Sanders Beats Clinton in Local Final Tally; McCarthy Widens Cecil County Exec Margin
Who knew there were so many âsocialistsâ in conservative Cecil County? Or is that âHillary haters?â
Bernie Sanders, a self-professed lifelong âsocialist,â eked out a 28-vote victory in Cecil County over state and national front-runner Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary for President in the April 26 election, according to final vote tallies issued on Monday– including counts of provisional ballots and two rounds of absentee ballot counts. Clinton was slightly ahead in early voting, election day balloting and early counts of absentee and provisional ballots in Cecil County, but the final count of additional absentee ballots resulted in 3,562 total votes for Sanders and 3,534 votes for Clinton.
Statewide, Clinton won the Democratic primary with 62.5 percent, to Sandersâ 33.8 percent, according to state Board of Elections reports. Cecil County was one of only four in the state to favor Sanders over Clinton. All those countiesâAllegany, Garrett, and Carroll, as well as Cecilâare generally conservative politically. The other counties have long leaned Republican overall, while Cecil County shifted to a GOP voter registration majority more recently. Local Democrats have usually been more conservative than fellow party members elsewhere in the state.
Given the more conservative views of Democrats in Cecil County and the other three Sandersâ counties, it seems plausible that the pro-Sanders vote was really an anti-Clinton vote. The âmad as hell and not gonna take it anymoreâ attitude of many pro-Sanders and pro- Donald Trump(R) voters is a reflection of an anti-establishment mood, both nationally and locally.
In local contests, the final vote tallies did not alter the election night outcomes but the Republican primary for Cecil County Executive widened the gap between winner Alan McCarthy and second-place finisher Dan Schneckenburger. McCarthy, the current vice president of the Cecil County Council, received 4,448 votes, or 39.4 percent of the total in the four-candidate GOP primary, while fellow Council member Schneckenburger pulled 2,945 votes, or 26.1 percent. McCarthy widened his vote margin over Schneckenburger, from 1,437 votes from early voting and election day tallies up to 1,503 votes in the final count.
The third-place finisher, Joe Carabetta, picked up some support in the final counts, ending up with 2,647 votes, or 23.5 percent of the total, while last-place finisher Greg MacDonald drew a final count of 1,238 votes or 11 percent of the total in the Republican primary.
The vote counts show that the total âoutsiderâ voteâthose for Carabetta and MacDonald, both of whom have never held elected government officeâwas still too small to pose a serious threat to winner McCarthy.
In the year of The Donald (Trump) on the national Republican primary level, his so-called âoutsiderâ appeal has been highlighted. Trump swamped the GOP primary in Cecil County, with 7,557 votes or more than three times the tally of his closest challenger, Sen. Ted Cruz. Statewide, Trumpâs margin was smaller, with 54.1 percent of the vote, while more moderate John Kasich scored 23.2 percent and Cruz, the favorite of hard core conservatives and evangelicals, received 19 percent.
So how did a âsocialistâ like Sanders win the Democratic majority over Clinton in conservative Cecil County and what might the presidential race mean for down-ticket candidatesâsuch as the only contested partisan local election in Cecil County in the November general election, for Cecil County executive?
Democrat Wayne Tome, Sr., the mayor of Port Deposit and a former Cecil County Commissioner, was unopposed in his party primary for Cecil County Executive, with 6,060 votes, so he will appear on the general election ballot running against McCarthy. (However, state election law provides that a candidate may decline his partyâs nomination and withdraw from the general election by the end of August.)
In past presidential elections, which tend to draw higher voter turnout than purely local elections, the top-of-the-ticket candidate tends to have coat-tails to draw votes to local candidates of the same political party. But Cecil County has a large segment of âunaffiliatedâ or independent votersâcounted as 13,697 as of April, according to the state Board of Elections.
Trump was highly popular among local Republican voters, who fit his national demographic profile: primarily white, lower education levels and blue-collar. Cecil County is overwhelmingly white and has a much lower educational level than other counties in Maryland, with just 21.8 percent of county residents having a bachelorâs degree. Statewide, the college graduate average is 37.3 percent, according to state and federal data. Among Democrats, Clinton fared best nationally with older voters, women, and higher income people while Sanders drew huge support from youths and lower income people. Cecil Countyâs per capita income level is well below the state average.
Apart from demographics, the overwhelmingly negative tone of the national political campaignsâfull of name-calling, insults and overall personal bashingâ has played a significant role in the Republican campaign outcome. But locally, a last-minute negative, and personally-tinged, campaign by Schneckenburger against McCarthy seemed to backfire, with many Republicans recoiling from the negative âlow road,â as McCarthy characterized Schneckenburgerâs robocall and glossy mailer attacks in the final days of the primary campaign. Those tactics did not work for Schneckenburger and drew dismay even among some of his issue-based supporters.
As the national campaign, apparently between Trump and Clinton, proceeds with expected negative attacks continuing into November, the impact on local candidates might be negligible. Tome has minimal campaign funds so far, and is not expected to wage a high-profile campaign as the Democratic candidate for County Executive. McCarthy refused to go negative in the GOP primary, even when attacked personally by Schneckenburger, and is unlikely to take a âlow roadâ in the general election.
Meanwhile, final vote tallies for two Cecil County Council seats confirmed the election night results. In Council District 5, Jackie Gregory ended up with 5,512 votes or 55.2 percent of the total, over her opponent, Paul Trapani, who received 4,472 votes or 44.8 percent of the total.
In Council District 1, Bob Meffley received 5,991 votes or 59.2 percent of the total. His opponent, Tom Cole, received 4,129 votes or 40.8 percent.