Three incumbent Republicans running for the three seats in the House of Delegates in District 7, which encompasses western Harford County and eastern Baltimore County, are being challenged in their party primary by two other candidates, one with Harford County ties who has been campaigning across the district for months and ruffling the incumbents' feathers in the process.
David Seman, a Jarrettsville resident, has been running an aggressive campaign as he tries to unseat one of the three incumbents, Dels. Patrick McDonough, Rick Impallaria and Kathy Szeliga, in the Republican primary next week. A fifth candidate is also running for the GOP nomination, Tina Sutherland of Middle River.
The Democrats have filed one candidate for each of the three delegate seats, Bob Bowie Jr. of Monkton; Pete Definbaugh of Baldwin; and Norman Gifford Jr., of Chase, so they don't have a contested primary. The names will be on the Democratic primary ballot.
In the district's Senate race, incumbent Sen. J.B. Jennings, of Joppa, is unopposed in the Republican primary and will face Democrat Kim Letke, of Joppa, who is unopposed in her primary, in the November general election. Their names will be on their respective party's primary ballots.
Large area, many voters
District 7, which has voted solidly Republican in legislative races since its creation prior to the 2002 election, has gained more Harford voters as a result of redistricting two years ago, which added areas north and east of Fallston, including Norrisville, Upper Cross Roads and Jarrettsville, which had formerly been in the 35th District.
The district also takes in Fallston and Joppa in Harford County and Middle River, Chase, While Marsh, Perry Hall, Kingsville, Baldwin, Jacksonville and Monkton in Baltimore County.
Even with redistricting, however, there are still about 1,600 more Baltimore County voters in a district with 90,499 registered voters, 46,039 in Baltimore County and 44,460 in Harford County. Prior to the last redistricting, the split was closer to 60-40 Baltimore over Harford County.
According to figures from the Harford County and Baltimore County boards of election, there are 21,230 Republicans in the Harford portion of District 7 and 17,360 Republicans in the Baltimore County portion, 38,590 in all.
Democrats in the Harford portion number 14,965 and 20,180 in the Baltimore County portion, 36,144 in all. There are 8,265 unaffiliated or minor party voters registered in Harford, 8,499 in Baltimore County, 16,764 in all.
Of the three incumbent delegates, both McDonough, who lives in Middle River, and Impallaria, who lives in Joppa, are seeking fourth successive terms in the House of Delegates (McDonough also served a single term from 1979 to 1983). Szeliga, a Perry Hall resident, was elected four years ago and replaced Jennings, who was elected to the Senate after serving two terms in the House.
Seman ran unsuccessfully for one of the delegate seats in District 35 four years ago, failing to unseat one of the incumbents in the Republican primary. According to the candidate questionnaire he completed for the Baltimore Sun, he would have voted against the Maryland Dream Act, gay marriage, transgender rights, the flush tax, marijuana decriminalization, increases in the flush tax, gun control legislation and repeal of the death penalty.
That doesn't necessarily distinguish him from the incumbents, however, as all of them voted against the majority of the legislation in the survey.
Seman signs can be found all over Fallston and Jarrettsville, and most of have been up for months. The owner of a home improvement business, Seman, 55, is chairman of the Jarrettsville/Norrisville Community Council, a member of the Harford County Planning Advisory Board and president of the Harford County Republican Club.
Seman said Tuesday that while he may be conservative, "I plan to work for all the people of District 7, without political grandstanding and bluster."
Without criticizing any of the incumbents by name, he said the district has been poorly represented and its residents' needs have largely been ignored because of an unwillingness by the incumbents to work within the Democratic controlled legislature.
He also said he is a business owner and family person first, not a professional politician. "I can promise you that once the 90 days (legislative session) is over, I will be back in the community running my business," he said. "That's the only way I can be an effective legislator, to be in the community and talking with the people I represent."
Seman said he has learned from mistakes he made four years ago, namely he didn't start campaigning early enough and didn't raise enough money. He got out early this time and said his fundraising also has gone well, allowing him to send out several mailers that his opponents are attacking as not truthful.
"I've been very well received everywhere in the district, in Harford and Baltimore counties," Seman said.