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Meet Baltimore County Shellenberger’s first GOP opponent in 12 years

James Haynes.jpg
James Haynes

Now that Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger has won the close Democratic primary race, he faces his first Republican opponent in the general election in 12 years.

Much like Shellenberger’s opponent in the primary, his Republican challenger, James Haynes, said he can bring needed change to the office.

Haynes is a 72-year-old retired lawyer and a former assistant attorney general of Maryland. He said he plans to run an active, thought-provoking campaign.

“The voters of Baltimore County know that Scott was elected in 2006,” Haynes said. “Here we are in 2022. The first question that they need to ask themselves is whether they feel safer now than they did in 2006.”

Haynes said if elected, he will run a non-partisan office. Everyone will receive equal treatment no matter their party affiliation. Haynes calls the bruising Democratic primary that Shellenberger won by 2,100 votes over attorney Robbie Leonard an intramural hair-pulling contest between two factions of the party.

“If you’re looking for something better than that, that is what my campaign will be about,” Haynes said.

Shellenberger did not return a request for comment.

The four-term Democratic incumbent is well liked by Republican officeholders in the county.

Republican State Sen. Chris West said he has been friends with Haynes for around 40 years and will support his campaign, although he added Shellenberger has done “a terrific job as state’s attorney.

“I will not say anything negative about Scott,” West said.

It is no easy task for a Republican to win a county-wide office. Democrats outnumber Republicans in Baltimore County by more than two to one.

“It’s going to be a tough, uphill campaign,” West said. “It sounds to me as if he is determined to make the effort and try to persuade the voters that he would be the better candidate.”

According to his most recent campaign finance report, filed in early July, Haynes had about $2,000 in the bank. Shellenberger had around $78,000 although a portion of that likely was spent in the closing days of his battle with Leonard in the primary.

“I do plan to increase my finances,” Haynes said. “I think that this becomes easier now that I am the Republican nominee.”

Haynes won the GOP primary over attorney Deborah Hill, garnering nearly 55% of the vote.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County.
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