Cecil County Business Leaders Group Celebrates ’12 Election Wins; Plans Role in ’14 Elections
It was a night for crowing a bit about the unanimous success of the five local candidates endorsed for election last year by the Cecil Business Leaders organization but organizers of the group were not resting on their laurels Thursday evening as they urged Cecil County citizens to get involved in re-designing the local political landscape in 2014.
The Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government began its life a year ago as a Political Action Committee (PAC) to support candidates reflecting its pro-business agenda in the 2012 primary and general election campaigns. The PAC raised a total of $40,655 during the primary and general election campaigns, according to four financial disclosure reports filed with the state Board of Elections. Most of the donations were from businesses and business men and women in the county and nearby areas.
Mario Gangemi, vice president of the group, said that the PAC and its “partners” pumped nearly $70,000 in the 2012 campaigns, explaining later that the PAC worked with some businesspeople who didn’t want to donate directly to the PAC but were willing to donate to individual candidates’ campaign funds. The PAC did not donate directly to candidates but printed mailers and purchased advertising space to promote the five candidates it endorsed.
The endorsed candidates were Tari Moore, for county executive; Robert Hodge and Dr. Alan McCarthy, for County Council; and Judges Keith Baynes and Jane C. Murray for Cecil County Circuit Court. All five won their contests by substantial margins. All the endorsees were Republicans, except for Murray, a Democrat, who was running in a non-partisan judicial race.
Moore thanked the organization for its support, telling the gathering of about 100 people at Bentley’s in Elkton that, “We’re taking Cecil County back and moving it forward.” She said she was impressed with the mood of “optimism” she has encountered among local residents since the election.
David Williams, chairman of the group, said that both the PAC and its separate membership organization that currently has about 50 active members would expand its role in local politics and discussions of issues facing the county government. “Gone are the days when we could sit back and react to government,” he said.
The PAC has a tiny remaining bank balance—just $27, according to state election records—but the task of re-building its political warchest is already underway. Williams said the goal is for the PAC to raise some $70,000 for the 2014 campaign season, when two County Council seats will be on the ballot as well as state legislative seats.
The Council seats currently held by Diana Broomell (R-4) and Michael Dunn (R-3) will be particular targets in 2014, when those seats are at stake. Broomell and Dunn are the remaining members of the “Three Amigos” faction that dominated the County Commissioners board for the past two years until Charter government was launched after last year’s election. The third Amigo, James Mullin (R-1) was defeated by McCarthy.
If the government meetings dominated by the Amigos had been televised, instead of just audiotaped, “We could have sold the rights to that and I’m pretty sure we’d beat out Honey Boo Boo” in the reality TV ratings, Gangemi said to laughter in the audience.
Williams said that “2014 is on our radar” and Gangemi noted that state legislative delegation seats will be on the ballot and “we’ve got to do something about that.”
The group will seek to recruit candidates to run in 2014 and pledged to improve the “vetting” process it used in 2012 to decide which candidates to support. Some critics questioned the GOP-dominated endorsement list and the failure even to interview some Democratic candidates that were running in contested party primary races. The group only made primary endorsements in the Republican primary.