Incumbent had waged write-in drive GOP's Barnes elected state's attorney Ex-Hickman Assistant gets more votes than 2 others

Sheriff Brown leads ELECTION 1994

November 09, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

Republican Jerry F. Barnes, who narrowly defeated 20-year state's attorney Thomas E. Hickman in the GOP primary, cruised to an apparent victory last night, garnering more votes than his two opponents.

With all but the county's write-in votes tabulated -- more than 95 percent of all votes cast -- Mr. Barnes, a Frederick County drug prosecutor who started his legal career nearly 17 years ago as an assistant to Mr. Hickman, had garnered more than 54 percent of the vote, handily defeating his former boss and Democratic candidate Linda A. Holmes.

In another closely watched law enforcement race, voters appeared poised to return Republican Sheriff John H. Brown to office for four more years.

Mr. Brown had captured about 53 percent of the vote, while Democratic candidate Kenneth L. Tregoning took 47 percent.

"I'm very happy, very gratified," Mr. Barnes said last night after hearing the results. "We've been working hard for the last four months, but I never doubted that the voters of Carroll County would pick the right candidate."

Mrs. Holmes, a political newcomer who campaigned on the issue of management accountability, wished her Republican challenger well: "I'm disappointed, but I gave it my best shot. I wish Jerry all the best. He'll make a fine state's attorney."

Mr. Hickman last night said he would urge his staff to stay and make the transition smooth. "There'll be no more negative comments. We're no longer candidates, and the election's behind us."

The race for state's attorney had been particularly hot since Mr. Hickman decided to wage a write-in campaign. Mr. Barnes defeated Mr. Hickman by 172 votes -- a margin of less than 2 percent -- in that election.

Unlike previous contests, which were very close, Mr. Barnes' victory last night was decisive, with a greater than 3,000-vote margin over his two opponents combined. Mr. Hickman was able to secure only 16 percent of the vote, while Ms. Holmes took nearly 30 percent.

The outcome of the election had been expected to be far closer than it was, and many political observers had predicted the race wouldn't be decided until the nearly 1,650 absentee ballots are counted today.

It looked last night as though the sheriff's race also wouldn't be affected by the absentee count today, but Lieutenant Tregoning refused to concede defeat last night.

"I think it's too early for the race to be called," the lieutenant said. "I'm still optimistic, and I certainly won't acknowledge a Brown victory until all the votes are in."

Even should all 1,650 write-in votes go to the lieutenant, it won't be enough to surmount Sheriff Brown's nearly 3,000-vote lead.

The state's attorney's race, which was genteel and low-key until Mr. Hickman's write-in effort was announced, turned ugly in the later days of the campaign.

In his campaign, Mr. Barnes attacked Mr. Hickman -- to whom he lost a similarly divisive campaign in 1990 by less than 2 percent of the vote -- and said his arrogance was getting in the way of running an effective prosecutor's office.

Mr. Hickman has said Mr. Barnes lied about his courtroom record, and that only Mr. Hickman was qualified to be state's attorney.

The showdown for sheriff was equally divisive.

Sheriff Brown ran a campaign based on his ability to save money and trim the roles of his department to its roots: courthouse security, maintaining order at the jail and serving court papers.

Sheriff Brown said his opponent, Lieutenant Tregoning, had an agenda: to make the sheriff's department a county police force.

The incumbent insists he would never take that step. "Don't reinvent the wheel at the taxpayers' expense," is a phrase he has used in stump speeches.

Lieutenant Tregoning -- who has commanded state police barracks in his two decades with the organization -- argued that the sheriff's office has suffered under his opponent. He said Sheriff Brown has fostered an environment where cronyism, favoritism and haphazard management thrive.

In other courthouse races, incumbent Republican Clerk of the Circuit Court Larry W. Shipley -- who won the primary with 64 percent of the vote -- won a clear victory over Democrat Phillip R. Miller, a former mayor of Manchester.

Mr. Shipley garnered more than 75 percent of the vote to Mr. Miller's 25 percent.

In the race for register of wills, Republican Reese L. Starner -- who has held the office since 1966 -- captured another term. He got 54 percent of the vote compared with Democrat Suzanne W. Albert's 46 percent. In this race as well, the incumbent's lead of close to 3,000 votes made the absentee vote irrelevant to the outcome.

Voters also chose three Orphans Court judges. The Republicans running were Walter T. Haines Jr., Albert W. Selby and Dorothy V. Utz. They faced the Democrats, John Lockard Barnes, Naomi Benzil and Robert E. Kersey.

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