Democratic Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. appeared to have easily won a second term last night as he held a wide lead over Republican challenger Clarence W. Bell Jr.
In the race for state's attorney, Democrat Scott D. Shellenberger led Republican Stephen Bailey in the race to replace Sandra A. O'Connor, who is retiring after 32 years in the top prosecutor's job.
FOR THE RECORD - A chart in some editions of yesterday's Sun contained incorrect figures for the race in the first councilmanic district in Baltimore County. Democratic incumbent Stephen G. Samuel Moxley received 19,961 votes, and Republican challenger George Kapusinski received 10,157 votes, according to unofficial results. Updated election charts are in today's editions. THE SUN REGRETS THE ERROR
And in the most closely watched County Council race, Democratic incumbent Vincent J. Gardina, seeking an unprecedented fifth term, held a solid lead over Republican challenger Wayne M. Skinner, a former councilman, for the seat representing a district that stretches from Towson to Perry Hall.
Gardina described the apparent victory as "somewhat humbling."
"I try to do the best I can to try to address issues, and a lot of times I'm the target of attacks that are unwarranted," he said. "And I think the voters have seen through that, and I'm very grateful for the voters' insight."
Skinner, who lost a re-election bid in 2002, acknowledged early today that he could not overcome Gardina's lead, attributing the loss to such national issues as the war in Iraq.
"It's more anti-Republican than it is anti-Wayne," he said. "I could have run six months more, I could have spent $50,000 more, and the results would be the same."
Smith said he was "grateful" to county voters.
"I think it's a confirmation of the renaissance we've undertaken," he said, adding that he was looking forward to continued redevelopment of older neighborhoods and the construction and renovation of schools. "I'm confident the county is going to soar."
Other incumbents made strong showings.
Democratic County Council incumbents Joseph Bartenfelder of Fullerton, Kevin B. Kamenetz of Owings Mills, whose district also includes Pikesville and Ruxton, Stephen G. Samuel Moxley of Catonsville, and John A. Olszewski Sr. of Dundalk were leading. Republican T. Bryan McIntire of Glyndon, who represents the north county, and Democrat Kenneth N. Oliver of Randallstown ran unopposed in the general election. Sheriff R. Jay Fisher, a Democrat seeking a second term, and Circuit Court Clerk Suzanne Mensh, a Democrat seeking a sixth term, were leading.
Smith, 64, of Reisterstown, faced a last-minute challenge from Bell, a state police barracks commander. Bell, 48, of Pikesville, said the county executive should take note of the vote tallies.
"I think right now the citizens in Baltimore County are sending Jim Smith a message: Some things need to change," Bell said.
The state's attorney's race pitted O'Connor's hand-picked successor, Bailey, against one of her former prosecutors, Shellenberger, who ran with the support of the county executive. While Bailey, a deputy state's attorney, vowed to continue O'Connor's policy of pursuing the death penalty in virtually all eligible cases, Shellenberger said he would evaluate each case before deciding whether to pursue a death sentence.
Shellenberger, who spent 11 years in the state's attorney's office before joining Peter G. Angelos' law firm, said he was "cautiously optimistic" that he had won.
"I'm going to wait to see the real numbers," he said early today. "I'm not believing anyone who tells me I won until I see that I won."