Election Day Roundup
|photo by Carrie Steele
“It would show weakness to change administrations in the midst of war,” said Larry Myers of Lothian.
Anne Arundel and Calvert: A Lake of Red in a State of Blue
Both Anne Arundel and Calvert counties voted in line with national sentiments on Election Day, refusing to change their president in wartime.
Voters elaborated in Election Day exit interviews with Bay Weekly at polling places throughout the two counties.
“I want a president who sticks by his guns,” said 72-year-old Adele Pittman after voting at Lake Shore Elementary in Pasadena at 10am. “With the war on terror and in Iraq and our security at stake, we need somebody who is going to say what he means and means what he says.”
In confirming George W. Bush, voters both locally and nationally also confirmed historic precedent. Never have we changed horses midstream, refusing a president the right to finish a war he was thrust into.
“We need to maintain the team that has been fighting the war on terror,” said Larry Myers of Lothian, 48, who works for Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich. “It would show weakness to change administrations in the midst of war.”
That was also the opinion of 46-year-old oyster farmer Don Statter, voting late afternoon in Solomons: “I don’t necessarily agree with how the war has been handled,” he said, “but I believe Bush will handle it better than anyone.”
Brenda Birch of Crofton agreed. “My son is in the military,” she said. “Bush started the job, and he might as well finish it.”
War was an important issue for those voting against the president, as well.
“I think we rushed into Iraq without a plan,” said 66-year-old Fonda Summerville, whose husband fought in Vietnam. “It’s liable to turn into another Vietnam,” said this Pasadena voter for Kerry.
Chesapeake Bay wasn’t a hot topic, but it lingered in many minds and swayed a few voters.
|photo by Carrie Steele
With a son in the military, Brenda Birch of Crofton said, “Bush started the job, and he might as well finish it.”
"I felt that with the present administration, the environment was the last thing on their minds,” said Nick Menam, 52, a nuclear medical technician voting at Tracys Landing. “I’m a kayaker, and I’m afraid to roll my kayak in the rivers because they’re so dirty.”
Democrat Amy Hella, 42, a lawyer, carried signs and brought her dog out to the Lothian polls to gain support for Kerry. A key issue for her was the environment. “We haven’t made as great of strides as we need to to clean up the Bay,” she said.
Employment, healthcare, the economy, the environment and other issues pulled voters toward Republican or Democratic candidates.
“I’m a member of a construction labor union,” said Mark Lewis, 42, a glazier in Tracys Landing. “There have been a lot of changes, and the current administration is not friendly to labor. Workers’ rights have really deteriorated.”
As in the nation, high numbers turned out, with 2.17 million Marylanders voting among some 112 million Americans.
From Pasadena to Solomons, polls stayed busy all day. A steady stream of voters was still exiting the Edgewater Library at 7:50pm, 10 minutes before the polling place closed. At a crowded North Beach Volunteer Fire Department, there was still a 40-minute wait to vote at 6:30pm.
In Severna Park, the library’s parking lot was jammed most of the day while voters maneuvered to find a parking spot.
Conspicuously absent was the expected youth vote, young faces being few and far in between.
At the American Legion Post on Forest Drive in Annapolis 18-year-old Leah Picton, voting for the first time, expressed the view pundits counted on from young voters. “I can’t stand George Bush,” she said as sign-wavers lined up on Forest Drive to rally drivers, “I absolutely dislike him. Everybody should.”
At the same polling place, Quan Johnson had more issue-related opposition to the president. “Bush has done nothing for the economy or for health care,” said the 23-year-old Advanced Auto Parts employee.
For young voters, their first vote was a considered decision.
|photo by Carrie Steele
“We haven’t made as great of strides as we need to to clean up the Bay,” said Lothian’s Amy Hella.
“You only get one chance every four years,” said 19-year-old student Kyle Lumday, voting at Tracys Landing. “I was looking at voting the Green party, but I’d never heard of David Cobb, so I didn’t want to vote for someone who wouldn’t win. I looked at other parties like Populist and Constitution, but I ended up voting Republican because I don’t trust Kerry.”
Other first-time voters were older.
“I’m a first-time voter and a strong Bush supporter,” said Ronda Whichard, 35, a legal executive assistant in Huntingtown.
When John Kerry conceded on the morning after Election Day, Bush held a plurality of some four million nationally. In Chesapeake Country, Anne Arundel County voters preferred him by 124,071 to 95,171. Bush carried Calvert County 21,619 to 14,812.
“Bush is the right man for the job,” said 68-year-old Ed McLean, voting in Severna Park “Kerry isn’t. After he got back from Vietnam, he testified against our boys and called them murderers. That’s all you need to know about him.” McLean also believes Bush will kick the United Nations, which he calls a debating society, off U.S. property.
Marketing consultant W.A. MacMullen voted for Bush because of character. “Credibility,” the 57-year-old MacMullen said of why he voted for the president. “There were a group of issues that are important, but believing what someone says is most important.
Statewide, however, Maryland reversed the national trend, giving Kerry 56 percent of the vote and Bush 43 percent. Kerry’s margin of victory in Maryland was 273,097 votes.
Kerry supporters admitted they would be upset if their candidate lost, but they held firm that whatever happened they believed in the system.
“Majority rules,” said 30-year-old federal government employee Isheia Heigh in North Beach. “As long as it’s fair.”
Ray Brown, 63, was more philosophical. “I won’t be upset,” said the Annapolis man. “I’ve already put up four years with this guy.”
In other federal offices, area voters reelected incumbents.
|photo by Carrie Steele
“With the present administration, the environment was the last thing on their minds,” said Nick Menam of Tracys Landing. “I’m a kayaker, and I’m afraid to roll my kayak in the rivers because they’re so dirty.”
The national Republican dominance in Senate races didn’t hold over Maryland, where Barbara Mikulski won her fourth term, nearly doubling the numbers won by her challenger, E.J. Pipkin.
But those numbers were tighter in increasingly Republican Chesapeake Country, where Mikulski beat the state senator 119,773 to 95,136 in Anne Arundel. In Calvert, her margin was a razor-thin 18,202 to 17,287.
“I voted for Pipkin; Mikulski’s too tax-happy,” said Frank Murphy, 63, a salesman in Millersville. “I remember when there was that luxury tax back in 1989; a lot of companies went out of business, including the company that made my boat.”
Congressional incumbents faired well in the state’s four local races, with Republican Wayne Gilchrest in the First and Democrats C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger in the Second, Ben Cardin in the Third and Steny Hoyer in the Fifth easily beating their opponents by large margins both district-wide and in their counties.
In county and local races, however, voters swung toward change.
In Anne Arundel County the hotly contested race for three circuit court judgeships pushed two judges off the bench while retaining the third. Judge Michele Jaklitsch earned her seat for 15 more years. Judges David Bruce and Rodney Warren lost their jobs to challengers Paul Goetzke and Paul Harris.
In Chesapeake Beach, voters were tempted by change. Incumbent Mayor Gerald Donovan, a native son responsible for much of the shape of the modern beach town, won by only 57 votes over newcomer Joseph Wayne Johnson. Donovan won 742 votes to Johnson’s 685.
But it was the presidency that pushed the vote in Chesapeake Country. That president will need to unify, voters agreed, regardless of party.
“It’s a turning point in our country; I voted Republican because I agree with Bush’s moral standards,” said 30-year-old teacher David Morawski of Huntingtown. “But regardless of who wins, they need to bring the country together.”
—Louis Llovio and Carrie Steele