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The Race Is On: What to Expect in Redmer-Olszewski Contest

John Lee

The nominees are now in place for the general election race for Baltimore County Executive. Former Delegate Johnny Olszewski won a recount over the weekend, a 17 vote win over State Senator Jim Brochin.


Morning Edition Host Nathan Sterner spoke with WYPR’s John Lee about what happens next.




Sterner: Olszewski’s Republican opponent is State Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer Junior. What kind of campaign can we expect?


Lee: This is one of those times where nice guys finished first, and by all accounts you have a couple of nice guys here. Olszewski for the most part kept his head down while Brochin and county councilwoman Vicki Almond engaged in a slugfest. And Redmer was the target of constant insults from his primary opponent, Delegate Pat McDonough. So you would think by comparison, a Redmer/Olszewski race will be pretty civil. Olszewski seems to think so anyway.


Olszewski: “The commissioner and I have engaged in dozens of debates in forums across the county as part of the primary process. Every experience I have has been cordial and very much focused on issues and sharing our visions for the county and I trust that will continue.”


Lee: Each of these candidates come into the general election with strengths. Based on what happened in the primary, Olszewski may have a fundraising advantage over Redmer. But Redmer has the full-throated backing of Governor Hogan. The governor campaigned for Redmer in the primary election and is expected to do so in the general. Hogan has a lot of support in the county. The governor crushed his Democratic opponent there four years ago with 59 percent of the vote. How much if any help Olszewski gets from the Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous remains to be seen. But, registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans in the county by around two to one, so advantage Olszewski there.


Sterner: What does Redmer have to say about what to expect in the general election?


Lee: I spoke with Redmer last weekend. At that time the Olszewski-Brochin race was still undecided. Redmer said he planned to run the same kind of campaign no matter which Democrat he ended up facing.


Redmer: “We are going to spend between now and let’s say Labor Day, getting around and introducing ourselves to every Democrat, Independent and Republican voter we can, letting them know who I am and what my background is and at a high level  what my vision is for the future.”


Lee: When you talk to Democrats about Redmer, they describe him as a good guy who they respect. So again, the general election, at least at the starting gate, is a model of civility. Of course, that could change when it hits the home stretch.


Sterner: Brochin lost the Democratic nomination recount by 17 votes. Does he have any plans to challenge that outcome?


Lee: No. Brochin says he is making plans to wrap up his fourth term as a state senator, focus more on his day job as an insurance broker and do some volunteer work. When you talk to Brochin and his attorneys, they have nothing but praise for the way the Baltimore County Board of Elections handled the election and the recount. They feel it was a fair process. And participants on both sides talked about how they felt they were seeing Democracy in action and at its best, when they witnessed elections officials spending hours on this, first tallying up the initial vote then doing a ballot-by-ballot recount. 


Sterner: Does Olszewski feel he can unite the Democratic party and win the support of voters who backed Brochin, as well as the third place finisher, Almond?


Lee: He does, and County Executive Don Mohler, a Democrat, sees it this way.


Mohler: “Their followers truly believed and I just think that’s a good sign for Baltimore County that people cared that deeply.”


Lee: Mohler says he’s disappointed by the low voter turnout in Baltimore County for the primary, adding the Democratic primary proves the point about every vote counting.




John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County.
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