Republican Committee War: Pipkin-Smigiel Slate Wins Majority Seats

September 15, 2010

   The drama may just be beginning for the Cecil County Republican Central Committee as members of  different factions elected in Tuesday’s primary learn to co-exist– or not.

    The crowded field of candidates –22 people vying for 9 seats– and the war of words on various Internet bulletin boards and comment pages was a never-ending source of  local political entertainment– especially for Democrats– in this election season.

  With all 19 regular precincts reporting, a slate spearheaded by Sen. E.J. Pipkin and Del. Michael Smigiel, both R-36, appeared to have won control of the party committee. However, absentee and provisional ballots could alter the final outcome since some candidates were separated by just a handful of votes.  

   The current chairman of the committee, Joe Carabetta, barely hung on, coming in 9th place in the crowded field. Several other current members of the committee, including Robert Amato and Allen Andrichyn, finished out of the running.

 The campaign featured rival slates and feuds over whether a slate assembled by two state legislators had the right to call itself  ‘tea party tested, tea party approved,’ when some of its members boycotted a non-partisan candidates’ forum hosted by the local tea  party group. The local tea party group, as part of its nonpartisan stance, also declined to endorse any candidates in the election, including some of its own members who were running for seats on the GOP Central Committee.

   While several ‘tea party’ members ran for the GOP committee, only Ted Kolodzey gained a seat, finishing in seventh place with ,1,874 votes.

    The Pipkin-Smigiel slate largely consisted of candidates recruited from the Young Republicans Club that is linked to Pipkin-Smigiel. The YR members of the slate were: Mike Dawson, Michael Dunn, Theodore Patterson, Carrie Taylor and Chris Zeauskas,– all of whom won seats in Tuesday’s balloting. Another member of the slate, Joseph Tropp, an officer of the YR-related “Repbulicans of Cecil (ROC) club, lost.

    In addition, the Pipkin-Smigiel slate recruited two newer members of the current Central Committee– James Hutchinson and Brad Carrillo– to join the slate, as well as Pipkin-Smigiel loyalist James Mullin, the county Commissioner representing the 1st District. Hutchinson and Mullin won seats, but Carillo did not.

  That slate published ads and campaign materials claiming it was “tea party tested, tea party approved” and that set off a firestorm of protest from the local tea party organization, the Cecil County Patriots.

   So a counter-slate of “tea party” activists  challenged the Smigiel-Pipkin slate. The tea party slate included Donna Caudell, Jackie Gregory, Kolodzey, Peter Oliphant, Harry Hite III and F. Gaylord Moody III.  Another tea party activist, Tom Kenny, chose not to join the slate and ran an independent campaign. Only Kolodzey managed to grab a seat on the GOP committee.

     Oher independent candidates were Tina Sharp, who is well known in GOP circles and previously ran for county Court clerk; Devon Perry, a Towson University student; and Anneliese Johnson, a mother of three and a graduate student. All three failed to win a seat.

    The top vote getter was Zeauskas, with 3,083 votes. Carabetta’s 9th place spot was snared with 1,869 votes.

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Cecil County Republican Drama: Moving the Money Around and Around

September 7, 2010

  Our ongoing local political soap opera, centered on the crowded field of warring factions seeking seats on the Cecil County Republican Central Committee,  may have many observers wondering what all the fuss is about. But when you drill deeply into state campaign finance reports, it becomes clear that the fuss is about more than ideology, alliances, and political control. It’s also about money and who gets to decide how, and to whom, to dole out Republican campaign funds.

  At stake in the Sept. 14 Republican primary is not just which faction gets control of the party’s official arm in Cecil County, the  nine-seat Central Committee, but who  will control the Committee’s bank account.  In the most recent filings with the State Board of Elections, the county’s GOP Central Committee had $17,715 cash in the bank, which the committee can contribute to local Republican candidates for their campaigns, as well as fund-raise on behalf of GOP candidates.

 While  that might not seem like a lot of money, it becomes more significant in the context of a new and  evolving strategy by one faction– which is tied to Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) and Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36)– of moving Republican money around within various new entities, all of which have the same linkages and leaders. And the extent to which money has been moved around, especially in some cases of contested GOP primaries, shows that this is internecine political party warfare not seen in the county in a long time.

  A key aspect of the new strategy is to create or control various political “clubs,” which under state election laws do not have the same financial reporting requirements that an official county Central Committee or a candidate’s campaign has. In general, the clubs do not have to disclose how much money they have, where it came from, or what they do with it.  The only way to find out anything is when their donations to individual candidates or Political Action Committees show up on those candidates’ or PAC’s mandatory campaign finance reports, or when a candidate transfers funds from his/her campaign fund into the political club.

   You need a map to follow the intersecting paths in our drama, although the players in all are virtually identical. There are two key elements: the political clubs and the PACS, and, to a lesser extent, the “slates.”

  The “Young Republicans Club,” the “Republicans of Cecil (ROC)” club, and the Cecil County Republican Women’s Club are center stage in the drama. The YR group and the ROC group share a website, leadership, and fundamental alliance with Del. Smigiel and Sen. Pipkin. The Women’s Club, a venerable institution in the county for many years, was taken over earlier this year by a YR-er, Carrie Taylor. Taylor, the women’s club president, is running in a contested Republican primary for county Treasurer, against William Feehley, and she is also running for GOP Central Committee.

   Other linked entities are the “Republicans of Cecil Fiscal Conservative Team Slate,” which includes Smigiel and Pipkin explicitly and their annointed candidates for GOP Central Committee, plus Jay Jacobs, a Kent Countian who is running for the open delegate seat formerly held by the retiring Mary Roe Walkup. (Jacobs got $200 from  the “Republicans of Cecil”  on Aug.  28, state records show.)The slate includes County Commissioner Jim Mullin (R-1st Dist.),  a longtime Smigiel-Pipkin ally who is running for the GOP Central Committee.

[UPDATE:   Del. Smigiel got the ball rolling when he transferred $500 from his own campaign account to the “Republicans of Cecil” on July 16, according to reports filed with the state. That fund transfer to the club helped prop up the money pot that the club could in turn move around through a PAC and other entities.]

A starring role is being played by the Republicans of Cecil PAC, (ROC PAC) which received $1,500 from the ROC Club on Aug.9 and $1,200 from the Women’s Club on Aug 13– and Lo and Behold, $2,000 from Commissioner Mullin, through his Mullin Appraisal Service business, on Aug. 13.  Mullin has been a major bankroller of some of the YR campaigns, notably Chris Zeauskas, who is running in a contested primary for the GOP nomination for County Commissioner in District 2 as well as the party’s central committee. (See our previous article on the Mullin-Zeauskas financial connection here:     https://ceciltimes.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/cecil-commissioner-race-mullin-bankrolls-zeauskas/     )

  With that cash in hand, the ROC PAC turned around and transferred $450 to Carrie Taylor’s campaign in two installments in August.  Follow the money: Taylor heads the Women’s Club, which gives money from its treasury to the ROC PAC and then ROC PAC turns around and gives money to her individual campaign fund. Perhaps it would have been too obvious if she got the Women’s Club she heads to donate money directly to her campaign. Under party policy, such clubs are not supposed to donate to individual candidates before a contested primary has been decided. And Taylor IS in a contested GOP primary for Treasurer.

   (In the past election cycle, the Women’s Club made its largest donation, $600, directly to the county Central Committee, state records show. The Club also donated $500 each post-primary to two female Republican candidates, Delegate Walkup and Sheryl Davis-Kohl’s delegate race.)

   Under current state campaign finance rules, there is no clear way of knowing who is donating to the Women’s Club– or the ROC Club, or the YR Club– or how much money is in each club’s bank account.  Only if a declared candidate transfers money from his/her own campaign fund would a donation to the  club show up. And spending by the club would only show up by pouring through a lot of individual  candidate’s reports to see where their donations came from. But the Women’s Club’s hefty donations to the ROC PAC showed up on that PAC’s report.

  In case there was any doubt about loyalties, the ROC PAC also  gave $200 to Sen. Pipkin’s campaign fund on Aug. 24.  And ROC PAC is listed as giving $100 to Del. Smigiel on Aug. 28, with “Republicans of Cecil” donating another $100 to Smigiel on June 24, according to state Election Board records.

ROC PAC also gave $500 to Michael Dunn, who works for Smigiel in his legislative office, on Aug. 19. Dunn is in a multi-candidate contested GOP primary for County Commissioner in Dist. 3.  Another YR-er, Mike Dawson, got $450 on Aug.23.

 With the exception of donations to Pipkin and Smigiel, every one of the ROC PAC’s donations went to people who are running for the county GOP Central Committee, as well as some other local or state office. The political cleverness of the strategy of running for central committee along with another office is that one candidate campaign committee can pay for printing yard signs to get your name out there for both positions.

  ROC PAC deposited its largest donation so far– $1,000– into the campaign fund of YR President Ted Patterson, who is running for the House seat now held by Democrat David Rudolph. Patterson also got some direct money from the Women’s Club (thank you, Ms. Taylor) with a $400 contribution from that club’s funds on Aug. 13. Patterson is also running for a seat on the GOP Central Committee. Conveniently, the treasurer of the ROC PAC is Jillian Patterson, his wife.

  Yes, Dear Readers, we know your head is spinning from all these numbers and interlocking relationships. Take a deep breath, print this news article out, and read it again in the morning. It will all become oh so clear.


As the GOP Central Committee Turns: New Drama Unfolds Online

August 2, 2010

  What is rapidly becoming our favorite local soap opera, “As the Republican Central Committee Contest Turns, ” unveiled a new installment online, with the Facebook announcement of a unified “ticket” led by Young Republicans (AKA “Republicans of Cecil,” AKA the Smigiel-Pipkin team) seeking to take over the nine seats on the GOP Central Committee at stake in this year’s elections.  The group drew in two incumbents from the current Central Committee and shut out any “tea party” candidates.

  At the same time, two Young Repubican (YR)  stalwarts, Chris Zeauskas and Michael Dawson, publicly “dissed” the tea party folks (known locally as the “Cecil County Patriots”) by boycotting the group’s scheduled Monday night candidates’ forum for Republican candidates for County Commissioner. Zeauskas is running for the GOP nomination in the 2nd District against Tari Moore. Dawson is seeking the GOP nomination for Commissioner in District 4, the seat currently held by Democrat Wayne Tome.

 As The Cecil Times reported here:  https://ceciltimes.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/gop-central-committee-drama-so-many-candidates-so-few-seats/  the July 6 filing deadline for candidates created a political drama at the local Elections Board as 22 candidates filed for just 9 seats on the GOP committee.

  In the latest episode of our local drama, the new YR-led slate for the Central Committee is calling itself the “Cecil County Republican Fiscal Conservative Central Committee Team.” The group includes the usual suspects of the YR group: Ted Patterson, president of the YR and a candidate for state delegate as well as a candidate for county GOP committee; Zeauskas, vice president of the YR; Dawson, who has been the “political director” of YR; Carrie Taylor, a YR-er who recently took over as president of the county Republican Women’s club and is also running for county Treasurer; Joe Tropp, the “vice-chairman” of the new “Republicans of Cecil” (ROC) group that is hosted on the YR website and mirrors the membership of that group; and Michael W. Dunn, a co-founder of YR, the legislative aide to Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) and also a current candidate in the GOP primary for County Commissioner in District 3.

  Although he doesn’t meet the age-bracket of the YR-ers, County Commissioner James Mullin (R-1st) has signed up for the YR-led Central Committee slate. But he has said he “owes” the YR-ers for volunteering in his successful campaign two years ago. Mullin has also been firmly aligned with the Smigiel-Pipkin camp in the past. (But we ARE wondering what is going on on his Earleville front lawn, which in the past has always displayed huge Pipkin-Smigiel signs but so far this year is only posting small signs for Bob Ehrlich, a Kent County GOP candidate for Delegate, and a local GOP candidate for clerk of the court.)

  Then there are the two “pick-ups” from the incumbent GOP Central Committee: James W. Hutchinson, currently secretary of the committee, and Brad Carrillo, a member.

    The fact that the “tea party” folks who also filed as candidates for the  GOP Central Committee were shunned by the new YR-led slate makes for some interesting dynamics in this emerging contest. That could lead the other incumbent committee members to court some of the five  or six “tea party” candidates who filed for the committee, plus some of the ‘wild card’ candidates, if the remaining incumbents choose to form a slate.  

   One question that has yet to be answered: why are the YR-ers running for everything– state office, county elective office, and county GOP committee slots– simultaneously?  Could it be that someone is channeling that famous line from the movie “Wall Street,” that is scheduled for a sequel to be released this fall?


GOP Central Committee Drama: So Many Candidates, So Few Seats

July 7, 2010

   Election 2010 in Cecil County is shaping up to have much of the drama, and a lot of the silliness, of a soap opera or one of those cheesy reality shows that you snicker at but continue to watch anyway. After all, we don’t have any movie theaters in Cecil County, no local TV and even the “local” radio station is really located in Harford County. So local politics provides some of our most interesting entertainment.

   The Republican Central Committee drama that unfolded on Tuesday as the filing deadline approached is a case in point. As the day began, only a few candidates had filed. Then suddently a steady trickle became a torrent of candidates for the nine available seats. By the end of the day, 22 candidates had filed.

   The candidates generally fall into three categories: incumbents and ‘mainstream’ Republicans, the Young Republicans Club aligned with Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36) and Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36), and “Tea Party” advocates. Some candidates fall into more than one category, but in general here is the lineup:

   INCUMBENTS: (6 + 1)

      Joe Carabetta, current chairman of the GOP Central Committee and a longtime Republican activist in the county; Robert Amato, current vice chairman of the committee;  James W. Hutchinson, current secretary of the committee; Allen Andrichyn, member; Brad L. Carrillo, Jr., member; and F. Gaylord Moody III, member. (Moody has also filed to run for the GOP nomination for Register of Wills.)

    Tina Sharp, a longtime county Republican and former unsuccessful candidate for clerk of the court, could be viewed as compatible with this group.

  YOUNG REPUBLICAN CLUB: (7)

Ted Patterson, president of the YR; Chris Zeauskas, vice president of YR; Mike Dawson, political director of YR; Michael Dunn, co-founder of YR and longtime legislative aide to Del. Smigiel; Carrie L. Taylor, YR activist who took over as president of the county’s Republican Women’s Club a few months ago; Joseph M. Tropp, vice-chairman of ROC (“Republicans of Cecil County”), a “new” group that lives on the YR website with overlapping officers; and County Commissioner Jim Mullin (R-1st) who says YR volunteers helped him win his 2008 election. (A lot of money from fellow Republican Commissioner Rebecca Demmler didn’t hurt either.)

     Patterson, Zeauskas, Dawkins, Dunn and Taylor are all running for other elected posts in addition to their candidacy for the GOP committee. Patterson is running for a state delegate seat while Taylor has filed for county Treasurer. The other three are running for county commissioner seats.

    TEA PARTY: (5)

     Donna Caudell, a founder of the “Cecil County Patriots” that is the local arm of the “Tea Party” movement; her sister, Jackie Gregory; Harry Hite III; Tom Kenny; and Peter Oliphant, who has also been active in the Jim Rutledge GOP campaign for Senate.

   Then there are some who don’t fit neatly into one category. Ted Kolodzey started out as a Young Republican but drifted away from that group and has also been active with the Tea Party, but is increasingly focused on his own campaign for the Republican nomination for county Commissioner in District 3.

     Devon Perry, a 19 year old student at Towson University, is a graduate of Elkton Christian academy where he played football, according to his MySpace page, which doesn’t mention any political leanings.  Anneliese Johnson of Rising Sun is also an unknown factor. [UPDATE: In an interview with Cecil Times, Johnson identified herself as a 30-year old mother of three young children, an honors graduate of Towson University and studying for a master’s degree in social science at Towson. She decided to run because she is “interested in public policy” issues, although “I’m not so comfortable with the politician aspects” and campaigning for a political post.]

     The YR gang will no doubt be running as a “slate.”  The incumbent group has made no decisions on whether to run as a ‘slate,’ sources said. But each camp would have to pick up two of the ‘wild cards’ to round out their ticket. Kolodzey seems to be a potential choice for the incumbent camp. And the YR’ers would likely try to pull from the Tea Party camp.

    Who thought a simple party committee election could have such drama?


BREAKING NEWS: New Sheriff Candidate, GOP Committee Wars

July 6, 2010

  It’s been a very busy morning at the Board of Elections office, with many new candidate filings– and a few surprises– for this year’s elections before tonight’s 9 p.m.  filing deadline.

 NEW SHERIFF CANDIDATE: Just when we thought the ballot couldn’t get any more crowded, William T. Gerczak, of Rising Sun, filed Monday as a candidate in the Democratic primary for Sheriff.  According to a Cecil Times check of court records, there is a Baltimore City police officer by that name who has appeared in court in prosecution of drug cases in the city. No home phone was listed nor did he give any phone number in his filings with the state Board of Elections.  The Democratic primary is already crowded with Chris Sutton, a current corporal in the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department and unsuccessful candidate in 2006, and Robert “Skip” DeWitt, a long-time deputy and the son of popular former county sheriff Jack DeWitt.

SCHOOL BOARD: Donna Zane, a member of the county’s first elected school board who had said she would not run again, suddenly filed for re-election Tuesday morning, according to state election records.  Zane, of Rising Sun, filed in the 4th district school board race in which Bill Herold, a controversial member of the old appointed school board, has declared his candidacy for election. Also running in that district is Thomas Wesley of Elkton, a retired school principal. Another late entry, June S. Reasin of Conowingo, filed July 1.

REPUBLICAN CENTRAL COMMITTEE: It’s been a minute-by-minute update as allies of State Senator E.J. Pipkin (R-36) and Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) troop on in to the elections board to file for the 9 slots on the county’s Republican Central Committee. County Commissioner Jim Mullin, R-1st, from the Earleville area, filed this morning, as did Mike Dawson, a Republican candidate for county commissioner in the 4th District.  Both Mullin and Dawson are strongly aligned with the Pipkin-Smigiel camp.

   In addition, the Cecil County Young Republicans Club, another bastion of  the Pipkin-Smigiel powerbase, has fielded three other candidates for the GOP committee. One of those candidates, Michael W. Dunn of Rising Sun, has also filed in the Republican primary for 3rd District County Commissioner. Dunn is a longtime legislative aide on the payroll of Del. Smigiel.

    As the day wears on, we’re sure there will be even more candidates filing in what is shaping up as a power struggle between the current Central Committee and the Pipkin-Smigiel forces trying to gain control over the party structure in Cecil County.

   Cecil Times will continue to file updates as news events unfold throughout the day.


Fifth District Commissioner Race: Home Cookin’ and Stewart’s Money

November 3, 2008

  The Republican and Democratic opponents in the Fifth District contest for Cecil County Commissioner have raised comparable amounts of campaign contributions, while write-in candidate Tom McWilliams has a secret weapon: his wife’s home cooking, according to campaign finance reports filed Oct. 24.

    But some supporters of the two major candidates might be surprised at just who is donating to them.

   McWilliams, a perpetual candidate who has previously run unsuccessfully for Commissioner and a school board seat, lost the Republican primary to Robert Hodge, a local businessman and farmer. McWilliams is waging an uphill struggle as a write-in candidate in the November election and has held yard sales and picnics, raising just $886 in direct contributions and $1,050 in fundraiser ticket purchases. He also loaned his campaign $6,000 in October. McWilliams lists $372 in in-kind donations, such as food and drinks for fundraising events. While several people donated appetizers valued at $10, his wife’s culinary contribution was valued at $50. A smart husband knows to compliment his wife’s cooking, even in politics.

     Hodge reports raising a total of $21,405, including loaning his campaign $3,000. His Democratic opponent, Sharon Weygand, reports raising a total of $19,637, with no loans. The candidates are running for the seat now held by Commissioner Mark Guns, who decided not to run for re-election.  Hodge has had a high-profile candidacy all year, with many paid billboard sites on highways around the county.  Weygand seemed to have a lower profile–waving hand-held signs on Route 40– so it is perhaps surprising to see that she raised so much money and had no loans, according to the October reports.  There could still be a last minute infusion of cash on both sides in the last week or so before the election, but we won’t know the final contributions tally until after the election when new reports are filed.

     Weygand’s largest chunk of donations– $3,000– came from two entities related to the Stewart’s land development business: $1,500 from Stewart Associates Land Development, Inc.,  and $1,500 from York Building Products Co. Both firms have the same address in York, PA and are part of the Stewart Companies. Stewart’s, one of the largest landowners in the county, is banking heavily on approval of the statewide slots referendum and has signed an option deal with Penn National gaming that wants to develop a slots facility on Stewart land in Cecil County. York Building Products operates three sand and gravel production sites in Cecil County.

   The Stewart-related donations amounted to more than a quarter of Weygand’s $11,555 in contributions from individuals and businesses. That might surprise some of the no-growth folks who made small donations to her campaign, too.

 Other major donations to Weygand include $1,000 from Klines Live Fish Co. in Chesapeake City; $1,000 from Hutton Farms in Elkton, and $500 from Alice Arbuckle, who ran unsuccessfully for County Commissioner in the last local election and famously advocated county-hosted camel races as a tourist attraction. Weygand also received $345 from the husband (Ron) of County Commissioner Rebecca Demmler,  $200 from former County Commissioner and restauranteur Phyllis Kilby, $100 from retiring County Commissioner Bill Manlove, $80 from Commissioner Wayne Tome and $20 from Commissioner Brian Lockhart. 

    Weygand also received a $1,000 donation from the Political Action Committee (PAC) associated with Lodge 2, Cecil County Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed her candidacy; $500 from the county’s Democratic Central Committee; $750 from the county Democrat Club and $100 from the campaign of Frank Kratovil, the Democratic nominee in the 1st District Congressional contest.

    Weygand did not disclose individual identities for most of the ticket purchasers for her fund-raising events, tallying a total of $5,613 in ticket sales.

   On the Republican side, Hodge reported individual and business donations of $7,140– actually, less than Weygand’s $11,555. Unlike Weygand, Hodge reports amounts and identities for ticket purchases by individuals and businesses, totaling $6,465.

    Hodge’s largest individual donation of $1,000 came from Railroad Associates Corp. of Hershey, Pa. A local business, Graphics Inc., gave $500 plus $500 in ticket purchases, for a total of $1,000. Norman Wehner, a local property owner active with the county landlord’s association, donated $500 plus purchased fundraiser event tickets worth $100. James Buckland, an executive with Artesian water that recently won County Commissioners’  approval for its takeover of county water and sewer facilities, bought Hodge fundraiser tickets worth $150.

 Most of Hodge’s donations were fairly small and many came from recognizable Republicans around the county. Business entities donating included Perrin Accounting of North East ($500 in donations), Priapi Gardens in Cecilton ($200 in ticket purchases); Kingfisher Environmental  Services, Inc., of Elkton ($200 in ticket purchases.) There were also fundraiser ticket purchases from some individuals involved in real estate, such as $250 in tickets bought by Harlan Williams and his wife.

    Hodge also received $2,500 from Republican clubs and $2,200 from the county’s GOP central committee. Del. Dick Sossi (R) bought a $25 fundraiser ticket, as did Republican commissioner 1st District candidate Jim Mullin. Commissioner Rebecca Demmler– a fellow Republican and the chief donor to Mullin’s campaign, giving him $2,500– anted up just $50 for Hodge fundraiser tickets.

   Which just goes to show: in politics, it isn’t always just about politics or party labels.


Demmler Bankrolls Mullin: Commissioner Payback Time?

October 30, 2008

    We’re BAACK– Sorry to have taken a hiatus, but we were sick and tired,  and mostly sick. So since we don’t get paid for this,  it has taken us a while to report and write what our local “newspaper” with full time paid employees hasn’t: new campaign finance reports– filed 10/24/08– for local County Commissioner candidates. First, we’ll look at the 1st District Commissioner race between Republican Jim Mullin and Democrat Pamela H. Bailey.

     There’s not much to report on Pamela Bailey, who has not filed a detailed campaign finance report.  According to Cecil County election officials, she filed an affadavit saying she would not be raising or spending over $1,000, so she does not have to file a full report either on paper locally or online with the state Board of Elections.  In that case, we are surprised to see so many printed yard signs around her home base of Earleville. As she has stated to the public, she already has a full-time job as a secretary at the School of Technology and two part-time jobs. So who knows how much time she has to spare for fundraising, campaigning or actually serving as a County Commissioner.

    Without a serious opponent, Republican Jim Mullin of Earleville seems to be a shoo-in in the 1st District. But looking at his campaign finances, there is a very interesting angle: current County Commissioner Rebecca Demmler is his biggest donor. Could it be payback for the financial support Mullin gave her when she was running for County Commissioner in the last local election? Or could it be “pay it forward,” with Demmler donating to a pal she expects will vote along with her as a Commissioner?

    In his pre-general election report, Mullin states he has raised a total of $10,294 in individual, party committee and Political Action Committee donations.  He has also made a personal loan to his campaign of $8,550, which is counted as a separate line item in addition to the $10,294 in donations.

    But the telling category is the sub-set of individual and business donors, amounting to $7,094. Of that figure, current County Commissioner Rebecca Demmler made an outright donation of $2,000 on 5/03/08 and $500 on 9/15/08, for a total of $2,500– or nearly a third of all donations. Mullin also does not report individual identities of purchasers of tickets to his fundraisers– listing instead, a “lump sum” of receipts from two campaign fundraisers, amounting to a total of $1,429. So there is no way of telling whose other donations might be included under this anonymous category.

    Mullin also received a $1,000 Political Action Committee (PAC) donation from the Cecil County Lodge #2, Fraternal Order of Police in Elkton, on 9/25/08. But drilling down in his expenditures, you find he made a “transfer” of funds  of $280 out of his campaign treasury previously, on 7/24/08, to the same FOP lodge, “including ticket purchases.” So the net FOP cash into the Mullin campaign amounts to $720. The ‘transfer’ from Mullin to the FOP occurred before the FOP donation to him.

    Mullin also received $2,200 from the county’s Republican Central Committee. (Funny, but we didn’t see a Mullin donation to fellow Republican Robert Hodge, who chairs the GOP central committee and is running in the 5th Commissioner district, beyond a puny $25 fundraiser ticket.)

   It is also telling who hasn’t yet donated to Mullin’s campaign. No members of the local Republican state legislative delegation whose districts coincide with Mullin’s local turf–Del. Michael Smigiel, Del. Dick Sossi or Mr. Moneybags State Sen. E.J. Pipkin– have donated to Mullin. That is probably because they know a sure thing when they see it and are saving their cash for their own  re-election efforts, or other Republican candidates with more contested campaigns this year.

   But we are struck by Commissioner Demmler’s investment of such a large amount in the sure-thing candidacy of Mullin.  Both Demmler and Mullin are Republicans, but more than party loyalty is at work here, as we will document subsequently. (Demmler has made a hiccup $50 ticket purchases donation to fellow Republican Robert Hodge, running in the 5th District Commissioner race, while her husband has donated lots more to 5th District Democratic opponent Sharon Weygand and he also made a donation to write-in candidate Tom McWilliams in that 5th District contest. More on that in our next posting.)