A low turnout in yesterday's primary election left Savage Mill partner Steven H. Adler as the Republican challenger to Howard County Executive James N. Robey, while voters chose David Rakes in a hotly contested east Columbia Democratic County Council race.
In one of the most closely watched races of the night, Democrat Kenneth S. Ulman was virtually neck and neck with community activist Mary Kay Sigaty in the District 4 County Council race, though Ulman outspent her 5-1.
Meanwhile, District 3 County Council Republican Diane Wilson appeared to beat Kirk Halpin by 57 votes for the nomination, but she refused to claim victory until absentee ballots are counted.
Adler said, "I'm feeling really good. The nice thing was I won the primary pretty convincingly and we're using the same strategy in the general election."
"I'm disappointed," said Clark J. Schoeffield, who mounted a vigorous but late campaign for the Republican county executive nod based on his feeling that growth is out of hand in Howard.
"The poor turnout was not good for us. We ran an excellent campaign and I'm proud of that," he said.
And though few residents exercised their right to vote, some that did felt strongly about it.
Sean Stanley, a 23-year-old Libertarian, wasn't sure if there were any candidates on the ballot from his party, but he still voted "because we can."
"If we don't [vote], it's a damn shame," said Stanley, a instructional technology specialist from West Friendship.
The key race may be between incumbent Councilman Guy J. Guzzone, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat, and the Republican nominee -- be it Wilson or Halpin -- though Guzzone rejects the notion that he's vulnerable. Republicans held the seat -- and the council majority -- before Guzzone won it in 1998.
He feels confident of keeping his seat, he said, bolstered by 5,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in his district. It's the Republicans who may be vulnerable, he said.
"I think the Democrats have a better chance of winning District 1" than Republicans have of taking his District 3 seat, Guzzone said.
In District 1, which includes Ellicott City, Democrats outnumber Republicans by 1,000 voters, Guzzone said.
Christopher J. Merdon is the Republican incumbent. Lynne Bergling is the Democratic nominee.
Merdon's fellow Republican, Allan H. Kittleman, won his western county primary in District 5 against James Adams. He faces novice Stephen Musselman, an attorney, in the general election.
Republican Brian Harlin, who owns a business that manufactures campaign signs, will oppose David Rakes in the heavily Democratic east Columbia district now represented by C. Vernon Gray.
Former county planning board chairman Joan Lancos is the Republican nominee in west Columbia's District 4, where two-term incumbent Mary C. Lorsung is retiring. She waited to see whether she would face Ulman or Sigaty