State and local Democrats decided last week not to launch a court challenge to the residency of Republican Jerry Clark, who survived a recount of ballots to win the District 1 Calvert County commissioner seat.
Democrats had questioned whether Clark -- who earlier this year changed his voter registration address from a Huntingtown home in northern Calvert to a house in south-county District 1 -- had properly established residency before the election.
However, Democratic candidate Grace Mary Brady, who requested the recount after finishing 36 votes behind Clark in the final general election tally, said Tuesday that she would not contest her opponent's residency in court, noting that "it would be a very, very hard" case to win.
"This would drag on for years and years and put me in a bad light," Brady said. "It would look like sour grapes."
The Maryland Democratic Party will "follow Grace's lead" and not challenge Clark either, spokesman David Paulson said.
Clark, who has said that he has already moved into his new Lusby home, said Wednesday that Democrats declined to pursue such a challenge because "they knew there was nothing to it."
"As far as I'm concerned, it's over," Clark said. "But as far as I'm concerned, it was over for a while."
The win by Clark, who finished 16 votes ahead of Brady after the manual recount of ballots, means that the GOP will hold four of the five seats on the new Calvert County Board of Commissioners to be sworn in at 10 a.m. Dec. 17.
In the final election results, the top five vote-getters are Commissioners President David F. Hale (R-Owings), Democrat Wilson H. Parran, Republican Susan Shaw, then two incumbents -- Linda L. Kelley (R-Owings) and Barbara A. Stinnett (D-At Large). Despite finishing fifth, Stinnett did not win reelection.
In Calvert, all commissioner candidates are voted on at large, but the rules require that each of the three election districts have at least one commissioner on the board. Because no one from District 1 finished in the top five, Clark displaces Stinnett.
The Republican-majority board undoubtedly will have to come up with a budget that accounts for expected state funding cuts -- and do so while dealing with Calvert's largely Democratic state delegation.
Maryland State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's and Calvert) said his goal is still to protect "local governments from the type of cuts that are going to be coming forth." As for working with Republicans, who also will occupy the governor's and lieutenant governor's offices, Miller said, "Honestly, we're going to try to cooperate with them as much as possible."
Miller also said: "The voters voted for change, and we will learn to live with and work with the board of Calvert County."
The contest to choose a District 1 commissioner was the closest of any of the Calvert commissioner races. Brady had led Clark by 52 votes after ballots were counted on Election Night. But the Republican moved ahead of Brady two days later after a tally of absentee ballots.
Clark also won narrowly in the Sept. 10 primary, when he unseated incumbent Republican Commissioner John Douglas Parran (R-At Large), leading by just one vote on Election Night. That margin grew to 14 votes when the count was completed.
The recount of more than 26,000 ballots took about five hours, according to Gail Hatfield, the county elections administrator.
Though Brady did not pick up enough votes to beat Clark, she did close the gap enough so that under election law, she will not have to pay for the recount, according to Hatfield. Brady had posted a $5,000 bond.
"I'm sorry I lost," Brady said, "but it's a good thing I lost close."