Craig unfazed by loss in 'most contested' GOP governor's race

After nine years as Harford County's top elected official, David Craig's bid for an even higher office has come to an end.

The 65-year-old Craig, who is finishing up his final term as county executive, lost the Republican nomination for governor Tuesday night.

Craig got just 29 percent of the Republican vote statewide, while Larry Hogan got 43 percent. Hogan will face Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who easily won the Democratic primary, in the general election.

Craig won by a slim margin on his home turf, with 45 percent of Harford voters supporting him. He also won in neighboring Cecil County where he has family ties.

"We did very well, getting 30 percent of the voters," Craig said from his Havre de Grace home Wednesday night. He said he had spent the earlier part of the day in appointments at his office in Bel Air.

Craig was not especially surprised or devastated by the results. He said he would not have changed anything about how he ran his campaign.

"It was the most contested Republican gubernatorial race in 20 years," he said. "A lot of people couldn't make their minds up."

Craig, who announced his candidacy a year ago, said the long campaign was not especially stressful, "just a lot of time in the car."

"There wasn't a lot I could have done differently," he said about the result.

He also does not have any dramatic plans for the future.

"I plan to finish the five months as county executive," he said, adding he has some repairs to do around the house. If he got a job, it would be something part-time, he said.

"It would be nice to be retired," he said with a laugh.

Already retired as a teacher and assistant principal with Harford County Public Schools, Craig also served two stints as Havre de Grace's mayor, a term in the House of Delegates and a term in State Senate.

He began his career in elected office in 1976 when he was elected to the first of three terms on the Havre de Grace City Council. Since then, he has held some office for all but a three-year period from 1998-2001, after he made an unsuccessful first try for county executive.

Craig issued a concession speech early Wednesday morning.

"I congratulate Larry Hogan on his victory and commit myself to helping him win this November," he said in an e-mailed version of the speech. "I urge you, and all my supporters, to stand behind Larry, give the forgotten Marylanders a voice, and change Maryland by electing a Republican governor in November."

Craig said in the speech he was privileged to cross the state and meet many great Marylanders.

"While the results are not what we had hoped, Melinda and I are appreciative of the hard work, countless hours and dedication of our staff, volunteers and supporters like you," he said. "It is without a doubt, that the past eight years have been difficult for families and businesses in Maryland. I started this campaign to give the forgotten Marylanders a voice. Our message resonated from Wicomico to Washington, from Somerset to St. Mary's and from Caroline to Carroll. Marylanders are ready for change."

Paul Magness, immediate past president of the Republican Club of Harford County, said he had not expected the vote differentials for Craig and Hogan.

"I was surprised the race was not closer. I expected a much closer race because I think David did an enormous amount of groundwork in terms of working with the locals and county officials and putting the groundwork in place," Magness said.

"I was disappointed, no question, but the Republican voters of Maryland have spoken," he said, adding he knows Hogan personally and worked with his administration.

Nevertheless, "personally, I was supporting David. I thought David was the best candidate for governor," Magness said.

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