Del. Hornberger, Councilor Miller in Fights for Political Lives in GOP Primary; Landslide Wins for Sheriff Adams, Wills Register Nickle

July 20, 2022


If there is Karma in politics, Del. Kevin Hornberger (R-35B) is facing it: so confident of a re-election victory in a three-way race, he devoted much effort and political cash to promote allies of his wife, Cecil County Executive Danielle Hornberger, for the County Council in Tuesday’s Republican primary election. But he apparently failed to see the very real threat to his own legislative seat.

And the chief target of the Hornbergers’ avalanche of glossy, negative and untrue flyers, incumbent Councilor Al Miller (R-3), is just five votes behind their own protégé, Bob Gatchell, an actor with a repertoire of cross-dressing drag show performances and a political newcomer. There are at least 1,026 Republican ballots still to be counted in a canvass of dropbox and mailed ballots that begins on Thursday 7/21/2022, according to state Board of Elections (BOE) data for Cecil County. Additional mail-in ballots may be received before a second canvass next week.

It remains to be seen if Kevin Hornberger can hang on to or expand his small 43-vote margin of victory over Adam Streight, a county Sheriff’s Deputy and former president of the FOP Lodge 2 police union. In early voting and Election Day in person voting, Hornberger received 1,399 votes to Streight’s 1,356 votes. A third candidate in the race, Rising Sun mayor Travis Marion, received 883 votes and has already conceded his loss. Adding up Streight and Marion vote totals, a majority of GOP voters opposed Hornberger being returned to Annapolis for another term.

Deputies are furious with Danielle Hornberger’s treatment of them, including major cuts to their pension fund in her first budget and tactics used in the FOP contract negotiations last year that killed a longstanding pay “parity” clause, with the result that deputies were excluded from her sudden largesse of a 6 percent mid-year pay raise given to other county employees. [SEE CECIL TIMES report here: ]

Even if Kevin Hornberger survives the GOP primary, there could be another chance to take him down in November, if Democrats nominated a Deputy to run against him. So far, Democrats have not put up any candidates for county offices, but the chance to deprive the Hornberger household of the $50,330 salary for the part-time Delegate job from January through April might be an incentive. Kevin also gets a federal salary from the Library of Congress while Danielle is paid $98,000 a year by Cecil County taxpayers.

Meanwhile, in County Council races, two Hornberger proteges appear headed to victory.

In District 2, Rebecca Hamilton was leading with 3,771 votes, or 52.8 percent. Incumbent Councilor Bill Coutz (R-2) was well behind with 3,370 votes, or 47.1 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, who was appointed last fall to the seat formerly held by George Patchell who resigned, held a commanding lead for election to the seat, with 3,740 votes or 54.1 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 3,173 votes, a distant 45.9 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 apparent success of two Hornberger pals for the Council means that there will be a three-member majority to support Danielle’s agenda, led by Councilor Jackie Gregory (R-5), who still has two years left on her current term. That majority could hand the title and power of Council President to Gregory, sidelining current Council president Bob Meffley (R-1) when a new Council takes office in December.

Meanwhile, Councilor Miller– a resident of North East, agri-business executive from a multi-generational farm owning family and former County Fair board president—is facing a close but uncertain future in the mail-in/dropbox vote count. To his advantage, mail and dropbox voters tend to be more mainstream voters among Republicans, in contrast with hardcore types who demand in person voting only. (Ironically, when Rep. Andy Harris (R-1), a close ally of and donor to the Hornbergers, posted a photo on social media of putting his ballot in a dropbox, some voters howled in protest and said they would change their votes and oppose his re-election because he did not vote in person.)

Miller was the chief target of the Hornbergers negative flyers in the Council races, which included patently false claims and juvenile cartoons and photoshopped images. [ SEE detailed CECIL TIMES report here: ]

Miller ran a positive, issue-oriented campaign but he has become a target of the Hornbergers because of his independent-minded service on the Council. He was the only Council member to vote against Hornberger’s appointment of Lawrence Scott, an Annapolis political consultant who had never set foot in a state courtroom to represent a client, as Cecil County Attorney. Miller has also posed probing Council meeting questions of Scott, the highest paid county employee who has become the Tony Soprano political strongman of the Hornberger administration.

In other races in the GOP primary, incumbent Sheriff Scott Adams won an overwhelming victory over Bilton Morgan, a long-retired former Sheriff’s deputy who was endorsed by Sammons. This will be Adams’ third term as Sheriff, after first winning in 2014 and an unopposed win in 2018.

Incumbent Lyn (“Allyn”) Nickel won a solid victory for re-election as Register of Wills, with 4,769 votes (68.6 percent) over Maureen Sentman Danos (2,176 votes or 31.3 percent), a lawyer working in Harford County and member of a prominent family in the local beer wholesaling business.

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