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GOP Looks To Local Officials With Eye On 2014

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JENNIFER SHUTT
The Daily Times

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) — While seven of Maryland’s eight U.S. representatives and both its U.S. senators are Democrats, a new analysis of the state’s political landscape shows that a slim majority of local elected officials are Republicans.

According to statistics released last week by the Maryland Republican Party, 159 local offices, including county council members, clerks of the court, sheriffs and state’s attorneys, are held by Republicans, while 157 are occupied by Democrats.

Within county government, 15 county councils have a Republican majority, a number that holds true through much of the Lower Eastern Shore, where six of the seven Wicomico County Council members are Republicans, as are five of the seven Worcester County Commissioners and two of the five Somerset County Commissioners.

“It really depends on what part of the state you’re in,” said David Ferguson, executive director of the Maryland GOP. “If you look at the geographic boundaries of counties, the majority of the geography votes Republican.”

Ferguson and the party are touting those numbers in hopes of attracting candidates and potential candidates for a training program of sorts titled Pathfinders.

Dave Parker, Wicomico County Republican Central Committee chairman, said while local central committees and clubs have always sought out strong candidates, he is glad to hear the state party is starting earlier than before and putting some additional funding into the training of potential candidates.

“Let’s face it, if you’re going to run in 2014, this summer is really the latest you should be starting. Otherwise, you probably won’t make it, even in local elections, because you need to get your name known,” Parker said. “The people who start the earliest get their names out there, and that is one of those little rules that seems to be true.”

Even though Republicans are prevalent in elected positions throughout the Lower Shore, Parker said, finding people to run has been a challenge in the past. Most of the time when the party can find someone who will make it through the primary season and the general election, that person will shy away for fear of personal attacks.

If they do decide to run, Parker said, it’s better for Republicans to have a few candidates during a primary election because it allows for a broader range of ideas and prepares whoever wins for the debates and campaigning that must take place during a general election.

Running in the primary, Parker said, can also help voters get to know the whole person and not just their political initiatives.

“The more people we get to run, the better chance we have of getting a really good candidate,” Parker said.

To sort out and encourage those “really good” candidates, the Maryland Republican Party plans to host training sessions throughout 2013 and 2014 leading up to the gubernatorial general election Nov. 4. 2014. Ferguson said the party is likely to focus on ways to build grass-roots support, raise money and communicate effectively.

Information from: The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md., http://www.delmarvanow.com/

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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