Sheriff wins the first round, beating Phelan in primary
Incumbent Cameron scores 4-to-1 tally over his primary opponent
St. Mary’s sheriff Tim Cameron’s return to contested political elections, after twice facing no opponent, scored an easy first-round win Tuesday by a 4-to-1 margin over a challenger in the Republican primary.
“I’m very pleased,” Cameron said while seated among senior deputies and other supporters that night at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Great Mills. Facing an opponent “enables you to get out and talk to people, which I do every day as part of the job,” the sheriff said, and as a candidate, “you connect with as many people as you can, in a different way.”
Unofficial results gave Cameron 4,620 votes, amounting to 79.9 percent of the tally, compared to 1,161 votes, or 20.1 percent, for Tom Phelan, a retired Navy captain.
Phelan said Wednesday morning that he sent Cameron a note via Facebook, to congratulate the incumbent on his victory, “and wished him the best of luck.”
Cameron, 59, now faces a showdown in November’s general election with retired sheriff’s Lt. Ted Belleavoine, the unopposed lone candidate for the job in this week’s Democratic primary. Belleavoine received 3,447 votes in his party’s primary, according to the unofficial results that do not include absentee or provisional ballots.
Cameron defeated an incumbent sheriff in 2006 and faced no opponent in the succeeding two elections.
Phelan, 61, filed his candidacy for the county’s top law enforcement post a year ago, offering from the onset “a fresh perspective and fresh leadership” and citing his previous oversight of four military commands.
In January, the incumbent sheriff followed through on his timetable for seeking another four years in office, and focused his remarks at that time on the “amazing work” of his deputies, cor- rectional officers and civilian staff, and his goals of continuing a partnered approach to the opioid overdose crisis and locally addressing the nationwide difficulty in the “recruiting and retention” of good law officers.
Cameron and Phelan took part in a candidates forum last month in Lexington Park, where the incumbent reiterated his continuing efforts to develop a “premier law enforcement agency,” and his opponent in the primary emphasized a team approach to public safety.
Campaign fundraising and spending by the two candidates’ campaigns included reports filed earlier this month that Cameron’s campaign recently added $3,245 to a prior balance of $3,142, which dated back to a finance statement from more than three years ago. Cameron said he did not seek campaign contributions during the two previous election cycles. Phelan at one point reported a campaign balance of $5,284.
On Wednesday, Phelan said of the primary contest’s civil tone, “that was my intent going in, to stay positive” and focus on his experience and ideas.
“I’d hoped it would be a little closer [result], but the voters have spoken,” Phelan added. “I got some good name recognition out there. There are potential opportunities four years from now. That remains undecided.”
Belleavoine, 50, entered the contest last October, saying “there’s an entire workforce that remains unrepresented” and issuing a statement that he would “strive to improve the morale of the sheriff’s office.” He retired from the sheriff’s office in 2015, and served as chairman of the county’s alcohol beverage board from June 2016 until he stepped down from that position following the filing of his candidacy. He currently works as a sheriff’s deputy in Calvert County.
St. Mary’s Sheriff Tim Cameron, left, chats with retired Maryland State Police Lt. Michael Thompson at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Great Mills while awaiting election results Tuesday night.