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Shellenberger wins state’s attorney’s Democratic primary race

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Courtesy photo
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Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger clinched the Democratic nomination Friday in a close contest with progressive candidate Robbie Leonard.

The four-term incumbent will now face Republican James Haynes, a retired lawyer and a former Maryland assistant attorney general.

Haynes said he plans to ask Baltimore County voters if they feel safer now than when Shellenberger was first elected state’s attorney in 2006.

“It’s great that Scott’s an incumbent,” Haynes said. “But if people don’t feel as safe as they did when he came in 16 years ago, then the advantages of incumbency are not as great as they might appear.”

The last time Shellenberger had a Republican opponent was in 2010. In that contest he won reelection with 57% of the vote.

The Baltimore County Board of Elections certified the county’s results Friday, following a week of counting thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots.

About 2,100 votes separated the two. Shellenberger received 44,962 votes or 51% compared to Leonard’s 42,847 votes, 49%.

Leonard said he will not ask for a recount.

Leonard had a lead in the race the night of the primary July 19. At that point only in-person ballots had been counted. But Shellenberger did better than Leonard with mail-in voters. Political observers believe that’s because they were more likely to be older and less interested in making a change.

Meanwhile, Shellenberger’s office in a statement Thursday dismissed a media report that he was stepping away from his duties due to exhaustion.

According to the statement, Shellenberger decided “to take some much needed time physically away from the office” following the election.

“Mr. Shellenberger is still in consistent contact with the office and is still making the management decisions which are necessary and appropriate for the office to continue to run as successfully as it has for his entire tenure,” according to the statement.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County.
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