(Nov. 9, 2018) Worcester County, which was once such a Democratic Party stronghold that it recorded zero votes for Abraham Lincoln, made a different kind of history Tuesday by voting to send an all-GOP delegation to the state legislature for the first time.

Delegations in previous years had members of both parties, or were all Democrats. But this year the big switch was made possible by the victory of Del. Mary Beth Carozza over Democratic incumbent State Sen. Jim Mathias in District 38.

Carozza won by 2,840 votes, earning 53 percent of the total votes to Mathias’ 46.9 percent, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections. Worcester, the home port for both candidates, was the most decisive factor in the election.

Carozza had just a 563-vote lead in the district’s other two counties, Somerset and Wicomico, but Worcester County voters turned a close race into sure thing for Carozza by giving her a 2,287-vote margin over Mathias, 12,330 to 10,043.

Altogether, Mathias won just five of the county’s 20 voting precincts, with Ocean Pines and Ocean City clearly favoring Carozza.

Carozza wins

Carozza: “We thank God for us being here to be able to serve and, to my heart of hearts, I thank each and every one of you for all you’ve done to make tonight’s victory possible.”

Carozza declared victory shortly after 10:30 p.m. at her watch party at Mad Fish Bar & Grill in West Ocean City.

“We thank God for us being here to be able to serve and, to my heart of hearts, I thank each and every one of you for all you’ve done to make tonight’s victory possible,” Carozza said. “Thank you, from my heart.”

Mathias conceded about 30 minutes later at his election headquarters at Tall Tales Brewing Company in Parsonsburg. Up until Tuesday, the former Ocean City councilman, Ocean City mayor and delegate had never lost an election.

 “The most important thing is the people have spoken and that’s what our politics are all about,” he told supporters and volunteers. “It’s about the people and it’s about their choice,” he said. “I congratulate the senator-elect. I know there’s plenty of work to do and, as we go forward, I’m offering my help to be there as we carry on.”

Mathias concedes

Mathias: “I congratulate the senator-elect. I know there’s plenty of work to do and, as we go forward, I’m offering my help to be there as we carry on.”

Elsewhere in Worcester County, most races went about as expected.

Incumbent District 38A Del. Charles Otto, a Republican, held his seat, besting Democratic challenger Kirkland Hall by 2,631 votes, or nearly 20 percentage points. Otto won 59.5 percent of the vote compared to Kirkland’s 40.4 percent.

In the race for the District 38C delegate seat vacated by Carozza, Republican Wayne Hartman coasted to victory, winning 95.4 percent of the vote. According to the Maryland State Board of Elections, “Other Write-Ins” earned the remaining 4.6 percent.

As for the county’s complete turn to GOP representation in the General Assembly, Paul Ellington, former executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, confirmed it.

“This is the first time it’s been all Republican — 38 [District] as a whole and Worcester,” he said Wednesday.

In Worcester County Commissioners races, three Republican incumbents won reelection.

Bud Church bested Berlin Town Councilman Zackery Tyndall in the race for District 3 (2,302 votes to 1,182), Ted Elder held off former commissioner Virgil Shockley in District 4 (1,586 votes to 1,367) and Chip Bertino beat Judy Butler in District 5 (2,516 votes to 1,451).

One seat, however, was turned over, as Democrat Joshua Nordstrom edged incumbent Republican Merrill Lockfaw, 1,321 votes to 1,138, in the District 1 race. Nordstrom will join County Commissioner President Diana Purnell as the only two Democrats on the seven-member panel.

Purnell (District 2), Madison “Jim” Bunting (District 6) and Joseph Mitrecic (District 7) each won reelection without opposition.

In other contested races, Terri Delaney Westcott, a Republican, easily defeated Democrat Nicole Caudell 13,790 votes to 7,550, in the register of wills contest.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan also coasted to victory, earning a second term.

In Worcester, Hogan won 76.3 percent of the vote, with Democrat Ben Jealous coming in second with 22.7 percent. Hogan received 16,925 votes in Worcester County, while Jealous won 5,049 votes.

Statewide, Hogan received 1,194,866 votes, good for 56.2 percent, while Jealous earned 909,024 votes, or 42.7 percent of the total.

Comptroller Peter Franchot and Attorney General Brian Frosh were also reelected, as were U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Andy Harris.

Josh Davis is an MDDC award-winning editor and reporter at the Bayside Gazette and Ocean City Today newspapers, covering Berlin and Ocean Pines, Maryland. He is the author of three novels, including 'Vanishing is the Last Art' (2012). He lives in Berlin.

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