Sheriff’s Race: Janney, Sutton Rematch in November

September 15, 2010

   Incumbent Republican Barry Janney will again face Democrat Chris Sutton in the November general election, after Janney won the Republican primary and Sutton defeated challengers in the Democratic primary Tuesday.

      Sutton soundly defeated challenger Robert “Skip” DeWitt, racking up 3,128 votes to Dewitt’s 1,855. A third candidate, William Gerczak, received 594 votes. Sutton received 56 percent of the vote to DeWitt’s 33 percent, while Gerczak tallied 10 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.

     On the Republican side, Janney also faced a three-way primary but ended up with 3,322 votes, or 53 percent of the total. Dan Slater, who had waged an increasingly aggressive campaign, came in second place with 2,011 votes or 32 percent of the total.  Al Michael came in third, with 932, or nearly 15 percent of the vote.

    Janney and Sutton ran against each other four years ago. Sutton has been running a virtual campaign almost since he lost that election and he formally declared his candidacy more than a year ago.

   Both men have raised susbstantial campaign warchests  Janney has held a sizeable amount in reserve for the general election while Sutton spent heavily on the primary challenge from DeWitt, a current deputy and the son of the late Jack DeWitt, who was a popular Sheriff of the county for many years.


UPDATE: Sheriff’s Campaign Finances

September 9, 2010

    Cecil Times has published multiple reports on the campaign finances of the crowded field of candidates running in the Democratic and Republican primaries for Cecil County Sheriff. Here is a brief update on where the candidates’ finances stand as of the most recent reports to the state Board of Elections, filed Sept. 3.

Democratic Primary Candidates:

CHRIS SUTTON:

 He raised an additional $14,688 since his last campaign finance report. After expenses of $8,978, plus a carry-over balance of about $24, he ended up with $5,684 cash in the bank.  Most of his funds came from another golf fundraising event.

 But he also had several large donations, the largest of which was $1,250 from Sentman Distributors in Elkton. He also had several donations from businesses in the southern part of the county, including $500 from TD Enterprises in Earleville, $400 from First Choice Concrete in Earleville, and a $300 donation from the Chesapeake Inn in Chesapeake City.

Republicans contributing  $440 each for entry fees for the golf event included Chris Zeauskas, whose campaign in the GOP primary for 2nd District county commissioner previously received donations from Democrat Sutton;  Michael Halter, a GOP primary candidate for State’s Attorney; and Will Davis, who ran as a Republican candidate for State’s Attorney four years ago. Halter and Davis also participated in an earlier golf fundraiser.

ROBERT “SKIP” DeWITT:

   He raised an additional $1,200, and had expenses of $1,537.  His largest expense was $1,095 for a full page ad in the Cecil Whig. 

   Adding in his $2,231 carryover bank balance from his last report, he ended up with $1,894 cash in the bank.

   DeWitt’s fundraising came from individual and business donors, with no new fundraising events. White Horse Apartments in Perryville contributed $400 while Wright’s Auto in Elkton gave $300.

WILLIAM GERCZAK

  The last-minute entrant into the Democratic primary had been all but invisible on the campaign trail but surfaced with a fundraiser event in Port Deposit. But the $2,056 costs of the event were more than the $1,985 it raised from  ticket purchases.  Gerczak, a former Baltimore City police officer, received a $500  Political Action Committee donation from the Fraternal Order of Police, Baltimore City Lodge 3.

  He had no campaign printing expenses but did receive an in-kind donation of $300 worth of signs and pamphlets from Donald Allen of North East. He has $429  cash on hand in his bank account.

Republican Primary Candidates:

BARRY JANNEY

The pre-primary campaign finance report that was due to be filed Sept. 3 has not yet been filed, according to the state Board of Elections website. The Board has assessed a late fee/fine of $40 as of Thursday, Sept. 9.

DAN SLATER

   Slater continued to pick up the pace of his campaign, with new fundraising and contributions totaling $3,785 since the previous pre-primary report he filed in early August. Most of his funds came from a dinner he hosted at the Hack’s Point fire hall in Earleville. Despite the southern Cecil County location of the event, most of the ticket purchasers were from the northern part of the county, as well as purchasers from Pennsylvania and Harford County. However, direct donations to his campaign in the latest report showed the largest sum, $300, came from an Earleville resident, Pat Smart.

  After expenses of $1,986,  and a carry-over bank balance from his last campaign finance report, Slater had  net proceeds of $1,868 cash in the bank.

AL MICHAEL

   He contributed another $120 to his own campaign, and after spending $307 on a newspaper ad, had just $33 cash in the bank.


Sheriff’s Race: Incumbent Janney Conserves Campaign Cash

September 3, 2010

    Incumbent Cecil County Sheriff Barry Janney, while facing two challengers in the Sept. 14 Republican primary, appears to be conserving his considerable campaign funds for a general election race against the winner of the Democratic primary for Sheriff.

    Janney raised $21,990 from January through August 10,  plus he raised another $25,250 in 2009, for a total of  $47,240, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state Board of Elections. Janney also had a carry-over balance from his last election campaign fund of $15,895, giving him a cumulative total  of $63,135 available for this year’s election season.

  But Janney’s fundraising falls short of the total raised by Democrat Chris Sutton, who raised $27,816 from January until August 10, on top of his 2009 fundraising of $38,313, for a total of $66,129, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state.  Sutton is facing a spirited challenge for the Democratic nomination for Sheriff from Robert “Skip” DeWitt. (See Cecil Times report on Sutton here:  https://ceciltimes.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/sheriffs-race-sutton-out-fundraises-janney-but-cupboard-is-bare/ 

 Janney’s most prominent challenger in the Republican primary is Dan Slater, who has raised a total of $13,770.  But, after expenses, Slater only had $69 in the bank as of August 10, according to state elections reports. (See Cecil Times report on Slater’s fundraising here: https://ceciltimes.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/sheriffs-race-slater-picks-up-the-pace-latecomers-penniless/ )

  Despite his GOP primary opposition, Janney has conserved a substantial part of his campaign funds, apparently looking forward to the November general election. Even after spending of $29,530 from January to August 10 and campaign costs of $14,268 in 2009, Janney still had $19,337 cash on hand in the bank as of August 10.  (Sutton had just $24 in the bank as of the August 10 closing date of the first pre-primary report filed with the state.) Janney’s largest campaign materials expenses — $9,327– have been for billboards promoting his candidacy, and he has paid in advance to keep billboards up through the general election, the reports show.

  In past election campaigns, Janney has raised as much as $100,000, with much of it raised through golf fundraisers. Janney has continued to hold golf fundraising events in this election season, as well as hosting a $100 a ticket seafood buffet at the Wellwood. [He has scheduled another golf fundraiser for Sept. 10, which should yield another boost for his campaign balance.]

  Janney had mostly larger donations and ticket purchases, rather than a lot of small contributions, and quite a few of his donors live outside the county or out of state.

    His largest individual donor is also his campaign chairman: Harry Hammond, who has contributed a total of $1,679. Janney also received a $2,000 donation from a business, Covenant Cove Marina,  in Chesapeake City; $1,000 from Ken Graybeal of North East; $1,000 from Phillip Farmer, of Elkton; $800 from Duane Rhine, of Baltimore; and $500 from Upper Chesapeake Flex One, (related to the Stewart enterprises) of York, Pa.

   Businesses associated with Cecil County Commissioner Brian Lockhart, a Democrat, also donated to the Janney campaign.  Cecil Bank, where Lockhart is a member of the Board of Directors, donated $600 and Monterey Refuse Services, Inc., of Nottingham, Pa,  which Lockhart owns, provided $800.  Lockhart personally donated $600 as part of Janney’s September, 2009 golf fundraiser, bringing the total of Lockhart-related donations to $2,000. Lockhart was the chairman of Janney’s past campaigns but gave up that position when he ran for County Commissioner in 2006.

  Janney has established a detailed website, www.janneyforsheriff.com , which includes a comprehensive overview of his accomplishments while Sheriff. He cited as a key benchmark the planning for expansion and renovation of the county detention center. Ground was broken for the $31 million project a few days ago. Half of its costs will be paid for by state grants. Janney said the project came out of a planning process he led with his staff, beginning in his first term, to create a long-range master plan for corrections needs through the year 2030.

  UPDATE: In an interview with Cecil Times, Janney said he had decided to conserve  his campaign funds in anticipation of a general election contest because he did not want to “have to go back to people again and again in these hard economic times.” He said he decided after the last election to continue his tradition of an annual golf fundraiser in the fall as a way to slowly but steadily build his campaign account so that people could give smaller donations over time. He said that after his golf event this month,  he expects his campaign will have raised a total of about $70,000.

  “We’re all in the same boat,” he said of the economy’s impact on campaign fundraising. “Its hard to ask anyone for money.”  He said he had built up name recognition over his career as Sheriff and had been “blessed with a large group of loyal supporters” who have continued to support his campaign despite the economy.

   Janney said he felt he had paced his campaign and its fundraising and did not jump into the fray too early. “You can jump out too early and burn yourself out” with the voters, he said.

    As to which Democratic candidate in that party’s primary he would prefer to run against, if he wins his own party primary, Janney said: “It doesn’t really matter to me.” He said it would be “up to the people to decide” which candidate has the best experience and qualifications.  “We’ve done a lot of good things,” he said of his administration.


Sheriff’s Race: Slater Picks up the Pace; Latecomers Penniless

August 27, 2010

  Dan Slater, a candidate for Cecil County Sheriff in the Republican primary,  picked up the pace of his fundraising and broadened his financial appeal to voters throughout the county in recent months. But going into the Sept. 14 primary, his campaign is all but broke and poorly positioned for a general election campaign.

  Slater is the leading Republican primary challenger to incumbent Sheriff Barry Janney, who in the past has raised up to six figures in his  well-funded campaigns.

  Slater got an early start on his uphill battle last year and in January filed his first campaign finance report. As  The Cecil Times reported in January here: https://ceciltimes.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/slater-for-cecil-county-sheriff-gop-challenger-is-poor/ Slater’s initial fundraising report showed he had concentrated his fundraising efforts in his North East area homebase. He raised a total of $5,965 but spent $4,813, leaving him with nearly $1,152 in the bank.

  In his latest campaign report, Slater has picked up the pace, and geography, of his campaign fundraising. Since January, he raised $7,805, including $3,435 in direct contributions and $4,370 in tickets sold to fundraising events. 

 Among his events were a barbeque held in Crystal Beach, in the southern Cecil County community of Earleville. That event scored him some political points, if not a big cash benefit, since southern Cecil residents often feel slighted by candidates running countywide.    Slater also held a bullroast at the Wellwood in Charlestown and raffled off a shotgun to raise money for his campaign.

  The largest donor to the Slater campaign is RKB Investments, LLC,  of Rising Sun. The business entity donated $200 in July, after previously donating $1,000 to the campaign as listed in Slater’s January report to the State Board of Elections. Slater also received a $500 donation from PEPCO, Inc., listed at a Water St., Charlestown address; and $200 from AMNF, Inc., of Elkton.

Slater has had a solid presence around the county with yard signs and larger signs along key highways. But that presence doesn’t come without a price.  In his latest financial statement, he reported spending $8,887 on printing, campaign materials and the costs of putting on fundraising events.

As a result, Slater has just $69.01 in the bank. That figure, about the cost of a full tank of gas in an SUV, gives him nothing to fall back on for a general election campaign against a Democrat if he were to pull off an upset victory in the GOP primary. The late primary this year gives candidates little time to reinvigorate their campaign accounts before the November general election.

 The winner of the Republican primary for Sheriff will face the winner of the Democratic primary in November. The leading candidates in the Democratic primary are Chris Sutton– a corporal in the Sheriff’s Department who ran unsuccessfully against Janney in the general election four years ago– and Robert “Skip” DeWitt, a longtime deputy and the son of the late Jack DeWitt, the widely popular Sheriff of the county for many years.

  Among other lesser-known candidates, campaign funds are short to non-existant.

 Al Michael, of North East, a former state trooper and former police chief in Rising Sun, was a late entrant into the Republican primary but has been raising his profile a bit by peppering the county with a single-spaced letter outlining his views on the issues and he appeared at a public candidate’s forum. His bare-bones campaign has been largely self-financed, with $1,911 out of his pocket to pay for signs, printing and ads. He did hold a fundraiser with $1,320 in tickets sold, but expenses of his fundraiser, at the Nauti-Goose, almost equaled the funds raised from ticket sales. So after raising $3,231, and spending $3,011, he has a cash balance of just $220 in the bank.

  The last candidate to file for Sheriff, William T. Gerczak, a Democrat from Rising Sun, filed an affadavit stating that he had not raised or spent over $1,000 on his campaign. Gerczak, a former Baltimore city police officer, filed a few hours before the July 6 deadline. There has been much speculation whether his candidacy was put forward as a “spoiler” to split opposition to Sutton in the Democratic primary and draw votes away from DeWitt, who has emerged as a strong challenger to Sutton in the primary.

Cecil Times will be posting separate articles on the Janney, Sutton and DeWitt campaigns in upcoming days. For Janney’s and Sutton’s reports, we needed to go out and buy new ink cartridges for our computer printer and are thinking of adding arm lifts of their weighty reports to our exercise routine.


Teaser: Campaign Finance Reports Tell Some Tales

August 18, 2010

  We know our readers look forward to Cecil Times reports and analysis of local candidates’ campaign finance reports and we are hard at work on searching and reviewing the latest pre-primary reports that were due to be filed with the state Board of Elections this week. The state Board and the computer databases have been swamped and the reports of some important candidates who have filed are not yet available online. We will be doing detailed reports in all key races in the county and District 36 state contests in the course of the next few days.

  But we thought we’d tantalize you with a few nuggets, to be mined more fully later.

Sheriff’s Race:

— Incumbent Republican Barry Janney is, as usual, well-financed but his campaign pockets are nowhere near as full as in past campaigns when he had far less competition. He has raised nearly $21,000 so far this year, adding on to a carry-over balance from 2009 of  $26,877. After expenses, he has $19,337 left in cash on hand to carry him through his contested Republican primary.

–GOP challenger Dan Slater gets the gold star for most improved fundraising, expanding his reach to southern Cecil County with a Crystal Beach barbecue and other events. His latest report shows he raised $7,805 since January. He began the year with a cash balance of $1,151 but after expenses, he is just about tapped out. He has just $69.01 cash in the bank.

–Democratic candidate Robert “Skip” DeWitt has made a strong showing after entering the primary late in the game, after rival Chris Sutton had been fundraising for over a year.  DeWitt has raised $7,275, and after expenses still has $2,230 cash on hand.

  Sutton’s report has been filed but was not yet available online.

In other races:

–County Commissioner Brian Lockhart (D-3) is a major bankroller of Democratic Commissioner Wayne Tome’s campaign for re-election in Dist. 4.

–Wonder of wonders, Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) has actually filed his latest finance report on time! He has been levied late fee fines repeatedly in the past by the State Elections Board, in one case for filing well over a year late. This year,  Smigiel has had to rely heavily on personal loans to his campaign as well as some political action committees and out-of-district donors.

We’ll be back with much more, soon. But first we have some unfinished business, following up on the League of Women Voters candidate forum from Tuesday night.


“Skip” DeWitt Files as Democrat for Cecil County Sheriff

May 24, 2010

   The already hotly contested race for Cecil County Sheriff in the 2010 election has ramped up a notch with the candidacy filing of Robert ( Skip ) DeWitt, a current Deputy and the son of a very popular former Sheriff, to challenge fellow Democrat Chris Sutton in the primary election this year. Skip DeWitt’s filing late Friday afternoon took Democratic Party members by surprise, after his previous declaration that he would not run this year.

  DeWitt, 47, a resident of Chesapeake City, filed his candidacy papers at the local Elkton office of the state Board of Elections late Friday afternoon, according to a  Board spokeswoman. In Monday interviews with The Cecil Times, DeWitt confirmed his filing as a candidate and outlined his biography. He said he has been a  Cecil County Deputy for 19 years and currently holds the rank of Deputy First Class, assigned to the support services unit, handling evictions and court services. He also previously served  for 10 years in the patrol division and also worked in criminal investigations, he said, including a brief stint working with the drug task force.

   Sutton has a higher rank– Corporal– and supervisory experience, serving as road patrol supervisor.

  DeWitt’s sudden filing took many local Democrats by surprise, after he initially told the county’s Democratic committee this winter that he would file but then a month later he recanted and said he would not enter the primary against Sutton.  Sutton filed as a candidate last summer and was the unsucessful Democratic nominee in 2006 against incumbent Republican Sheriff Barry Janney, Sr.  DeWitt also acknowledged in the interview that he had posted on an Internet website that he would not run this year and would remain “neutral” in the 2010 election.

 What changed? DeWitt said that initially it appeared that fellow Democrats were “satisfied” with Sutton’s candidacy. But he said that as he spoke with many Cecil County residents, they were “not satisfied with these candidates– and I was not satisfied.”

   DeWitt said he believes his greatest strength as a candidate, and as Sheriff, would be that he is “easy to talk to” and that he would be “the best communicator” with county residents. (So far, he has not established a website or social media  presence on sites such as Twitter.) DeWitt also said that he is dedicated to the Sheriff’s position, it would be his “life”  and he is “in it for the long haul” for many years to come.

  Asked about his differences with fellow Democrat Sutton, DeWitt emphasized that he was  a “better communicator” and would hold town hall-type meetings to discuss crime problems with local residents. Asked about his differences with incumbent Republican Janney, DeWitt initially paused and said his top priority was the party primary. When pressed, he added that he has communication skills with departmental employees and would “stand by them” on salary and benefit issues. 

 Janney has been criticized by many deputies for joining with the county Commissioners in opposing binding arbritration in salary and other disputes  between the county and Deputies. After a  legislative battle in Annapolis, which pitted several Republican members of the state delegation against the County Commissioners, the Commissioners largely prevailed on a bill that provides collective bargaining but non-binding mediation for Sheriff’s Department employees.

   The sudden filing by DeWitt as a Democratic candidate for Sheriff has many Deputies and Democrats scratching their heads–and wondering whether his step is really a distraction to give Sutton a hard time in the Democratic primary. Janney is already facing two Republican primary opponents–Dan Slater, a current Deputy, and Al Michael, a former state trooper and ousted police chief of Rising Sun.  Janney, who announced his re-election bid several months ago, has had a so far non-existent campaign but will have to pay attention to and spend campaign funds on a crowded primary. With a previously clear field in the primary, Sutton had an advantage to focus on the November general election, presumably running against Janney.

  But with Skip DeWitt’s entry into the Democratic primary, Sutton will have a credible challenger. Many older voters remember Jack DeWitt, his father who served as Sheriff from 1974-1990 and was very popular with voters.

   Asked for comment upon Skip DeWitt’s filing, Sutton told The Cecil Times: “At least there’s another deputy that realizes that the current Sheriff isn’t doing a good job.”


Sutton for Cecil Sheriff: Lots of $ In, Lots Out

January 26, 2010

   Chris Sutton, the announced Democratic candidate for Cecil County Sheriff, had a banner year for fundraising but ended up with just $8,718 in cash on hand going into this election season. That won’t go far in a potential general election re-match against incumbent Republican Sheriff Barry Janney, one of the most successful fundraisers in county political history.

    Janney did not comply with state election law requiring campaign finance report filing last week. But in his last filed report, covering 2008, Janney’s campaign fund had $15,895 in cash on hand.

     Sutton has taken a page from Janney’s political playbook: golf fundraisers. Most of Sutton’s larger donations are the result of a golf tournament fundraiser he held, but he also did smaller events such as a picnic and a dinner and silent auction in Cecilton.

    According to filings with the State Board of Elections, Sutton raised $38,313 in 2009. But his expenses totaled $29,595– including $14,544 in fundraising costs. The golf tournament expenses amounted to more than half of the fundraising costs.

    Sutton also spent $8,321 on “media,” including ads in the Cecil Whig and the creation of his website, www.suttonforsheriff.com . Sutton has an unusually well-designed website for a Cecil County candidate, with a moving ticker listing crime news headlines and a video of the candidate speaking directly to voters.

    Sutton’s largest donations came from businesses, including a $500 golf sponsorship and donation of a gift certificate valued at $400 from Outdoor Adventures, Inc. in Baltimore. CMPFire, LLC of Newark, DE donated a $500 golf sponsorship and $315 in tickets and auction purchases at the Cecilton fundraiser.  Other $500 donors included Corron Trash Removal of North East, John Sentman of Elkton, and Charles Carroll of Florida.

   So far, Sutton is the only announced Democrat in the race but there have been rumblings that Skip DeWitt, a deputy and the son of a former popular sheriff, might get into the fray and challenge Sutton in the Democratic primary.

    Sutton is no newcomer to politics after his unsuccessful challenge to Janney in the last election. Janney outspent and outgunned Sutton during that campaign. But this time Sutton is much better known in the county and has spent the last several years making the rounds of local events as a candidate-in-waiting.

    In addition, Sutton has enlisted a young campaign treasurer, Patrick Tuer, who helped organize the local Young Democrats club and is savvy in social networking and online organizing. So far, Sutton’s campaign reports do not show online fundraising but that could be a source of growth for his campaign as the election contest heats up. 

   “We’re really excited,” Sutton said of his fundraising in an interview with The Cecil Times.  “Especially in this economy, I don’t think we could have done any better.”

    Sutton plans to hold a dinner-dance fundraiser in Fair Hill on April 9 and another golf tournament on May 7 in Rising Sun. He said he will also hold free meet-the-candidate events around the county this summer.  His goal is to raise up to $90,000 for his campaign– a figure that would make him very competitive with Janney, given the incumbent’s past six-figure warchests. 

    Janney formally anounced his candidacy for re-election recently and defended his record and accomplishments. But he faces a challenge in the Republican primary from a deputy and political newcomer, Dan Slater. (See previous Cecil Times posting on Slater’s campaign finances.) That means Janney will have to focus his attention, and some campaign money, on the primary.

    So far, Janney hasn’t updated his old campaign website, http://www.janneyforsheriff.com  which notes that the 2006 election is “behind us.”  Slater has a very detailed website, http://www.slaterforsheriff.com .