Political season turns quiet after busy summer season
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 10:32

Two open seats bring out local GOP hopefuls, but Dems lag

by Ben Boehl

    With summer now in the rearview mirror, it appears that the political season is starting to slow down.
    Over the past few months, two longtime state legislators announced they will be stepping down after the 2014 General Assembly session, one delegate declared for the soon-to-be-vacated state Senate seat, six local Republicans announced their candidacies for the House of Delegates and one prominent 2010 Democratic candidate is switching to the Republican Party to challenge a 16-year veteran of the Baltimore County Council.
Domino effect for delegate hopefuls
    The ball got rolling in July when Sen. Norman Stone announced he will not be seeking reelection in 2014 after more than 50 years in the General Assembly.    
    That led Del. John Olszewski, Jr. to announce he was going after Stone’s seat. Stone endorsed Olszewski at a fundraiser this summer.
    Then Del. Joseph “Sonny” Minnick confirmed that he would also be retiring after 2014.
    Del. Michael Weir Jr. has committed to seeking reelection, but the rare phenomenon of two open Delegate seats for 2014 has produced as many as eight challengers, six of whom are Republicans.
   

Bob Long and Ric Metzgar, who both came within 2,000 votes of taking a delegate seat in 2010, have announced they are both running again in 2014.
    In previous elections, Republicans have often had trouble fielding a full three-candidate delegate slate, but this time, it appears there will be a first-ever contested Republican primary as East Baltimore County Republican Club president Dan Liberatore has entered the race along with newcomers Robin Grammer and Mitchell Toland Jr.
    The field grew to six when 2010 7th District House of Delegates candidate Roger Zajdel jumped into the Republican race.
    Bruce Kahl, who lost as a Republican to state Sen. Norman Stone 57.8 to 42.2 percent in 2010, could increase the field to seven if he also decides to enter the House race.
    “[A] decision has not been made,” Kahl said in a recent statement.
    Even though the three Dundalk-area House seats have aways been held by Democrats, only two Democrats have officially joined Weir in the race.
    Eric Washington announced his candidacy in 2012, and Marcus Foreman of Essex filed in September.
    There have been reports that former delegate Jake Mohorovic will try to reclaim the seat he held for eight years before losing in 2002, 2006 and 2010.
    There have also been reports that Mohorovic could seek an office other than the House of Delegates.
    Mohorovic has not confirmed or denied those reports. However, The Eagle has received copies of e-mails sent by Mohorovic to Baltimore County political figures requesting their support in a race for the House.
    Scott Holupka is another Democrat who says he has thought about running for the House.
    “I’ve had some conversations about running, but I still haven’t made a decision,” Holupka said in an e-mail to The Eagle.
    Also, there has been speculation that Karen Cruz, president of Eastfield-Stanbrook Civic Association, could  be a candidate.
    When contacted by telephone, Cruz was hesitant and did not immediately answer questions about a potential candidacy.
    After a long pause, she gave a statement that matched the language in an e-mail she sent to The Eagle minutes later.
    “I am totally committed and remain committed to stopping the sale of the North Point Government Center, our 28-acre Baltimore County Park.
    “Personally, we will support those that help us with this effort,” Cruz said in the statement.
 “I haven’t given any thought to running at this time.”

Senate race looks set
    In the 6th District state Senate race, Del. John Olszewski Jr. is the only Democrat to declare for the seat being vacated by Stone, and is considered the prohibitive favorite.
    On the GOP side, political newcomer John Ray Salling is, so far, the only Republican to announce his candidacy.

Council:  Crandell in, Olszewski ... maybe?
    Four years ago, Todd Crandell ran for the House as a Democrat on a ticket with Senate challenger Jordan Hadfield, coming just short of snagging one of the Democratic slots.
    However, the decision by both to endorse GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Ehrlich in the subsequent general election seemed to presage a severing of ties to the Democratic Party.
    This summer, Crandell announced that he will be running for the 7th District seat on the Baltimore County Council — as a Republican.
    That council seat is currently held by 16-year incumbent Democrat John Olszewski Sr., who said  in July that he planned to seek a fifth term.     
    However; there have been more recent reports from sources close to Olszewski saying that the councilman may not seek reelection.
    At least some of this speculation is premised on the possibility that he may be appointed to an executive branch office in the county government.
    At the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Dundalk High-Sollers Point Tech campus on Tuesday, Olszewski told The Eagle that he would announce his 2014 plans in the near future.