GOP Names Harford County Farmer, Jason Gallion, for Norman’s State Senate Seat on Primary Ballot

March 5, 2018

Jason Gallion, a Harford County farmer and a former two-time candidate for the House of Delegates, has been named by Republicans in the two-counties of Senate District 35 to run unopposed on the GOP primary election ballot in June. His name would replace that of incumbent Sen. Wayne Norman, who died suddenly on Sunday.

While Cecil and Harford county residents were still in a state of shock at the sudden loss of the jovial and well-liked Norman, the state Board of Elections rules provided that Monday (3/5/2018) was the last day for a party central committee to replace a candidate who had already filed or to fill a vacant slot for the June 26 primary ballot.

On Monday, the state elections website listed, in bold red typeface, the death of Sen. Norman and also listed the selection of Gallion by his party central committees for a place on the ballot. District 35 covers northeastern Harford County and sections of western Cecil County.

Gallion is already known in the Cecil County portion of the district from his previous 2014 run for delegate and he placed first in the Cecil County vote tally in a three-way race, but he came up short in the more populous Harford section of District 35B. In that contest, two political newcomers were the top vote-getters: Andrew Cassily, an employee of the Harford County schools whose family name is well known in Harford County politics, and Teresa Reilly, who had been an aide to Wayne Norman when he was in the House of Delegates. Gallion’s vote tally was just 148 votes behind Reilly.

A farmer from the Level area in Harford County, Gallion,41, has campaigned as a voice for farmers and small businesses owners, running under a “Put a Farmer in the House” banner. He previously won endorsements from the state Farm Bureau, the National Rifle Association, Right to Life, “Free State Patriots,” the Republican Club of Cecil County, and editorial endorsements from The Baltimore Sun and The Aegis in Harford County.

In 2010, he ran in a Harford County-only district, with different boundaries from the current bi-county map, in what was then District 35A. He came in third, behind Donna Stiffler and Wayne Norman, for the two available seats for that House of Delegates district.

He is also a current candidate for the Harford County Republican Central Committee on the 2018 primary ballot

With the sudden loss of Wayne Norman, Republicans had to scramble to produce a candidate who could hit the ground running in the sprawling district, and Gallion’s past experience as a two-time candidate fit that bill.

Sources said Harford County Executive Barry Glassman played a key role in smoothing the path for Gallion’s selection. Glassman was especially close to Norman, who was twice selected to fill Annapolis vacancies when Glassman moved up from a Delegate seat to the State Senate and then when he left the Senate to become the Harford County Executive.

Although some members of the Cecil County committee would have preferred a county resident, there was a sense that it would be unseemly to engage in any turf battles at this time when emotions were still so raw over the painful and tragic loss of the popular Norman. And the fact that Gallion had drawn so many votes in Cecil County four years ago gave him a proven track record in attracting support from local rank-and-file GOP voters.

[UPDATE: Late Monday, there were rumblings of dissent among some Central Committee members that a formal vote of the membership of both counties’ panels was not conducted. Instead, there was informal consultation by the chairs of each county panel with their membership and the state party leaders, along with Glassman, pushed through the naming of Gallion due to the sudden deadline to submit a name to the state Board of Elections.]

It has often been the tradition in state politics to offer an appointment to the widow/widower of a deceased member of the General Assembly, even if only to fill out the remainder of the member’s term. Norman’s term expires at the end of this year, and there are only a few weeks left in the current General Assembly session in Annapolis.

Norman’s widow, Linda, could receive an interim appointment from the governor to fill out the remaining few months of her husband’s term, if she so chooses. If she did not wish to do so, Gov. Hogan could appoint Gallion as an interim senator to begin service before the next session begins in January, 2019.

Gallion is now unopposed on both the GOP primary and the November general election ballots. No Democrat had filed to run against the popular Norman in the general election, and as of the close of business on Monday, the state Board of Elections website listed no Democratic candidate nominated by that party’s central committees to challenge the Republicans in November for the Senate seat.

Cecil Times has reached out to Gallion by phone and email to discuss his candidacy for this report and will post an update upon his response.

[UPDATE: State Republican Party Chairman Dirk Haire said in a statement issued Monday night that current state law, and its interpretation by the state Board of Elections and the Attorney General’s office, was “insensitive and inappropriate” by requiring submission of a new candidate’s name on Monday so shortly after Norman’s death. Haire said the legal interpretation held that a new name had to be filed by the deadline in order to be on both the primary and the general election ballot.

The state elections calendar was finalized and issued well over a year ago, long before anyone knew there could be a death or vacancy on a state Senate race, and it specified the Monday deadline. But Haire said it was “an oversight of state law” that should be changed by the General Assembly to allow more time.]

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One Response to GOP Names Harford County Farmer, Jason Gallion, for Norman’s State Senate Seat on Primary Ballot

  1. Benjamin Camp on March 6, 2018 at 1:19 am

    Mr. Gallion was not picked by the Central Committees. At least in the Harford delegation, no vote was ever held. The Central Committees authority was usurped by Governor Hogan, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, and Republican State Party Chair Dirk Haire. The process was simply circumvented. The aforementioned will argue that time was of the essence, and thus they themselves made the pick, but time did exist on Sunday or Monday morning for a conference call between the Committee Members of the two counties to try and hash-out a resolution.

    We elect our Central Committees to make the decisions and represent the grassroots of the Party in such situations. But once again the interests of the grassroots has been overridden by the GOP establishment. To Party Chair Dirk Haire, why did you specifically stand in the way of a conference call being held, and not allow Committee Members to have a say or vote in this important decision.

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