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While most sitting judges prevail, some face November challenge
Page Croyder's campaign to unseat Baltimore City Circuit Judge Alfred Nance fell short in Tuesday's primary. (The Daily Record, Maximilian Franz, Feb. 2014)

While most sitting judges prevail, some face November challenge

The sitting judges prevailed in the first contested judicial election in Baltimore since 2006, and in several other contested judicial elections across the state.

But there were exceptions. In Charles, Frederick, Montgomery and Wicomico counties, a challenger won the Republican primary, meaning all of the candidates will appear on the ballot in November just as they did on Tuesday.

Here are the (still unofficial) results from Tuesday:

– In Charles County, challenger Thomas R. Simpson Jr., a court auditor, beat the two sitting judges in the Republican primary, setting up a November rematch with Judges Jerome R. Spencer and H. James West. (Simpson, incidentally, was vetted by the Judicial Nominating Commission and his name was forwarded to the Gov. Martin O’Malley along with West’s, who was sworn in about three months ago)

– In Frederick County, former state’s attorney Scott L. Rolle won the GOP primary and will again face Judge Danny B. O’Connor in November. When the two parties’ results are combined, just 202 votes (out of a total of 29,408) separated O’Connor, who was appointed in January, from Rolle, now in private practice in Frederick.

– In Montgomery County, Judges Gary E. Bair, Audrey A. Creighton, Nelson W. Rupp Jr. and Joan E. Ryon all survived the challenge by Daniel Patrick Connell, a trial attorney from Poolesville, in the Democratic primary. However, Connell placed first in the GOP primary.

– In Wicomico County, Judge Jimmy Sarbanes, who was appointed in February, won the Democratic primary while Melvin Caldwell Jr., of Caldwell & Whitehead P.A. in Salisbury, won the Republican primary. Both men’s names were sent to O’Malley by the Judicial Nominating Commission.

As for the other judicial elections:

– In Baltimore City, challenger Page Croyder, who hoped to unseat Judge Alfred Nance, placed eighth on both the Democratic and Republican ballots against all seven sitting circuit court judges. (Nance placed seventh on bo

The last time a challenger won in a Baltimore city judicial election was 1982, when Judges Peter Ward and James Perrott were defeated, according to H. Mark Stichel, chairman of the Baltimore City Sitting Judges Committee.

Then, in 1990, there was the unique story of District Court Judge Paul Smith. According to Stichel:

Smith challenged the sitting judges and won a general election slot by being among the top vote getters in the Democratic primary.  However, Gov. [William Donald] Schaefer appointed him to the circuit court between the primary election and the general election and he withdrew his challenge. Judge Smith then ran and was elected as a sitting judge in 1992.

– In Baltimore County, sitting Judges Justin J. King, Colleen A. Cavanaugh, Julie L. Glass and Paul J. Hanley survived a challenge from Kelby Brick, a deaf Catonsville attorney who runs his own consulting business.

– In Carroll County, Judge Fred S. Hecker, who was appointed in January, defeated Westminster solo practitioner Steven L. Tiedemann. The win comes with an asterisk, however, because Tiedemann had announced earlier this month he was withdrawing from the race and supporting Hecker but it was past the deadline to remove Tiedemann’s name from the ballot.

– In Cecil County, Judge Brenda A. Sexton defeated Elkton solo practitioner Kevin Urick.

Sitting judges ran unopposed in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Harford, Prince George’s and Washington counties.

 

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