Gal­lion claims Dis­trict 35 se­nate seat

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By KATIE TABELING

— Vot­ers in Dis­trict 35 have over­whelm­ingly de­cided that Repub­li­can Ja­son Gal­lion will rep­re­sent them in the Mary­land Se­nate for the next four years, hand­ily de­feat­ing both chal­lengers, In­de­pen­dent Frank Es­pos­ito and Lib­er­tar­ian Christo­pher Ran­ders-Pehrson, in the gen­eral elec­tion Tues­day.

Gal­lion, like ev­ery­one in Mary­land, was ea­gerly wait­ing for the elec­tion re­sults which were de­layed due to long lines else­where in the state. He ac­tu­ally learned of the re­sults when the Whig called him for a com­ment on his vic­tory.

“You were the bearer of good news tonight,” he said. “I’m hum­bled and hon­ored that the peo­ple in Ce­cil and Har­ford coun­ties have trusted me to rep­re­sent their best in­ter­ests in the se­nate. I prom­ise I will work hard and I’m look­ing for­ward to the work.”

Gal­lion will be a new­comer to state pol­i­tics, let alone the state se­nate, when he is sworn in Jan­uary 2019. Swept into the po­lit­i­cal arena un­der a storm of un­cer­tainty when State Sen. Wayne Nor­man (R-Har­ford/Ce­cil) un­ex­pect­edly died in March, Gal­lion was nom­i­nated by the Repub­li­can Party to keep the un­chal­lenged seat be­fore the pri­mary race. He de­cided to stay in the race un­til the end closer to the pri­mary elec­tion.

Gal­lion won the seat with GAL­LION 67.6 per­cent of the vote (32,811), best­ing Es­pos­ito who se­cured 21 per­cent of the vote (10,166) and Ran­ders-Pehrson who gained 11 per­cent of the vote (5,332 votes), as of Tues­day night.

The Dis­trict 35 race was one of a small hand­ful of con­tests statewide where the in­cum­bent was un­op­posed within his own party or by the other side of the aisle. That drew the at­ten­tion of sev­eral third party can­di­dates, like Ran­der­sPehrson, a li­censed masseuse who was nom­i­nated by the Lib­er­tar­ian Party in April, and Es­pos­ito, a re­tired MSP trooper who suc­cess­fully pe­ti­tioned to run as a un­af­fil­i­ated can­di­date.

Although this is Gal­lion’s first foray into pol­i­tics, this hasn’t been his first go at state of­fices since he un­suc­cess­fully ran for House of Del­e­gates in 2010 and 2014. In his last run, he se­cured 38 per­cent of the vote in Ce­cil County — which en­deared him to the county GOP lead­er­ship when they were look­ing for Nor­man’s suc­ces­sor — but lost the race over­all. This time around, he fared well in Ce­cil County again, se­cur­ing more than 61 per­cent of the county vote.

Gal­lion is an ac­tive mem­ber of the farm­ing com­mu­nity as the owner of Hopewell Farms and the Har­ford County agri­cul­ture spe­cial­ist. He’s also served in var­i­ous com­mu­nity roles in the past years, in­clud­ing the Har­ford County Farm Bureau and the Level Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany.

While cam­paign­ing, Gal­lion touted his ex­pe­ri­ence in the agri­cul­ture world and called farm­ers the “back­bone” of Mary­land. To that end, he ad­vo­cated for fair reg­u­la­tion on farm­ing re­stric­tions, while also en­cour­ag­ing farm­ers to think out­side the box in terms of di­ver­si­fy­ing their oper­a­tions. He also voiced in­ter­est in ex­plor­ing in­dus­trial hemp oper­a­tions for medic­i­nal use as “any­thing I can do to help farm­ers,” although he stands against recre­ational mar­i­juana use.

Es­pos­ito also learned of the elec­tion re­sults when the Whig called him for a com­ment, but still con­grat­u­lated Gal­lion for a race well won.

“He and Chris [Ran­der­sPehrson] were gen­tle­men through­out the en­tire cam­paign, and the Repub­li­cans did a good job get­ting the word out,” Es­pos­ito said. “I had a re­ally good ex­pe­ri­ence with the peo­ple of Ce­cil and Har­ford coun­ties, and I just want to say con­grat­u­la­tions to Gal­lion.”

Although he came in third, Ran­ders-Pehrson saw a sil­ver lin­ing af­ter his loss on Tues­day night.

“I be­lieve I’m the high­est polling Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date in Mary­land, so I don’t think my jour­ney will end here,” he said. “I want to thank ev­ery­one who voted, and con­grat­u­late Ja­son on his win. I’m ex­tremely hon­ored and proud to have been a part of the Amer­i­can process, and I look for­ward to the work Ja­son puts forth.”

Elec­tion Day marks the end of a strange po­lit­i­cal jour­ney for Gal­lion, since for a time, it looked as if Ce­cil and Har­ford County Repub­li­can lead­ers were con­sid­er­ing to re­align the bal­lot af­ter the pri­mary elec­tion, with Del­e­gate Teresa Reilly (35B) as­cend­ing to the state se­nate. That would be ideal since Reilly has one term un­der her belt, while Gal­lion has none.

“We’re go­ing to as­sem­ble a good team and some state rep­re­sen­ta­tives have reached out and of­fered their as­sis­tance to help ease the tran­si­tion for me,” Gal­lion said. “I’m ex­cited to get started on the work we have to do.”

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