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Dist. 36 Delegates: Cecil GOP Voters Oust Smigiel; Caroline County’s Ghrist Plays 4-County Jumpshot to Top Incumbent

June 25, 2014
By Nancy Schwerzler

Cecil County Republican Michael Smigiel apparently lost his bid for re-election Tuesday in a redrawn District 36 House of Delegates contest, losing in his home county as well as falling short throughout the four-county district to Caroline County opponent Jeff Ghrist in the Republican primary election.

It was the first time in nearly 20 years that Caroline County had a viable shot at obtaining a seat in the House of Delegates under the redistricting following the 2010 census. And Ghrist, a Caroline County commissioner, waged a focused campaign that included his local supporters voting only for his candidacy and leaving ballots blank for the other two seats in the district– as a way to boost his overall vote tally and tamp down the numbers of other contenders in the district.

[SEE previous Cecil Times report on the complex political basketball strategy involved in the District 36 campaign that gave Cecil County voters a second shot at the free-throw line to replace Smigiel: http://ceciltimes.com/2014/06/state-delegate-dist-36-race-three-hoops-four-basketballs-and-a-caroline-county-jumpshot/ ]

Ghrist also campaigned in Cecil County, where he had a visible sign presence in several towns and along major highways.

That strategy paid off, as Ghrist pulled in 4,235 votes, or 16.9 percent of the districtwide tally, with most precincts reporting. In contrast, Smigiel garnered 4,093 votes districtwide, or 16.3 percent of the GOP vote. Absentee and provisional ballots will still need to be counted in the days following the primary election but in past contests the later counts usually follow the early and election day vote patterns.

Smigiel was soundly defeated in his homebase of Cecil County, where Cecil County Council member Alan McCarthy was the top vote-getter with 1,148 votes, or 22.6 percent of the Cecil County tally for the district. Smigiel drew 979 votes or 19.2 percent of the total.

In the complex political math of the 36th District, candidates for three available seats had to draw votes in all four counties of the sprawling district which covers parts of Cecil and Caroline counties and all of Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. Queen Anne’s county holds the largest proportion of voters casting ballots in the district.

Districtwide, the top GOP vote-getter was Jay Jacobs of Kent County, with 6,668 votes or 26.7 percent. The popular former mayor of Rock Hall was running for his second term in Annapolis. He has been a regular visitor to Cecil County community and government meetings to discus area issues.

Steve Arentz, a newly appointed Delegate from Queen Anne’s county and a former county commissioner, won 6,278 votes, or 25.1 percent of the total. Arentz will face a Democrat, Irving Pinder, in the November general election.

Ghrist’s apparent GOP primary win means that Cecil County would not have a designated resident delegate seat in Annapolis. But Ghrist still faces a strong challenge in November from fellow Caroline County resident Robert Thornton, Jr, a Democrat. Thornton previously held a state Delegate seat from Caroline County about 20 years ago and is seeking to return to Annapolis.

The repudiation of Smigiel by GOP voters in the southern Cecil and Elk Neck areas included in the state district marked the second consecutive election in which local Cecil voters rejected him. He lost a bid for a seat on the Circuit Court in 2010 when voters countywide overwhelmingly rejected his candidacy.

In the overall districtwide vote tally, McCarthy drew 2,027 votes or 8.1 percent of the total. J.D. Uhler, a Cecil County resident, drew 1,035 votes or 4.1 percent while another Cecil County resident, Rod Heinze, received 630 votes or 2.5 percent.

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15 Responses to Dist. 36 Delegates: Cecil GOP Voters Oust Smigiel; Caroline County’s Ghrist Plays 4-County Jumpshot to Top Incumbent

  1. Ron Lobos on June 25, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I would like to recognize Alan McCarthy for his biggest accomplishment in running to 36th District House of Delegates. What many people will fail to recognize is that if Alan had not run, Smigiel may well have garnished enough votes to win in the primaries and we would have been stuck with him for possibly 4 more years as our representative in Annapolis. Dr. McCarthy may not have won his primary race, but the citizens of Cecil County won. Thanks again to Dr. McCarthy for all his hard work.

    • Mike R on June 25, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Very well put Ron. A big thank you goes out to Dr. McCarthy for having entered this political frenzy and saving Cecil County.

    • Joe C on June 25, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      Ron
      Real brilliant move, now Cecil county is left with one local representative , who is a Democrat! Alan is a “great” Republican!
      You all should be very proud of playing right into Democrat hands.

      • NJR on June 26, 2014 at 5:40 pm

        Better to have a qualified statesman from the other party than a bomb thrower who embarrasses the county and is totally ineffective as a General Assembly delegate. Many republicans are well respected by their democratic colleagues in Annapolis. Mike Smigel was never one who was,sadly

      • Jeannette H on June 26, 2014 at 8:10 pm

        Better Cecil County be left with one representative that works for the county than one buffoon who never shows up for critical votes.

      • Bob Laird on June 26, 2014 at 9:44 pm

        Gotta agree with Ron on this one. I get that we don’t have a “local” representative and we will have to demand coverage from whomever wins the slot. The thing is that we have just experienced 12 years of a man who really only listened when it was for his benefit. He is a good guy apparently but that is not what most of us see.

        • Joe C on June 27, 2014 at 10:32 am

          Do you all really believe that these non-resident representatives will look out for Cecil County when it comes time to spilt up the every dwindling state dollars??? Hope everyone is ready for higher taxes and fees to make up the difference!

          • Mary Ann W on June 27, 2014 at 5:12 pm

            You mean like Smigiel looked out for Cecil County?

        • Too Much Government on June 27, 2014 at 10:46 am

          Bob, I’ve never seen the good side of this person over all the years he has been in Cecil County. Add up the money the county and the state has spent over the years because of his frivolous lawsuits even prior to being a “Delegate” and I use the term losely. He should consider relocating to Texas with his buddy Pipkin.

          • Joe C on June 27, 2014 at 8:50 pm

            TMG,
            He will now be able to file lawsuits full time! You are not thinking clearly. It goes to the old saying “The devil you know is better than the one you do not know”!

          • Brian on June 28, 2014 at 4:23 pm

            Joe C, I’m just thankful the voters in the 36th district’s concept of “thinking clearly” and rejecting Smigiel makes a lot more sense than yours.

          • Joe C on June 29, 2014 at 6:46 am

            Brian
            Hope you are not a gun rights person! You will be sorry when all your rights are gone!

          • Brian on June 29, 2014 at 3:52 pm

            I believe strongly in 2A rights, but despite his efforts Smigiel wasn’t successful there either. Besides, being a good state elected official is about a lot more than fighting for gun rights.

          • Jackie Gregory on June 29, 2014 at 10:36 pm

            SB 281 passed while Smigiel was a delegate. He and the other pro-2A delegates and senators were unable to stop the liberals from taking gun rights. Jeff Ghrist is pro-2A and will stand up for 2nd Amendment rights as Smigiel did. Joe, your comments are illogical and out of touch with reality. Smigiel’s replacement with another pro-2A delegate will have no effect on our gun rights.

          • Joe C on June 30, 2014 at 4:29 pm

            Jackie,
            Do you really think someone from Caroline County will really be in touch with the issues of Cecil County?? Who is illogical? We can compare notes inn four years!

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THANK YOU, Cecil County voters, for endorsing my campaign for Delegate.
--Alan McCarthy