Does Primary Turnout Signal Defeat for Dyson, Bohanan in Nov.?

Commentary by David Noss

CALLAWAY, Md. (Sept. 15, 2010)—Does the sheer number of Republicans vs. Democrats who voted in Tuesday's primary predict a November loss for State Senator Roy Dyson (D) and State Delegate John Bohanan (D)?

In the primary race for Senator of Legislative District 29, both Democrat Dyson and Republican Stephen M. Waugh were unopposed in their party. Dyson received 6,500 votes while Waugh received 7,085—essentially saying that 585 more Republican voters showed up at the polls than did Democrats.

In the primary race for Delegate of Legislative District 29B, a subset of District 29, the situation was similar. Both Democrat John Bohanan and Republican Erik Anderson were unopposed in their party. Again, more Republicans turned out to vote for the seat than did Democrats—2,334 Republicans vs. 2,137 Democrats.

Can we extrapolate the turnout forward to the November elections and assume the turnout then will be similar, with most people voting the party lines, resulting in a loss for Dyson and Bohanan? While Professor Todd Eberly, St. Mary's College of Maryland political science professor and acting director for the Center for the Study of Democracy, would not predict a winner, he did say that he sees a trend. "I think that turnout by Republicans in St. Mary's County and statewide speaks to a motivated Republican electorate and in close races, local Democratic candidates may be drowned in a wave."

The number of registered Democrats and Republicans in District 29 is very close—24,545 D's and 23,112 R's. Can these numbers in conjunction with the Primary turnout lead us to visualize a Dyson defeat in November? Oh, if only it were that easy. Interestingly, 11,019 registered voters in District 29 are affiliated with other parties or unaffiliated altogether—that's 18.8% of all registered voters. Which way will they go? Let's look at Dyson's opponent for clues.

Stephen M. Waugh resides in Calvert County. District 29 encompasses all of St. Mary's County and only the southern-most part of Calvert. Only 5,404 of the currently registered 58,676 voters in the 29th are from Calvert. So, Waugh's Calvert residence is no plus and may actually be a negative. On the other hand, Waugh is a recently-retired U.S. Marine Corp aviator and one thing we know is that the 29th is Navy country. The Naval Air Station Patuxent River is the driving economic engine, employing and housing thousands of proud employees, Navy personnel, Marines, and aviators. My guess is that many of them will elect to vote for one of their brothers over a career politician—especially in the anti-incumbent climate in which we find ourselves.

Dyson v. Waugh should prove to be one of the most interesting State Senate battles we've seen around here in years.

Sub District 29B, which encompasses the southern part of the county including the NAS, has similar numbers. There are 11,563 registered Democrats, 10,487 Republicans and 5,683 aligned with other parties or unaffiliated.

The situation between John Bohanan and his opponent Erik Anderson is amazingly similar to that between Dyson and Waugh. Anderson is also a military veteran and aviator and currently works at PAXRVR. Anderson's website says he enlisted in the Air Force while in high school. From there he migrated to the U.S. Army where he was accepted to Flight Engineer Flight School and eventually made his way to become an AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter pilot. He served in Afghanistan and currently serves in the Army Reserve. To top off his prestigious military record, he has two Master of Science degrees from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Aeronautics and Management with a concentration in orbital mechanics, a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Wilmington University with a concentration with corporate law, and two Associate of Science degrees. Smart guy. His record should bring him a lot of political capital, especially important in what will probably be a tight race.

But, don't count Bohanan out. He is part of a powerful political machine. He is currently employed by Congressman Steny Hoyer with the title "Senior Advisor" and a matching $100,794.46 2009 salary compounded by another $6,000.00 in 2009 for his services as "Constituent Liaison." As a constituent liaison, he often shows up in his State district to represent Hoyer on important federal matters—naturally affording him the opportunity to cross-promote his role as delegate, a job which earned him $41,407 in 2009. He is also brother-in-law to the aforementioned Sen. Roy Dyson. These are powerful political friends to have, a luxury that may not be afforded to Anderson.

Note: At time of publication, 763 absentee ballots had been mailed out— 352 D and 411 R.  259 D and 261 R ballots had been received back in Wednesday's mail.  Ballots are scheduled to be counted Thursday.  Ballots are valid as long as they were postmarked no later than election day.

Note: The author is not affiliated with the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, or any candidate.


Anderson, Erik, Delegate District 29B

Bohanan, John, Delegate District 29B

Dyson, Roy, Senator District 29

Waugh, Stephen M., Senator District 29

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