Cecil County Exec Moore Breaks GOP Ranks to Support Democrat in Howard Co Exec Race; Uproar Among Republicans, Conservatives

October 16, 2014

Cecil County Executive Tari Moore—a Republican who came under fire in her party when she briefly left the GOP to break a deadlock on appointing her successor to the County Council two years ago– has endorsed a Democrat running for County Executive in Howard County against a well-known statewide Republican.

The endorsement, highlighted during a candidates’ debate this week, was the topic of much hand-wringing among state Republican party officials last Friday during the state party’s annual Oktoberfest gathering. “People were asking, ‘What was Moore thinking?’,” according to a source who attended the event but spoke on condition of anonymity.

Courtney Watson, a Democrat, is running against Republican State Sen. Allan Kittleman for Howard County Executive. The winner of the election will succeed Ken Ullman, who is running for Lt. Governor on the statewide Democratic ticket with gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown. The local race is seen as a high-profile contest with potential statewide political implications by both parties.

On her campaign Facebook page, Watson recently posted that she was “Proud to have the endorsement of the only elected female county executive in the state, Tari Moore (who happens to be a Republican!)” The post included a photo of the two women together and a statement from Moore:

“I’ve known Courtney Watson for several years through her leadership position with women of MACO (Maryland Association of Counties.) Under Courtney’s leadership, county and state leaders came together to talk about practical approaches to solving problems on a local level. With those proven skills, I believe Courtney Watson will be an excellent County Executive.”

(Cecil Times has left multiple messages for Moore at her county office, and on her personal cell phone, seeking comment and will update this report upon her response. Her office staff noted that she had been on vacation for the past two weeks and was still catching up on messages).

Watson is a two-term County Council member and former school board member in Howard, where Democrats hold a sizeable voter registration majority. But there is also a substantial unaffiliated voter registration and both candidates in the race have been de-emphasizing their own political party ties and appealing for cross-over votes.

Kittleman, a former GOP minority leader in the state Senate, has at times steered an independent and more moderate course from his party and has had a high political profile statewide as a result. He resigned his leadership post in 2011 because he supported legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, while most other Republicans opposed the bill. He also voted to repeal the death penalty in Maryland.

Moore’s endorsement of Watson came up in a debate on Tuesday between the Howard County candidates. Watson cited the Moore endorsement as evidence of her ability to work across party lines.

[See Baltimore Sun debate report here:

Among issues in the campaign have been Watson’s support of imposing a so-called ‘rain tax’ on local residents in response to a state stormwater runoff mandate—Kittleman says the needed funds should be taken out of the county budget with offsetting cuts rather than passing the tax on to residents and businesses. Watson has challenged Kittleman’s vote against Governor O’Malley’s tighter gun control legislation in 2013.

In general, Kittleman’s positions are more in line with Cecil County Republicans and local independent voters’ views than the positions of Watson.

Watson has been airing ads on Baltimore broadcast TV recently in spots that don’t mention her party affiliation.

Kittleman aired TV ads in July in which he pitched for votes from independents and Democrats and included endorsements from citizens saying they would cross party lines to support him for Howard County executive. His ads did not mention his own GOP ties. Kittleman also has his share of official cross-party endorsements, including two Democratic state Senators.

The Howard County executive’s race has been drawing a lot of attention in Baltimore media and it is considered to be a very competitive contest, with the outcome far from certain.

Moore’s support of the Democratic candidate drew predicable fire from the most conservative elements of the Republican Party. But it also left more moderate party members and longtime Moore backers puzzled. The action also posed a potentially difficult situation for her husband, Steve Moore, who is president of the Cecil County Republican Club that is pledged to support local GOP candidates.

[UPDATE: At a meeting of the Republican Club Thursday night, Moore spoke briefly about the issue and said she had endorsed Watson because she believed there might be some economic development benefit to Cecil County in the future, according to several attendees. It was not clear how taking sides in the local contest– especially if the other candidate wins– would benefit Cecil County.]

Bill Harris, incoming chair of the Cecil County Republican Central Committee when a mostly new membership of the panel is sworn in after the November election, told Cecil Times that he was uncertain of Moore’s actual intent and had not discussed the matter with her. But if Moore meant her positive comments as an endorsement of Watson, “I would be very, very disappointed.”

The Cecil County Campaign for Liberty group, an ultra-conservative faction that has long been critical of Moore and other GOP elected officials in the county, intoned on social media that “Tari Moore has once again shown that she is a traitor to the conservative movement in Maryland.”

Brian Griffiths, a blogger on the Red Maryland conservative network of online and Internet radio pundits, was incensed by the Watson endorsement and suggested that the state Republican Party should resurrect a previously tabled resolution to sanction Moore over her 2012 temporary defection from the GOP. The party convention is slated for early December.

“Moore’s endorsement of Watson is merely the latest in a number of ways that she has insulted the Republican Party and insulted the primary voters who selected her as the party’s nominee in 2012,” Griffiths wrote. “Between her end-run around the Cecil County Charter, her indifference toward the Cecil County Central Committee, and now her endorsement of Watson, it’s very clear that Tari Moore’s only loyalty is to Tari Moore.”
[Griffith’s commentary is here:

Moore’s temporary departure from the GOP, after her election as County Executive but before she was formally sworn in, was designed to break a deadlock in the County Council over the appointment of her successor on the Council.

Under the new county Charter, the GOP Central Committee—then controlled by the Smipkin political machine headed by Del. Michael Smigiel and Sen. E.J. Pipkin—would have held the power to decide who could hold the vacated seat, subject to ratification by the remaining four members of the Council who were evenly divided between Smipkin and anti-Smipkin factions. Moore’s temporary switch to ‘unaffiliated’ removed the Central Committee from the equation—but the Council still deadlocked, 2-2, on how to proceed, with the result that Moore was empowered to name longtime Republican community activist Joyce Bowlsbey to the Council.

Most Cecil County residents, regardless of political party, understood the rationale for Moore’s actions and there was strong public support for her decision– in light of a two year history of dysfunction under the Smipkin-backed ‘Three Amigos’ group’s control of the old county Board of Commissioners.

But outside the county, many Republicans didn’t understand the dynamics of the local political situation and accused Moore of disloyalty, despite the fact that when the dust settled, she returned to the GOP party fold.

However, Moore’s latest involvement in the Howard County election can only escalate the statewide GOP questioning of Moore’s loyalties, with some disgruntled Republicans saying they will actively work to defeat Moore in a Republican primary if she runs again for county executive in 2016.

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21 Responses to Cecil County Exec Moore Breaks GOP Ranks to Support Democrat in Howard Co Exec Race; Uproar Among Republicans, Conservatives

  1. David Neff on October 16, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    The final nail in Tari “RINO” Moore’s coffin. It’s time for her to resign!

    • Craig R on October 17, 2014 at 9:56 am

      I’m a fiscal conservative and registered Republican. I know nothing about the 2 running for office in Howard County. With that in mind since when did it become a crime to say something nice about somebody regardless of party? We see what happened with blindly voting “R” in the last cycle. We should be about supporting the best person for the job. Period.

      • Jerry R. Roope on October 23, 2014 at 3:08 am

        Craig, http://www.courtneywatson.com/about is all the further anyone needs to go to see that Ms. Watson is a dyed in the wool liberal Democrat, bent on continued support of the failed liberal Democrat agenda that has failed Maryland, placing in both in a high unemployment and high crime status. She is pictured with Senator Brian Frosh, whose sole agenda is not “common sense” gun laws, like Ms. Watson purports, but rather a “no gun” agenda. She aligns herself with Senator Mikulski, who talks a good game about supporting veterans, yet voted against them under staying the Obama course, over pay raises for the troops who give of their lives to defend our freedoms.

        No Craig, this isn’t about taking the moral “high-road” and endorsing a candidate across the aisle, if that were the case, I’d be fighting tooth and nail in support of executive Moore. This was about being duped by a liberal Democrat candidate into believing that she is going to somehow use government to make all of our lives better. Executive Moore needs to rethink her position, or Cecil County needs a new County Executive.

  2. Patrick Tuer on October 17, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Town, County, district, state and country before party. Voting strictly on party is a disaster and rather ignorant.

    • Jackie Gregory on October 20, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      I agree. However, this is not about party. This is about Moore supporting a candidate who is a far left progressive, and who opposes the conservative principles Moore’s supporters believed she stood for.

      • Jerry R. Roope on October 23, 2014 at 2:57 am

        Agreed Jackie, Patrick is a young liberal Democrat supporter, so naturally he is going to view Executive Moore’s actions as justified, when the entire liberal Democrat agenda that Ms. Watson whole-heartedly supports, has lead to downfall of Maryland and is taking its toll on our country.

    • Harold McCanick on October 21, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      Dear Mr.Tuer,If there were a democrat that was pro 2A,pro property rights,anti illegal immigration,pro entitlement reform,fiscally responsible , anti Obama care,English as national language, anti common core and anti islam pacification I would vote for them.Unfortunatly this democrat doesn’t exist.

  3. Ron Lobos on October 18, 2014 at 7:12 am

    It’s troubling to see Tari make such a poorly thought out decision. In all probability, (in reference to Tari’s political future) this will have negative ramifications among both Republican and conservative voters for a long time to come.

    It’s one thing to agree with and like a candidate who has completely different ideologies and morals than you lead others to think you have. It is completely different to endorse them. I was one of those politically active citizens who went door knocking on Saturdays asking people to vote for Tari. I was one of those people who went out after hurricane Sandy hit and helped to pick up her campaign signs and re-install them. I was the guy who ordered out 500 yellow campaign shirts and issued them to campaign workers on election day with Tari’s name at the top asking people at the poll to vote for Tari. I was one who truly believed in Tari and was convinced that she would make good decisions.

    What I’ve come to find is that she didn’t always make wise decisions. This endorsement was not a wise decision. I was sold on the idea that Tari was conservative and so were many others who supported her. I guess we were sold out.

    • David Neff on October 18, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      Exactly how I feel. I honestly don’t care that she supported a Democrat. I am neither Democratic nor Republican, but I am a conservative and supported her because she was supposedly a conservative and wanted a conservative county executive. I won’t fall for her again.

      • tina sharp on October 20, 2014 at 6:10 pm

        Well david perhaps tari can work with the howard county county exec and bring jobs to Cecil, wouldnt that help you? Maybe you need to … look at reality and see that Cecil needs jobs. That my friend does not run along party lines.

        You of all people should be grateful tari is working on jobs regardless of party affiliation.

        • Joe C on October 21, 2014 at 6:17 am

          Dan should distance himself from her and her political tactics.

          • Ron Lobos on October 21, 2014 at 8:24 pm

            Tina, I’m with Joe on this one.

  4. Joe C on October 18, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    She just wants to be known as “Demi Moore!” What a disgrace for Cecil County! What legitimate business would trust someone who cannot keep their word? Your word is your bond! Perhaps the Republican Club of Cecil County should change its name to the “Unaffiliated Club of Cecil County”– that way Tari does not have to worry who she endorses.

  5. Lisa Markey on October 19, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I don’t particularly care about the letter after a candidate’s name and if this woman was extremely qualified and with views on the issues that reflect Cecil County I would not have a problem. And I wouldn’t have a problem if the person running against her was a really bad candidate or unqualified, and then I could understand why Mrs. Moore did what she did.

    But Sen. Kittleman is extremely well-qualified and if you are looking for someone who is independent-minded and does not just toe the party line, you couldn’t ask for a better candidate than Allan Kittleman.

    Since Mrs. Moore has said, in so many words, that she doesnt support even a more moderate and independent Republican like Sen. Kittleman, I have to wonder why she did what she did. I am afraid that Cecil County will suffer from the fallout of what Mrs. Moore did, and I am at a loss to understand it.

  6. Rebecca Demmler on October 20, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    One must declare an affiliation with a political party in order to be able to vote or to run for any office. Taking on a label may suggest liberal or conservative thinking, but reasonable thinkers are aware that (for most of us) there are many shades of liberalism or conservatism. In national politics, liberal vs. conservative thinking may have influence over policy; but on our very local levels WHAT DOES PARTY HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? Candidates should be evaluated on their intelligence, character, and ABILITY TO DO THE JOB. In the process of doing the job, one must be willing to represent ALL citizens, not just the ones most closely allied with their “brand.”

    This hubbub over Tari’s supporting of a “dread” D by some of the more staunch R’s leaves me shaking my head in disbelief…ONCE AGAIN. (Not knowing if it is even true, I’ll write this with the assumption that it is.) It seems that every time there is an accusation on this venue of what Mrs. Moore has done ‘wrong’, (which if you will notice if quite often) the vocal and inflexible R’s become unkind and sarcastic and engage in foot-stomping dismay.

    Everyone has a view of the better candidate. Yes, Tari holds the title of Executive and she happens to be registered as a Republican. Does this mean she loses her right to back who she wants? I think it shows great character to back a person (assuming that she has) who she feels is the better choice… despite stepping on the toes of some of those she knows will be the most critical and vocal.

    I am a Republican, but you’d better believe I’ll be voting for some Democrats in November. I should always be free to support and vote for the ones I feel will be best in the positions for which they are running. I was a D for a good many years, but I changed to an R because of the SAME closed minded thinking that I hear voiced here. (Yes, there are also steadfast D’s also who think that they MUST support all D’s and if one of the “D-team” expresses a preferences for someone from the other “team,” the same scorn is evident.)

    I often wonder if some of the more unwavering R’s (or D’s) first check the party affiliation of their physicians, dentists, mechanics or lawyers. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

    • Jerry R. Roope on October 23, 2014 at 2:50 am

      Having read through candidate Watson’s website, and her views on various issues, her endorsements, etc., it is CLEAR that Ms. Watson is a dyed in the wool liberal Democrat, bent on following in the footsteps of the Obama/O’Malley/Mikulski/Cardin liberal agenda that is currently failing Maryland. How, therefore, can you possible glean that Executive Moore’s actions are anything short of naive to believe that she is going to get any support over job creation in Cecil County?

      10,000 tax payers LEFT Maryland last year– my wife and I are two (2) of them, and we haven’t regretted a moment of it. Tens of thousands of jobs were lost last year due to the liberal agenda, losing several Fortune 500 companies on the O’Malley watch, and this is somehow a measure of success?

      Baltimore is ranked as one of the deadliest cities in Maryland and Ms. Watson promotes “common sense” gun laws, which is liberal speak for “I want to eventually take Executive Moore’s new handgun away”, and this is somehow a “brave” move?

      No, Ms. Demmler, this is NAIVE in thinking that any deal, made with the Devil, is going to be a lucrative one for Cecil County. Oh, and you better bet I now check ALL of those I have any affiliation with, politically, socially, economically, or otherwise. I don’t look for a (D) or an (R), I look for a ‘Jesus Fish’ and Jesus didn’t condone the killing of the unborn (abortion), so no (D) will get my vote, until they stop with that nonsense.

  7. F Gaylord Moody III on October 20, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Several weeks ago, I read the website of a candidate, who is also an officer of the Republican Club, and it invited voters to judge candidates harshly and vote accordingly. That same person also injected religious doctrine into his political platform by insisting that the person of Jesus was with him. Briefly, I am Roman Catholic and saying prayer in the name of the Holy Trinity is a significant point; for the Holy Ghost is the presence of God on Earth after Jesus Christ ascended to be at the right hand of the Father. It is my understanding that Jesus is no longer with us on earth, hence, the significance of the Holy Spirit. As a further note, according to reference books, Mormons believe the Holy Trinity is a pagan worship, polytheism.

    Now that I feel elements of bashing Catholic faith have come into play, I suppose I am overly sensitive or over reacting with my qualms of bigotry.

    However, the Republican Club put claims of a moral high [road] in the crapper by having endorsed a candidate for Central Committee who, in my opinion, had nothing but bigotry to offer.

    Our incumbent county executive, the Republican club and their cronys in the Cecil Business Leaders are bad bad news.

  8. Jerry R. Roope on October 23, 2014 at 2:34 am

    Although I applaud Cecil County Executive Tari Moore’s desire to want to bring jobs to Cecil County, I neither advocate nor condone her actions to support liberal Democrat Courtney Watson, for Harford County Executive. It is the failing liberal Democrat agenda, primarily focused on social issues, like: gay marriage, marijuana legalization, pro-abortion, and anti Second Amendment, that has lead to overall decline of Maryland, leading to the recent mass exodus of Maryland taxpayers.

    Adding fuel to the fire, is the liberal agenda to increase taxes, in order to promote entitlement spending, to continue to buy more votes, has lead to massive unemployment, as businesses pack up and leave the State. I would, therefore, have to categorize any affiliation or endorsement of Ms. Watson by Executive Moore as “naive”, and grounds to support a more conservative Cecil County Executive, come next election.

    • DW Senn on October 24, 2014 at 7:36 am

      Hey Jerry, you left the state. Now please leave us alone.

  9. Jerry Roope on October 31, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    What’s the matter, “DW Senn”? Did I say something that wasn’t the truth? 50 years of liberal Democrat leadership has lead to the bankruptcy of: Detroit, Baltimore, Washington D.C., New Orleans, and Chicago, all ran by liberal Democrats that focus on the liberal agenda, while the city goes into financial ruin. Not to mention, the most murderous cities in America.

    Martin O’Malley has managed to turn Maryland on it’s ear, following the same liberal agenda that has a political stranglehold on Maryland, to the point where only the liberal Democrat agenda gets ANY attention. Last year alone, Maryland lost 10,000 tax paying citizens, replaced by nearly 12,000 illegal aliens not paying into the tax base. Point being, O’Malley wants to follow the Obama plan and has said so publicly. Both Senators Mikulski and Cardin follow the same liberal ill-fated plan. Add Senator Brian Frosh’s “no gun” agenda, and that is why Maryland is going broke and Baltimore is one of the most murderous cities in America.

    So, what does this have to do with Exective Moore? Go to Ms. Watson’s website and see who her “heroes” are? Mikulski, Cardin, Frosh– and Executive Moore is looking to a small business owner, from four counties away to help bring jobs to Cecil County? Doesn’t that sound in the least bit bit ridiculous? Governor O’Malley drove nearly every Fortune 500 company out of Maryland. What’s Ms. Watson going to teach Executive Moore? How to open a latte stand?

    How about breaking the gridlock that is the Bainbridge Project, and turning that into a center of technological excellence, or inviting a University of Maryland campus there? How about asking Executive Moore what her game plan is?

  10. Joe C on November 6, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Well proof is in the pudding! Do not let Tari Moore endorse you because you will lose the election! Alan Kittleman will be sworn in as the next County Executive in Howard Co. Liberal policies were rejected. Perhaps Tari will give Ms. Watson a job in Cecil County, after all she said jobs would come to Cecil County. Probably chief of Gun collections??

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