Incumbents score big in primary elections

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Incumbency, or at least an endorsement by an incumbent, went a long way in last week’s primary elections. The big winner in the June 24 primary seemed to be the status quo.

This rang especially true in local congressional races, where not only were incumbents successful, but they won big. In a three-way contest in Maryland’s District 8, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, received 94 percent of the vote. He faces Republican Dave Wallace in the November general election. Rep. John Delaney (D-District 6) was unopposed and will face Republican Dan Bongino in November.


Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, a Democrat, received 45 percent of the vote in a three-way race and will face Republican Jim Shalleck in the fall. If successful, Leggett will begin his third term.

All four Democratic incumbents were successful in a field of six for Montgomery County Council, including top vote getter Marc Elrich, followed by Nancy Floreen, Hans Riember and George Leventhal.

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While several of the statewide races were crowded with Democratic candidates, once again incumbency and name recognition carried the day.
Susan Lee, who has been a delegate in District 16 since 2002, now hopes to be that district’s senator. She faces Republican Meyer Marks in November.

Long-time incumbent Sen. Jennie Forehand’s decision to retire left an open seat in District 17, which turned out to be one of the most contentious races in the Democratic primary. Cheryl Kagan, who previously represented this district as a delegate from 1995 to 2003, defeated Del. Luis Simmons by about 700 votes. The District covers Rockville, Gaithersburg and Garrett Park in Montgomery County.


“He significantly outspent me and sent three times as many mailing as we did,” said Kagan, who estimated her campaign expenses at about $125,000. “He resorted to personal attacks. Unlike him, I did not,” she said a few days after her victory.

Simmons could not be reached for comment.

In nearby District 19, which covers parts of Silver Spring, Olney and Derwood, as well as the unincorporated areas of Rockville and Gaithersburg, incumbents Ben Kramer and Bonnie Cullison were successful. “It’s hopefully a stamp of approval on my work,” said Kramer, who received 1,800 more votes than Cullison, who came in second in a field of five. Those two, as well as newcomer Marice Morales, make up the Democratic slate.

Cullison acknowledged that her efforts to bring public busing to Jewish day schools helped gain voter support. However, she said, “I wouldn’t say it was all about busing. I think the Jewish community saw my commitment to listen” and to work on what was important to her constituents.

Morales was endorsed by Cullison while Kramer had endorsed Charlotte Crutchfield, who came in fourth. Kramer said he would work with Morales. “We’re elected to represent the interests of District 19, and that’s certainly what I shall do.”

Paul Bardack, who received the fewest number of votes, said he believes his campaign’s focus on the need for state support for nonpublic schools placed that issue “onto the political radar.”

During the primaries, many of the candidates backed each other. However, support shifted as election results came in.

Delaney attended the election-night party of Attorney General Doug Gansler, who lost to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in a bid to be the Democratic candidate for governor. Delaney also had endorsed Delegate Brian Frosh, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, as well as Del. Simmons, who lost in his bid to be District 17’s senator. “I don’t think there is any question with the party’s unity,” he said after the election results were in.

Democratic District 18 incumbent State Sen. Richard Madaleno defeated Dana Beyer 58 percent to 42 percent. Rounding out the Democratic ticket for delegate are Ariana Kelly, Bill Frick and Marc Korman in District 16; Kuma Barve, Andrew Platt and Him Gilchrist in District 17; Jeff Waldstricher, Ana Sol Gutierrez and Al Carr in District 18; and Sheila Hixson, David Moon and Will Smith in District 20.

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