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Primary aftermath - Can Shank keep county relevant in Annapolis?

September 17, 2010

The election is over and the voters in their respective parties have spoken.

First, we congratulate Del. Christopher B. Shank on his resounding defeat of five-term state Sen. Donald F. Munson in the Republican primary.

This was the most important race in Washington County this year, and the candidates made their positions clear. Democrats, seeing the clout of these two heavyweights, didn't field a candidate in the primary, so for all practical purposes, the GOP nomination was winner take all.

Clearly, both men worked extremely hard and made the effort to reach the voters. They left nothing on the table.

Shank and Munson are conservatives, but both articulated their differences.

Munson said he was willing to work with the Democratic majority in Annapolis that effectively runs the Maryland General Assembly. In so doing, he pointed to funding that he had helped secure for Washington County projects, such as the Washington County Free Library expansion and the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown. Ironically, many around Washington County, particularly in the business community, believed Munson was more effective as a legislator during the last session than he had ever been.

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If this is Munson's farewell from politics, we wish him all the best. He has served Washington County faithfully and honorably in Annapolis. He has advanced the cause of our community. And we thank him for his years of service. He'll be missed.

Shank is much more of an ideologue than Munson. He will go to bat for taxpayers, fight any government expansion, and lead the effort to reduce Annapolis' grip on Maryland taxpayers and businesses. Unfortunately, he will continue to be the bane of the Democratic leadership in Annapolis. He likely will continue to be a vocal opponent of most things the Democrats try to do. He certainly will represent his constituents in so doing. But it also is unlikely that he will get much legislation passed because the Democratic leadership will do all it can to make his life miserable.

The best outcome might be this: If Republican gubernatorial nominee and ex-Gov. Robert Ehrlich can defeat incumbent Gov. Martin O'Malley in the November general election, then Shank will have one of the better seats in Annapolis, one from which he might be able to wield considerable clout.

Shank is a smart, brilliant campaigner. His conservative resume, his tactics and his strategy resonated with Republican voters, hence the large margin of victory.

As a senator, he will represent all of his constituents, not just those who voted for him. His challenge will be to keep Washington County relevant in Annapolis so that the projects that are critical to the county's future, especially those dealing with education, aren't the victim of political hard feelings.

Another casualty of Tuesday's GOP primary was William J. Wivell. Wivell decided to leave his seat as a Washington County commissioner after three terms. He was soundly defeated in the primary for the Maryland House of Delegates 2A seat by incumbent Del. Andrew A. Serafini.

Wivell was perhaps the most fiscally conservative elected official in Washington County. He usually was crystal clear on his positions. He was a watchdog with a loud bark when it came to county expenditures. Yet that, in and of itself, didn't get him much traction in the GOP nomination for the 2A seat.

Still, he's played an important role during the past 12 years in service to the county.

We thank him for his work on behalf of our community.

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