Arundel executive undecided

County Races

Maryland Votes 2006

November 09, 2006|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,SUN REPORTER

With 334 votes separating the Republican and Democratic candidates for Anne Arundel County executive, local election officials will begin today tallying thousands of absentee ballots, a process that could extend to Sunday.

With all precincts reporting, Republican Del. John R. Leopold was holding a razor-thin lead yesterday over Democratic Sheriff George F. Johnson IV out of 165,291 votes tallied.

Both sides are preparing to scrutinize the counting of more than 15,500 absentee ballots starting today at the county's election annex in Glen Burnie.

Barbara L. Fisher, the county election director, said the total number of absentee ballots, already a county record, could grow as mailed ballots stream in. About 18,600 absentee ballots were requested, Fisher said.

On Monday, elections officials will start counting about 3,600 provisional ballots, backup paper ballots made available at the polls on Election Day to those whose eligibility was in question.

Later next week, a second wave of absentee ballots from overseas voters will be processed. These are included in the current total of absentee ballots that the county has received, Fisher said.

Mike Rendina, Johnson's campaign manager, noted that both candidates have crossover appeal, making a prediction of absentee and provisional ballots difficult. If the absentee voting is a "mirror image" of the election, he said, "it's going to be tight."

Of the absentee ballots returned, 8,100 were requested by Republicans and 5,600 by Democrats, Leopold said after speaking with elections officials.

Representatives for both candidates, along with party observers, will witness the counting of the paper ballots by the county's election board.

Both campaigns discounted - but did not dismiss - the possibility of a recount.

"I haven't given it any thought," Leopold said. "I am cautiously optimistic that that would not be necessary."

Baltimore County

Deputy Baltimore County State's Attorney Stephen Bailey said he was "disappointed but by no means devastated" that voters did not elect him to succeed his longtime boss as the county's top prosecutor.

Democrat Scott D. Shellenberger won 56 percent of the vote and led Bailey by nearly 27,500 votes, according to unofficial results.

The race pitted Bailey, the hand-picked successor of longtime State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor, against Shellenberger, one of her former prosecutors. O'Connor is retiring after 32 years in office.

In a defining issue of the campaign, Bailey, who has spent his entire 20-year career in the prosecutor's office, vowed to continue O'Connor's much-debated policy of seeking the death penalty in virtually all eligible cases.

Shellenberger, who spent 11 years in O'Connor's office before joining Peter G. Angelos' law firm 13 years ago, said he would evaluate each murder case before deciding whether to pursue a death sentence.

Still hesitant to claim victory with absentee ballots uncounted, Shellenberger said he had not made any specific plans for leading the office. He said he had not thought about whether to review the seven active capital murder cases moving through the courts.

"I need to get into the office and sit down with the folks there and find out what decisions I need to make," he said.

Bailey, for his part, said he looks forward to "the next chapter" in his career, although he didn't know what that would be.

"I'm going to take a few days," he said. "I need some time to reconnect with my family and unwind, and then I will start giving it more serious thought."

Jennifer McMenamin

Howard County

Democrats - already in the majority - have now moved into a position of dominance in Howard County, where County Executive-elect Ken Ulman is scheduled to hold his first news conference today.

In addition to holding onto the post being vacated by Democratic County Executive James N. Robey, the Democrats enlarged their majority on the five-member County Council to four members, from three.

And Robey's win over Republican state Sen. Sandra B. Schrader in District 13 gives the Democrats control of both the county's legislative delegations. Democrats will have two of the three state Senate seats and six of the eight House of Delegates seats.

"We're just really feeling great. I think we did a lot of things right," said Ulman, who said he got more votes in Howard than did Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley. Ulman also had a larger winning percentage margin than Robey in 1998, the last time the county executive's seat was open.

Republican nominee Chris Merdon, 35, conceded defeat yesterday. He said he feels good about his effort but declared his political career over.

"I've been doing this for 10 years, and it really wears on you," he said.

Both men said growth was the major issue, though Merdon said the "national tide" overwhelmed any other issue. "I could have spent another $400,000 on the race and have the same results," Merdon said.

Larry Carson

Harford County

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