Democratic Sheriff's Race Teeters On Absentee Ballots Wedemeyer Behind, But Could Upset Incumbent Yet

September 13, 1990|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Norman Wedemeyer spent the whole day Wednesday thinking his bid for sheriff had come 146 votes short of ousting William Huggins from 28 years of office.

He didn't know until yesterday evening that 995 absentee ballots still were waiting to be counted, and that he still has a chance to win the Democratic primary when the final tally comes in today.

"I don't think he realizes it," his wife, Mary Margaret, said, explaining her husband was out with a friend removing campaign signs from area roadways. "I don't think he read a newspaper this morning."

The mix-up started Tuesday night, when a reporter called him, saying the vote was final and he had lost. "We figured everything was in," Mary Wedemeyer said. "He left this morning figuring he had lost."

As of 6 p.m. yesterday, Norman Wedemeyer was still not home, and his wife said she was eagerly waiting to tell him the good news.

Meanwhile, his opponent, Sheriff Huggins, said he didn't want to comment until the final vote was in. "It's pretty close," he said. "It's not over yet. I won't comment until we decide if we're the winner."

Huggins did say, however, that he was surprised at the number of absentee ballots. "In all my days of politics, I've never seen anything like this."

The Republican side of the race, however, offered no such consolation or anxiety. There are 622 absentee ballots outstanding on the Republican side, but it will make no difference.

State Police Sgt. Robert Pepersack easily defeated his two challengers, John Edward Moran IV and Robert Tongue, capturing 11,803 votes. Moran received 2,824, Tongue 983.

Pepersack said he was surprised at the number of absentee ballots in the Democratic race, and said he hopes Huggins will come away with a victory. "I would prefer to run against Huggins," he said. "Huggins carries a lot of baggage. Norm Wedemeyer I know. He is a qualified police officer. I worked with him on the street."

He also said Wedemeyer could have beaten Huggins if he had worked a little harder during the campaign. "Norm didn't work as well as he should have. If he put a little more work into it, he would have beaten him and the absentee ballots wouldn't have mattered."

Pepersack said he expected to win the primary, "but not by this much. I'm not a political guru. I'm new to this."

Absentee ballots could come into play in the race for judge of the Orphans' Court, which has several close races. The top three candidates in each party advance to the general election.

On the Democratic side, Judith Duckett, wife of County Circuit Judge Warren Duckett, received nearly 21,000 votes, beating out her nearest competitor by 7,000 votes. Janet Owens was locked in second place with 13,649 votes.

"I'm absolutely tickled pink," Owens said. "This is the first time I've run for political office. I'm like a kid in a candy store."

She and other candidates interviewed said they were not surprised by the huge victory for Duckett, because of her name recognition. Owens said many people do not know what the position entails -- handling probate matters -- so any name that sticks out is an advantage.

"No one knows what the Orphans' Court is," she said. "People told me, 'You look like a nice lady who wants to take in orphans.'" One surprise, however, was the upset of incumbent Cassandra H. Kabler, who came in fifth. Kabler, who had five years experience, is only 360 votes behind John A. Sullivan Jr., and 722 votes behind third-place finisher Marie Durner.

But even with 995 ballots still uncounted, Kabler was not optimistic. "I think the race is over," she said. "There were a lot of good candidates, and I think it worked out great."

On the Republican side, Edward Taylor said he was surprised Kabler lost, but chalked it up to Duckett's name recognition. Taylor is secure in his spot, having received 9,500 votes. With 622 uncounted votes on the Republican side, Pasadena resident Eugene Davis still has a chance. He received 6,910 votes, 64 fewer than third-place finisher Albert Johnston.

In the Democratic race for governor, incumbent William Donald Schaefer captured Anne Arundel with 28,317 votes, while Severn resident Frederick M. Griisser Jr. received 13,493.

On the Republican side, Anne Arundel voters disagreed with their statewide counterparts, as they supported Baltimore physician Ross Z. Pierpont over William Shepard, 8,350 votes to 6,898.

Copyright The Baltimore Sun 1990

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