BALTIMORE - State Sen. Jim Brochin said the only endorsement that matters to him is the one he gets from voters on Election Day.
That’s a good thing for the Baltimore County Democrat, who often sees himself on the outside looking in when it comes to his political party’s establishment.
Brochin, 50, found himself playing the role of an independent in his primary battle last week against former delegate Connie DeJulius. DeJulius had the backing of Gov. Martin O’Malley and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in the newly redrawn District 42, which now stretches from Towson north through Herford to the state line.
However, Brochin said his door-to-door campaigning plus his ability to not be afraid of speaking out against the Democratic establishment helped him cruise to an easy victory, claiming 7,532 votes to 3,322 for DeJulius.
“It’s good to know that there are still voters out there that seek out informed decisions rather than just go with the status quo,” said Brochin, who will face Republican Tim Robinson in November’s general election. “I’m going to need to continue to reach out on a grass roots level because my district is now much more conservative that it used to be.”
With an approximate 2-to-1 advantage for Democrats over Republicans, election upsets in Maryland are a rarity. In most cases, endorsements by the party’s leaders carries a lot of weight, but last week’s elections show a victory is not always guaranteed.
Just ask Jon Herbst.
The Pikesville attorney was backed by Kamenetz and state Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) in his bid to defeat Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond in the Second District Democratic primary.
Herbst received just 3,545 votes to 10,914 for Almond, the latter of which captured more than 75 percent of the vote. Councilman Ken Oliver was also endorsed by Kamenetz before the Randallstown Democrat lost by a large margin – 7,056 to 5,387 – against Julian Jones in their District 4 primary race.
Also in the Baltimore County Council , Ron Yeatman placed last in his District 7 race against four other candidates in the Democratic primary. Essex resident Joe DiCara won the primary for the district, which includes parts of Essex, Middle River and Dundalk despite Yeatman having the endorsement of outgoing Councilman John Olszewski Sr.
“It’s OK to vote now against the establishment if you believe that is what is best for your constituents,” Almond said. “Voters aren’t looking for a rubber stamp. They are looking for someone with convictions and not afraid to vote their conscious.”
Sometimes, voters just appear to want a change. That seems to be the case in the Baltimore City state’s attorney race in which Marilyn Mosby defeated incumbent Gregg Bernstein in the Democratic primary.
Bernstein had the endorsement of former Baltimore police Commissioner Fred Bealfeld, state Sen. Lisa Gladden and Del. Curt Anderson among others. Still, Mosby captured 54.2 percent of the vote compared to 45.8 percent for Bernstein.
Del. John Olszewski Jr. said endorsements are great, but aren’t the be-all-end-all in elections. Candidates still need to campaign hard, listen to voters and establish a quality platform to win, Olszewski said.
Olszewski, a Baltimore County Democrat, ran on a slate in the District 6 primary with Del. Mike Weir, along with newcomers Eric Washington and Ed Crizer. However, only Olszewski – who is running for state senate – and Weir advanced.
Washington and Crizer were defeated by former Baltimore City Councilman Nick D’Adamo and former Del. Jake Mohorovic Jr.
“I believe our endorsement helped Ed and Eric, but in the end the voters went in another direction.” Olszewski said. “[D’Adamo] and [Mohorovic] had name recognition, but also the ability to run as political newcomers. You can’t win elections on endorsements alone.”
McDaniel College political science professor Herb Smith said endorsements, along with polls and campaign funds are the three ways to judge how a candidate is faring prior to an election. While in most cases, he said, an endorsement can only help, there are cases when it can backfire.
“Sometimes when a governor or county executive tries to consolidate power by backing a favorable candidate it helps others running because they can make charges of machine politics,” Smith said. “If you can’t use that endorsement to help resonate with voters, you are not going to win.”