State Senate: Hershey Defeats Sossi in Dist. 36 GOP Grudge Re-match; Norman Carries Dist. 35

June 25, 2014

Newly appointed state Senator Steve Hershey won the Republican primary for the seat, defeating former Delegate Dick Sossi in a grudge re-match of their bitter delegate seat fight four years ago.

Hershey, of Queen Anne’s County, was appointed several months ago to the Senate seat formerly held by E.J. Pipkin, who resigned to move to Texas. Hershey was appointed to the seat by Gov. Martin O’Malley after the Republican central committees in the four counties in the 36th district split evenly between Hershey and Del. Michael Smigiel for the seat. The governor was empowered to break the tie and picked Hershey.

Hershey had earlier won his House of Delegates seat by beating the then-incumbent Sossi by 124 votes in a Republican primary. Sossi was bitter over a last-minute negative campaign flyer, showing him with his eyes closed and the suggestion that Hershey was the more “energetic” candidate.

So when Hershey moved up to the Senate, Sossi might have reclaimed his old Delegate seat through the vacancy-filling process. But Sossi set his sights on the Senate seat and that set off another head-to-head confrontation.

But Hershey drew a solid margin of victory in Tuesday’s GOP primary, winning 5,912 votes, or 56.1 percent, in the four counties included in the district: all of Kent and Queen Anne’s counties and parts of Cecil and Caroline counties. Sossi’s tally was 4,619, or 43.8 percent.

(In the Cecil County portion of the 36th District, Hershey won 1,129 votes, or 53.8 percent, while Sossi drew 966 votes, or 46.1 percent.)

In the final days of the primary campaign, Hershey flooded area mailboxes with almost daily flyers and multi-page campaign statements. His most recent campaign finance report to the state listed a campaign bank account balance of about $40,000, but the last-minute mailing blitz will likely trim that balance significantly when the bills come in.

Hershey faces a Democratic opponent in the November general election: Benjamin Tilghman, who was unopposed in his party’s primary.

Meanwhile, in Senate District 35, which covers western Cecil County and portions of northeastern Harford County, Wayne Norman won the GOP nomination. Norman, a Harford County lawyer and state Delegate from Harford County, ran to move up to a Senate seat when the district was significantly re-drawn after the 2010 census.

Norman defeated Thomas J. Wilson, of Cecil County, with a dominant 66.8 percent of the GOP primary vote in the district. He will face a Democrat, Bridget Kelly, in the November general election. However, the district is heavily Republican and Kelly is a political newcomer.

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