By Daniel Menefee and Len Lazarack
The score is now 2-2 in the race to fill the seat vacated by Sen. E.J. Pipkin.
Del. Mike Smigiel, R-Cecil, and Del. Steve Hershey, R-Queen Anne’s, have now each won the votes of two Republican central committees in District 36, and both have complaints about how two different central committees handled their nominating process.
Smigiel won the votes of the Cecil Republican Central Committee on Tuesday and secured the vote of the central committee in Queen Anne’s after Audrey Scott, the former Republican State Party Chair, withdrew her candidacy Friday afternoon.
“Scott’s withdraw automatically gave the winning vote to the only other candidate who was voted for by our committee,” said Andi Morony, chair of the Queen Anne’s Republican Central Committee.
Hershey people want a re-vote in QAC, question committee chair’s actions
“You can’t get around the fact that Andi Morony is Smigiel’s chief of staff, and the one who threw Scott’s votes to Smigiel as chair of the Queen Anne’s Republican Committee,” said a source in the Hershey campaign. “We need to check if she has the power to automatically give Smigiel those votes.”
Smigiel told the Spy Thursday that he obtained a legal opinion from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office last month that Morony’s position on the Queen Anne’s Republican Central Committee was not in conflict with her job as his chief of staff.
The source also said a new vote was scheduled for Tuesday but the announcement by Morony preempted the opportunity for committee members to reevaluate their votes with Scott now out of the race. The source said that some committee members were upset that they were not allowed to re-cast their votes.
“It’s unfortunate that Morony will not give her committee the right to recast a vote by simply interpreting the will of her committee on her own,” said Brian Harlin, former chairman of the Howard County Republican Central Committee, in a brief phone interview on Saturday. “She can’t know whether those votes were for Scott or against Smigiel — but if she’s certain those votes would go to Smigiel, then let the committee have a re-count.”
Updated Saturday:“I spoke with many people in Queen Anne’s today and they were very upset that their representatives in the central committee were not given a chance to revote as suggested in Audrey Scott’s withdrawal letter,” Hershey said in an email after this story ran.
“I believe the central committee would have again supported a Queen Anne’s County resident for senator,” Hershey wrote in an email to the Spy. “I spoke with many people in Queen Anne’s today [Saturday] and they were very upset that their representatives in the central committee were not given a chance to revote as suggested in Audrey’s withdrawal letter. This was a huge opportunity for Queen Anne’s County to avoid a 2-2 tie, which I think may have been enough to swing the support my way. If the votes were truly there for Smigiel, then it would have been easy for [Morony] to just call for a full committee vote.”
Smigiel upset with process in Caroline
Hershey won the votes of the Kent Republican Central Committee on Thursday and the committee in Caroline early Friday evening.
Smigiel said he was surprised of the vote after being told by the committee chair in Caroline that the interview process was still in the early stages.
“I’m absolutely shocked that the committee in Caroline had a vote on Friday without conducting the interviews they promised,” Smigiel said. “We also were told as late as Friday afternoon that there was no date set to have a vote.”
“The majority of Caroline had promised their support for my nomination, and never contacted me to withdraw that support, and I’m absolutely shocked,” Smigiel said.
“I can’t believe that Caroline County has given this choice to Gov. Martin O’Malley,” Smigiel said. “Caroline had an opportunity to have a resident delegate within the next few weeks, and has given that up on orders coming from Congressman Andy Harris.”
Having lost his home county of Queen Anne’s, the biggest in the District 36, some close to the nomination process fear that Hershey cannot keep the senate seat in the 2014 election if he is appointed by O’Malley – much less win a primary fight.
A source in the Hershey campaign said that they’ve looked at the field of primary candidates and believe Hershey could “mount a strong campaign and keep the seat.”
By Len Lazarack
Sossi, Wargotz promise a Senate run next year
Former Del. Richard Sossi, whom Hershey defeated for reelection in 2010 by a slim 124 votes and who also applied for the Pipkin vacancy, promised on Facebook Saturday that he would run for the Senate seat.
“One thing is for sure, I will have to wait until the 2014 election to claim the senate seat,” Sossi said. “It is also almost certain that there will be another round of bizarre behavior by some of the committees/members as they choose a replacement for the vacating delegate.”
“I WILL NOT apply for the post…I WILL BE planning for the Senate race,” Sossi said. “I am guessing that there will be two committee votes for an applicant from Caroline County, of course you never know.”
Another candidate for the nomination, former Queen Anne County commissioner Eric Wargotz, said he will run for state Senate next year as well.
“I am still hopeful that the Kent, Caroline, and Queen Anne’s County Central Committees will reconsider their choices and put forth an individual, such as myself, who has no focus other than serving the best interests of the constituents of the District,” Wargotz said in an email.
“Given the current state of the District 36 selection process, it appears that this fact has gotten lost among the decision makers. Many of the applicants and the central committee members I have been in touch are disgusted with this situation.”
“They all still have time to do what is best for District 36,” Wargotz said. “As the US Senate Nominee in 2010, I received approximately 34,000 votes in District 36 in the general election. To many in the district, the central committees decisions do not appear to reflect community will. If not selected, at this time, it is my intention to run in the primary for the State Senate District 36 seat.”