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Election 2022

Speaker’s preferred candidate leading in open-seat Senate race — plus, other Senate results

The Maryland state seal is displayed above an entrance to the Maryland Senate Office Complex in Annapolis. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County) appears to have gotten her man in the Senate race in her legislative district.

Jones — along with outgoing Sen. Delores Kelley (D) — had endorsed Del. Ben Brooks (D) for the Senate seat in the 10th District, which Kelley is giving up after 28 years on the job. And Brooks is leading Del. Jay Jalisi — who is often a thorn in the side of legislative leaders — and two other candidates as ballots continue to be counted.

The 10th District race is one of several competitive Senate primaries — some for open seats, others involving potentially formidable challengers, that were on tap this year and are in the process of being called.

In the 10th District, with early voting and primary day ballots counted — there were no mail-in ballot counts listed from Baltimore County on the Maryland State Board of Elections website as of 10:30 p.m. Thursday — Brooks had 3,907 votes, good for 37.06%. Jalisi, who entered the House the same time as Brooks, in 2015, had 3,131 votes for 29.7%. Stephanie Boston had 18% and Lawrence Williams had 15%. The winner of the Democratic primary will be the heavy favorite in November against Republican William Newton.

Even though he is hardly a favorite among his colleagues in Annapolis, Jalisi has built a reputation in the district as an independent operator and has appropriated the slogan attributed to the late New York congressman, Shirley Chisholm, “unbought and unbossed,” for his Senate campaign.

Another open-seat Senate race that got plenty of attention — and had hard-fought primaries in both parties — was in Harford County’s 34th District, a seat Sen. Robert Cassilly (R) is giving up to run for county executive. Those primaries turned out to be less close than initially expected.

On the Republican side, former Del. Christian Miele, who represented a Baltimore County district and ran unsuccessfully for a Senate seat there four years ago, had 73.73% of the vote over Walter “Butch” Tilley, a local businessman, who had 26.27% on Thursday. Tilley had hoped to tag Miele as a carpetbagger (though Miele’s wife had grown up in Harford County and her family owns a business there), but Miele had greater success by pointing out that Tilley is a former Democrat who once supported former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

In the Democratic primary, former Del. Mary-Dulany James, making her third bid for the Senate seat, trounced Del. Mary Ann Lisanti, 65.15% to 34.85%. James — daughter of the late state Senate President William James — was the Democratic nominee against Cassilly in 2014 and 2018. In the first election, a good year for Republicans, Cassilly won by 14.5 points. Four years later, a good year for Democrats, James fell by just 0.4 points.

Some Democrats believe this year’s race can be competitive, but the national political dynamics seem to favor Miele.

Here are other open-seat Senate races of note:

  • In the 1st District in far Western Maryland, Del. Mike McKay (R-Allegany) appears to have prevailed in the GOP primary over Allegany County Commissioner Jake Shade, 55.04% to 44.96%. McKay will be the heavy favorite over Democrat Michael Dreisbach in the race to replace veteran Sen. George Edwards (R-Garrett), who is retiring. In a statement on Facebook, McKay said he was “humbled and blessed” to be the GOP nominee. “As we prepare for the Big Red Wave in November let us share with others that conservative values remind us of how precious our liberties really are and how steadfast we must stand to defend them,” he wrote.
  • In Frederick County’s 3rd District, the Young legacy will live on now that Del. Karen Lewis Young (D-Frederick) has won the Democratic primary over Jay Mason, a member of the Frederick County Board of Education. Lewis Young, who took 68.26% of the vote, is looking to replace her husband, Sen. Ron Young (D), a fixture in Frederick County politics for over half a century, who is stepping down. She will be the strong favorite over Republican Angela McIntosh in the fall.
  • In the Frederick County-based 4th District, a seat Sen. Michael Hough (R) is giving up to run for county executive, former Del. Bill Folden won the Republican primary handily, 68.26% to 31.74%, over Stephen Barrett. He’ll be the favorite in November over Democrat Carleah Summers.
  • In the 26th District in Prince George’s County, former Sen. Anthony Muse (D) was clinging to a narrow lead in his bid to get his old job back. Before mail-in ballots were counted, Muse had 6,554 votes, for 50.67%. Tamara Davis Brown, who is making her fourth run for public office and was almost elected to the Prince George’s County Council four years ago, was about 170 votes behind, for 49.33%. Muse, a prominent local minister, was elected to the House in 1994, ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1998, ran unsuccessfully for county executive in 2002, was elected to the Senate for three terms starting in 2006, and ran unsuccessfully for county executive in 2018.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Pam Beidle (D-Anne Arundel) easily beat back a Democratic primary challenge from County Councilmember Sarah Lacey in District 32. The race at first looked like it could be highly competitive, but Lacey didn’t raise much money and never appeared to be completely engaged. Beidle clocked 68.67% to Lacey’s 31.33%. Beidle will be favored to win a second term over Republican Kimberly Anne June.

In District 35, which covers Harford and Cecil counties, Sen. Jason Gallion (R) benefited from split opposition, as he appears to be hovering around 50% of the vote in the GOP primary. As of Thursday, he had 49.49% of the vote, while Michelle Christman took 28.71% and Frank Esposito had 21.8%.

In Prince George’s County’s 23rd District, Sen. Ron Watson (D) maintained a 744-vote lead after the first day of mail-in voting tabulations. He had 42.23% compared to 37.68% for former Prince George’s County Board of Education member Raaheela Ahmed and 20.08% for businesswoman Sylvia Johnson.

And the mail-in ballots strengthened the lead of Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery) over his Democratic primary challenger, Max Socol. As of Thursday evening, Waldstreicher had 62.47% compared to 37.53% for Socol.


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Speaker’s preferred candidate leading in open-seat Senate race — plus, other Senate results