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Second state official: General-election ballot closed to Dems

September 17, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

A second state election official agreed Friday that Maryland law doesn't let Washington County's Democratic Party put a state Senate candidate on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Jared DeMarinis, the Maryland State Board of Elections' director of candidacy and campaign finance, said a party's central committee may fill a "vacancy in nomination" for the general election by Oct. 4.

But that only refers to replacing an existing candidate, he said.

On Thursday, Roger Schlossberg, the attorney for the Washington County Board of Elections, wondered about the state statute's specificity and clarity.

In Tuesday's Republican primary, Christopher B. Shank, a three-term delegate, defeated five-term incumbent state Sen. Donald F. Munson, 57 percent to 43 percent.

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Shank has no Democratic opposition in the Nov. 2 general election for the District 2 state Senate seat.

On Thursday, Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said local Democrats, surprised Munson lost, have talked about now trying to get a Democrat on the ballot to face Shank.

Metzner said he and at least one other Democrat, who he wouldn't name, might be interested in running.

Donna Duncan, the director of the election management division at the state board of elections, said Thursday that a political party can't add a candidate in the general election if it previously had no candidate.

Schlossberg noted that "vacancy" isn't defined in state Election Law and said the issue could be challenged in court. He offered his opinion after hearing questions about whether it was too late for Democrats to field a candidate against Shank.

DeMarinis said Friday that Schlossberg focused on the word "vacancy" instead of the whole phrase "vacancy in nomination."

By nominating a candidate before the general election, the party has a guaranteed ballot spot, DeMarinis said.

If something happens to the candidate, the party could substitute someone else, he said.

On Tuesday night and Wednesday, Munson considered trying for a Democratic nomination to get on the general-election ballot, if he could, or running a write-in campaign.

He later decided against both ideas and conceded the race to Shank.

Someone who wants to run as a write-in candidate in the general election has to file a certificate by Oct. 27 for those votes to count.

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