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Baltimore County Exec Olszewski defeats GOP opponent McDonough to win a second term

Baltimore County Johnny Olszewski Credit: Baltimore County
Baltimore County Johnny Olszewski Credit: Baltimore County

Four years ago, Johnny Olszewski had to win a nail-biter primary and then defeat a strong Republican opponent in the general election to become Baltimore County Executive. On Tuesday, the Dundalk Democrat cruised to a second term capturing nearly 59% of the Baltimore County vote with more than 194,600 votes tallied by midnight, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Although around 50,000 mail-in ballots remain to be counted in Baltimore County, Olszewski has a comfortable cushion over his Republican opponent, former state Del. Pat McDonough who garnered 41% of the vote.

McDonough conceded he lost in an interview with The Baltimore Banner.

Olszewski held a nearly 35,000 vote lead over McDonough when 231 out of 243 precincts were reporting results Tuesday night. The mail-in ballots counted so far are breaking Olszewski’s way by more than three to one.

In 2018, Olszewski ran on a platform of spending record amounts of tax money on education. He is a former teacher in the county schools and promised to make the government more transparent.

Olszewski said voters rewarded him for delivering on those campaign promises.

“I think the difference from this cycle compared to last is that residents actually have had a chance to feel and experience what that promise is in fact, in reality,” Olszewski said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done.”

Voters rejected McDonough’s gloom and doom vision of the county being wrecked by Olszewski’s leadership. He attacked the incumbent over how he handles crime and the school system.

“While we’re trying to build bridges, my opponent in this race was seeking to tear people down and divide us. I think residents rejected that,” Olszewski said.

McDonough said he felt good about his campaign.

“We exposed the people of Baltimore County to all of the issues and challenges they’re going to be facing as a result of Johnny’s leadership,” McDonough told The Baltimore Banner.

No Republican office holder in the county was willing to take on Olszewski and his formidable advantages.

Olszewski brought to the race the power of incumbency, including having nearly $2 million in his campaign war chest. The county’s party makeup was also in his favor. Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one. A Republican has not won a race for county executive since 1990.

Olszewski said he will lay out plans for his second term when he is inaugurated next month.

But he did say that people “can count on not only the continuation of the work that we’ve done, opening up our government, being transparent and accountable, investing record funding in things like school construction, public safety and recreation and parks, but also continuing to look at places like workforce and housing, and those quality of life projects and policy areas that connect and intersect in ways that really elevate both our residents as well as all of our communities.”

It seems likely Olszewski will continue to enjoy having the Baltimore County Council controlled by fellow Democrats.

Two Democrats are retiring from the seven-member council, but it appears their replacements will be Democrats as well.

In the 1st District, which includes Catonsville and Arbutus, Delegate Pat Young has more than 63% of the vote in his contest with Republican Albert Nalley.

In the 6th District, which includes Towson and runs east along the city-county line to Parkville and Rosedale, Democrat Mike Ertel has 65% of the vote in his race with Republican opponent, Tony Campbell.

All five incumbent council members running for reelection are winning handily.

In the state’s attorney’s race, Democratic incumbent Scott Shellenberger leads his Republican challenger James Haynes by about 20 points.

The counting of mail-in ballots will resume Thursday. County election officials were able to count about 14,000 mail-ins this past weekend.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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