Thanks to his last name, Register of Wills candidate Derek Hopkins sounds as if he has a strong connection to the office of longtime incumbent Harry L.W. Hopkins. Though the two men are not related, the younger Hopkins does have a family member in that office: his wife, Katrina.
Hopkins’ wife is a 12-year veteran of the Maryland State Court System; according to him, she spent 10 years in the civil division under the Clerk of the Circuit Court, and has worked in Harry Hopkins’ office for more than two years. Hopkins plans to retire after serving six terms as Register of Wills, and is not running for the position again.
Recent comments on The Dagger indicated that Hopkins’ wife would leave her job in the event he is elected, to avoid a conflict of interest. Hopkins confirmed those comments, saying the potential family job-switch has been the plan since last summer.
“This is not the first time I have heard this issue arise and I have explained it since working the Central Committee Booth at the Harford County Fair last year,” Hopkins said in an e-mail to The Dagger. “When elected, with the exception of Katrina, I will keep the same staff which has years of experience providing outstanding one on one personal service by helping citizens and attorneys handle a loved one’s estate. If I am not elected; the new Register of Wills will have a hard working employee with over 12 years of experience in the Maryland State Court System.”
Hopkins will face an interesting primary later this year, as local GOP figure Merrie Street announced her candidacy recently. Street was the Director of Governmental and Community Relations under former Harford County Executive Jim Harkins, and currently works in Exelon Power’s communications division.
(UPDATE: Based on a tip from Dagger reader RBass, we did a little further research and according to her profile on networking Web site LinkedIn, Street’s tenure at Exelon ended in September. No specific reason for her departure from the company was given.)
However, Harry Hopkins endorsed Hopkins’ candidacy on Feb. 23. The incumbent Register of Wills was a longtime Democrat until the 2006 election, when he switched his affiliation to the Republican Party and defeated Bill Christoforo. His endorsement seems to leave local GOP party leaders with an interesting dilemma: whether to throw their support behind Street, or behind the challenger who has gained the retiring incumbent’s support.
“I have been working hard to help the GOP party but I cannot speculate on who the party leaders will support,” Derek Hopkins said. “If I win or lose I will continue with that same help and commitment. Right now I just need to focus on getting my message out to the voters and help to bring new voters in to the party.”
Hopkins has set up a Facebook page, “Friends of Derek Hopkins for Harford County Register of Wills 2010,” and a Web site, www.derekhopkins.org, with more information about him. Street also has a Facebook page, “Merrie Street for Register of Wills in Harford County, MD.”
In other election news:
–Street will hold a kick-off party for her candidacy on Thursday, April 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air. Former Maryland First Lady Kendel Ehrlich is scheduled to appear.
–The appearance will be Ehrlich’s second in Harford in roughly two months, after she appeared at the Republican Club meeting on Feb. 24. Her husband, former governor Bob Ehrlich, has been eyed as a challenger to Gov. Martin O’Malley in November, but Kendel Ehrlich told the crowd that, to win, “we need 78 percent of the vote in Harford,” and that “Bob wants to run, but needs to know the numbers are there.”
–Also at the Republican Club meeting, Sheryl Davis Kohl said she would run for County Council District F, covering the Aberdeen Proving Ground and Havre de Grace areas, and Jim Thompson announced he would run for District A, encompassing Joppa.
Davis Kohl served in the Maryland House of Delegates as the representative from District 34A from July 2005 to January 2007 when she replaced Chuck Boutin, who was tapped to serve on the state Public Service Commission. Davis Kohl was defeated in the November 2006 election by Dan Riley.
In announcing his plans to run, Thompson said he has a strategy plan that he believes will help the entire Republican ticket in 2010, with the tag line, “It’s the election, stupid.”
–U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge will hold a “Breakfast & Discussion” fundraiser on Saturday, March 6 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Maryland Golf and County Club in Bel Air.
–State Senate District 7 candidate Al Redmer Jr. said more than 500 people attended his Feb. 20 bull roast fundraiser. Redmer Jr. said in a mass e-mail that he is planning a breakfast event on Thursday, April 29 to review “the results of the 2010 legislative session.”
–District 34A candidate Patrick McGrady has added video from his Jan. 20 campaign event at Bulle Rock, which included an appearance by former Gov. Ehrlich, to his Web site at www.McGradyforDelegate.com.
Dagger readers: don’t forget, we want to know about any election-related news, confirmable tips, or nuggets you might hear in your travels. If it’s an opinion about a particular person or issue, that’s what the comments are for, but we welcome any news tips you’ve got!