Cecil County Election: GOP Tsunami Drowns Veteran Dems; Rudolph, Nickle Succumb to Newcomer Republican Tide

November 5, 2014

Cecil County voters, mirroring the statewide Republican mood, rejected two veteran Democrats with long records of service to the county in Tuesday’s elections. Twenty year veteran David Rudolph was defeated for state Delegate in the Cecil County-only 35A district while Allyn ‘Lyn’ 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 County’s advantage.

Rudolph often voted on statewide issues as a conservative “Blue Dog Democrat” who was frequently at odds with the Martin O’Malley 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 Hornberger’s 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 Cecil’s strongly GOP areas of the county.

But even with redistricting, Rudolph’s record of delivering help to the county—and some bipartisan support from some local county officials—failed to carry the day in an election year in which having an “R” next to one’s name on the ballot seemed to rule the day.

Another veteran Democrat—Allyn ‘Lyn’ Price Nickle—the county’s Register of Wills with four terms in the office, lost her bid for re-election to a likeable, but inexperienced, Republican, Michael W. “Good Mike” 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 county’s 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 residents’ 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 members’ 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.]

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15 Responses to Cecil County Election: GOP Tsunami Drowns Veteran Dems; Rudolph, Nickle Succumb to Newcomer Republican Tide

  1. Mayor Joseph A Zang, III on November 5, 2014 at 6:44 am

    I sincerely appreciate all that Delegate Dave Rudolph has done for the Town of Cecilton and our residents. I wish him the BEST in all he does as he moves forward. I will always call him friend and will always respect him for being a man of his word.

    Kevin Hornberger has very large shoes to fill; he must reach across party lines to help make things happen in Cecil County. I wish him all the best in moving Cecil County forward.

    • Ron Lobos on November 7, 2014 at 7:43 am

      I have heard the same thing from veteran elected officials over and over again. “Hornberger won’t be able to bring home the bacon like Rudolph did.” I’m sorry but you are all missing the point. The majority of people didn’t vote for Hornberger because they wanted him to bring home more bacon than Rudolph, They voted for Hornberger because they are tired of the way Annapolis is holding back the prosperity of the people and businesses in this state. They want things to change down in Annapolis.

      Rudolph, although he is a nice guy, is part of a failing leadership in Annapolis and needed to go. 20 years was enough. The bacon that is brought home from our elected officials was nothing more than fodder for the special interests in most cases.

      If we are really looking for prosperity in this state, we need to start changing the way business is done because the old way isn’t working anymore. We are drowning in debt, excessive regulations and increasing taxes. When Hornberger was elected, the voters were looking for Hope. “Hope” that opportunity would come back to life. Hope that we would be allowed to provide for our families once more rather than depending on government pork to do it for us. Hope that once again we might prosper rather than just survive.

      We voted for Hornberger because we voted for hope, not pork. Let’s do everything we can to support young Hornberger and let us put faith in him to be a part of real prosperity in this county.

  2. VernonTome on November 5, 2014 at 8:58 am

    As happy as I am about the election results, I believe residents made a mistake by rejecting David Rudolph and Lyn Nickle. It has been a 50 year pleasure to know these individuals. The character and dedication I have experienced from both creates a very high bar for the replacements.

    David and Lyn, my family would like to Thank You for your Service and Friendship. Without a doubt you will both continue to Serve others.

    • NJR on November 6, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      Cecil County lost its best advocate in Dave Rudolph. As a registered republican,I was very sad to see him lose. He regularly crossed party lines and was able to move the state bureaucracy to get things done for county citizens.

  3. Ken Wilson on November 6, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Well, there is no doubt that David Rudolph did well for this county, and he should be proud of his service record.

    I truly feel what hurt Mr Rudolph was the current negative feelings toward the Democrat party, nationally and statewide. Yes, Obama and O’Malley do effect local elections through trickle down feelings of negativity.
    My only concern I had with Mr Rudolph was his seemingly hesitation to support #2 amendment rights for Cecil’s law abiding citizens until pressured to do so.

    A ‘blue dog democrat’ is nothing to be ashamed of for sure. For the uninitiated, this term describes old fashioned conservative Democrats that have not jumped onto the progressive, socialist agenda that most current democrats have willing done.

    We can all wish Mr Rudolph best wishes in his future and possible return to once again represent us one day.

  4. Joe C on November 6, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    It is my political analysis that shifting Delegate Rudolph’s district was a huge mistake since it deprived him of long time supporters who were use to voting for him and replaced them with those who were not. The greed of the Democratic leaders in Annapolis who “marymandered” district lines are partially responsible for his loss. It is doubtful that even a very popular Democrat could have survived the onslaught that was created by the two wrecking balls(Obama and O’Malley) which hung over their heads. Kevin Hornberger will do a good job, he is bright and resourceful and should bring new ideas to Annapolis.

    • David W on November 7, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      In absence of the definition of “a good job”, it remains to be seen if Mr. Hornberger can affect any change in Annapolis at all, let alone successfully bring in new ideas. He may be bright, but he is still a novice with absolutely no governing experience – and will still be part of the minority party in a General Assembly controlled by Democrats.

      • NJR on November 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

        Mr Hornberger will be a non factor in the legislature for several years. Nevertheless, with a Republican Governor he will be in an excellent position to help the County vis a vis the bureaucracy. He needs a crash course on how Maryland’s government really works in order to get that done.

        • Joe C on November 13, 2014 at 11:00 pm

          He does not need a crash course in how Maryland “works”, because it generally is not working well. High taxes, excessive regulation and overspending are the biggest problems! Dave did little to stand up to the Annapolis leadership because he would be blackballed, yes some of his votes seemed to be right for Cecil County, but many were mere “kitchen passes” issued by Mike Bush and company so he could save face at home. The voters tried of an out of control government in Annapolis and Dave paid the price.

          • NJR on November 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm

            Freshmen legislators in a minority party have zero impact, other than making “feel good” empty gestures in the general assembly. Understanding how government really functions is an essential element in being effective. If one doesn’t take the time to learn the ways of government one can end up like Mike Smigel, a bomb thrower who accomplished nothing but headlines which left more serious legislators shaking their heads in bemusement.

            Annapolis is like any other legislative body, it is all about personal relationships. Young Mr Hornberger would be well served to remember that.

  5. Harold McCanick on November 12, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    There you have it Kevin.The doubters that said you couldn’t win the election are now saying you won’t be able to get anything done.Show them what you are made of.Knock it out of the park young man!

    • Linda Wilson on November 13, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      When a nice young man, with no experience in leadership or local issues, runs for office, it is only common sense to be a “doubter” as you put it. Is he going to keep his washington dc job and a long commute, and add traveling to Annapolis for the legislation sessions, too? I guess he does need to sleep a bit and spend a little time with family. So when will he have time to learn about how to get things done in Annapolis?

      If Hornberger was so concerned about Cecil County and its future why didn’t we hear from him in our county before? Maybe he just decided he wanted $44,000 a year in extra income from a part-time job in Annapolis?

      • Ron Lobos on November 15, 2014 at 9:04 am

        Please don’t sell Kevin Hornberger short. That last statement is unfair and condescending. Even Rudolph had a first year on the job and had a lot to learn. I can tell you from experience, because I ran for Delegate in 1998, that no one runs for this type of position with the goal of having extra income. One of the hardest, most time consuming, critical jobs you can go after is one from which you must be elected. Lets give young Kevin a chance to work with a new administration. This state in in debt up to its ears and in need of a new direction.

        • Joe C on November 19, 2014 at 9:41 pm

          Well said! Thank you.

  6. Bob Laird on November 17, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    “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.”

    “…no experience in leadership or local issues…”

    “If Hornberger was so concerned about Cecil County and its future why didn’t we hear from him in our county before? Maybe he just decided he wanted $44,000 a year in extra income from a part-time job in Annapolis?”

    These statements just go to show that the Cecil Times and, it would appear, many of its readers don’t pay attention. Invisible in civic matters? Let’s see…Rotary Club, Scouting, Cecil Leadership Institute – all common places where newcomers learn the ropes. Attended meetings as part of the learning process for those areas where he didn’t already have knowledge.

    No leadership in local issues? See above.

    Why didn’t YOU notice all of the things Kevin was doing in our county without a press corps following him around from photo op to photo op like Dave Rudolph?


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