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Cecil County Politics: A Tale of Two Dawsons — Same Name, Different Politics

December 15, 2011
By Nancy Schwerzler

What’s in a name? In Cecil County—and especially in Perryville—there has been a lot of confusion over the two Mike Dawsons. But one of them recently filed election documents intended to make his identity clear to local voters.

Michael W. Dawson (MWD) was the Constitution Party candidate last year for state Delegate in District 34B who ended up holding the balance of power in that three-way race, which ultimately led to the tiny re-election victory of incumbent Del. David Rudolph (D). The Republican candidate in that contest, Ted Patterson, was a member of the Smipkin “slate” of candidates supported by donations and organizational muscle orchestrated by state Del. Michael Smigiel and Sen. E.J. Pipkin, both R-36th Dist.

Another member of the Smipkin organization, Michael A. Dawson (MAD) — or “Mad Mike” as some Perryville residents have dubbed him— made an unsuccessful GOP primary run for county Commissioner last year, got elected to the GOP Central Committee as part of the Smipkin slate, went to work as an aide to Smigiel, and then got elected to the Perryville town board earlier this year by one vote. Postings on Facebook and other online outposts showed that many voters confused the Smipkin “MAD Mike” with the independent-minded MWD.

MWD, a Verizon landlines worker, impressed many voters with his sincere, down-to-earth presentations at various candidate forums in 2010. Since that election, he has spoken and written about various local issues and has declared his intention to run as a Republican in 2014 for delegate.

Recently, MWD filed as a candidate for delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2012, but in his filing with the state Election Board, he declared his name as “Constitution Michael W. Dawson.”

In a message to Cecil Times, Michael W. Dawson confirmed that the reason for his modified moniker is to “further differentiate myself” from MAD Dawson. MWD noted that his family has lived in Perryville for generations and many friends and neighbors were confused in the town elections and thought they were voting for MWD when MAD Mike put his name on the ballot as “Michael Dawson” for town commissioner.

Since getting on the town board, MAD Mike, a recent transplant from Prince George’s County, has alienated many town residents, as well as fellow commissioners, with rants and raves against everyone and everything in town government and town operating procedures.

Michael W. Dawson said he did not “mean to begrudge him (MAD) the use of his own name; he is his own person. I just wish I didn’t feel the need to hang my head in shame and disgust when he speaks; there are so many in Cecil who don’t know there are two Dawsons…I believe ‘Constitution’ firmly distinguishes me from the imitation.”

MWD, who has spoken out against the Smipkin-aligned “Three Amigos” voting majority of the current County Commissioners, also lamented “the pervasive view of the non-cooperative commissioners’ voting block and the self-interested, majority-held faction of Cecil’s GOP Central Committee [that] has not shown itself to be conducive to working together for the citizens of Cecil.”

Adding to one’s name on the ballot is a long-standing tradition in Maryland politics and the Elections Board had no problems placing “Constitution” in MWD’s name on the ballot.

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