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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Political Notes: DAGA congratulates Brown, Vernon Simms memorialized, and a Wicomico executive race update

Retired Judge Katie Curran O’Malley (D) and Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D) are running for attorney general in 2022. Photos from campaign, Getty Images.

The Democratic Attorneys General Association announced Tuesday that it was “thrilled” to endorse Rep. Anthony Brown to be the next attorney general for the state of Maryland — but his Democratic primary competitor is waiting to review more ballot returns before conceding.

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“I believe that every Marylander deserves their vote to be counted and that we should let the process continue as mail-in ballots begin to be counted on Thursday,” retired Baltimore City District Court Judge Katie Curran O’Malley said in a Tuesday afternoon statement. “I want to congratulate Congressman Anthony Brown on his early lead and on the great campaign that he ran. Regardless of the final outcome, I look forward to helping Democrats win up and down the ballot in November.”

Brown claimed victory in the race early Wednesday morning after being named the winner by two media outlets.

As of Wednesday evening, he was up more than 70,000 votes over O’Malley in early voting and Election Day returns.

More than 168,000 Democratic mail ballots remain to be counted, a process that begins Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

Sean Rankin, president of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, issued a statement Wednesday: “We are thrilled to endorse Anthony Brown as the next Maryland Attorney General. He has spent his career serving our country in uniform and working tirelessly on behalf of Marylanders. He has led on key issues like strengthening commonsense gun laws, enhancing the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, and fighting for voting rights, and we expect that he will continue this work as Attorney General. Brown has DAGA’s full support, and we look forward to helping elect Maryland’s first Black Attorney General.”

If elected in November, either of the Democratic candidates in the race would be history-making in Maryland: O’Malley as the first woman to hold the position, and Brown as the first Black person to be independently elected to a statewide office.

Vernon Simms remembered

Vernon Simms, a long-time political staffer who helped guide the late Rep. Elijah Cummings’ office as chief of staff for more than 20 years, was mourned this week after his death on Sunday.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the congressman’s widow, described Simms as “Elijah’s steady, calm and highly capable colleague and friend.”

Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D), who succeeded Cummings in Baltimore’s District 7, also remembered the long-time Hill adviser.

“For more than two decades, Vernon served as chief of staff to my dear friend, the late Congressman Elijah Cummings. He was renowned for his work on Capitol Hill, toiling day in and day out on behalf of the constituents of Maryland’s 7th Congressional District he held so dearly and in such high regard,” Mfume said in a written statement.

Before working in Cummings’ office, Simms had been a special assistant for government and community operations for Mfume, during an earlier stint in Congress.

“I had unwavering confidence in him because of his selflessness, diligence, and kindness,” Mfume said.

After Cummings’ death, Simms worked as director of the Smithsonian’s office of government relations.

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s 5th District, said he “always appreciated the gifts [Simms] brought to the legislative process – his wisdom, his insights, his deep convictions.”

“Vernon was a true public servant,” Hoyer continued. “…Vernon leaves behind so many friends, colleagues, and community members whose lives he touched, and the impact of his work undoubtedly has made Maryland and our country a better place.”

A memorial service is planned for July 30 at Vaughn Greene funeral home in Randallstown.

Wicomico County poised to get another new exec

Wicomico County, situated on the Lower Eastern Shore with the rapidly growing municipality of Salisbury within its boundaries, may be about to get its third county executive in less than three years.

County Executive Robert “Bob” Culver died of liver cancer two years ago next week, and the Wicomico County Council — after a protracted standoff over who should succeed him — opted to make the county’s director of administration, John Psota, acting county executive pending the 2022 election.

Last fall, Psota decided to seek a full term in the job. But the results of Tuesday’s primary indicate he may have fallen just short, running against a 40-year-old high school English teacher, Julie Giordano — a local Republican Party activist.

The latest figures from the State Board of Elections show Giordano running about 450 votes ahead of Psota, 53.75% go 46.25%. That’s hardly a chasm. But when one considers that only 950 Wicomico County Republican mail-in ballots had been turned in as of early this week, it gives Psota a steep hill to climb if he is to emerge victorious out of Tuesday’s primary.

Giordano is a committed social conservative who, when announcing her candidacy for county executive late last year, proclaimed herself a “constitutionalist” committed to the Second Amendment, while expressing strong concern about the teaching of so-called “critical race theory” in public schools.

But during a candidate forum at Salisbury College this past spring, Giordano sought to quickly change the subject when a questioner asked about her support of Del. Dan Cox, who emerged as the 2022 Maryland Republican gubernatorial nominee this week with the support of former President Donald Trump. Giordano instead sought to express her frustration over what she characterized as a lack of attention to nuts-and-bolts, day-to-day management issues in county government.

“We have had a stagnant administration for far too long. It’s time to bring back the voice of the people and it starts at the local level,” she told the Salisbury Independent in an interview published just prior to the July 19 primary.

To underscore those sentiments, Giordano announced a day prior to the primary that, if elected, she would appoint a governmental veteran as the county’s next director of administration: Bunky Luffman, a former deputy mayor of the Wicomico town of Delmar who is currently director of legislative and constituent services for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Whoever emerges as the Republican nominee for executive — Giordano or Psota — will face the Democratic nominee, Wicomico County Councilmember Ernie Davis, in November.


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Political Notes: DAGA congratulates Brown, Vernon Simms memorialized, and a Wicomico executive race update