State Sen. Brochin Faces Opposition From Fellow Democrats To Keep His Seat

Jun 20, 2014

Campaign signs for State Senate District 42.
Campaign signs for State Senate District 42.
Credit John Lee / WYPR

Baltimore County State Sen. Jim Brochin finds himself in a bitter Democratic primary race in which both the governor and county executive are supporting his opponent.

Governor Martin O’Malley and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz have thrown their support behind former Del. Connie DeJulius. Brochin says he lost their support because of his independence as a legislator. He’s opposed them on some key issues: Brochin says he and Kamenetz locked horns over the relocation of a fire station in Towson, and whether the Green Turtle restaurant on York Road should get a government loan for renovations.

Brochin says, “I don’t think we should be subsidizing bars in Towson or anyplace else. I don’t think that’s a good use of taxpayer money.”

But Kamenetz says that’s not why he’s opposing Brochin. Kamenetz says, “I think it’s important for elected officials to be independent, but at times, you become ineffective.”

Senator Jim Brochin and campaign volunteer Christine Stutz wave to drivers on York Road.
Senator Jim Brochin and campaign volunteer Christine Stutz wave to drivers on York Road.
Credit John Lee / WYPR

Kamenetz says he’s known DeJulius for a long time and that she would promote the interests of the Democratic party. According to state election records, Kamenetz’s campaign committee has given $6,000 to DeJulius’s campaign. DeJulius has raised and spent more during the campaign than Brochin, even though the incumbent has more money in the bank. DeJulius has spent a lot of money on mail that attacks Brochin’s record. DeJulius says her mailings and a companion website stick to the facts. Brochin says she has distorted his record.

Then there is the incident in which DeJulius’s husband Ron, the state’s commissioner of labor and industry, and two other men, were charged with theft last month for stealing some of Brochin’s campaign signs. Governor O’Malley, when asked about a member of his administration being involved in something like that, downplayed it. “It’s not unusual to have some friction over sign locations,” he said.

Ron DeJulius has a November court date. Connie DeJulius says it has caused little disruption to her campaign and that her husband had the approval from the property owner to put up her signs and tear down others that were there.

The 42nd senate district is dramatically different than in the last election. The lines were redrawn, so a district that was once in and around Towson, now stretches from Towson up to the Pennsylvania line and includes Hereford, Hunt Valley and Parkton. It’s believed that makes it more conservative and tougher for a Democrat to win in the general election. But DeJulius says while the district is diverse, she’s not so sure it’s more conservative. DeJulius says if she wins the primary she can do it again in November.

“Guess what. Everyone wants the same thing,” DeJulius says. “They want good neighborhoods. They want good schools. They’re just decent, hard working people and they all want the same things.”

But Brochin says the district is more conservative and because of his track record of opposing most tax increases, he has a better shot of winning the general election. Brochin says he’s proudest of getting a hybrid elected school board bill passed for Baltimore County.

Brochin says, “I think I’m the better candidate because I’m always with the community because I think that’s what the job of a senator is. I think it’s to represent your constituents not to represent special interests or developers.”

DeJulius says, “I get it and I understand that we are overburdening our families and overburdening our businesses but we also have to understand we need to fund our priorities.”

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face Republican Tim Robinson in the general election.