Party dynamics may play a big role in Baltimore County Executive race

Posted at 5:08 PM, Sep 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-25 23:35:02-04

One of the most difficult races to forecast in the election, six weeks from tonight, is the race to become the next county executive in Baltimore County.

No Republican has won the office of Baltimore County Executive since 1990. Here's one of the reasons why – voter registration in Baltimore County:

  • Democrats - 306,969
  • Republicans - 142, 029 
    • -State board of Elections, June 2018

Still, Republicans appear confident this could be their year.

John Olszewski Jr. and Al Redmer are both lifelong residents of Baltimore County. They both survived tough primaries and they would both like to be the next Baltimore County Executive.

They even use similar terms when talking about why they want the job.

“I love Baltimore County,” Redmer said. “It's a beautiful place, but we could do better. I’m running to make a good county even better.” 

They both want to bring the county's schools up to date, open up the budget process and attract new jobs.

So who will voters in Baltimore County prefer?

In the primary back in June, more than 84,000 Democrats voted, with Olszewski getting nearly 28,000 of those votes.

That's significantly more than Al Redmer, who won his primary with just more than 18,000, of the 32,545 votes cast by Republicans in Baltimore County.

That margin is not nearly enough for Olszewski to focus his campaign on Democratic voters alone.

“I take no voter for granted,” Olszewski. “We will absolutely reach out to every single voter.”

He may have to because, there will be another name on the ballot in November — Larry Hogan.

A Goucher poll released last week showed Hogan has a massive 22-point lead over his Democratic challenger, Ben Jealous. It's safe to say Al Redmer has tied his campaign tightly to that of Larry Hogan.

“I’m a Larry Hogan Republican,” Redmer said. “I was a Larry Hogan Republican before there was a Larry Hogan in the Governor's Office.”

My interview with Al Redmer lasted about 15 minutes. In that time, he mentioned the name “Larry Hogan“ more than 17 times.

“If you like Larry Hogan then I’m your guy,” Redmer said. “Larry Hogan and Al Redmer for the next four years will be a great thing for Baltimore County“ 

For Olszewski, the strategy is different.

This news conference on Sunday in Baltimore featured dozens of the state's top Democrats. Including gubernatorial Candidate Ben Jealous.

Not seen here?

The Democratic candidate for Baltimore County Executive.

Olszewski says he does support Democrats on the ballot, but he has not committed to making appearances for Ben Jealous.

“If they happen they happen,” Olszewski said. “I’m not going out of my way to do it or to avoid it.”

Olszewski says during his eight years in the House of Delegates, he earned a reputation for working across the aisle, which, he says, would continue — if he wins and Governor Hogan keeps his job.

“I could work with a Governor Jealous. I could work with a Governor Hogan. I have a long history of showing it doesn't matter who is in that role for me, because ultimately it's about driving results for the residents of Baltimore County.” 

Al Redmer serves as the Maryland Insurance Commissioner, appointed by Larry Hogan..
a fact he plans to continue hammering home, to both Republican and Democratic voters in Baltimore County.

“I hope to take that close working relationship with Larry Hogan and use it to benefit the citizens of Baltimore County,” Redmer said. “We're really lucky Larry Hogan loves Baltimore County; he spends a lot of time here.” 

The question for Olszewski, if Governor Hogan maintains his huge lead in the polls, could come down to whether he can convince voters in Baltimore County to split their ticket.

“People aren't voting for us based on what other candidates are doing up or down the ballot,” Olszewski said. “They're going to look at our race and, I believe, make a decision based on what's happening here in Baltimore County.”