Jimmy DeButts: Anne Arundel elections demonstrate early voting power, women taking control

Jimmy DeButts
Contact Reporterjdebutts@capgaznews.com

Anne Arundel is still purple but Tuesday it turned a shade bluer.

Steuart Pittman and a blue wave lifted Democratic candidates up and down the Anne Arundel County ballot into office. The county — which voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign — added one more Democrat to its General Assembly delegation and flipped the county council and county executive seat to blue.

Pittman’s 52-48 percent victory over incumbent County Executive Steve Schuh surprised many local observers. The Davidsonville Democrat’s strong showing undoubtedly aided his down-the-ballot party members.

Schuh conceded to Pittman about 11 p.m. Tuesday. The Gibson Island resident said he plans to leave Thursday for a Caribbean vacation and return Nov. 17. Pittman will take be sworn in as county executive Dec. 3.

Democrats also reclaimed the state’s attorney’s office and a Judge of the Orphan’s Court seat. All this was accomplished despite the popularity of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s coasting victory over a Democrat who pitched an ethics platform he violated.

The reverberations and consequences of Tuesday’s election include:

Women take control

The County Council’s gender makeup went from zero women to five Tuesday. That includes three Democrats and two Republicans. Men have dominated the council in recent years. There’s no indication political values will change with an infusion of women on the council, but they surely will bring fresh perspectives to governing.

The Democrats added two women in their Senate ranks with Pam Beidle trouncing former County Councilman John Grasso to claim the District 32 seat vacated by Ed DeGrange. Beidle, who left the House of Delegates, joins Sarah Elfreth as the only women in the county’s senate delegation. Elfreth’s victory boosted the Democrats’ delegation lead as she snared the seat vacated by John Astle.

Anne Colt Leitess avenged her 2014 loss to Wes Adams for state’s attorney Tuesday. She won by 4.7 percentage points this year after losing by 15 percentage points in 2014.

Board of education

Four months after their fellow board members voted to retain Julie Hummer as president and Terry Gilleland as vice president, county voters rejected them. So, now we have two lame-duck members in leadership positions for the next two years.

It was a mistake to hold leadership elections prior to voters getting their say. Instead, the will of the people is being ignored and the path of the county’s school system’s $1.2 billion operating budget will be steered by two members who are accountable to no one.

As great as it is to finally to have an elected board, perhaps we should make it effective immediately.

Early voting dominance

An energized base made the difference in many high profile races in the county. Schuh bested Pittman 72,935-69,570 on Election Day. Pittman entered Tuesday with a 40,015-28,887 lead thanks to early voting.

Colt Leitess held a 40,643-27,319 lead entering Tuesday. Adams couldn’t make up the difference on Election Day despite a 72,243-68,334 advantage Tuesday. Beidle and Elfreth earned their margins of victory in early voting, too.

The county’s evolving demographics might mean this purple municipality could soon be more blue if current trends continue.

Jimmy DeButts can be reached at 410-280-5915 or follow on Twitter @jd3217.

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