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At this time of year, we give thanks for our blessings. In political Maryland, here are some of the folks who have lots to appreciate as the cranberries and turkey are served:

• County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. He should be thankful for the weak Republican opposition he encountered. George Harman of Reisterstown lacked campaign experience and spent almost no money. Yet he still received nearly 44 percent of the vote. It was a Republican year and Kamenetz might have had a difficult fight on his hands had the GOP recruited a better-known candidate.

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• Councilwoman Vicki Almond. She's probably happy that voters usually don't listen to other politicians as far as endorsements are concerned. Her wavering on the Foundry Row development and a Wegmans grocery store cost her the endorsements of Kamenetz and State Sen. Bobby Zirkin. Voters still gave her an easy victory.

• Councilman-elect Julian Jones. The Anne Arundel County fire official is undoubtedly grateful he took a second shot at defeating incumbent Ken Oliver. Many give up after losing the first time. Not Jones, who beat Oliver this time easily by nearly 13 percentage points.

• Senator-elect Shirley-Nathan Pulliam. The longtime delegate was able to breathe a whole lot easier after Del. Verna Jones withdrew as a candidate for this open state Senate seat that is split between the city and Baltimore County. Most of the votes in this district lie in the county and Jones has represented the city, putting her in a no-win situation. For Nathan-Pulliam it was nice to have smooth sailing.

• Senator Bobby Zirkin. I bet he's glad the next attorney general will be Sen. Brian Frosh of Montgomery County. Frosh gave up his chairmanship of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Now Zirkin is odds-on favorite to be tapped for this leadership slot — but only if he's willing to follow the lead of Senate President Mike Miller.

• Governor-elect Larry Hogan Jr. His Thanksgiving blessing will probably go to the state Democratic Party for heavily backing an artificially impressive lieutenant governor for governor. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown turned out to be a lightweight who made all the wrong decisions. Hogan knew what he was doing; Brown didn't.

• Comptroller Peter Franchot. Easily re-elected, he is now the most important Democrat in the State House, thanks to the election of a Republican governor. On the powerful Board of Public Works, Franchot will hold the crucial swing vote. He could lead the Democratic opposition to Hogan or work out middle-ground compromises. Either way, he's the pivotal player.

• Delegate-elect Hasan "Jay" Jalisi. He's most likely grateful his business problems — lawsuits and lead paint violations — surfaced well after the June primary. Ditto for questions about his true residency. Now he's got four years to prove himself.

• Councilman-elect Wade Kach. He can be thankful for the Democrats' redistricting of Baltimore County's legislative map that forced him to give up his seat in the House of Delegates he's held for 40 years. Instead, he ran for the County Council, knocking off an incumbent in the Republican primary and wiping out a Democratic challenger earlier this month. He's stepping into a much more influential job — with a higher salary, too.

• Senator Jim Brochin. He can be eternally grateful for drawing such an inexperienced Republican opponent in the November election, Dr. Tim Robinson. Democrat Brochin was redistricted into a very Republican part of the county. It also turned out to be a strong Republican year. Yet in a Republican district Brochin's shoe-leather campaign savvy and conservative views helped him win by 1,500 votes. He can count his blessings.

Barry Rascovar writes a political blog, http://www.politicalmaryland.com. He can be reached at brascovar@hotmail.com.

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