Democrats roll in Howard County

Howard County Democrats had plenty to celebrate Tuesday as Democratic candidates easily defeated their Republican counterparts on county ballots, helping fellow Democrats to victories in contests ranging from the House of Representatives to the White House.

President Barack Obama, narrowly reelected nationally, won 59 percent of the vote in Howard County while cruising to an easy win in Maryland, receiving about 60 percent of the vote and the state's 10 electoral votes.

Results from early voting revealed that Obama had a two-to-one advantage from residents who took advantage of early voting. Howard County Councilwoman Courtney Watson, an Ellicott City Democrat, said the early voting results reflected the county's political leanings.

"Howard County has always been strong for Obama," Watson said.

Michael McPherson, chairman of the Democratic Central Committee of Howard County, said he was optimistic about the president's chances all day, noting it was "physically impossible" to turn around the economy in his first term with a uncooperative Congress.

"At the same time he was trying to do his job he had a Congress fighting him every step," McPherson said.

As for the state ballot questions, about 52 percent of county voters voted against Question 7, which would expand gambling in the state by adding a sixth casino and allowing table games. The question was approved statewide.

Voters both county- and state-wide approved Question 4 which asked voters to approve whether undocumented immigrants who have graduated from a Maryland high school should become eligible for in-state tuition rates at state community colleges.

Question 6, allowing same-sex couples to marry in Maryland beginning Jan. 1, was also approved with about 51 percent of the vote statewide — 58 percent in Howard County.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman praised the legalizing of same-sex marriage.

"I'm proud to be on the right side of history, and I'm honored to stand with the leaders in Maryland who fought for equalty," he said in a statement on Question 6.

Ulman also was pleased with the passage of Question 7, for which he campaigned Tuesday.

"This is a big win for jobs in Maryland. I'm glad we decided to move the state forward, keep Maryland money in Maryland, and create thousands of good-paying jobs," he said.

Question 5, regarding the state's congressional redistricting plan, also was approved with 63 percent of the vote statewide, 64 percent in Howard County. The plan had been heavily criticized, by members of both parties, as a heavy-handed attempt to elect or keep Democrats in office.

Specific to Howard County, voters approved a charter amendment changing the number of signatures required for referendum by a three-to-one margin.

Currently, a petition must have five percent of the county's registered voters, with at least 1,500 and a maximum of 5,000. The change will now require petitioners obtain at least five percent of the Howard County voters cast during the gubernatorial election, with no minimum or maximum.

Democratic congressional representatives and senators representing Howard County, meanwhile, had little to worry about Tuesday. 

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin will serve a second term in the U.S. Senate after handily defeating Republican challenger Dan Bongino and Independent Rob Sobhani.

Three incumbent Democratic congressmen held on to their seats in the House of Representatives for two more years.

District 2 Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger defeated Republican challenger Nancy Jacobs, winning more than 65 percent of the vote.

Ruppersberger acknowledged the efforts of Jacobs in a statement Tuesday and said he will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in his next term.

"The debates are over and the people have spoken. They have said loud and clear that they want lawmakers who are willing to work together so that we can create jobs and avoid the looming fiscal cliff," he said in a statement.

District 3 voters elected to stick with Democrat John Sarbanes as their representative. Sarbanes defeated Republican Eric Knowles, collecting almost 68 percent of the vote.

Finally District 7 voters reelected Democrat Elijah Cummings, a U.S. representative since 1996, to serve a another two-year term in the House. Cummings garned 76 percent of the vote defeating Republican Frank Mirabile.

"The main thing is to work as closely as I can with Republicans who are willing to work and address fiscal problems," Cummings said of his next term, shortly after a public appearance at Kahler Hall in Columbia in front of Howard County Democrats.

There are more than 188,000 registered voters in the county: 90,072 Democrats and 56, 330 Republicans. More than 38,000 voters are unaffiliated and about 3,500 are registered with another political party.

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