By Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor
(June 28, 2018) It came down to reports from the very last of Worcester’s 20 election districts to confirm the results of the state primary this week, and the election ended with county voters choosing to replace the top prosecutor and sheriff.
Challengers Matt Crisafulli for sheriff and Kris Heiser for state’s attorney took the contests for their positions in what were two of the most closely watched races on the ballot.
Both Republicans, Crisafulli and Heiser have no Democratic opposition in the November general election and can safely assume they will take office next year, barring the unlikely event of a successful write-in campaign or legal challenge.
Under other circumstances, winners of the primary races are set for the general election in November.
The most hotly contested race this cycle was for the office of sheriff, with four Republicans and no Democrats entering the race.
The closest contest was between Crisafulli, a political newcomer with the endorsement of retiring sheriff Reggie Mason and former sheriff Chuck Martin, and Mike McDermott, a commander with the sheriff’s office.
McDermott took the lead in early voting, gaining 591 votes to 435, but Crisafulli pulled it out in the end, tallying 1,839 votes on election day to McDermott’s 1,522 for a total of Crisafulli 2,274 or 44.9 percent of the electorate, to McDermott’s 2,113 or 41.7 percent of the vote.
Scott Bernal got 10.7 percent of the vote and George Truitt won 2.7 percent of votes for sheriff.
“I am honored that the citizens of Worcester County have spoken,” Crisafulli said. “I look forward to leading my men and women of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office. The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office will be deeply committed to the safety and security of all of our citizens.”
Unrelated but running closely coordinated campaigns was Interim State’s Attorney Bill McDermott, who was challenged by Assistant State’s Attorney in Wicomico County, Kris Heiser.
The race was close, with McDermott leading 637-525 after early voting. On election day, however, the voters favored Heiser with 2,081 votes and a total of 2,606 or 51.7 percent to McDermott’s 1,794 for a total of 2,431, or 48.3 percent.
“I’m incredibly thankful for all of the support I’ve received over the last nine months,” Heiser said. “My team and I have worked very hard to spread our message about proactively engaging with citizens and law enforcement to keep our communities safe and I’m glad to see that our hard work has paid off! I look forward to serving as Worcester County’s next State’s Attorney.”
Worcester Republicans handed incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan the Republican nod, as he was unopposed, while county Democrats had nine choices, but in the end, Ben Jealous won here with 37.4 percent of the vote.
The field was similarly crowded on both sides for U.S. Senator, with incumbent Ben Cardin gaining 79.3 percent of the Democratic vote, and Republican Chris Chaffee winning Worcester.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-1st) soundly won Worcester again with 86.3 percent of the vote, while Democrat Jesse Colvin won the Democratic ballot in a field of six candidates, with 47 percent of the vote.
The race was competitive in a crowded field for state delegate, with one-term Ocean City Councilman Wayne Hartman winning over Republican operative Joe Schanno 47.4 percent to 41 percent.
The District 3 county commissioner’s race was also narrowed to Republican incumbent Bud Church and one-term Democratic Berlin Councilman Zackery Tyndall, as Church overcame newcomer Gary Millhoff 638-206, or 75.6 percent to 24.4 percent.
“I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote. I want to encourage the ones who weren’t successful to not give up and try it again,” Church said. “My campaign committee is 98 percent responsible for my victory, and I’d like to thank them.”
For Register of Wills, Terri Westcott, chief deputy to incumbent Charlotte Cathell, got the Republican nod with 56.4 percent of the vote, and she will face Democrat Nicole Caudell in November.
The final contested race in the county was for Judge of the Orphan’s Court, with four Republicans seeking three spots on the bench. Mike Diffendal, Linda Hess and Cheryl Jacobs edged out John Quinn for the bench.
All other races voted on Tuesday were unopposed by the other party.