Sun Editorial Page Editor Andy Green discusses The Sun's endorsements for legislative races in Baltimore County. (Kevin Richardson / The Baltimore Sun video)
Baltimore County has been a key battleground between Maryland Democrats and Republicans for years, so it’s no surprise that it is the site of competitive House of Delegates and state Senate primaries for both parties. Here are The Sun’s endorsements:
This Dundalk-Essex based district was the home of the county’s Democratic machine for decades, but it went all Republican for the first time in modern Maryland political history in the 2014 elections. The surprise victor in the Senate race there, Republican Sen. Johnny R. Salling, faces a challenge from businesswoman Janice Lee Dymowski. We have disagreed with Mr. Salling in a number of instances, such as his opposition to a ban on so-called conversion therapy for gay teens, but the veteran and former steelworker has been attentive to his district on issues like economic development and matters of local concern, like midge eradication. He has our endorsement. The incumbent delegates in the race, Robin L. Grammer Jr., Robert B. Long and Ric Metzgar, face a challenge from Jake Mohorovic, who served two terms in the House as a Democrat. We suspect that’s not what Republican voters in District 6 are looking for. Mr. Grammer, who put himself through college as a steelworker and became an information technology professional; Mr. Long, who worked as a truck driver while going to school to learn the real estate business; and Mr. Metzgar, the long-time general manager of G&W Motors in Essex, are all focused on renewing opportunity in their traditionally blue collar community. They have our endorsement.
On the Democratic side, Buddy Staigerwald is the clear choice for state Senate. An electrician and volunteer firefighter, he was active in the fight over the county’s plans to redevelop the North Point Government Center. His opponent, Russ “No Tax” Mirabile, went so far as to change his middle name for gimmicky ballot effect. We endorse Mr. Staigerwald. Among the Democratic candidates for delegate, we endorse two new names and one old one. Justin Holliday — who’s just 22 and worked his way through college, graduating this spring, as a server and union shop steward at Camden Yards, has the Teachers Association of Baltimore County’s endorsement and ours. Megan Ann Mioduszewski has deep family roots in Dundalk and a record of service in community organizations and the Democratic State Central Committee. We endorse her and Nicholas D’Adamo Jr., the former Baltimore City councilman making his second run for delegate in the county.
District 7, which straddles the Baltimore-Harford line, has been ably represented by Sen. J.B. Jennings since 2011, and he is running unopposed in the Republican primary. In the House race, Del. Kathy Szeliga is a political star and a leader in the GOP caucus in Annapolis. She has her finger on the pulse of the district and has our endorsement. We do not endorse the other incumbent, Del. Rick Impallaria, but hope voters will instead consider the several stronger candidates in the district. Our picks are Tammy Larkin, a long-time GOP activist who has the support of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., County Councilman David Marks and Mr. Jennings; and Lauren Arikan, a farmer and small business owner with a strong track record of community involvement.
Democrat Donna Hines is unopposed in the Senate primary, and reflecting just how deep red this district is, only two Democrats, Allison Berkowitz and Gerald Koerner, are running for the three slots in the House.
Democratic Sen. Kathy Klausmeier briefly had a challenger, but he dropped out of the race this spring. Among the Democrats running for the House, incumbent Del. Eric Bromwell has our support. He is a centrist, pro-business legislator with a track record of working across the aisle to build consensus in the county’s delegation. We also endorse Harry Bhandari, an immigrant from Nepal who is completing his PhD while teaching in Baltimore City schools. He is particularly focused on early childhood education. Finally, we endorse Carl Jackson, an administrator and member of the Staff Senate at the University of Maryland-Baltimore. His experience in caring for his disabled grandmother has made him particularly attuned to issues involving seniors.
Del. Christian Miele, an attorney with thoughtful and moderate stances on the key issues Maryland faces, is the lone Republican candidate for Senate. Among those running for the House, we endorse the three Joes — Del. Joe Cluster, former Del. Joseph C. Boteler III and Joe Norman. Mr. Cluster, a former executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, is a close ally of Gov. Larry Hogan. Mr. Boteler has strong ideas on public safety. And Mr. Norman, a real estate professional, espouses practical, fiscally responsible policies on health care, transportation and the environment.
The Democratic primary in the 10th District presents a tough choice in the race for state Senate. Rob Johnson, who ran unsuccessfully for delegate four years ago, is back with a challenge to incumbent Sen. Delores G. Kelley. Mr. Johnson is smart, focused and deeply involved in the community. He has the backing of the influential Service Employees International Union, thanks to his support for initiatives like a $15 minimum wage. He clearly has the potential to be an asset to the community in the legislature. But Senator Kelley is and has been an asset to the district for years. Her engagement on racial and social justice issues provides a crucial perspective in the Senate, and she has our endorsement. In the House, Del. Adrienne A. Jones is the clear top choice. She is the right-hand woman to House Speaker Michael E. Busch and gives her district tremendous clout in Annapolis. Del. Benjamin Brooks also earns our endorsement for his strong work on environmental issues as well as his commitment to education. For the third slot, we endorse Lauren Lipscomb, a Baltimore City prosecutor who focuses on early childhood education and issues of public safety and justice.
Educator and state Department of Transportation official Stephanie Boston is unopposed in the Republican Senate primary. Of the four Republicans vying for three slots on the ballot for the House in the 10th, we endorse George Harmon, a long-time community activist and the 2014 Republican nominee for county executive; Brian Marcos, a former county police officer whose views on education, public safety and health care are well attuned to his district; and Michael Tyrone Brown Sr., whose experience working in the state Department of Juvenile Services gives him an important perspective on that troubled agency.
State Sen. Bobby Zirkin faces a strong challenge this year from retired attorney Sheldon Laskin, who has galvanized the support of many progressive voters in the county who believe the incumbent is wrong on crucial issues. In some respects — such as bail reform, on which Mr. Zirkin has been a skeptic — we agree with them. But Mr. Zirkin, the chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, isn’t easy to pin down as conservative or liberal. While he championed legislation this year that many thought was too focused on discredited, tough-on-crime strategies, he was also the driving force behind Maryland’s decriminalization of marijuana. He also has a strong environmental record, including leadership in the state’s decision to ban fracking. Mr. Laskin would be a good senator — his expertise in state taxation for example, is impressive — but Mr. Zirkin has our endorsement. In the delegates race, we endorse both incumbents, Dels. Dana Stein and Shelly Hettleman, who have been strong leaders in Annapolis. For the third seat, vacated by the retirement of Dr. Dan Morhaim, we endorse the comeback bid of former Del. Jon Cardin. The issues he focused on during his previous stint in the legislature — cyberbullying, election security and domestic violence — have only become more salient since.
No Republican is running for state Senate in the 11th, and only one Republican, Jonathan Porter, is running for the House.
Two strong Democratic candidates are vying for the seat being vacated by Ed Kasemeyer — Howard County Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty and Del. Clarence Lam. Ms. Sigaty brings local government perspective and experience to the race, including a deep understanding of the nuts and bolts of issues like stormwater management and economic development. But we endorse Dr. Lam. Among other things, his expertise in state health care policy will prove crucial as Maryland seeks to protect and expand the gains made under the Affordable Care Act in spite of the Trump administration’s efforts to sabotage it. We also endorse the incumbent delegates, Terri Hill, another physician and health policy guru, and Eric Ebersole, a long-time educator with ties in both the Howard and Baltimore County sides of the district. Among several strong candidates for the third slot, we endorse Jessica Feldmark, who served as former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman’s chief of staff. She’s strong on education and the environment and knows how government works.
Joseph D. “Joe” Hooe, a Baltimore business owner, is unopposed for the Republican Senate nomination, as are Bob Cockey, Melanie Harris and Michael Russell in the GOP House primary.
In the Democratic primary to replace Jim Brochin, who is running for county executive, we endorse Robbie Leonard, an attorney with a strong social justice compass from years working on lead poisoning cases and as a public defender. Del. Steve Lafferty, a long-time champion of public schools and inclusive housing policies, is unopposed in the primary in District 42A. In District 42B, which has no incumbents running for re-election, we endorse Daniel Nemec, who combines progressive politics with the analytical mind of a CPA, and Michelle Guyton, a developmental psychologist and member of the state Board of Education, who has a strong focus on the educational needs of children with disabilities.
Del. Chris West, a rising star in the House GOP caucus, is running unopposed for the GOP Senate nomination in the 42nd. Stephen A. McIntire, an entrepreneur and finance professional, is unopposed in the Republican primary for delegate in District 42A. A familiar name leads the Republican pack in District 42B — Dr. Tim Robinson, who mounted a close but unsuccessful challenge against Senator Brochin four years ago. He has remained active in county politics since, and he has our endorsement. So does his ticket-mate, Nino Mangione, who works for WCBM radio and focuses his platform on supporting small businesses and maintaining fiscal responsibility.
Challenger Aletheia McCaskill, who owns and operates a child care center in Western Baltimore County, is mounting a strong challenge to incumbent Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam. Ms. McCaskill has an admirable focus on early childhood development and pro-family policies, but we endorse Senator Nathan-Pulliam in recognition of her work to reduce racial and socio-economic disparities in health. In District 44B, we endorse Del. Charles E. Sydnor III, an attorney who has made a name for himself in Annapolis on civil justice and consumer rights issues, and Aisha Khan, a Pakistani immigrant and small business owner with a strong appreciation for the value of education and economic opportunity.
Baltimore GOP stalwart Victor Clark Jr. is running unopposed for the Republican Senate nomination. No Republicans filed for the House in District 44B.