BULLETIN: Audrey Scott Withdraws in Dist. 36 Senate Race; Smigiel, Hershey Head to Head
Former state Republican Party chair Audrey Scott withdrew Friday night from the hotly contested race for appointment to the state Senate seat recently vacated by E.J. Pipkin, leaving a potential head-to-head fight between two current state Delegates for the post.
Since Pipkin was a Republican, his successor to fill out the remaining year and a half of his term is picked by a vote of each of the local Republican Central Committees in the four counties covered by the district.
In an email—first reported by the conservative blog Red Maryland– to current state party chair and Eastern Shore resident Diana Waterman, Scott wrote that she was withdrawing her candidacy. She said she had entered the race because “numerous Central Committee members contacted me to ask that I submit my name” and that she had offered detailed letters to the local party panels outlining her qualifications, “commitment to the party” and “my great desire to avoid conflict within our party.”
But she said she decided to pull out of the contest so as to clear the way for the current Delegates in the district—Michael Smigiel of Cecil County and Steve Hershey of Queen Anne’s County—to fight it out without a third contender in the race. Scott did not endorse either delegate and said she did not “wish for my presence in the race to interfere with either person being selected.”
Scott was the surprise victor in the Queen Anne’s County committee’s vote Tuesday, and she won an initial straw vote in Kent County. But Hershey made a comeback when Kent County shifted its support to him Thursday night. That left the tally at Smigiel 1 (Cecil County) and Hershey 1 (Kent.) But a Scott withdrawal opens the door to a future re-vote by Queen Anne’s that is likely to go to Smigiel– based upon his declarations of past pledges of support.
There were unconfirmed reports by usually reliable sources late Friday night that Caroline County’s GOP committee had decided to back Hershey but they could not be verified independently.
If Hershey and Smigiel each get two votes from the four county party panels, Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, would get to break the tie. And few expect he would favor Smigiel, who has sued the governor on various issues and attacked him in personal terms.
That dynamic could influence a re-vote in Queen Anne’s county, however, where local Republicans have felt pressure to avoid handing the decision to a Democratic governor.
Scott had remained above the fray of the past week—reportedly vacationing in Alaska with limited email and communications capabilities—while Hershey and Smigiel have been battling it out locally.
Hershey has played a quieter, behind-the-scenes strategy while Smigiel and his allies have been shouting from the rafters of Facebook and the internet, claiming he was being robbed of the appointment by ‘outside forces.’
Cecil Times will be following up on this drama—and the down-the-road fallout of yet another appointment battle over a vacated Delegate seat caused by the appointment of one of them to the Senate slot.
[Link to copy of Scott email is here: http://redmaryland.blogspot.com/2013/08/breaking-audrey-scott-withdraws-from.html