Al Miller Apparent Win on Cecil Council; Kevin Hornberger Squeaks By in Crowded Delegate Race with 61% of Voters Against Him; McCarthy Tops Sammons on GOP Panel

July 27, 2022


With all but a small handful of overseas and absentee votes left to count, Cecil County voters apparently returned County Councilor Al Miller (R-3) to a second term, with 51.3 percent of the vote, and rejected a vicious, negative attack campaign financed by Del. Kevin Hornberger (R-35B)—who narrowly won retention of his own seat in a three-way GOP primary race, despite over 61 percent of voters opposing Hornberger.

And in one of the more ironic political outcomes, former County Executive Alan McCarthy (R)– who lost his re-election bid two years ago to Danielle Hornberger, Kevin’s wife– won a seat on the county’s Republican Central Committee. McCarthy won 2,878votes, or 34 more votes than Vincent Sammons, a Hornberger ally, political trickster and agitator known for multiple online personalities. Sammons did get a seat on the nine-member panel, as the bottom vote-getter.

But two Hornberger-backed candidates for County Council won seats that will give Danielle Hornberger and her chief ally, Council vice president Jackie Gregory (R-5), effective control of the five-member Council as of December.

The Cecil County Board of Elections (BOE) conducted its third vote count on Wednesday (7/27/2022) for “provisional” ballots, after earlier tallies of election day and early in-person voting, followed by a count of mail-in or “dropbox” ballots. County BOE officials had estimated that there were about 250 provisional ballots to be counted, from voters of both political parties, on Wednesday. Provisional ballots are cast by in person voters who may have gone to the wrong polling place or mail-in ballots that might have unclear or mis-marked ballots.

The local BOE has conducted its counts with speed and efficiency, posting its results to the state BOE website well ahead of other similar-sized counties in the state. However, all ballot counts in the state were delayed by the decision of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to veto legislation that would have allowed local election boards to count already received mail-in or dropbox ballots before election day. Instead, those counts were delayed until days after the official July 19 primary election day.

There is just one more count to be conducted—overseas, military and late-arriving mail-in ballots that were postmarked by the 7/19 election day deadline—that will be tallied on Friday 7/29/2022 followed immediately by the official certification of the vote count. Local BOE records show there is a tiny handful of overseas/military ballots still outstanding from voters of both political parties.

Local Democrats ran no candidates for county or locally elected state offices in the primary elections, so unless they or a third party puts up appointed candidates for the November general election, the GOP primary winners will be unopposed.

In the key County Council Republican primary contests, Al Miller (R-3) won 4,255 votes, or 51.3 percent, over Bob Gatchel, who tallied 4,034 or 48.6 percent. Miller’s win was also a victory for issue-based, positive campaigning in the county, in contrast with the negative, false cartoons and caricatures embraced by Gatchel and two other Hornberger-financed Council candidates who ran together as a “slate” of candidates.

Indeed, Miller was targeted with patently false glossy flyers using cartoons and photoshopped images, flyers that state campaign finance records show were paid for by a pro-Hornberger “slate” financed by real estate interests and developers, as well as by campaign fund transfers by Kevin Hornberger. [SEE previous CECIL TIMES report here: ]

Miller, a resident of North East, an agri-business executive from a multi-generational farm owning family and former County Fair board president, is completing his first term on the Council, where he has been an independent voice in questioning actions by Danielle Hornberger’s administration. Gatchell, an actor with a repertoire of cross-dressing drag show performances and a political newcomer, had no discernible record of community volunteer leadership.

In the state Delegate race in the all-Cecil County 35B district, Kevin Hornberger hung on to his seat in the three-candidate GOP primary. As of Wednesday, Kevin tallied 1,610 votes while Adam Streight, a county Sheriff’s Deputy and former president of the FOP Lodge 2 police union, received 1,503 votes. A third candidate in the race, Rising Sun mayor Travis Marion, received 1,051 votes and has already conceded his loss. Adding up Streight and Marion vote totals, a 61.3 percent majority of GOP voters opposed Hornberger being returned to Annapolis for another term.

If Democrats or a third party chose to install a candidate from their ranks on the November general election ballot, Hornberger could be vulnerable for defeat for re-election to his $50,033 a year part-time state job.

Meanwhile, in other County Council races, two Hornberger proteges won seats.
In District 2, Rebecca Hamilton received 4,279 votes, or 52 percent. Incumbent Councilor Bill Coutz (R-2) was well behind with 3,937 votes, or 47.9 percent. During her campaign, Hamilton told Cecil.TV that she felt “called” by God to run for the seat. Coutz ran a lackluster campaign until the final days before the primary, doing little fundraising on his own and allowing his previous campaign website to lapse. As a result, its registration was taken over by Vincent Sammons, a political trickster and former chair of the county GOP Central Committee, who then posted negative attacks on Coutz and Miller on the site.

In District 4, Donna Culberson, a political newcomer who was appointed last fall to the seat formerly held by George Patchell who resigned, prevailed with 4,294 votes or 53.9 percent. Her opponent, Donald Gividen, Jr., a resident of North East and Chief of the Police Operations Bureau at Harford County Sheriff’s Office with 24 years law enforcement experience, received 3,661 votes, a distant 46 percent. He did not receive the local FOP endorsement, which some sources attributed to his non-Cecil employment and his rank as a member of “management.”

The primary election for the nine-member Republican Central Committee—which becomes important to voters of all political persuasions because it has the power to select candidates to fill vacancies on elected panels such as the all-Republican County Council, yielded a solid majority of pro-Hornberger and Sammons allies.

But a political irony unfolded in the latest vote count. Former County Executive Alan McCarthy won 2,878 votes to come in 8th in the race while Sammons received 2,844 votes to come in last place. Sammons has spent years viciously attacking McCarthy with false, unfactual attacks using his multiple online personalities.

A majority of the GOP committee’s members elected in the primary are Hornberger loyalists, but in addition to McCarthy, Coutz and former Council president Joyce Bowlsbey also won seats and are firmly in the non-Hornberger camp.

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