Good politicians that they are, several candidates who didn't get endorsed by the Columbia Democratic Club WednesdayJ night claimed victory anyway.
Just coming close in the local equivalent of the New Hampshire presidential primary can be an adornment, candidates say.
Take, for example, the 4th District County Council race, where James B. Kraft is running against Mary C. Lorsung in the Democratic primary for the West Columbia seat being vacated by Democrat Paul R. Farragut.
After the first of two ballots Wednesday night, Mr. Kraft was two votes shy of endorsement but led Ms. Lorsung by only two votes. On the second and final ballot, it was Ms. Lorsung who took the lead.
Although the club endorsed neither, both found reason for encouragement.
"I was just real pleased with what happened," Ms. Lorsung said. The race for the club's endorsement "is the quintessential insiders' game, with the quintessential insider running as my opponent."
Ms. Lorsung had expected Mr. Kraft to defeat her handily because he has been deeply involved with the club over the years.
The fact that he did not and that she actually led him on the second ballot "is a terrific morale booster," she said.
"Hey, if there was ever any question about this race, that question went away last night," she said. "It is definitely winnable from our point of view."
Mr. Kraft said he, too, was pleased with the outcome.
"Mary is Paul Farragut's candidate," he said.
"I expected her to win the endorsement. When she didn't, I hoped I would, but it still turned out better than I thought. In the end, it's a victory for me."
6 vye for 2 nominations
In state legislative District 13A, which spans from East Columbia to Highland, six candidates are vying for two nominations to the House of Delegates.
Most celebrated the fact that there was no endorsement.
County Councilwoman Shane Pendergrass was the leading vote-getter, as expected, but still fell five votes short of the 62 needed for endorsement.
Ms. Pendergrass said that was pretty good, regardless.
"I never take any race for granted," she said, "because I know that everyone in it believes they are going to win and is working their hardest to do that. I certainly would have liked to have had the endorsement, but being the top vote-getter is something to be pleased about. There are a lot of nice people in my race who have strong loyalties" within the club.
Other 13A candidates saw the lack of endorsement as putting all six candidates on equal footing.
"It's healthy for me and my campaign, which is based on people not traditionally involved in the political process," said Robert Ardinger, an activist on behalf of people with disabilities.
Votes were split
Democratic Central Committeewoman Pearl Atkinson-Stewart, who trailed Ms. Pendergrass by five votes in Wednesday's balloting, said she "feels very good" that the club did not endorse anyone.
"The votes were split terribly. [Ms. Pendergrass] has so much more money and name recognition. I am very confident. There are two seats, and one of them is going to be mine."
Former Columbia Democratic Club President Wanda Hurt said she feels "very positive" about her showing as well.
"There were a lot of undercurrents, a lot of deal-making," she said. "Shane should have walked away with it in a song. It shows how close the race is."
Former Orphans' Court Judge Frank Turner said he is "very, very pleased with his showing," because he did not "attempt to do politics as usual and did not make an effort to sign up anyone" before the meeting. Mr. Turner finished third in the balloting, but is philosophical.
He worked until 3 a.m. eight years ago to win the club's endorsement for now Sen. Barbara A. Milkuski, but the club failed to grant it.
"She won [without it], and so can I," he said.
For the record, these are the candidates the club endorsed and the offices they are seeking: Parris N. Glendening, governor; James B. Moorhead, comptroller; J. Joseph Curran Jr., attorney general; Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, U.S. Senate; Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, 3rd Congressional District; Stephen Crawford, 6th Congressional District; Edward J. Kasemeyer, District 12 state Senate; Del. Virginia M. Thomas, District 13 state Senate; James Mundy, District 14 state Senate; James Malone, District 12A House of Delegates; Elizabeth Bobo, District 12B House of Delegates; John Giannetti, District 13B House of Delegates; Andrew Levy and Carolyn "Casey" Willis, District 14B House of Delegates.
Also, Sue-Ellen Hantman, county executive; George Layman, 1st Council District; C. Vernon Gray, 2nd Council District; Charles A. Acquard, 3rd Council District; John W. Taylor, 5th Council District; Michael A. Weal, state's attorney; Michael A. Chicuchiolo, sheriff; Leslie J. Cale, Circuit Court clerk; Kay Harleb, register of wills; Francis J. Chase, Rosemary M. Ford and George E. Skerry, Orphans' Court judge; and Delroy L. Cornick, Board of Education.