With the 2010 Gubernatorial Primary Election just a few days away, the races are heating up and Harford Countians are making final decisions about for whom to cast their votes.
For a quintet of local elected officials, however, the 2010 election season came and went quickly after no challengers stepped forward to oppose them on the ballot.
Harford County Council President Billy Boniface, State’s Attorney Joe Cassilly, District 35 Sen. Barry Glassman, Clerk of the Circuit Court Jim Reilly, and County Councilman Dick Slutzky, all Republican incumbents, have a smooth path to re-election with no opponents in either the September Primary Election or the November General Election.
The lack of opposition may have made summer less stressful for these five candidates, but it also introduced new wrinkles regarding how much campaigning to do, what to do with all their campaign signs, and how to spend their unexpected free time.
The Dagger caught up with Harford’s five unopposed candidates and asked what how the lack of challengers has changed their campaigns.
My Campaign Team feels pretty good about where we are at this point. I believe it is a result of all our efforts over the last four years to continue getting out our message in the community and raising funds. We won’t be having any additional fundraisers this fall. Times are tough and people are getting hit hard enough from other campaigns. Instead we will continue to concentrate on our annual event in March. Like just about every small business owner in the County, I’ve had to spend a lot of time on the Farm working with my family to keep the bottom line on the positive side so not having to be out campaigning so hard this year is a relief. Many on my team are in the boat so it’s nice to not have to ask as much of them this time around. We’ll still be out and about, just not as hard as we needed to last election.
How do you feel?
Does this lack of opposition demonstrate the level of support and trust the public has in you and your office?
I ran in 1986 unopposed dem county exec elected, 1990 unopposed dem county exec elected, 1994 unopposed rep county exec elected, 1998 opposed rep county exec elected, 2002 unopposed rep county exec elected, 2006 unopposed rep county exec elected, 2010 unopposed. I am one of the lowest paid SA’s in Maryland with an insane job nobody else in their right mind wants.
Or does it speak more to the current state of the local Democratic Party?
How does the lack of any opposition whatsoever change your campaign plans for the next three months?
I had a victory party 15 minutes after the polls closed on 6 July and went to work the next day. I don’t make campaign plans until the opposition files because I have been campaigning for the last 28 years.
I would assume you might still have fundraisers scheduled, signs to be placed, and events to attend, so how are those plans changing – if at all?
I suppose one’s campaign account could always use additional funding – even if you have four years before needing to dip into it again – and perhaps you’ve already been selling tickets to dinners or campaign events. What will those events be like? More celebration and less rallying?
No events planned, I dislike war chests and I don’t compete with candidates who need it more than I do.
What do you do with all your signs and campaign materials? Do you go straight to putting out the post-election “thank you” signs?
They’re stored at my house.
Perhaps, now that you don’t have to go knocking on doors or waving at street corners, you’ll be taking a vacation or at least a deep breath?
I already took the deep breath but I could use a vacation.
What is the protocol for following through with your campaign?
Vote in the general election
I am following Sen. [Bob] Hooper’s old advice each summer when we campaigned…that was to stay humble and work hard whether someone was running against us or not. Billy [Boniface] and I had close to 300 people at our kick off a couple of weeks ago and I had my annual business breakfast fundraiser in April along with a Baltimore area fundraiser in early September. You are right, the need to raise funds is pretty constant so we hope to continue to raise funds and save as much as possible this election cycle. I hope to do a county-wide thank you letter in October along with another in northern Harford. Probably won’t do as many signs, but I have putting up signs for folks that call for a Glassman for Senate sign – even if I am unopposed. So I plan to stay pretty busy with the campaign, but just conserve some funds and take an easier pace for a change. I must admit that after 20 years, 1986 – if you count Republican Central Committee, half of my life, it feels strange not to have a race. I think it is pretty much a combination of District 35 being a very strong district for Republicans and the fact that I have represented it on the County Council, MD House and now the Senate. As you know, nobody could really fill Sen. Hooper’s shoes, but I have made a point the last few years to carry his memory in my elementary school patriot talks, senior graduation speeches and work in the Senate…he was so respected that his request that I take his place in the Senate has given new supporters and more confidence that I can make a positive change for Harford County. An older lady at church dinner said that I had Bob’s easy going touch and re-assuring smile just in a newer model as she squeezed my cheeks. That makes the long days in Annapolis worth it and I feel like I have hit my stride in the Senate and it is a good fit for me.
I also have a fairly busy legislative schedule. I represented the Senate at UVA’s Emerging Leaders Program last week in Charlottesville at the Darden Business School. I have been appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Small Business to promote local agricultural interests and Buy Local programs, I have also been appointed to the National Agricultural Stewardship Association for the Northeast States, and in August I am presenting my Farmers Market one license approach to their national meeting in Maine. And of course we have to get Rocks review completed this fall. In addition to these things, I can also begin working on legislative drafts before the election.
On the personal front, Jordan graduated from North Harford this year and we have to get him moved to Towson University around the end of August. Also instead of sweating out the first week of November before the General Election I am hoping to get to spend a couple of days at the National Livestock Expo sheep shows in Kentucky and also will have some of my show sheep at the MD State Fair. So, as you can see, I have a busy remainder of the summer planned.
It does feel very good to “win” your election in July and I am very appreciative of the level of support and trust that the citizens have for me as Clerk of the Circuit Court and the public service my courthouse team is providing to the citizens of Harford County. For the next three months I will still be out and about at public functions and going door to door to continue building my relationship with the hearts and minds of Harford County citizens. One change that will be taking place in my campaign is I had over 1,500 hundred sign locations in each of the last two elections however I will be cutting that back to about one hundred prime locations just to keep the name in front of the voters. I still have a fundraiser scheduled for October, which I’m sure will turn into a celebration. My wife (Teresa Reilly) is also running for her third term on the non-paying Harford County Republican Central Committee, supporting Gov. Ehrlich and the conservative principles of the Republican Party. With thirty seven candidates on the ballot and only twelve positions, I’m fairly sure that will keep us busy through September 14th
The current situations feels strange for me. In past campaigns I have had opponents from the beginning and as a result I just went to work to execute the best campaign I could. This time around the uncertainty was emotionally more difficult to deal with. Once I knew the final results there was a sense of relief but then many questions appeared; what is the right amount of campaigning to do under theses conditions, when should I start, etc? My constituents need to know that I am committed to continue to work hard on their behalf, how do I demonstrate that without over doing it?
I’m not sure what the lack of opposition means. Certainly, I would like to think that Harford citizens have confidence in my representation and know that I try my very best to do the right things for the right reasons, but it is very likely that the political circumstances at the state and federal level have made it more difficult for democrats to compete in Harford County. Some responsibility must also fall on the Democratic Party leadership in Harford County, it resembles what we saw with the Republican Party not too long ago. So, I would say there is a mixture of reasons for the unusual situation this election cycle, some obvious and others more discrete.
I will campaign but with a later start and selected activities. I want to balance the need for my constituents to understand I am still committed to working hard on their behalf but I don’t want to offend by over doing it.
I do not plan on any additional fund raising under these circumstances. I already have signs and I believe enough money to do what I need to do. I don’t want to raise money for the sake of raising money.
There will be no celebration until after the general election and nothing different from what we have done in the past. We will celebrate family and supporters and campaign workers in a low key manner. I will put out thank you signs after we actually win the election.
Eight years ago, campaigning for my first election, I went out west, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado etc for almost a month in the summer. My wife and I had it all planned before I decided to run for office. I just worked hard before we left and even harder when we returned. However, I’m older now and have to spread the work out. I do plan to visit my father in New Hampshire, he’s heading toward 95 years of age, and with my brother and family but it will only be 4 or 5 days.
If there is a protocol for running a campaign without opposition I obviously don’t know what it is. I will listen to my committee and my family and continue to do what I think is the right thing to do.