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Half of Maryland prosecutors are unchallenged in 2018 election

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Democrat Scott D. Shellenberger, who is running unopposed for re-election in Baltimore County, has been in office for 12 years. (Maximilian Franz / The Daily Record)

Half of Maryland jurisdictions do not have contested state’s attorney’s races in 2018 because the incumbent top prosecutor is unopposed both in the primary and general elections.

Barring independent challengers, who have until July 2 to file, a dozen state’s attorneys across the state — some have been in office for 20 years or more — will keep their jobs in November.

The longest-tenured incumbent candidate without a challenger is Scott G. Patterson in Talbot County. The Democrat has been in office since 1989 and prior to that had the job from 1983 to 1986.

The candidate with the least time in office is Republican Wessman D. Gardner in Somerset County. Gardner was appointed as interim state’s attorney in September 2017 following Daniel Powell’s appointment to the Circuit Court.

Brian L. DeLeonardo, Carroll County’s Republican prosecutor, is the only unopposed incumbent facing his first re-election bid. Others have served at least two terms.

The candidates are scattered across the state and represented in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

In central Maryland, Democrats Scott D. Shellenberger in Baltimore County and John J. McCarthy in Montgomery County have both been in office for 12 years.

In western Maryland, Republicans J. Charles Smith III in Frederick County, Michael O. Twigg in Allegany County and Lisa Thayer Welch in Garrett County have served for 12, 16 and 22 years, respectively.

On the Eastern Shore, Democrat William H. Jones in Dorchester County and Republican Lance G. Richardson in Queen Anne’s County have both served for 10 years. On the Western Shore, Democrat Anthony B. Covington has been in office for eight years and Republican Richard D. Fritz has served for 10.

The vast majority are members of the majority party in the county, according to 2016 voter data collected by the Maryland Board of Elections.

Longtime incumbent Patterson is a Democrat in a majority-Republican county, though the majority is not a long one. Interim Gardner is a Republican in a majority-Democrat county, though there is similarly not a large gap between the number of voters registered to each party.

Incumbents are facing primary challenges in Anne Arundel County, where former prosecutor Kathy Rogers is running against Wes Adams on the Republican ticket, and Caroline and Worcester counties, where interim prosecutors are being challenged.

Of the contested races, six have no challenger from the opposition party, making the primary winner the presumed general election winner. Those races are in Baltimore city and Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Prince George’s and Worcester counties.


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