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Even with divisions, GOP picnics at park

August 25, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • State Sen. Donald F. Munson, front, and Del. Christopher B. Shank talk to others at the Washington County Republican Club picnic held at Smithsburg Community Park.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Socializing, politicking and eating were on the menu Wednesday when Washington County's Republicans held their annual picnic at Smithsburg Community Park.

The weather was moderate and the chatter was lively among incumbents, challengers and supporters.

Liz Jones, treasurer of the Washington County Republican Club, which held the event, said close to 250 tickets were sold, about 25 percent more than usual.

This year, Republicans are watching and facing off in primaries for county and state offices.

The biggest battle is between state Sen. Donald F. Munson and Del. Christopher B. Shank for Munson's seat.

Republicans also are competing with each other for state delegate seats in Subdistricts 2A, 2B and 3B and for five Washington County Commissioners positions.

Munson and Shank attended the picnic and mingled, keeping separate paths.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr. said he could feel the tension between the two candidates and their supporters.

"There's definitely a division there," he said.

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Myers, the chairman of Washington County's delegation in Annapolis, is staying neutral in the race and said he'll support the winner.

Washington County State's Attorney Charles P. Strong Jr. was one of the few candidates at the picnic who could rest easy -- he is running unopposed this year.

He said that suits him fine after going through a tough campaign four years ago, adding, "It makes it easier at home."

Strong said there's an underlying friendliness at the picnic, even among different camps.

"They're people that have known each other over the years," he said.

The event included brief speeches by Kendel Ehrlich, standing in for her husband, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, who is running again, and by Michael M. Ryman, who is on the ticket with gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy.

Comptroller candidate William H. Campbell also spoke.

In recent weeks, Robert Ehrlich has given carefully crafted praise to both Shank and Munson to use in their campaigns.

On Wednesday, Kendel Ehrlich declined to wade in further.

"I echo his thoughts," she said.

Asked if she sensed conflict over the primary battles, Kendel Ehrlich said, "I'm feeling warmth. This is a strong Republican county. I'm feeling a lot of love here."

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who is facing four GOP challengers as he seeks a 10th term, said he's against intraparty fights.

Bartlett, a Munson backer, said he encourages opponents in a primary to stick to their positions and not criticize each other.

"I think it weakens the candidate for the general election ...," he said, noting the short period this year between the primary and the general election. "You just can't expect the voters to forget."

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