After the 2010 election, where Norm Conway barely carried the Worcester County portion of his former district by 311 votes over Mike McDermott – and just 665 over third place finisher Marty Pusey – I’m sure statewide Democrats didn’t want to take a chance on an upset in 2014 given Worcester County’s trend toward the Republican Party. So they drew him into a single-member district which mostly held onto the far western end of his existing territory here in Wicomico County but also gave him some new voters close by Salisbury University, knowing that this part of his old district was perhaps the area which backed Norm the strongest.
It took awhile for a local Republican to answer the challenge, but Delmar mayor Carl Anderton, Jr. wrapped up the process of filing yesterday and is now on the June 24 primary ballot. Anderton, who is also the current president of the Maryland Municipal League, seems to be the young, energetic challenger Republicans were looking for once the district was drawn. Conway, who will be 72 in January as the General Assembly session begins, has spent over half his life as an elected official – he was first voted onto Salisbury City Council in 1974, moving to the General Assembly in 1986. (Interestingly enough, according to his official state bio, Conway was also a Maryland Municipal League officer, but only as a regional vice-president.)
Anderton has served as Delmar’s mayor since 2011, replacing longtime mayoral fixture Doug Niblett.
The candidacy of Anderton serves as a reminder why it’s so important to have a political “farm team” in place. While it may seem like a mismatch in terms of political experience, one has to really ask what having an entrenched, longtime politician has really done for a county which has seen its workforce shrink by nearly 2,000 in one year (July 2012 – July 2013) and a net loss of 1,573 jobs during that same period.* The only reason unemployment fell from 8.5% to 8.3% was the bottom falling out of the workforce – otherwise unemployment would be well over 10 percent. If that’s the mark of a successful chair of the House Appropriations Committee I’m afraid to know what failure would be like.
It will be interesting to see the platform Anderton develops, but one thing is clear: the incumbent is going to point to a few key votes where he was allowed to depart from the Annapolis majority in order to save face in his district. Ask yourself: where was his leadership against all these issues in the first place?
* Here are the actual numbers:
July 2012: 54,801 in workforce, 50,161 employed, 4,640 unemployed, 8.5% unemployment rate
July 2013: 52,964 in workforce, 48,588 employed, 4.376 unemployed, 8.3% unemployment rate