McDowell Officially in Race for Cecil County Exec with “Conservative” Agenda; Guessing Game for Hornbergers’ Political $

September 23, 2019


It took a week for the official paperwork to be posted in state elections records, but Ewing McDowell’s candidacy for Cecil County Executive is now official: the Rising Sun farm businessman is in the GOP primary race. But another potential rival—Danielle Hornberger—is playing coy as her husband, state Del. Kevin Hornberger (R-35), touts a fundraiser guessing game, asking people to pay money to learn what her political plans are.

Even in Cecil County, where politics is often an oddball game, the Hornbergers are throwing a new pitch from right field. “Danielle Hornberger for ??? Give it your best shot, Guess what Danielle’s running for,” Mr. Hornberger declared on social media and in emails, soliciting attendance at a 10/3/2019 “piggy roast” with a “minimum donation of $20” to attend and seeking “sponsorship” donations as well for the event at which his wife will reveal her political plans.

Mrs. Hornberger has filed required state Board of Elections paperwork to register a campaign finance committee but so far has not filed a certificate of candidacy stating what office she is running for. That’s a convenient sequence, since a finance committee must be established before any political donations can be collected.

CECIL TIMES reported 9/5/2019 that McDowell was likely to enter the Cecil County Executive race in the Republican primary, and that Mrs. Hornberger was making the rounds of local political players to solicit support for a county exec run. SEE previous CECIL TIMES report here:

McDowell, and apparently Mrs. Hornberger, will be trying to unseat incumbent Cecil County Executive Alan McCarthy in the 2020 Republican primary. McCarthy filed for re-election several months ago.

Given the non-Cecil County political mentors of McDowell and the Hornbergers, the local contest could turn out to be a high-priced battle of consultants and political brokers from outside the area. But at this stage, McDowell is taking a traditional route of open declarations of his platform and background that he says qualifies him to lead the county.

McDowell, a resident of Rising Sun, said in a statement announcing his intention to run for the top county post, “I am running for County Executive to be a conservative champion for Cecil County taxpayers. We have to reinvent Cecil County government to meet an ever-changing world. We need a county executive who will fight for taxpayers, stand up for what is right and make us proud again.”

“I’m truly thankful and honored to have had so many people approach me about running. This campaign is all about bringing real, conservative reform and change to our county government. We need a simple, streamlined approach that focuses on key priorities and listens to the people it represents,” McDowell said.

“As a husband, father, farmer, small businessman – and lifelong Cecil County resident – I know that with family and taxpayer-friendly, creative solutions we can make our county the top destination in our region for working families, job creators and retirees. I look forward to campaigning in every part of our county and ask for voters’ support,” McDowell said.

McDowell grew up on his family’s Prospect Hill Farm near Rising Sun and as an adult was a dairy farmer there for about 20 years. In 2003, he started a business focused on exporting farm commodities and live cows and calves to overseas buyers, including nations of the former Soviet Union, such as Russia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, as well as Canada and the UK.

He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, with a degree in agriculture. He also served in leadership roles in various ag-related groups, including president of the Cecil County farm bureau from 2003-2006 and membership on the state Farm Bureau board during the same time frame. McDowell ran a solid, but losing, race in 2006 against former Democratic state Del. David Rudolph, who was subsequently defeated by Kevin Hornberger

Asked by CECIL TIMES about his friendship with Chris Cavey, a state-level political operative and current Appointments Secretary to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, McDowell said they have been “very close” friends since their days at the University of Maryland. Asked if Cavey would play a role in or be an adviser to his Cecil County executive race, McDowell replied, “No comment.”

Since Cavey, who played an active role in Hogan’s political campaigns, assumed the appointments and “green bag” patronage dispensing position, McDowell got a job in the state planning department and currently holds a job in the state Commerce Department focusing on agriculture issues.

With Cavey’s statewide political and campaign fundraising connections, McDowell could receive a welcome infusion of out-of-county financial support for his campaign.

Meanwhile, Danielle Hornberger—who is currently a part-time employee of US Rep. Andy Harris (R-1) in his Bel Air district office–could be a recipient, just as her husband was in his state delegate and Cecil County GOP Central Committee races, of Harris-related political action committees’ financial support and many out of area political donors tied to Harris.

US House ethics rules require congressional staffers to walk a fine line between constituent/office duties and political campaign activities, generally requiring resignation or leaves of absence even for staffers who are shifting to election year campaigning for the House member. CECIL TIMES emailed Harris’ chief of staff, and phoned Danielle Hornberger, to ask if she had tendered her resignation from the Harris’ office staff or requested a leave of absence. [UPDATE:John Dutton, Harris’ chief of staff, emailed: “It is the right of individuals employed by Congress to run for an elected position – this is a permissible activity that does not require staff to resign and leave employment. However, activity related to their campaign must be conducted on their own time and without use of office resources.”]

The incumbent, Alan McCarthy, had a modest balance in his campaign finance account, according to the most recent state Board of Elections filing in January. He listed a bank balance of $9,642 for his campaign committee.

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