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Election 2022

Political Notes: Schulz releases statement on governor’s race, updates on close contests, and some winners from LCV

Former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz addresses the crowd at her election night watch party in Annapolis. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

As counties across Maryland completed ballot counting from the June 19 primary on Friday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Schulz issued what amounts to a concession statement.

While her GOP rival, Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick), claimed victory on election night, Schulz steadily added votes in her favor as mail-in ballots were tabulated across the state. Cox led by a 16-point margin on election night. That had shrunk to about 9.5 points on Friday at 6 p.m., when Schulz tweeted out her statement.

There are still more mail ballots to be tabulated in the state, mostly in Montgomery County, but Cox leads by more than 27,000 votes.

The GOP primary pitted Schulz, who was backed by popular term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan (R), against Cox, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Schulz’s Friday night statement echoed the message she delivered to supporters on election night.

“While we are greatly disappointed about the outcome of this election, I’m proud of the campaign that we ran and I am forever indebted to our supporters and friends that fought alongside us,” the statement said. “We ran a campaign based on the truth and on the issues that really matter to Marylanders. Affordability, crime, education — the things that families grapple with every day. Most importantly, we never lied to Marylanders. We respected them enough to know the difference between what is real and what isn’t.”

During the campaign, Schulz and Hogan condemned Cox’s attendance at a Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally and several of his controversial and untruthful past statements. Hogan has said he will not support Cox in the November general election; Schulz’s supporters have said his win in the primary virtually ensures that Democrats will win back control of the governorship in November.

“Come next January, Maryland will be under one party rule, without checks and balances. That is not progress and I am deeply worried about the consequences,” Schulz said in her Friday statement. “In politics, there are no final victories or defeats and I will always remain optimistic about the ability of Marylanders to overcome any obstacle. I will always have hope for the future and a belief in the goodness of people and the greatness of our state.”

“Congratulations to the Republican nominees up and down the ticket,” the statement concluded.

State’s attorney races set

Robbie Leonard conceded in the Democratic primary for Baltimore County state’s attorney on Friday, after having a slim lead in initial returns on election night.

As mail-in and provisional ballots were counted over the past 10 days, though, incumbent Scott Shellenberger ran up thousands of votes, leading the race by 2,115 votes when ballot-counting ended Friday.

Leonard issued a statement around 3 p.m. Friday.

“We came up short from victory, but we started a real conversation for change. And the voters of Baltimore County deserve to see some changes made,” Leonard said.

In the concession statement, he advocated for the state’s attorney’s office to create written policies for prosecuting sexual assaults — the office’s practices have come under scrutiny and are the subject of an ongoing federal lawsuit — and to examine racial biases in policy decisions.

Leonard also said that he would donate the remaining balance of his campaign account to the Daniel Carl Torsch Foundation, a nonprofit that provides support for community members struggling with substance abuse, addiction, and mental health challenges.

Shellenberger has been on a leave of absence from his office, The Daily Record reported Thursday, citing exhaustion. He issued a statement about his victory on Friday afternoon.

“Many different voices made themselves heard throughout the course of this primary election, and I was heartened by the instances when the issues were fairly discussed and debated,” Shellenberger said.

Shellenberger will face Republican James Haynes, a former assistant attorney general, in November.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore City, the winner of the Democratic primary for state’s attorney appears to have no competition for the top prosecutor job in the November general election.

Ivan Bates (D), a defense attorney and former prosecutor who also sought election in 2018, won the city’s Democratic primary with more than 40% of the vote, as of Friday.

On Friday morning, he was joined at a press conference by Roya Hanna, also a defense attorney, who had launched an independent campaign for state’s attorney. Hanna, who initially filed to run as a Democrat, dropped out of the primary to preserve the chance to challenge Marilyn Mosby in November, if the incumbent prevailed in the Democratic contest.

Mosby, however, came in third, and Hanna said Friday that she would drop out of the race, clearing the path to victory for Bates.

“My goal when I launched the campaign was to ensure change in our city,” Hanna said at a joint appearance with Bates. “I am putting the safety and security of the residents of Baltimore City ahead of my own political interests, because for me, this was never about personal ambition, this was about getting a professional prosecutor in that office.”

Mosby is under federal indictment for false financial statements connected to home purchases in Florida; she has claimed innocence.

The deadline for Hanna to meet candidacy requirements and file to run as an independent in the November general election would have been this coming Monday.

No Republicans ran for the post.

Smith celebrates

Baltimore City House Delegation Chair Stephanie Smith (D) celebrated victory Friday in her bid for re-election, having finished among the top three candidates in a five-way race to represent District 45 in the House of Delegates.

Final returns, reported Friday evening, showed Smith in second place among Democratic vote-getters for the district, with 22.85% of the vote.

Jackie Addison, a community activist and member of the Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee who works for the mayor’s office, finished first with 25.34% of the vote.

Caylin Young, an attorney who is the deputy director of the Baltimore City Office of Equity and Civil Rights, finished third, according to the unofficial results.

Incumbent Chanel Branch finished fourth, just 116 votes behind Young.

Smith, who was first elected to the House in 2018, was opposed in her re-election bid by District 45 Sen. Cory McCray (D).

“While there were perplexing forces who not only counted me out–but tried desperately to take me out–they were ultimately denied. That’s what makes democracy beautiful and sacred: ONLY voters pick their leaders,” Smith tweeted Friday evening.

“In the general election, we must work diligently to ensure our statewide Democratic ticket is successful,” Smith continued, highlighting party nominees at the top of the ballot. “…With strong partners in these statewide offices, I can do even more to assist our district, city and state. Let’s get it done!”

MoCo waits

With a provisional canvass yet to be complete and a partial accounting of tens of thousands of mail ballots, Montgomery County residents wait to see who will be the Democratic nominee — and overwhelming general election favorite — for county executive.

After additional votes were reported Friday, businessman David Blair maintained a narrow 131-vote lead over County Executive Marc Elrich (D).

Montgomery’s vote count will continue on Saturday and likely into next week; county elections officials have set a goal to certify the local vote count by Aug. 12.

There were at least 72,000 mail-in and provisional ballots to be counted in the county; more than 49,000 provisional and mail ballot results have been reported in the races for governor and county executive.

LCV names winners of a different sort

Like all good advocates, the leaders of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters know where the power in Annapolis lies. The environmental group announced this week that it had named the General Assembly’s presiding officers — Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County) — its legislators of the year for 2022.

LCV cited the pair for their leadership roles in shepherding the Climate Solutions Now Act during the 2022 through their chambers.

“The Climate Solutions Now Act is the country’s most significant climate legislation and positions Maryland as a national leader in addressing this urgent problem,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “Senate President Ferguson and Speaker Jones were steadfast in their efforts to ensure this landmark legislation made it across the finish line with strong support.”

The LCV will hand out the awards at its annual dinner on Sept. 15 in Baltimore.

In separate statements, Jones and Ferguson said they were honored by the designation and vowed that the climate bill would be just the beginning in their fight to improve the environment and public health in Maryland.

“The General Assembly has more to do in the future to secure the future health of all Marylanders,” Ferguson said.

“Every Marylander should have clean air, clean water and resilient communities,” Jones added. “Thank you, Maryland League of Conservation Voters for this award and for your support as we continue to work towards a cleaner Maryland.”

Maryland LCV’s Legislator of the Year Award was established in 2012 and honors environmental champions from the most recent legislative session. Read the full list of Legislator of the Year awardees here.