Final Vote Tally Confirms Manlove Wins Cecil County School Board Seat; Sen. Van Hollen Gets Plums, Rep. Harris Lemons
William C. Manlove narrowly retained his seat on the Cecil County Board of Education, according to final vote counts, and he slightly widened his election night winning margin over challenger Kevin Emmerich. Although the contest was officially non-partisan, the closeness of the race indicated there was spillover from the national political climate.
Manlove, a former County Commissioner and an Earleville Democrat, defeated Emmerich, a Republican, by a final vote of 18,756 (51 percent) for Manlove to 17,756 (48.3 percent) for his challenger.
The election night tally was 17,832 (51 percent) for Manlove, to 16,892 (48.3 percent) for Emmerich. During two rounds of absentee ballot counts plus a provisional ballot tally, Manlove easily retained his frontrunner status and expanded his final vote margin of victory. The final tally was not unexpected, since the number of absentee ballots distributed before the election was about evenly divided between Democrats and Republican– unlike past years when local GOP backers waged active campaigns to sign up their voters for absentee ballots and got a much stronger absentee tally.
But overall, the School Board race was much closer than had been expected, as conservatives rallied around Emmerich, a Republican and member of his party’s Central Committee, who ran a campaign that challenged spending on county schools and opposed the “Common Core” curriculum. In the general election campaign, Emmerich was closely aligned, and campaigned with, backers of the GOP presidential campaign of Donald Trump, who swept Cecil County votes by a wide margin.
Earlier, Ron Lobos, a better known local “tea party” activist, went down to a broad defeat in the primary elections for school board in the District 2 race. Jim Fazzino was the only name on the general election ballot in that district, and he won a final vote count of 32,973 or 97.7 percent of the vote. Lobos and Emmerich had campaigned together on a shared platform critical of county schools spending and curriculum.
Maryland has a “sore loser” rule that bans a candidate who loses a primary election from filing as an Independent with his/her name printed on the general election ballot. (However, that rule does not apply in judicial elections.) So Lobos, after losing the non-partisan primary elections on both the Democratic and Republican ballots, could not have his name appear on the general election ballot. But he did register as a write-in candidate for the general election, so any votes he received from pencil-pushing voters in November would be officially tallied by the Board of Elections.
Even so, Lobos only got a tad over half of the total number of write-in votes: 398 votes, while all other write-ins tallied 377 votes in the District 2 Board of Education contest.
In the only other contested local race on the November election, Alan McCarthy a Republican, confirmed his election night landslide victory over Wayne Tome, a Democrat, in the race for Cecil County Executive. After the absentee and provisional vote counts, McCarthy won 28,554 votes (65.7 percent) to Tome’s 14,782 (34 percent.)
McCarthy, the current vice president of the Cecil County Council, will be sworn in as the county’s second County Executive in ceremonies on Monday 12/5/16. At the same time, two new members of the County Council will be sworn in: Jackie Gregory, District 5, and Bob Meffley, District 1. They are both Republicans and were unopposed on the November general election ballot.
Meanwhile, Maryland’s newly elected US Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, is already making waves in Washington even before he is officially sworn in to fill the seat of the retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski. Senate Democrats picked Van Hollen for a plum seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee—which Mikulski had held for many years, serving in her later tenure as chair and as ranking Democrat. It is not at all customary for a freshman to get such a prestigious committee assignment, even if the newcomer’s predecessor held a seat on the panel.
In addition, Democrats named Van Hollen to chair their Senate Campaign Committee—another prestigious assignment for a freshman. But Van Hollen did chair the House Democrats’ campaign committee during his past tenure in the House, so he is experienced in campaign fundraising and candidate recruitment.
He will have his work cut out for him, as Democrats must defend many more seats in the 2018 election season than the Republican incumbents have at risk. And with a Republican in the White House and GOP majorities in both the House and Senate, it will be an uphill battle to hold on to Democratic seats, let alone expand their margins in Congress.
In contrast, another member of the state’s congressional delegation, Rep. Andy Harris (R-1), whose district includes the Eastern Shore (and Cecil County) took a slap from his fellow Republican conservatives recently when he was rejected in his bid for chairmanship of the House Republican Study Committee. Instead, fellow Republican picked Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, who just completed his first two-year term in the House. Harris has served in the house since the 2010 election.
The Republican Study Committee advocates for conservative policy positions on issues and chairing the group is considered a stepping stone to leadership within the party. However, Harris might still turn his lemons into lemonade if the new Trump administration comes calling with a possible administration job. As a physician, Harris—a vehement opponent of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act—might be viewed as a valuable ally to have on board Trump’s efforts to fulfill his campaign pledge to repeal “Obamacare.”