Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Confessions of a Random Scribbler

First, congratulations to all of the HoCo Democratic campaigns that won yesterday.  In particular, I would like to commend the Howard County Democratic Central Committee as well as all of the volunteers affiliated with the various Democratic and progressive clubs, causes, and campaigns that worked so hard to bring to fruition a blue wave in our corner of Maryland.

Second, I would like to recognize County Executive Allan Kittleman for coming out to Kahler Hall to congratulate the County Executive-elect, Dr. Calvin Ball.    That action was, indeed, the epitome of a class act.

In the days prior to November 6, I scrawled on the back of several envelopes various turnout scenarios.  Wanting to confront sub-optimal models, I had more than a few with Ball in the 48% - 49% range.  It appears as though the combination of higher-than-expected voter turnout (I was estimating 60% for the General Election, it is now 63.67% & counting) along with slightly more-favorable-than-anticipated margins among Unaffiliateds and/or Democrats helped propel Ball to a 52.3% victory.  Kittleman, as expected, won amongst Election Day voters but Ball banked a net advantage of +5,932 Early Voter ballots (an impressive 56.8% of the EVs).   Given the outcome, I don’t mind being 1.8% off in my final prediction.   

District 5 is well-positioned to be the new Swing Councilmanic District.  If you asked me on Monday, “If only one Democrat wins in Senate 9, House 9A, or Council District 5, who would it be and why?” I would have said China Williams.  Why?  Because she was running in an open seat (albeit against a fairly well-known opponent), and she didn’t have to contend with the Carroll County slice of District 9 which is solidly Republican. 

I heard that Katie Fry Hester was running a strong campaign and I knew that Gail Bates was, at long last, vulnerable.  That said, the Senate 9 race had all the makings of a painfully narrow, heart-breaking loss.  However, at present, Hester is up 154 votes.  If that outcome holds, it reinforces the failure of Hogan’s “Drive for Five” strategy.  Being superstitious, I will say no more until this race is called.

Natalie Ziegler in particular (along with Steven Bolen) fared better than expected in 9A, which is the more Republican part of District 9.  I thought we would be at least another four years away from being truly competitive in 9A, but Miller and Ziegler, by my count, are only separated by 1,185 votes.  That is an extremely respectable showing for a Democrat, considering the West HoCo and Carroll County precincts involved.

I am delighted that Courtney Watson won handily in 9B.  She was the best candidate our party could have fielded for that seat and she ran a very smart, focused campaign. Her margin of victory (56.8% - 43.0%) was quite impressive.

It was good to see that Senator-elect Clarence Lam (apparently) won both the Baltimore County slice of 12 (narrowly) and Howard County (by a substantial amount).  I thought Hooe might have a shot at winning the Baltimore County precincts with 52%/53% of the vote.  I wonder how this district will look in 2022.

Tuning to House District 12, Melanie Harris outpolled Jessica Feldmark and Terri Hill in Baltimore County, but finished far behind Team 12 in Howard County.  The GOP’s attacks on Feldmark appear to have failed miserably, as Feldmark garnered slightly more votes than Hill.  I would have assumed that the order-of-finish would have been Eric Ebersole-Hill-Feldmark.  

I was elated that Vanessa Atterbeary crushed it in D13, with Shane Pendergrass and Jen Terrasa also finishing far ahead of Chris Yates.

Geez Guy, only 97.3% against the write-ins? 

Turning to the other Council Districts:

District One:  this outcome provides evidence that progressive Democrats, by articulating a clear, compelling and differentiating message, can win by healthy margins in swing districts.  Given that Walsh is a first-time candidate this cycle and that she won a fairly contentious primary, I would have expected her to win with 52%-53% of the vote against a generic R opponent.  Instead, she won by a 61.9% - 37.8% margin.  Walsh’s well-executed strategy, with some unintentional help from Kathuria’s desperate mailer, made what should have been a close race a near blow-out.

District Two:  Congratulations Opel Jones.  With 69.4% of the vote, Jones’ margin of victory was several points higher than Ball’s in 2014 when the then-incumbent won re-election against Ralph Colavita (with 60.6% of the vote).

District Three:  Congratulations Christiana Rigby, who garnered 98.1% of the vote against the write-ins.

District Four:  Lisa Kim ran an active campaign.  It wasn’t necessarily all productive energy, but it kept moving.  When it was all said and done, I thought it would end up being a Jung 64% - Kim 36% race, but Jung almost hit the 70% mark (69.9%...with absentees still out).  Fun fact:  Jung would have lost to Kim by only 22 votes if she obtained ZERO votes on Election Day, that was how strong Jung’s Early Voting operation was (78% of the vote, banking +5,793 EVs).

Congratulations to the entire Democratic Courthouse team:  Rich Gibson, Wayne Robey, Byron Macfarlane, and Marcus Harris and to the re-elected incumbent Judges of the Orphans’ Court (Leslie Smith Turner and Anne Dodd) as well as the newly-elected Judge of the Orphans’ Court, Elizabeth Ann Fitch.

Last but absolutely not least, I am so thrilled that Sabina Taj and Jen Mallo won election to the Howard County Board of Education.  They ran excellent, thoughtful and highly-responsive campaigns and deserved their hard-earned victories.  I know they will serve well. 

I was disappointed, albeit not terribly surprised that Robert Wayne Miller finished outside of the top four.  I suspected that either he or Bob Glascock (two of the four HCEA endorsement recipients) would underperform in the General.  It turns out both did, for what I believe to be quite different reasons.  That said, none of the eight candidates on the ballot embarrassed themselves.  I expected Vicky Cutroneo to be the leading vote-getter (she was, by a decent but not overwhelming margin).  I was surprised by Chao Wu’s showing.  While I thought his slogan cheesy, I kept hearing that his on-the-ground organization was solid.  I penciled him in for 4th on a good day, most likely 5th, and possibly 6th on a bad day.  Instead, he finished in second place about a thousand votes ahead of Jen Mallo. 

Mallo’s campaign was highly methodical and her communications well-crafted.  Her closing efforts were undoubtedly helped by the HCEA endorsement.  I expected her to win and she did, with a strong third place showing.

I was nervous about Taj all day.  Seriously, from the moment I woke up on Tuesday morning until late in the evening.  I didn’t know that both Miller and Glascock would have the troubles they did.  I didn’t think Danny Mackey or Anita Pandey would pull it off (consistent with my earlier predictions) but again, I didn’t know.  Taj ran a bold, activist-centric, progressive strategy.  That said, I suspected that she would be looking at 4th place, at best. I maintain that the HCEA endorsement carries a great deal of clout (perhaps more so in primaries, but still…) and without it, I knew she had the biggest challenge among the Spartan Tendency-endorsed BoE candidates in terms of securing a top four position.  When the early numbers started trickling in, I was encouraged…then ecstatic as the number of reporting precincts climbed.  Sabina Taj and her team did amazing work against tough odds.

I am over 1,200 words, so it is time to wind this down.  I may have another post-Election wrap-up essay or two to post in the coming days, but again, I expect this blog’s focus to shift in the weeks ahead.

Thank you for reading.

In solidarity.

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