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Harford Republicans have a number of contested primaries this year

Following a handful of last minute candidate filings earlier this week, Harford County's dominant Republican Party will have a number of contested primaries for local offices and state legislative seats this June, while Democrats have fielded at least one candidate in most races.
Following a handful of last minute candidate filings earlier this week, Harford County's dominant Republican Party will have a number of contested primaries for local offices and state legislative seats this June, while Democrats have fielded at least one candidate in most races. (Aegis file/Brian Krista/BSMG)

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said he does not see a downside to having a challenger in the Republican primary in this year’s race for county executive, as it gives him a chance to talk about his administration’s successes over the past three years.

“We have a great story to tell,” he said Wednesday. “We’ve turned the county around financially.”

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Glassman announced last fall his intention to run for a second term, but he did not have a challenger in the June primary until County Councilman Mike Perrone filed Tuesday in the final hours of the candidate filing period.

“I don’t think there a downside to it, because that’s why we have elections,” Glassman said. “It’s good to get a lot of different ideas out there.”

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Whoever wins the June 26 statewide primary will face Democratic candidate Maryann Connaghan Forgan in the November general election. Forgan is a first-time candidate in Harford County.

Candidates have filed for multiple local races, including county executive, County Council president, the six district County Council seats, state’s attorney, sheriff, clerk of the Circuit Court, register of wills, six district seats on the Board of Education, Circuit Court judge, as well as for state senator and state delegate in the three legislative districts that cover Harford County.

Perrone announced last October that he would not seek a second term representing District A — Joppa and Edgewood — on the County Council so he could focus on his professional and personal life.

He could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but he discussed his decision in a post on his personal Facebook page Tuesday night, a post which generated a number of supportive comments.

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“Not that I’d welcome any less the idea of picking up my career [as a CPA] where I left off four years ago, but when we’re five hours from the candidacy filing deadline and the County Executive still doesn’t have a primary challenger, back to the drawing board we go,” Perrone, who works as a certified public accountant, wrote. “As they say in poker … I’m all in.”

Glassman said he is not surprised he will face a primary challenger, and that he has spent the past three years fundraising and working toward the next election.

“It will be good for the county,” he said. “I like to see full races because it’s good for both parties.”

Although Republicans have dominated Harford County elections over the past 25 years, both parties have drawn candidates for most offices, ensuring there will be a number of contested races on the June primary ballot and in the Nov. 6 general election.

A handful of Republican incumbents, such as Glassman and state Dels. Rick Impallaria, Kathy Szeliga, Susan McComas and Glen Glass, have primary challengers. There are 11 Republican challengers for Impallaria’s and Szeliga’s seats along with Pat McDonough’s seat. McDonough is running for Baltimore County executive.

Others have rushed to succeed departing Republican incumbents, such as the four candidates who have filed for Harford County state’s attorney, as veteran State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly will step down after 32 years as Harford’s top prosecutor. The winner will face Carlos Taylor, the lone Democrat who filed.

“We’re very fortunate that we have people that step up and want to run,” Jeff McBride, chair of the Republican Central Committee of Harford County, said.

Unlike 2014, Democrats fielded at least one candidate for every local office this year, except clerk of the Circuit Court, and in every Harford legislative race except the District 35 state Senate seat.

Some candidates in both parties locally have said they think this year’s election, from local to national, will be a test of the popularity of President Donald Trump, which could boost the number of elected Democrats if there is a significant anti-Trump vote.

Trump carried Harford County in 2016 with 58 percent of the vote. This year, the state and local Republican tickets will be headed by popular Gov. Larry Hogan, who garnered 76.5 percent of the vote in Harford when he won his first term in 2014, according to the Harford County Board of Elections.

McBride said the number of people challenging Republican incumbents “doesn’t say anything about the party having an opinion about the incumbent.”

“Various people who are running against them may have issues, and that’s why they’ve chosen to run,” he said.

McBride said Republican challengers were expected in the District 7 race. McDonough, Impallaria and Szeliga represent the western Harford and eastern Baltimore County district. McBride added, however, that having 11 Republicans file for the three seats was not expected.

Republican County Councilman Patrick Vincenti, who filed for council president this past November, got a last-minute primary challenger in Shawn A. Kingston, who served as director of housing under former county executives Jim Harkins and David Craig.

Richard Slutzky, the current council president, is retiring after 16 years on the council, four as president.

Kingston, a resident of Abingdon, is the executive director of the Calvert County Housing Authority and president of the nonprofit Calvert Affordable Housing Alliance. He is also a certified public accountant and a chartered global management accountant.

“With my financial acumen I think I’d be a great asset [to the county],” he said.

Kingston said “we just need to make some changes” in county government, and qualities such as honesty, integrity and accountability are “just essential.”

“I don’t want to rubber-stamp everything,” he said. “Everything’s being rubber-stamped right now.”

Vincenti, a Churchville resident who represents Fountain Green, Aberdeen and Churchville in District E, said he does not know Kingston or the two Democrats who have filed, Samuel T. Gibson III and Frank “Bud” Hines.

Vincenti was elected to the council in 2014, his first elected office, although he serves on a number of boards of community organizations. The owner of Vincenti Decoys in Havre de Grace, he is president of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum board and treasurer of the R. Madison Mitchell Endowment Trust.

Vincenti said he has received calls for assistance from people all over the county, not just District E, since he has been on the council, and “no matter where I go, all over the county, I’ve met with positive comments and people asking me to do more and get involved.”

“As council president, I believe it will afford me the opportunity to effect more change and more positive results in the county,” he said.

The District E Council seat is one of two that will be open besides the council presidency. District A will also be open because of Perrone’s departure, and two Republicans, Diane Sengstacke and Robert S. Wagner filed, as did Democrat Bridgette Johnson.

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Wagner, who lives near Fountain Green, represented District E from 1990 to 2002, when he was elected council president. He lost a re-election bid for the latter office in the 2006 primary election, then ran unsuccessfully for county executive in 2010 and council president in 2014, again losing in the primaries.

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Here is how local races stood after the filing deadline Tuesday night, according to the Maryland Board of Elections website. An asterisk denotes an incumbent:

County Executive:

Barry Glassman-Republican*

Mike Perrone Jr.-Republican

Maryann Connaghan Forgan-Democrat

County Council President:

Patrick Vincenti-Republican

Shawn A. Kingston-Republican

Samuel T. Gibson III-Democrat

Frank “Bud” Hines-Democrat

County Council District A:

Donna Blasdell-Republican

Paula Mullis-Republican

Dion Guthrie-Democrat

Andre Johnson-Democrat

County Council District B:

Joe Woods-Republican*

Suzanne Oshinsky-Democrat

County Council District C:

Susan Burdette-Republican

Tony “G” Giangiordano-Republican

Patti Parker-Republican

Karen Kukurin-Democrat

County Council District D:

Chad Shrodes-Republican*

Jerry Scarborough-Republican

Jean Salvatore-Democrat

County Council District E:

Diane Sengstacke-Republican

Robert S. Wagner-Republican

Bridgette Johnson-Democrat

County Council District F:

Curtis L. Beulah-Republican*

John Michael Finlayson-Republican

Amy Altmann Jahnigen-Republican

Winifred “Wini” Roche-Democrat

State’s Attorney:

Lisa Marts-Republican

Albert Peisinger-Republican

David W. Ryden-Republican

Steven Trostle-Republican

Carlos Taylor-Democrat

Clerk of the Circuit Court:

James Reilly-Republican*

Register of Wills:

Derek Hopkins-Republican*

JoWanda Strickland Lucas-Democrat

Sheriff:

Jeffrey Gahler-Republican*

Christopher C. Boardman-Democrat

Circuit Court Judge (non-partisan; two seats):

Paul Ishak*

Lawrence Kreis*

Diane Adkins Tobin

Thomas Ashwell-seeks general election ballot only

Legislative District 7:

Senate:

J.B. Jennings-Republican*

Donna Hines-Democrat

House of Delegates (three seats):

Rick Impallaria-Republican*

Kathy Szeliga-Republican*

Lauren Arikan-Republican

Joshua Barlow-Republican

Russ English Jr.-Republican

Michael A. Geppi-Republican

Norm Gifford-Republican

Tammy Larkin-Republican

Trevor Leach-Republican

Bill Paulshock-Republican

Aaron Penman-Republican

David Seman-Republican

Angela Sudano-Marcellino-Republican

Allison Berkowitz-Democrat

Gordon Koerner-Democrat

Ryan Sullivan-Green-seeks general election ballot only

Legislative District 34:

Senate

Robert Cassilly-Republican*

Mary-Dulany James-Democrat

Barbara Osborn Kreamer-Democrat

House District 34A (two seats)

Glen Glass-Republican*

R. Douglas Anstine-Republican

J.D. Russell-Republican

Monica Worrell-Republican

Mary Ann Lisanti-Democrat*

Sarahia Benn-Democrat

Steve Johnson-Democrat

House District 34B

Susan McComas-Republican*

Jan Marie Christensen-Republican

James V. “Capt’n Jim” McMahan-Republican

Walter “Butch” Tilley-Republican,

Jeff Dinger-Democrat

Legislative District 35:

Senate

Wayne Norman-Republican*

House District 35B (two seats)

Andrew Cassilly-Republican*

Teresa Reilly-Republican*

Ronnie Teitler Davis-Democrat

House District 35A

Kevin Bailey Hornberger-Republican*

Jobeth Rocky Bowers-Democrat

This story has been corrected from an earlier version with the correct party affiliation for Ryan Sullivan, Green Party candidate for House District 7.

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