Several key Republican races for county offices and local legislative seats were settled by Tuesday’s primary election voting in Harford County, but a number of others were close enough to need the count of absentee and provisional ballots to determine the outcome.
The primary voting also appeared to leave in doubt who will be sitting on the county’s Circuit Court bench following the November general election, as neither sitting judge on Tuesday’s ballot received a clear path to retention.
According to the Harford County Board of Elections, 33,379 Republicans and Democrats voted either Tuesday or during the early voting period, 23.7 percent of the 140,149 who were eligible to participate in the primary. About 9,500 votes were cast early between June 14 and June 21.
In one of the more heated local contests, for the Republican nomination for State’s Attorney, Albert Peisinger took an early lead and kept it over three other opponents who are hoping to succeed Joseph Cassilly, who is retiring after 36 years as the county’s top prosecutor.
With 90 of 93 precincts reporting, Peisinger led with 6,074 votes, followed by David Ryden with 5,566, Lisa H. Marts with 3,437 and Steven L. Trostle with 1,576, according to unofficial returns from the Harford County Board of Elections.
The report includes results from early voting, with the three remaining precincts covering two absentee canvasses, one Thursday and one July 5, and a provisional canvass on the latter date.
Ryden, a deputy state’s attorney, was endorsed by Cassilly and local police unions. Peisinger is a former assistant prosecutor in Baltimore City, who did have backing from a number of active leaders in the local Republican Party. Marts is a former assistant in Cassilly’s office. Trostle is a veteran prosecutor in Cecil County, who lives in Harford.
“We’re disappointed in the outcome, but certainly respect the democratic process,” Ryden said in a telephone interview Tuesday night.
“Certainly, it was a long and hard-fought campaign from everyone, and having a very low turnout, what the numbers are looking like, certainly affected this race,” Ryden said.
He said he will evaluate his next steps starting Wednesday, as he has cases pending and court appearances scheduled.
“That’s my primary focus right now,” he said.
Peisinger was making his first run for political office. He left his post in the city to concentrate on running to succeed Cassilly.
"It was a nice long eight months,” he said by phone Tuesday night. “We worked really hard, and hard work paid off.”
“We got in it to win it,” Peisinger said. “I had some great people around me.”
He cited the members of his “core campaign team,” including Rosemary and Frank Hajek, Craig Ward and Eric McLaughlin.
Peisinger will face Democrat Carlos Taylor in the November general election. Taylor was unopposed in his party’s primary and earned 11,139 votes.
“I’ll work just as hard to make sure I can secure a victory there,” Peisinger said.
Incumbent County Executive Barry Glassman won Tuesday over his Republican opponent, County Councilman Mike Perrone, as Glassman goes on to November in his bid for a second term.
“We feel pretty good,” Glassman said Wednesday night. “We worked hard and accomplished a lot over the last four years.”
He acknowledged the low turnout Tuesday, which he said “can lead to some unpredictable results.” The unofficial Election Day results, which showed Glassman capturing 71.57 percent of the vote, were in line with his campaign’s projections of around 70 percent, though.
“The trick is making sure your folks are the ones that turn out to vote, so we work hard on that,” he said.
Glassman said he has been visible in the community throughout his first term leading the county, as well as during his 30-year career in politics as a County Council member and state legislator.
“Being county executive has been a dream come true,” he said. “As busy and stressful as it is, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I still enjoy it.”
Glassman, 56, said this year’s campaign will be his last for a Harford County office. He’s been mentioned as a future gubernatorial or congressional candidate.
“Who knows what the future will bring?” he said. “I don’t know yet.”
There was no Democratic primary for county executive, as only a single candidate filed, Maryann Connaghan Forgan, and she will face Glassman in the general election.
County Council President
In the Republican primary, Patrick Vincenti, a district county councilman, won by nearly four to one over Shawn Kingston, a former county housing director.
“I’m just very appreciative and grateful for the support from everyone, from all of our family, friends and volunteers and most importantly, the voters,” Vincenti, a Churchville resident who has represented District E the past four years, said Wednesday night.
He wished all candidates “the best moving forward, and I’m just looking forward to moving through the general election in the fall.”
Vincenti and his supporters traveled to polling places throughout the county Tuesday, where they saw slow but steady turnout.
“All of the people working the polls for the different candidates, they were very positive,” he said. “Wherever we went, everybody was very positive.”
On the Democratic side, Frank “Bud” Hines led Samuel Gibson by 105 votes in a race that awaited the absentee and provisional ballot count before it’s decided.
The winners of the two primaries will face off in November to succeed current Council President Richard Slutzky, who is retiring.
County Council districts
Harford’s six district county council members are elected through in-district voting. Half of the seats did not have incumbents running this year.
In District A, Joppatowne and Edgewood, where the seat has been held by Perrone the past four years, Republican Donna Blasdell led her primary opponent Paula R. Mullis by 250 votes after Tuesday’s unofficial count.
In the Democratic primary, Andre Johnson had a 204 vote lead in Tuesday’s count over former Councilman Dion Guthrie, who was making a bid to regain a seat he held for a dozen years.
In District B, Fallston and Abingdon, incumbent Republican Joe Woods did not have a primary opponent.
Woods will be opposed in November by Democrat Suzanne Oshinsky, who also did not have a primary opponent.
In District C, greater Bel Air, another seat where the incumbent, Jim McMahan, sought another office this year, Tony "G" Giangiordano appeared to have the nomination in hand after garnering 48 percent of Tuesday’s vote, followed by Bel Air Mayor Susan Burdette with 28 percent and Patti Parker with 23 percent.
The winner of the GOP primary will face Democrat Karen Kukurin, who did not have a primary opponent.
In District D, northern Harford, incumbent Republican Chad Shrodes took his party’s nomination with more than 68 percent of the votes counted Tuesday over challenger Jerry Scarborough.
The winner of that GOP contest will face Democrat Jean M. Salvatore, who did not have a primary opponent.
In District E, Aberdeen and Churchville, where the incumbent, Vincenti, a Republican is running for council president, former councilman and council president Robert S. Wagner held a slim 28-vote lead over Diane L. Sengstacke, in another race where the outcome hinges on the absentee and provisional count.
The winner will face Bridgette Johnson ,who did not have a primary opponent.
In District F, Havre de Grace, Riverside and Abingdon, incumbent Republican took Curtis Beulah won renomination with almost 62 percent of the votes counted Tuesday compared to 30 percent for Amy Altmann Jahnigen and 9 percent for John Michael Finlayson.
The winner will face Democrat Wini Roche, who did not have a primary opponent.
All three candidates in the race for Harford Circuit Court judge who were on Tuesday’s primary ballot will be back on the general election ballot in November.
Diane Adkins-Tobin, a deputy state’s attorney for Harford, carried the Democratic primary with 8,566 votes, ahead of incumbent Judges Paul Ishak, 6,498 votes, and Lawrence Kreis, 5,199 votes, based on unofficial returns from Tuesday.
Ishak led the Republican primary voting votes with 11,164, with Kreis receiving 9,540 and Adkins-Tobin 7,180.
The top two candidates in each party primary get onto the general election ballot, and these three will be joined by Thomas Ashwell, a public defender, who was nominated by the Libertarian Party.
A sitting judge has not lost an election in Harford County since 1954.
With 90 of 93 precincts reporting Tuesday, Adkins-Tobin was the second highest combined vote-getter, though that has no bearing on whose names appear on the November ballot.
Ishak was the leader overall with 17,662 total votes, with Adkins-Tobin at 15,746 and Kreis at 14,739.
“I’m very excited about the results and very excited about, at this point, being second overall,” Adkins-Tobin, sitting on the deck of her Fallston home watching as the results came in, said. “I knew the voters of Harford County would appreciate having a choice for judge. I ran on my credentials, I ran on my record and I’m looking forward to continuing the race into November.”
She said she wasn’t surprised to be carrying the Democrats. Both Ishak and Kreis were appointed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan; Adkins-Tobin was a finalist for both of those judgeships.
“I spoke to a lot of Democratic groups and they were very receptive to my message that they should have the opportunity and say in how judges are on the bench in Harford County,” Adkins-Tobin said.
Tuesday’s result bodes well for her in the general election, she said.
“Now that Independents will be allowed to vote, I believe they will also be receptive to my message that voters have the right to choose who sits on the bench,” she said, offering thanks to all the voters who have supported her so far in her campaign.
Ishak and Kreis were not available for comment on the results Tuesday night.
While a few Harford legislative seats did not involve primary contests, a handful of others did.
In District 7, western Harford and eastern Baltimore County, there were 13 candidates vying for the GOP’s nominations for the district’s three seats in the House of Delegates, including two incumbents, Kathy Szeliga and Rick Impallaria.
Szeliga held a comfortable lead with 7,002 votes in both counties, according to unofficial returns from Tuesday’s county.
Behind her are Impallaria with 4,405 votes and Lauren Arikan with 4,122 votes.
Aaron Penman was closest to the top three with 3,169 votes, followed by Bill Paulshock in fifth with 2,829 votes.
The three top overall vote-getters are also the leaders in each county.
In District 35B, a single House of Delegates seat representing greater Bel Air, incumbent Republican Susan McComas held just a 24-vote lead in a four-way primary over Walter “Butch” Tilley after Tuesday’s unofficial count, followed by McMahan and Jan Marie Christensen far back in third and fourth respectively.
Whoever prevails between McComas and Tilley following the absentee and provisional count will face Democrat Jeff Dinger, who did not have a primary opponent, in the November general election.
In District 34A, which has two House seats representing the Route 40 corridor, incumbent Glen Glass led with 1,710 votes in Tuesday’s unofficial returns, followed by J.D. Russell with 1,673 and Monica Worrell with 1,622, another race possibly too close to call until absentee and provisional ballots are counted, although Glass appeared safe to take his bid for a third term into November.
Glass, who was picking up his campaign signs across his district Tuesday night, said he is confident he’d remain in the lead in the tight race. He led Russell by 37 voes and Worrell by 88; Russell led Worrell by 51 votes, with the top two moving on to the general election.
“I always thought I’d win first place without a doubt. I have momentum on my side and we’re getting more and more votes every minute,” said Glass, who is seeking a third term. “The people of this district believe in me because I work hard and I fight for them. I put the citizens of my district first before the party bosses and I think they believe in me and want me back in there.”
Russell said late Tuesday he wasn’t ready to claim victory yet – he’d have to wait and see how the final numbers come out with absentee and provisional ballot counts.
Worrell, however, said it doesn’t seem likely she’ll be able to pull ahead of Russell.
“There’s a 52 vote difference and 54 absentee ballots. The probability of me getting 100 percent of them is slim,” said Worrell.
The Havre de Grace City Council member said she’s not disappointed by the results, however. In 2014, she lost he GOP nomination for a county council seat by a handful of votes.
“At this point, I look at why I did it, because I believe in helping my community. That’s not just a tagline,” Worrell said. “Whether I’m supporting the community this way or another way, that’s always going to be part of my world.”
Worrell said she feels blessed by the outpouring of support from everyone who worked on her campaign.
“I had an incredible group of volunteers, an incredible group of people pulling for me,” she said.
Russell he’s excited and prepared to move on to the general election with a good campaign.
Russell said he worked hard, went door to door and followed up with voters he met.
“I heard people, I connected with people and worked hard,” he said.
There were three really good candidates in the race, running good campaigns, he said.
“And they’re good community advocates,” Russell said. “When you have three good candidates running, it’s going to be close.”
On the Democratic side, incumbent Mary Ann Lisanti won renomination toward a second term with 3,698 votes in Tuesday’s unofficial count. The race for the second seat was close, however, with Steve Johnson leading Sarahia Benn 2,138 to 2,073.
There was only one contested primary for Harford’s three seats in the State Senate as former delegate Mary-Dulany James took the Democratic primary for the District 35 Senate seat with 75 percent of the vote over Barbara Kreamer, another former delegate.
James will face incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Cassilly in the general election, a rematch from 2014, when Cassilly won comfortably.