Gallion claims District 35 senate seat
— 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.”