Mrs. Hornberger Dips Toe in Cecil County Politics, McDowell Sees Exec Run; Meffley Files for Council

September 5, 2019
By


NEWS ANALYSIS

Over four months before the filing deadline for 2020 primary elections in Maryland, Cecil County politics are taking an interesting twist, as multiple candidates emerge for County Executive, with the potential for a place-holder trying to scare others out of the race. And veteran County Council President Bob Meffley (R-1) has made it official by filing for re-election.

Danielle Hornberger, the wife of state Del. Kevin Hornberger (R-35), filed paperwork with the state Board of Elections for a campaign committee, “Friends of Danielle Hornberger,” on 9/4/2019. But she did not file separate paperwork to declare her candidacy for a particular elected office. Mrs. Hornberger, who is a part-time employee of US Rep. Andy Harris (R-1), is a former substitute teacher in southern Maryland and Cecil County. Harris has been a major campaign fundraiser and supporter for her husband’s political endeavors.

In addition, Ewing McDowell, a Rising Sun area farm owner, state employee and former state Republican political candidate, is close to filing for County Executive, setting up a potentially crowded political field for the top Cecil County elected office. Incumbent Executive Alan McCarthy, a Republican, has already filed for re-election. [UPDATED}

Multiple Cecil County GOP sources have told CECIL TIMES for weeks that Mrs. Hornberger has been making the rounds of local Republicans to discuss plans to run for county executive and soliciting support. But some GOP sources suggest that she might just be a “placeholder”—to deter others from filing as candidates in the race—until Harris selects another personal choice for the contest.

For the past several years, Harris has sought to influence local county politics, much like the old “Smipkin” political machine led by former Del. Michael Smigiel and Sen. E.J. Pipkin, both R-36, that controlled a three-vote majority of the old Cecil County Board of Commissioners, a troika known locally as the “Three Amigos.” Pipkin resigned from office to move to Texas while all of the others were defeated in subsequent local elections.

Harris was a major supporter of and donor to Hornberger’s initial successful race for state Delegate, against veteran Democrat Del. David Rudolph, who was unseated as the Dist. 35 voter registration shifted to a Republican majority several years ago.

Mrs. Hornberger has a lackluster resume and minimal qualifications for overseeing the multi-million dollar budget of Cecil County at a time when the county is experiencing a significant economic development and job growth boom under the McCarthy administration. She attended a southern Maryland community college, worked as a substitute teacher in that area and in Cecil County, and briefly worked at the North Bay outdoor education program in Cecil County. (McCarthy holds a four-year undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree and a doctorate in veterinary medicine, and is still licensed and accredited as a veterinarian. He also has an extensive history as a business entrepreneur.)

Currently, Mrs. Hornberger is a part-time worker for Rep. Harris, largely dispensing certificates of achievement to Boy Scouts and civic groups in Cecil and Harford counties. According to US House of Representatives records, she was paid a total of $5,865 for the first quarter of this year, which would amount to an annualized salary of $23,460. She also received substantial expense reimbursements for the first quarter of the year, for auto travel and food and supplies, amounting to nearly $2,000. Similar expenses on an annualized basis would total $8,000. In addition, her husband collects a federal government salary as a “facility manager” for the Library of Congress in Washington, DC and a state government salary as a Delegate in the General Assembly. If she became county executive, she would add over $95,000 in Cecil County government salary to her family income.

CECIL TIMES contacted Mrs. Hornberger to discuss her political plans but she said she was “working now” and would call back. Subsequently, she sent an email, stating, “Many people have been urging me to run for office, and I’m getting closer to an announcement, but I am still talking and meeting with community leaders and local residents to discuss.”

Meanwhile, McDowell told CECIL TIMES that he was close to filing for County Executive but was not yet ready to announce a candidacy. Multiple GOP sources have told CECIL TIMES that he is a definite “go” for the contest and many local Republicans have been urging him to run.

McDowell ran a solid, but losing, race in 2006 against former Democratic Del. David Rudolph, who was subsequently defeated by Kevin Hornberger. A review of McDowell’s past campaign finance reports shows that most of his past local donors are either dead or no longer involved in politics, so he would have to corral a whole new group of supporters in any 2020 race.

McDowell told CECIL TIMES that he was receiving encouragement from leaders of the county’s towns, who feel that their concerns are being ignored by the McCarthy administration, and some local political activists say they are looking for “anyone but Alan.”

While McDowell has not yet filed a formal campaign committee and has not filed an official candidacy statement, his background hits some high notes in agriculture experience. McDowell is currently employed by the state Department of Commerce as an agriculture adviser and sits as a member of a state commission on aquaculture, or seeking opportunities for seafood cultivation. He also has served as a senior official at the state planning department under the Hogan administration.

Meanwhile, Cecil County Council President Bob Meffley (R-1) recently made it official by filing for re-election to his Council seat. Meffley is known throughout the county as accessible to constituents and willing to listen to citizens’ concerns

“I really like to help people,” Meffley told CECIL TIMES. “I love my job.”

Displaying an unusual level of self-knowledge and honesty for a politician, Meffley added that his biggest flaw as a politician was that he sometimes was “too lenient” with government critics and “let things fester” for a while before figuring out how to solve a problem.

Meffley also said he was supportive of McCarthy’s administration because it has promoted job development and business growth. Meffley, a longtime plumbing business owner in the south county, said that if re-elected, he would work hard to continue the county’s economic growth.

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One Response to Mrs. Hornberger Dips Toe in Cecil County Politics, McDowell Sees Exec Run; Meffley Files for Council

  1. Roger Lamb on September 6, 2019 at 10:17 am

    I hope Ms Hornberger has better ideas than her husband’s. He once wanted a study to bring elk back to Elkton. Totally laughable as elk are migratory animals. Also I think I saw Mr. Hornburglar in the audience at a White House Correspondents Dinner on youtube laughing uncontrollably at every Trump joke told by Michelle Wolf. I wonder how much Hornberger cost Cecil County taxpayers to have that dinner? Both he and Harris need to go, same with a couple idiots on the Republican Central Committee.

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