Like some new agricultural crop or weed that grows exponentially in a matter of hours, signs touting the re-election of Sen. E. J. Pipkin (R-36) and his cohort, Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) cropped up overnight throughout southern Cecil County, seeming to answer the question: “what will E.J. do?”
Pipkin has been toying with the statewide press, refusing to downplay rumors that he was considering a statewide run for Comptroller against incumbent Democrat Peter Franchot. Pipkin is believed to have commissioned a poll to assess his chances against Franchot, who has amassed an impressive campaign warchest and is very popular in his home area of the populous Montgomery County. While the poll results have not been disclosed, the obvious calculus of a late date entry into the Comptroller race indicates that 2010 is not Pipkin’s time for a statewide run.
Pipkin would have had to give up a safe Senate seat for an uncertain statewide run against a popular incumbent. But just by cooling his heels for another four years, Pipkin would have an excellent shot at the Comptroller slot in 2014, when Franchot is expected to seek the Democratic nomination for governor.
Pipkin’s refusal to disclose his plans has kept many down-ticket Republicans in limbo. Del. Richard Sossi, R-36, has said he would run for the Senate seat if Pipkin vacated it. But Sossi filed for re-election to his Delegate seat recently, even though he said he had no idea what Pipkin would do. Sossi told the Cecil Times that he was prepared to withdraw from the House race and run for Senate if Pipkin gave up the seat.
Smigiel, who has been joined at the signpost with Pipkin, was known to be interested in the Senate seat and a Pipkin statewide run could have set up a Sossi-Smigiel primary battle for the 36th District Senate seat. Sossi is very popular in the District and would be the odds-on favorite to clobber Smigiel in a GOP primary.
But now that the “say it with signs” word is out, Sossi seems to be comfortably back in re-election mode. No Democrat has surfaced so far to run against him.
Smigiel, who failed to carry his home base of Cecil County and also lost in Kent County in 2006, will face well-known Democrat William Manlove (Bill Manlove), who has filed for the delegate seat. Manlove is the former president of the Cecil County Commissioners, a farmer, and environmentalist.
UPDATE: The Cecil Times interviewed Del. Richard Sossi, R-36, from Queen Anne’s County, and he confirmed Tuesday that he was advised over the weekend by Pipkin that he would seek re-election to his state Senate seat. (Del. Sossi has been forging an independent course from Pipkin-Smigiel.) Sossi said he was unaware that the Pipkin-Smigel team had put up joint campaign signs in the district. He said he planned to erect his own campaign signs independently.
NEWS UPDATE: State election board records posted online June 30 show that Smigiel filed his candidacy papers for re-election as a Delegate on Tuesday, June 29. However, the database did not reflect a filing by Pipkin.
NEW NEWS UPDATE: Updated State Board of Election records show that E.J. Pipkin filed for re-election to his state Senate Seat late in the day on 6/30/10. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!