As a Republican, I want to see the party grow in Baltimore County.
Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to win big here in Baltimore County with over 60 percent of the vote on Election Day and there is a chance that Al Redmer could become the first Republican County Executive since 1990 if he can beat Democrat John Olszewski Jr.
On the other hand, Democrats still outnumber Republicans 2 to 1.
So where do Republicans stand in Baltimore County? When you take out the polarizing names such as Larry Hogan, Ben Jealous, Bob Ehrlich, Jim Smith, Pat McDonough, Martin O’Malley, etc. and there is a generic Democrat vs. generic Republican, who wins in a countywide race?
History shows that it is the Democrats. In 2010, Julie Ensor (D) defeated Richard J. Reinhardt, II (R) 58 to 41 percent for Clerk of the Court; States Attorney Scott Shellenberger (D) defeated Steven Bailey (R) 57 to 43; Grace G. Connolly (D) beat Lindsey Ann Thomas (R) 58 to 42 for Register of Wills; and Democratic Sheriff R. Jay Fisher beat GOP challenger Raymond C. Boccelli 57 to 43.
In 2014, the GOP only had one candidate (Eugene Craig who lost to Ensor 59 to 40 percent) but Connolly, Fisher and Shellenberger were unopposed.
I am curious to see if the Republican candidates can make a run and perhaps unseat a Democrat. This year three of the four “low key” countywide races involve a Democrat vs. Republican. Shellenberger is unopposed again.
Again, Hogan is expected to receive a higher percentage of the vote than in 2014 and Redmer is certainly expected to receive a higher percentage of the vote total – win or lose – than GOP candidate George Harman did in 2014. Can that push these three candidates over the top?
The GOP candidate for Sheriff is not your typical generic candidate. Magee is a strong campaigner. The former Baltimore City Police Officer ran for the House of Delegates in 2014 and for Congress in 2016, so he is now an experienced campaigner. Magee is very opinionated. If elected, Magee wants the Baltimore County Sheriff’s Office to have a uniformed Deputy Sheriff at every school in the county. He is also against Baltimore County being a Sanctuary county for illegal immigrants.
One political insider compared him to Pat McDonough saying that Magee is a polarizing candidate. Either way, he is a very rememberable candidate, which builds important name ID.
There is talk that many deputies under Fisher are ready for new leadership. In my humble opinion, Magee is the strongest GOP candidate for this office since Sheriff Norman Pepersack served back in the 90s.
She is the Republican candidate for Clerk of the Court. Hill is challenging Ensor who has been in office since 2010. This is going to be tough race as Julie Ensor is a strong campaigner. Within the last month, I have seen Ensor signs pop up in neighborhoods all over the county. If you turn down a random street in Parkville, Perry Hall, Dundalk, Cockeysville, etc. you will probably find an Ensor sign in someone’s yard. That might include a yard with a Hogan and/or Redmer sign too.
I don’t know if Hill or any Republican can keep up with her ground game. It will be interesting to see if Hill can get more votes than Craig received in 2014.
Her race against Connolly for Register of Wills might be a barometer for the true state of the Republican party here in Baltimore County. Roger has not run as strong as Magee, but Connolly is also not a strong campaigner compared to Ensor. With all due respect to Roger and Connolly, this is a generic Democrat vs. Republican matchup. If Hogan and Redmer’s success can trickle down to Magee, it could help Roger too. Most voters do not want career politicians and Connolly has been in office since 1998. The only problem is that not too many people know that Connolly is seeking a sixth term.
So, while everyone is focusing on the Governor, Baltimore County Executive, County Council, State Senate and House of Delegate races, I am also interested to see how these three races turn out.