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Carroll County commissioner considering a run for Maryland’s General Assembly

Carroll County Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, says he has discussed a potential run for a seat in the state legislature, though he has not made any formal speech or announcement.
Carroll County Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, says he has discussed a potential run for a seat in the state legislature, though he has not made any formal speech or announcement. (Carroll County Times)

A sitting county commissioner has floated plans for a Maryland General Assembly run, though he cautions there’s nothing concrete yet.

Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, told the Times in an interview that at the recent Carroll County Republican Central Committee’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner dinner, he discussed his interest in running for a seat in the state legislature, though he didn’t make any formal speech or announcement.

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He said he has had conversations about the idea with constituents in the past when they have asked about the fact that he is not running for a second term as a member of the Board of County Commissioners.

Bouchat announced in July that he would not seek another term as a commissioner, tied to his belief in abolishing that form of government in favor of one that would introduce a county executive position.

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Because Maryland’s voting districts will change after the upcoming census, Bouchat does not currently know what district he will be a part of — so he can’t announce a candidacy.

When he finds that out and files, he’ll make a public announcement, he said.

He said he is drawn to the General Assembly because there he would have a better platform to fight on a state level for resources for Carroll County. In his role as a commissioner, he said, he has been limited within the county’s borders.

As for his desired switch to charter government, he is still pushing for it, he said.

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The matter was tabled for one year last July. The matter will not appear on the 2020 ballot for voters, though it still could at some point beyond that.

Bouchat believes the commissioner form of government should be eradicated across the country because it doesn’t separate a county’s enforcement powers from the legislative powers. Those who make the laws should not also enforce them, he said.

In his efforts to bring Carroll County folks on board, he said, “The number one enemy I have is ignorance.”

He compared politics to the role of an athlete and political science to the role of a referee or coach. “So often people are playing a game where they don’t understand all the rules,” he said.

He said later in the conversation, “For me it’s an independence movement.” To Bouchat, charter government would give Republican counties more independence from the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.

The commissioner form of government erodes Carroll’s power at the state level, he said, because it means they don’t get invited to the table for the kind of executive discussions where real change takes place.

Carroll’s commissioners are elected by roughly one-fifth of the county based on geography, so they don’t have the same “mandate of the people” as someone elected by the entire county, Bouchat said.

“We do not have that, and I call it sinful," he said.

Focus on candidates

The Lincoln-Reagan dinner was an opportunity for aspiring candidates to connect with Carroll County Republicans and local resources, even if they are a few months away from formally filing. Attendees expressed interest in roles as local as town council and as national as U.S. Congress.

The master of ceremonies at the dinner announced several interested in future candidacy.

Seth Shipley, a member of the Central Committee and a business owner in Hampstead was announced as a potential candidate for a Maryland Delegate’s seat.

Attorney David Ellis intends to run for a seat on the Carroll County Board of County Commissioners in District 2.

Joe James, of Manchester, who leads the Carroll County Young Republicans, looks to run for a seat on the Town Council.

Jorge Delgado, a challenger for Maryland's 1st Congressional District seat, left, met with Carroll County Commissioner Richard Weaver R-District 2.
Jorge Delgado, a challenger for Maryland's 1st Congressional District seat, left, met with Carroll County Commissioner Richard Weaver R-District 2. (Courtesy Photo)

Though he wasn’t announced at the dinner, Jorge Delgado, of Ocean City, was also in attendance. He plans to run against incumbent Andy Harris for Maryland’s 1st congressional district seat. Prior to the event, he visited with Weaver to discuss Carroll’s concerns at the county level. More information is available through his Facebook page and www.Delgado4Maryland.com.

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