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Updated Vote Counts Confirm Primary Election Results; Smigiel Blames Harris for his Delegate Seat Loss

July 7, 2014
By Nancy Schwerzler

Updated results from the June 24 primary elections, including provisional ballots and two rounds of absentee vote counts, confirm the initial election night results in Cecil County contests and the fight for a Delegate seat in District 36—with incumbent Michael Smigiel losing his seat by even more votes.

While the state elections board had not yet certified the final results statewide, Cecil County (and the other three counties included in District 36) had completed their counts of all outstanding provisional and absentee ballots on Monday. The tallies confirm the election night winners of three Cecil County Council seats, the Sheriff’s race, State’s Attorney contest and three Delegate seats in District 36.

For Cecil County Sheriff, Scott Adams expanded his strong majority in the Republican primary, picking up 79 votes from provisional and absentee ballots to tally 3,761 votes or 54.9 percent of all votes cast in the crowded five-candidate race. Chris Sutton picked up 38 votes in the post-election counts, for a total of 1,876 votes or 27.4 percent.

In the Democratic primary for Sheriff, W. Danny Blackburn ended up with 1,145 votes in a four-way race, or 31.6 percent of the vote in that primary contest.

For several days after the primary, Sutton mused on a new Facebook page about making a possible independent candidate bid for Sheriff, and also speculated about whether he should endorse another candidate in the November general election, before eventually announcing that he would not endorse any candidate in November.

Maryland election law includes a so-called “sore loser” provision that bars a candidate whose name appeared on a primary election ballot from filing as an independent candidate whose name would appear on the general election ballot. The only alternative would be to conduct a write-in campaign, always an uphill battle with little prospect for success.

In District 36, the full vote tallies for the GOP primary election show that Smigiel lost his seat to a Caroline County candidate, Jeff Ghrist, who expanded his election night lead to 144 votes. Overall, Ghrist, a Caroline County commissioner, tallied 4,307 votes, or 17 percent of the vote in the four counties included in the 36th District while Smigiel won 4,163 votes, or 16.4 percent.

The other two seats in the district went to incumbent Republican candidates Jay Jacobs, of Kent County, who is unopposed in November; and Steve Arentz, of Queen Anne’s County, who has a Democratic challenger in November. Ghrist will face a fellow Caroline County resident, Democrat Robert Thornton, in November.

Ghrist even defeated Smigiel in Queen Anne’s county—the largest voter registration in the district—by 91 votes. Smigiel came in third or fourth in each of the four counties included in the district, even though Smigiel has held a delegate seat from the region for 12 years.

In his homebase of Cecil County, voters repudiated Smigiel by a solid margin. Cecil County Council member Alan McCarthy (R-1) came in first ahead of all candidates for the three seats in Annapolis covered by District 36. McCarthy’s final tally was 1,173 votes or 22.8 percent. Smigiel came in third in Cecil, with 991 votes or 19.2 percent.

Even some of Smigiel’s strongest supporters among gun rights activists have faulted his campaign for its low visibility in the district and seeming to take his seat and his home county for granted. [See previous Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2014/06/absentee-ballot-counts-confirm-del-smigiel-still-laggin-loser-of-dist-36-seat-in-annpolis/ ]

But several days ago, on one of his multiple Facebook accounts, Smigiel didn’t take responsibility for his loss and instead blamed US Rep. Andy Harris (R-1). “This happened because Congressman Harris decided he wanted me out of politics,” Smigiel claimed.

He also reiterated his claims, denied by Harris at the time, that the congressman was behind Smigiel’s loss of an appointment to the state Senate seat vacated by his political mentor/ally E.J. Pipkin who resigned last year to move to Texas. The GOP central committees in the four counties of the district deadlocked on a replacement and the governor was empowered to break the tie, choosing Queen Anne’s county resident Steve Hershey for the Senate slot. Smigiel said several days ago that he told Harris at the time that if he lost his seat in Annapolis, Harris “better be careful because he may get what he asks for and then I will have lots of time on my hands and I will be looking for a new job.”

Harris easily defeated a challenger in the recent GOP primary and he is a heavy favorite to win re-election to Congress in November.

Smigiel’s blame game fails to take into account the already established track record of McCarthy in Cecil County as a defeater of candidates backed by the old Smipkin political machine tied to Smigiel and Pipkin. McCarthy ousted the Smipkin-endorsed James Mullin, the former president of the Cecil County Board of Commissioners, by an overwhelming margin in the 2012 local election.

And one other Cecil County delegate candidate, J.D. Uhler, filed against Smigiel for the 2014 delegate race well before Pipkin announced his resignation.

In local Cecil County Council races, the full tallies confirmed the GOP primary victories of Joyce Bowlsbey, with 3,614 votes or 57.2 percent, in District 2; Dan Schneckenburger, with 3,090 votes or 50.4 percent, in District 3; and George Patchell, with 3,448 votes or 53.5 percent in District 4. (Incumbent County Councilor Diana Broomell came in third, with 21.8 percent of the vote in District 4, while incumbent Michael Dunn came in second, with 26.7 percent in District 3.)

The updated vote counts also confirm the election night results for the hotly contested Republican Central Committee’s nine seats. A “United Republicans” slate won six seats while two candidates aligned with both the old Smipkin machine and a “Campaign for Liberty” conservative group held on to two seats on the panel. One candidate not formally aligned with either faction also won a seat.

The updated ballot counts also confirm the overwhelming Republican primary win by State’s Attorney E.D. Ellis Rollins, with 4,040 votes or 64.9 percent, to challenger Michael Halter’s 2,186 votes, or 35.1 percent. There is no Democratic candidate filed for the race, so Rollins will be unopposed on the November election ballot.

And in the GOP primary for Register of Wills, Michael W. “Good Mike” Dawson confirmed his solid win, with 66.4 percent of the vote, to F. Gaylord Moody III’s 33.6 percent. Dawson will face incumbent Allyn ‘Lyn’ Price Nickle, a Democrat who was unopposed in her party’s primary, on the November ballot.

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One Response to Updated Vote Counts Confirm Primary Election Results; Smigiel Blames Harris for his Delegate Seat Loss

  1. RDF 1 on July 9, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Smigiel cam blame his record as a Delegate for his loss. He and EJ Pipkin worked against Cecil County and ignored Caroline County. In trying to win the Senate position he used his normal ham-fisted methods, thereby angering Central Committee members and party activists. He had Cecil County Smipkin Central in the bag and only needed two more county central committees. His Chief of Staff delivered QA County. He lost Kent and Caroline by trying his bully methods.

    Running against Harris? Not likely.

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