Democrats Bask in Electoral Wins While Raising Money for More

William Braxton, left, Virginia Lee Benedict and Norman Saunders gather at the Truman-Kennedy Dinner last Friday, an annual political gala and fundraiser organized by Charles County Democrats.
William Braxton, left, Virginia Lee Benedict and Norman Saunders gather at the Truman-Kennedy Dinner last Friday, an annual political gala and fundraiser organized by Charles County Democrats. (By James A. Parcell For The Washington Post)

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By Philip Rucker and Megan Greenwell
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 10, 2007

Democrats in Charles County celebrated their recent electoral victories and raised money for future campaigns at the party's annual Truman-Kennedy Dinner last week.

More than 250 Democrats mingled and dined Friday night in Waldorf. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown delivered speeches at the event, which was attended by state and local politicians.

"If I may say so myself, it was just a beautiful event," Virginia Lee Benedict, leader of the Charles County Democratic Central Committee, said this week. "It seemed like everybody did enjoy themselves."

Hoyer, whose 5th Congressional District includes Charles, updated county Democrats on what Congress has accomplished since Democrats assumed control of both houses this year.

"We were so glad that Congressman Hoyer came," Benedict said. "He got a standing ovation from everybody. Steny said, 'Everybody sit down, sit down.' We're so proud of him."

State Sen. Thomas M. Middleton (Charles) presented five Charles County residents with the John Thomas Parran Award for outstanding Democrats. The recipients were William Braxton, president of the Charles branch of the NAACP; JoAnn Chapman, member of the 4th and 5th Districts Democratic Club; Chris Ripley, president of the Northern Democratic Club of Charles County; Norman Saunders, past central committee member; and Cecil Short, past central committee chair.

County Democrats have a lot to be thankful for in the 2006 elections. The party holds all of the county's commissioner and state legislative seats after winning every contested partisan race on the ballot in Charles. Rex W. Coffey became the first Democrat in at least 100 years to be elected county sheriff. In addition, Gov. Martin O'Malley won Charles, the first time in a generation that a Democratic gubernatorial candidate has won a majority of votes in the county.

The event raised money for the county's Democratic Central Committee, which funds many of the party's grass-roots initiatives. A final tally was not available, but Benedict said the committee raised enough to accomplish its goals this year.

"I think finally we're on track again," she said. "All of our money was gone during the last election."

A New Development Chief

College of Southern Maryland professor Robert R. "Bob" Schaller was named St. Mary's County's director of economic and community development Tuesday.

Schaller, a lifelong St. Mary's resident, succeeds John Savich, who was named county administrator earlier this year. When he takes office July 2, Schaller will assume responsibility for business development, agriculture and seafood, tourism and housing in the rapidly growing county, among other issues.

Currently chairman of the College of Southern Maryland's Department of Business, Economics, and Legal Studies, Schaller has taught at the La Plata campus since 1991 and has had adjunct positions at a number of other local colleges and universities. His business experience is primarily in defense contracting, including a four-year stint as an associate at Booz, Allen & Hamilton in the late 1980s.

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