Mr. Middlebrooks said he decided to run after a survey indicated Mr. Wagner could be beaten. Also at that time, Glen Burnie businessman James "Ed" DeGrange, a friend of Mr. Wagner's, announced that he would mount a challenge for the Democratic nomination for Mr. Middlebrooks' County Council seat.
Mr. Middlebrooks then switched parties to run against the man with whom he's had a long and uneasy political alliance. Ms. Fister, noting that many county politicians have switched parties, said the change might help Mr. Middlebrooks.
"Certainly he is well-known. He should have a following within the Democratic Party and with Republicans as well," she said.
Victoria J. Muzzuco, 47, the Severn real estate agent who was Mr. Middlebrooks' opponent in the GOP primary, is running as a write-in candidate on a single issue: state sovereignty.
The federal government is eroding states' powers through federally mandated programs for which the states pay, she said. Those programs, from welfare payments to motor-voter registration, and the millions of dollars they cost are symptoms of the broader state's rights issue, Ms. Muzzuco said.