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Cecil County Judges: Baynes, Murray are Active Fundraisers for Election to Circuit Court

January 27, 2012
By Nancy Schwerzler

Cecil County’s newest Circuit Court judges, who must run for election to their seats this year, have been busy on the fundraising front and are already running active campaigns for the April primary election.

Keith Baynes, a Republican, and Jane Cairns Murray, a Democrat, were appointed to their seats on the Circuit Court by Gov. Martin O’Malley. A third candidate is on the ballot, Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36), who did not go through the vetting process for appointment to a court seat and chose instead to file as an election challenger this year.

Circuit Court judges must run for election to their seats in the first election after their appointment but they run on a non-partisan basis in both the Republican and Democratic primaries. With two bench seats at stake, the two top vote-getters in each primary would proceed to a general election, with a potential three-way contest if different candidates win in the primaries. But if the same two candidates win in each primary, they would be unopposed in November.

That’s why Baynes and Murray have been actively holding fundraisers and meeting with citizens at various events around the county. And, in the non-partisan tone of a judicial race, Baynes and Murray recently won the unanimous endorsement of the Republican Club of Cecil County. Smigiel was invited to speak, along with Baynes and Murray, at the club meeting at which the decision was made, but decided not to attend, citing legislative duties in Annapolis, club officials said.

According to new campaign finance reports filed with the state Board of Elections, Baynes’ campaign has raised $25,915 in contributions and fundraiser ticket sales, with expenditures of $17,045. He has a net $9,519 cash balance remaining.

Baynes has held a pig roast at his home and a larger fundraiser at the Wellwood to bring in much of his campaign contributions. He has used much of the proceeds to produce campaign necessities such as yard signs and bumper stickers and he has already placed some newspaper ads.

Donations to Baynes campaign fund are virtually all from Cecil County residents, especially local lawyers. The largest donations, $1,360, came from attorney Clara Campbell. His campaign also drew strong bipartisan support, with GOP and Democratic donors. Democratic contributors included Walter Baker ($490), William Manlove ($120), and Robert Alt ($450). Baynes’ campaign treasurer, Ralph Young, of Earleville, donated a restored antique trunk valued at $565 that was offered as a raffle item.
(Baynes’ website is: http://www.keepjudgebaynes.org/ )

Meanwhile, Murray’s campaign finance report shows contributions and ticket purchases of $16,315. Expenses were listed as $3,033, leaving a cash balance of $13,281. However, her next report may show more expenses, as well as last-minute ticket buys, for her “launch party” fundraiser at the Wellwood which was held at about the time of the report filing deadline.

Murray’s report showed her parents, Sally and Ed Cairns, as donors totaling $2,000. Another major donor was Joan Carr of Conowingo, with $1,000, and attorney Clara Campbell also gave Murray $1,000.

Murray has covered, as “in-kind” contributions of $2,073, expenditures for a campaign cell phone service, campaign buttons, and postage. (Murray’s website is:
http://keepjudgemurray.com/ )

Smigiel maintains a state-registered campaign committee, “Friends of Mike Smigiel,” that he has used for his campaigns for state delegate and he can use that same campaign fund to finance his run for a Circuit Court seat. The most recent report, which was due to be filed 1/11/12, was not yet available Friday online through a new state Board of Elections database or a related, much more detailed website operated by the University of Maryland.

The State Board of Elections has admitted its new electronic filing system has been problematic and has said it will recommend that candidates who had trouble filing can ask to have any late fees waived.

In his last campaign finance report, an annual report covering late 2010 through 1/19/11, Smigiel reported just $649 cash on hand in his account. However, he holds an annual crab feast in early summer and the proceeds of that event, or any other fundraising efforts, would be included on the new report that is due now. Previous reports have shown he raises much of his campaign funds from out-of-district lawyers and political action committees.

Despite the low balance reported on his last campaign finance tally, Smigiel did tap his own campaign account on 11/1/11 to donate $250 from the “Friends of Mike Smigiel” fund to a cocktail party fundraiser held in Queen Anne’s County by Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36). The Smigiel donation showed up on Pipkin’s latest campaign report.

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3 Responses to Cecil County Judges: Baynes, Murray are Active Fundraisers for Election to Circuit Court

  1. Al Reasin on January 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Both Keith Baynes and Jane Murray impressed this TEA Party member and cynic when they took questions at the Republican Club. The spirit of cooperation between two judges who are members of opposing parties was refreshing. True justice has no party loyalty.

  2. Keith Baynes on January 28, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Thank you, Al.

  3. Jane Murray on January 28, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Thanks, Al. I appreciate your comments.

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