Cecil County Council Dist. 1: McCarthy Clobbers Mullin in GOP Race; Bailey Leads Dems
(UPDATED 10:59 pm) Dr. Alan McCarthy, a Chesapeake City veterinarian and businessman, overpowered incumbent County Commissioner James Mullin in the Dist. 1 County Council race, in a test of county business leaders versus the political group led by Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36). McCarthy trounced Mullin, 62-37 percent, with 20 precincts reporting.
Overall voter turnout was called “very low” all day Tuesday by county election officials.
Democrat Pam Bailey had a commanding lead over Garrett Billmire in the Democratic primary in District 1, leading 65-34 percent, with 20 precincts reporting.
Despite his incumbency, Mullin struggled to raise funds to support his own re-election campaign, even as his ally and mentor, Pipkin, poured funds into an aggressive, negative campaign against two other Republicans—Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5) and Tari Moore (R-2) Hodge is seeking re-election while Moore is running for County Executive.
In contrast, McCarthy, who raised $11,631 from donors and fundraising events, also drew ad support from the new Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government PAC, which placed extensive advertising endorsing McCarthy along with Hodge and Moore.
Mullin won an easy victory four years ago over a non-entity Democratic candidate, with the support of land preservation and anti-growth groups. This year, he cast himself in campaign flyers as “the conservative choice” for the Council.
After supporting the sale of county water and sewer facilities to the private Artesian firm in the past, last year he joined with two other Republican commissioners– as part of the “Three Amigos” faction on the board—to terminate a contract for sale of the sewage plants. As a result, the county faces millions in costs to refurbish aging sewage treatment plants and there is no immediate prospect for extending needed sewage services to the Route 40/I-95 growth corridor.
Mullin has also championed a pending plan for the county to act as a “bank” to purchase land development rights from farmers directly, and eventually sell them to growth-area developers.
As President of the Board of Commissioners, Mullin has often let warring factions of the board battle it out and re-visit and “do-over” decisions previously made by the board.
Mullin has been firmly aligned with the political machine of Pipkin and Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36)—dubbed the “Smipkins”—and his campaign materials were included in baggies distributed around the county along with those of other GOP candidates endorsed by the group. But Mullin had a limited roadside campaign sign presence around the county.
Meanwhile, Dr. McCarthy, who is running his first countwide campaign for elected office, blanketed the county with signs and had paid billboards as well as print advertising. Although he is well known around the county, especially in the farm and equine communities, McCarthy initially was an uneasy politician. But as the campaign wore on, he appeared more at ease on the campaign trail, appearing at candidate forums and meeting one-on-one with voters.
His campaign motto was the same as the business leaders group: “Good government is everyone’s business.” He also pledged to promote economic development and job creation.
The winner of the Republican primary will face the winner of the Democratic primary for the District 1 seat in the November general election.
In the Democratic primary contest, newcomer Garrett Billmire, an Earleville business and farm owner, ran a low-budget campaign that featured one of the more pointed and amusing campaign ads of the season. He urged voters to “pop the Smipkin bubble” as a way to challenge that faction’s current dominance of county government.
His opponent, Pamela Bailey, a county schools secretary, ran as the Democratic nominee against Mullin four years ago and lost overwhelmingly. She drew much of her support in the Democratic primary from backers of Mullin, who figured she’d be an easy candidate for him to defeat in a general election. She was.