As the vote tallies rolled in on Election Day, it was difficult to tell who was more shellshocked -- vanquished Pasadena Councilman Edward C. "Buddy" Ahern or victorious Republican Carl G. "Dutch" Holland.
Ahern arrived at the Stoney Creek Democratic Club at about 10:45 p.m., looking drained and sounding resigned. After winning previous council races, Ahern knew he had lost this one.
He gave a short speech, then left the room, returning later to talk to supporters.
At county election headquarters in Glen Burnie, Holland's expression was not all that different from Ahern's. He was stunned.
"Sure I'm surprised. I'm always surprised at the outcome of anything," said the Holland, a liquor salesman who lost to Ahern in 1986. Then he brushed past reporters, saying he was in a hurry and couldn't talk any more.
Holland finished with 55 percent of the vote -- 9,478 votes to Ahern's 7,719.
His victory, coupled with that of Republican Diane R. Evans in the 5th District, not only ends the Democrats' 20-year monopoly on the seven County Council seats, but also gives the GOP more leverage than it had anticipated.
Before the election, the Republicans touted Evans as their best hope of winning a council seat. Holland was rarely mentioned as a serious threat, though Ahern was criticized throughout the campaign for losing touch with his 3rd District constituents.
Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, said Ahern was a casualty in an election where voters across the state unleashed their fury at incumbents.
"It was crazy," Lamb said. "In any other year, Buddy would have made it."
Other politicians said Ahern's problems were a result of voters' specific dissatisfaction with him, rather than general contempt for incumbents. Ahern should have foreseen trouble after the primary, which he won by a narrow 800-vote margin, they said.
"Those Democrats who voted against him then voted against him now," said Councilman David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville. "Maybe 16 years is just too much, and the people of Pasadena were looking for a change."
Neither Ahern nor Holland could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Other than the Ahern upset, the biggest surprise of the council races was how close 16-year incumbent and environmentalist Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River, came to losing in the 7th District. Clagett, who easily won her four previous races, narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of Crofton attorney John Klocko III. She finished with only 51 percent of the vote, losing badly in the Crofton precincts.
Ironically, Lamb, who many considered the most vulnerable of the three contested council incumbents because of her unpopularity with Annapolis leaders, fared the best. She defeated Republican Glenwood Gibb with 56 percent of the vote, garnering 9,441 votes to his 7,361.
"I was positive today that I was going to lose," Lamb said Tuesday night.
"I saw the angry people who were out there."
Returning to the council with Lamb and Clagett is Boschert, who was unopposed in the 4th District.
Also returning to the council after an eight-year absence is Linthicum Democrat George Bachman. Bachman, who served on the council from 1965 to 1982, enjoyed an easy and expected victory over Republican Gerald Starr in District 1. Bachman finished with 8,692 votes, Starr with 5,554.
The District 1 incumbent, Democrat Theodore J. Sophocleus, lost the county executive race to Republican Robert R. Neall Tuesday.
In District 2, Severn attorney and Democrat Edward Middlebrooks replaces Michael F. Gilligan, who lost the county executive primary in September.
Middlebrooks beat Republican Ernest Michaelson 7,007 votes to 5,783.
The Evans-Gilligan contest did not turn out to be the cliffhanger most political observers expected. Though voter registration is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans in the 5th District, Evans won easily with 13,991 votes to Gilligan's 8,917.
"It looks like the 5th District was just turned off on Democrats," said Gilligan, a PTA activist who won endorsements from retiring Councilwoman Carole B. Baker, D-Severna Park, and outgoing County Executive O. James Lighthizer.
"My husband said Jesus Christ wouldn't have won, if he'd been running as a Democrat."
Evans, who ran unsuccessfully for office twice before, reiterated her conservative fiscal philosophy as she celebrated her victory at Neall's headquarters. Ironically, one of her top priorities involves spending more county money to combat gypsy moth infestation.
The newly elected County Council will meet for the first time Dec. 3.
"I think it's going to be an independent council, much more so than it's been in the past," Lamb speculated. "This new group -- it's just nothing.
We don't have any coalitions. I think everybody is going to have to find his own way."
That may be easier for Boschert than for the other council members, Lamb said. "He's probably the most political of the whole bunch. He'll find which way the wind blows and fall right in line."