Cecil County Election: GOP Tsunami Drowns Veteran Dems; Rudolph, Nickle Succumb to Newcomer Republican Tide
Cecil County voters, mirroring the statewide Republican mood, rejected two veteran Democrats with long records of service to the county in Tuesdayâs elections. Twenty year veteran David Rudolph was defeated for state Delegate in the Cecil County-only 35A district while Allyn âLynâ Price Nickle lost her bid to return as county Register of Wills.
The defeat of Rudolph by a political neophyte, Republican Kevin Hornberger, was a particularly wincing blow to local and state Democrats. Rudolph has a 20-year record as a state Delegate who was widely respected across party lines for paying attention to, and delivering help, to the county even in areas outside his district. He was the vice-chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, and that position of power was often leveraged to Cecil Countyâs advantage.
Rudolph often voted on statewide issues as a conservative âBlue Dog Democratâ who was frequently at odds with the Martin OâMalley Democratic administration in Annapolis. And his Cecil County ties run deep, as a former school principal and Cecil College administrative official.
His Republican opponent Hornberger was until recently invisible in Cecil County civic matters and had never run for county or state elected office before. He surfaced as an attendee at some local issue and policy meetings late in his recent campaign. He is employed as a building maintenance supervisor at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
The election returns gave Hornberger 56.6 percent of the vote, while Rudolph received 43.2 percent. In raw numbers, Hornberger obtained 6,040 votes while Rudolph received 4,610 votes. Provisional, absentee and overseas ballots still must be counted, but the vote margin from early voting and Election Day results indicated that Hornbergerâs lead will be sustained.
The warning signs were in the wind four years ago, when Rudolph narrowly won re-election over a little-known ultra-conservative Republican and a third-party challenger. But redistricting of the 35th district for 2014 seemed to favor Rudolph, shifting his district lines eastward toward Elkton and more Democrat-friendly territory, in contrast to his past district based in western Cecilâs strongly GOP areas of the county.
But even with redistricting, Rudolphâs record of delivering help to the countyâand some bipartisan support from some local county officialsâfailed to carry the day in an election year in which having an âRâ next to oneâs name on the ballot seemed to rule the day.
Another veteran DemocratâAllyn âLynâ Price Nickleâthe countyâs Register of Wills with four terms in the office, lost her bid for re-election to a likeable, but inexperienced, Republican, Michael W. âGood Mikeâ Dawson.
The vote tally showed Dawson with 53.1 percent of the vote, while Nickle received 46.7 percent of the votes. However, Nickle held a narrow lead for much of the night as votes were counted but eventually succumbed to Dawson.
Dawson, a personable conservative whose family roots run centuries deep in the Perryville area, had previously run unsuccessfully against Del. Rudolph as a candidate on the Conservative Party line. After his loss four years ago, Dawson shifted his party affiliation to Republican, and he won a seat on the countyâs GOP Central Committee in the June party primary.
Dawson is employed as a field technician for the land lines division of the Verizon phone company.
During the Register of Wills campaign, Dawson emphasized his Christian beliefs as a qualification for office. He also claimed that the Register of Wills office should cut its budget to equal the amount of revenues the office collects from estate taxes.
But that assertion fails to acknowledge that Cecil County is a low-income county whose residentsâ estates generally are too small to be required to pay any estate taxes at all. Cutting the operating expenses of the Cecil office could reduce local services to bereaved residents settling deceased family membersâ estates– instead of tapping statewide fiscal resources that are available to Cecil County from rich counties whose more wealthy residents provide estate tax revenues to the state.
[UPDATE: The Republican sweep also extended to the county’s Orphans Court, where veteran Democrat Ed Cole– an incumbent on the court that oversees wills and estates and a former County Commissioner– lost his re-election bid. Incumbent Republican Carolyn Crouch, who serves as the chief judge of the panel, will be joined by two newcomers– Sally Saunders Camp and Peter Pritchard, who are Republicans. The Register of Wills serves as an adviser to the Orphans Court in issues involving the estates of deceased people.]