Talbot County's only incumbent delegate was unseated yesterday in a Democratic primary -- giving Caroline County hope of having a resident delegate for the first time in eight years.
With four other lawmakers vacating their seats, much change was assured in the Eastern Shore's delegation to Annapolis.
In the Mid-Shore's 37th District, Delegate Philip Carey Foster, D-Talbot, appointed to the House last year, virtually split the home-county vote with challenger Herbert L. Andrew III, a Talbot council member.
Meanwhile, Robert A. Thornton Jr., a Denton lawyer, ran strongly in his home county, Caroline, and won enough votes elsewhere in the 37th to outpoll Mr. Foster.
Candidates from four counties -- Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico -- play electoral musical chairs with three seats in the 37th: No county may have more than one delegate. So Talbot's loss was Caroline's gain, and Talbot faced the prospect of being the only county without a resident delegate.
If the Thornton lead holds up, as expected, after absentee ballots are counted, all that will stand in the way of Caroline's return to the General Assembly will be the Republican candidacy in November of a Talbot college student, Kenneth D. Schisler, 22.
Delegate Samuel Q. Johnson III, D-Wicomico, coasted to renomination in the 37th. Dorchester Democrat Mayor Don William Bradley of Hurlock edged out Cambridge lawyer Thomas C. Kimmel for the other delegate spot.
On the Republican side, Cambridge nurse Adelaide C. Eckardt defeated Woolford businessman Donald K. Heintzelman for the right to run for the seat that Richard F. Colburn, R-Dorchester, left open to run unsuccessfully for Congress.
Among the Shore's three state senators, only three-term Sen. Walter M. Baker, D-Cecil, faced a primary challenge. He easily defeated Bradford Dawkins Jr.
Also in the 36th District, four Queen Anne's candidates ran for the seat vacated by Democratic Delegate John M. Ashley Jr. Democrat Frances A. Ashley, a county commissioner, defeated Robert E. Wilson, a Centreville farmer. Dentist C. Ronald Franks bested educator John E. Walker, a fellow Queenstown Republican.
Incumbent Delegate Norman H. Conway, D-Wicomico, had no opposition in the 38th District. On the Lower Shore, competition was keen for House seats left open by Daniel M. Long, D-Somerset, now a Circuit Court judge, and retiring Shirley W. Pilchard, D-Worcester.
Democrat K. Bennett Bozman, vice president of the Worcester commissioners, handily won against James C. "Bud" Church, Worcester school board president, and M. Kirk Daugherty, a law enforcement officer, trounced three other Somerset Democrats.
J. Lowell Stoltzfus, a farmer and Somerset zoning board chairman, won a GOP nomination in the 38th.