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Election 2018 Calvert County—Better red than dead


Left to right, Calvert County Commissioner Mike Hart and Commissioner-elect Kelly McConkey.

Prince Frederick, MD - Delegate Jerry Clark stood before the crowded room and delivered his former party’s eulogy. “The Democratic Party in Calvert County is dead,” said Clark, a Republican delegate representing the county’s southern portion and part of St. Mary’s. Clark’s proclamation Tuesday evening, Nov. 6 at the Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department concluded a cloudy, rainy General Election Day in which a little over 57 percent of Calvert’s registered voters participated. For the third straight mid-term election Calvert County Republicans made it a clean sweep in the county commissioners’ race. Two former Democrats—Earl “Buddy” Hance and Kelly McConkey—representing the county at large and the Third Election District, respectively—join incumbents Steve Weems (at large) and Mike Hart (Third Election District)—and county native Tim Hutchins (Second Election District) as members of Calvert’s next board of commissioners. Republicans also held onto seats in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly. Clark won election to a full four-year term in the House of Delegates District 29C, Mark Fisher was victorious in winning a third term representing District 27C and St. Mary’s County resident Jack Bailey was a convincing winner in the District 29 state senate race.

Fisher garnered over 56 percent of the vote in his race against Democratic challenger Jason T. Fowler. While Fisher commended Fowler for running an aggressive campaign, he expressed dismay regarding an advertisement Fowler approved of in which he claimed to be endorsed by former state senator and local icon Bernie Fowler. The former senator’s son, Bernie Fowler Jr., went on social media to affirm that his father does not endorse candidates.

Clark’s win over Democrat and political neophyte Julia Nichols in District 29C was close in Southern Calvert—just 430 votes. However, his margin of victory was much wider in the St. Mary’s portion of the district—nearly 2,300 votes.

The three newcomers to the Calvert County Commissioners---Hance, Hutchins and McConkey—bring experience in other high profile positions to the table. Hance served several years as Maryland Agriculture secretary in the O’Malley Administration and prior to that was president of the Maryland Farm Bureau. McConkey is currently serving his second term as a member of the Board of Education. Hutchins resume includes serving two gubernatorial cabinet posts—secretary of Veterans Affairs and Maryland State Police superintendent. He also served several terms in the Maryland House of Delegates representing Charles County, where he resided prior to moving back to Calvert by way of Florida. While Weems now is the longest serving commissioner on the board, the presidency of the panel won’t be decided until after the new board is sworn in. “I hope to be a resource to them [new members],” said Weems. “The new board is going to have to acclimate. We shall see in the future what will come to pass.”

Calvert Commissioner Steve Weems accepts congratulations from Democrat Greg Brown on Election Night

After being pressed, Weems admitted to TheBayNet.com that restructuring the last budget draft for fiscal year (FY) 2020 to include a tax decrease may get serious consideration from the next board. “We are going to put in on the table,” Weems predicted. There might also be a revisiting of a current plan to construct a multimillion dollar government building at Armory Square. “I think we’ll probably go through all the options.” The election of Weems, Hart and McConkey to the board represents a passing of the torch. The board's majority is Generation X, with Hance the only baby boomer on the panel.

In some other races of note, longtime incumbent Register of Wills Margaret Phipps, a Democrat, staved off another strong challenge from Republican Mark S. Lynch. The margin was 1,260. After a contentious June Primary, Sheriff Mike Evans cruised to victory in the General, winning reelection by a wide margin over Democrat challenger Michael Hawkins. Veteran Maryland lawmaker Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. was outpolled in Calvert but won with ease overall against Republican challenger Jesse Peed, garnering 65 percent of the vote. In District 27B, Democrat Michael Jackson was also a winner despite a two-county split, receiving nearly 60 percent of the vote in his race against Republican and Calvert resident Michael Thomas.

Mike Benton, a town councilman, defeated fellow councilmember Randy Hummel in the race for North Beach mayor. Benton succeeds four-term Mayor Mark Frazer.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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