Johnson concedes Arundel executive race to Leopold

November 12, 2006|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,Sun reporter

Democrat George F. Johnson IV conceded defeat yesterday in the Anne Arundel County executive's race - a day after a wave of absentee ballots expanded Republican Del. John R. Leopold's lead from 344 to nearly 4,000 - and said he hoped that the five-term state legislator would lead the county on the right path.

A three-term Anne Arundel sheriff, Johnson thanked his supporters at a news conference in Glen Burnie. The Pasadena resident said he has no regrets in a race in which he campaigned for nearly four years.

After factoring in more than 15,000 absentee ballots, Leopold led Johnson 51 percent (92,088 votes) to 49 percent (88,099).

"The numbers now have spoken for themselves, and we now celebrate the winner," said Johnson, 53. He added of Leopold: "If he's successful, the people of Anne Arundel County will be successful."

Afterward, Johnson said he has been contacted by the transition team for Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley, but no particular job was discussed.

Johnson said a turning point in the race was in mid-October, when five former county executives - including three Republicans - endorsed his campaign. Johnson used the event as an example of his inclusive style of governing. Leopold accused Johnson of being a "good-old boy" who would be cozy with developers. Johnson said that "people misinterpreted that endorsement."

Johnson said he called Leopold on Friday night to concede after the absentee results came in that afternoon. The sheriff's campaign staff concluded that this week's counting of 3,600 provisional ballots and a second batch of several hundred absentee ballots would not reverse the result.

Leopold, 63, will take office early next month.

A 35-year law enforcement veteran, Johnson did not rule out running for office again. He steps down next month as sheriff, to be succeeded by his chief deputy, Ronald Bateman, who won election to the post.

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