8 state senators get free rides to reelection, with no opponents in primary or fall

8 state senators get free rides to reelection, with no opponents in primary or fall

From left: Sen. Guy Guzzone, Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, delegate-candidate Pam Lanman Guzzone, and Del. Jen Terassa. Campaign photo

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For the second four-year election cycle in a row, Howard County Sen. Guy Guzzone, one of the most powerful legislators in Annapolis as chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee, has no opponent in the Democratic primary and no Republican challenger in the fall.

Seven other incumbent senators, four Democrats and three Republicans, also walked into reelection when no one filed to run against them last month.

They are Sens. Justin Ready, R-Carroll District 5; J.B. Jennings, R-Baltimore-Harford District 7; Susan Lee, D-Montgomery District 16; Joanne Benson, D-Prince George’s District 24; Jack Bailey, R-St. Mary’s District 29; Jill Carter, D-Balt. City District 41, and Cory McCray, D-Balt. City District 45.

Other incumbents may have weak or token opposition, such as Senate President Bill Ferguson who will face Republican Emmanuel Digman in his central Baltimore City District 46, But city voters have not elected a Republican legislator or for any other office in 50 years. But token or not, it is opposition nonetheless requiring campaigning and manpower at the polls.

After the House speaker and Senate president, Guzzone’s chairmanship, which he gained by helping Ferguson rise to president, has the power of the purse to tax and to spend the $58 billion state budget and all the revenues that fund it

A prodigious fundraiser even before he became B&T chair, Guzzone was sitting on a campaign treasure of $651,239 in January. With no opponents, Guzzone can use the money to fund his fellow Democrats in his own District 13 and throughout the state as he has done repeatedly.

Guzzone & Guzzone

That includes his ticket mates, Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, who now chairs the equally prestigious House Ways and Means Committee, and Del. Jen Terrasa, a former county council member. The retirement of Del. Shane Pendergrass, who has just been replaced as chair of the Health and Government Operations Committee, leaves an opening in the three-member delegate district.

It may have presented an interesting quandary for Sen. Guzzone because his ex-wife Pam Lanman Guzzone was one of three other women who filed for delegate. But Pam was quickly added to the Guzzone ticket last week.

Pam Guzzone was a longtime partner with Guy in political and civic activities, such as the ARC of Howard County, where she serves on the board.

The other Democratic women running in District 13 are lawyer Becca Niburg, who has been campaigning door to door, and teacher Amy Brooks, well known in Oakland Mills Village where her yard signs have been popping up. Two Republicans have also filed for the three delegate seats in District 13, Padraic Walsh and Chris Yates, so they will automatically be on the November ballot.

A husband and ex-wife team in Annapolis may be a new twist, but for the past eight years, the Democratic husband and wife team of Sen. Ron Young and Del. Karen Lewis Young have represented Frederick County District 3. Ron Young is retiring this year, and Karen Young is running for his Senate seat.

In legislative districts where no one has filed for a seat, the party central committees are allowed to nominate someone. But the fact that the opposing party has chosen not to nominate someone against these eight incumbents illustrates a major complaint about the current gerrymandering. There are few districts that are truly competitive between Republicans and Democrats. Some are solidly Republican, such as the districts for Ready and Jennings, and some are solidly Democratic.

More free rides   

Some of Guzzone’s fellow Democrats won’t need his help because they have free rides to reelection too, with no challengers in the primary or general election. They include State’s Attorney Rich Gibson, Clerk of the Court Wayne Robey (son of the former county executive and Senate majority leader) and Register of Wills CORRECTION: BYRON Macfarlane.

Macfarlane successfully pushed to pass a constitutional amendment to have the Howard County Circuit Court take over the probate function from the judges of the Orphans Court, as is already done in Harford and Montgomery counties. The measure must be approved by voters in November.

Portions of this story have appeared in Len Lazarick’s column in the May issue of The Business Monthly (page 20) serving Howard and Anne Arundel counties. Byron MacFarlane first name was misspelled here and in the Business Monthly. Sorry about that. 

About The Author

Len Lazarick


Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.

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