potholes Qualify?
State Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36) is circulating a glitzy, photo-laden flyer touting a high-priced fundraiser– $250 a head just for appetizersâon Nov. 1 that is billed as âNew Maryland is in the Works! Help Sen. Pipkin.â The event is being held in Stevensville, where Pipkin used to live before moving several years ago to Elkton in Cecil County. But many 36th District residents still think, mistakenly, that he lives in Queen Anneâs County.
The fundraiser is being touted as âSen. Pipkinâs Save Maryland Eventâ and the invitation features pictures of the Bay Bridge, along with a response request for âyour personal or corporate check.â In addition to the $250 a head price of admission, âsponsorshipsâ are available.
But Pipkin allies have been circulating rumors for months that Pipkin is planning to file as a candidate for Cecil Countyâs first County Executive in the 2012 election. So how would Pipkin sitting in the county administration building in Elkton qualify as a âSave Marylandâ step that warrants hefty donations by out of county contributors?
Since Pipkin has an ongoing campaign committee filed with the State Board of Elections, he could use that âfriends ofâ entity to finance a campaign for Cecil County Executive, as well as a possible state Senate re-election campaign orâmore likelyâa bid for higher, statewide office in 2014.
But if you were a big bucks donor to that November event and you didnât live in Cecil County, what are the chances that you would demand a refund of the donation if Pipkin ran for a âlowlyâ Cecil County job? At the least, thereâd be a few people yelling false advertising.
The Stevensville fundraiser helps makes the case that Pipkin is unlikely to devote the next four years to worrying about potholes in Earleville or the latest lawsuit by ARCA as the Cecil County Executive.
And, since it is virtually impossible to transfer state campaign funds to a bid for federal office, the upcoming event suggests that Pipkin is not actively looking at a GOP primary challenge once again to Rep. Andy Harris (R-1), whose district is expected to be made a perpetually-safe Republican seat in proposed congressional redistricting maps under review this week by the General Assembly in Annapolis.
Harris has some good news numbers of his own, with latest fundraising reports showing he has $520,676 âcash on handâ as of 9/30/11 in his re-election fund, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. In contrast, Pipkin is still carrying a $988,000 debt on his campaign books from self-financing of his 2008 challenge to Harris in the GOP primary for the 1st District House seat.