Who Are The Candidates For AA County Executive?

Until last week, when it came to the topic of challengers for the 2010 County Executive race, many privately questioned the wisdom of wasting resources going against an incumbent apparently made of Teflon. Now, the dynamics have obviously changed. While the County Executive tries to demand the stories about him cease, others have envisioned a perfect opportunity to take him to task.

As far as the Republicans, all 4 of their Council members cannot launch another run because of term limits. Whether they’ll openly admit it or not, all of them have probably eyed the Executive’s seat at one time or another. And, with Leopold eligible for an additional 4 year stretch, many probably prematurely dismissed any chance of a 2010 campaign. Now, what do they have to lose? Many in the party are privately fuming at Leopold right now. Obviously, the religious right doesn’t like the latest news. In other words, the waters are ripe for a primary challenge. Personally, I say watch Cathleen Vitale.

Historically however, no Councilperson has gone directly from that seat to the Executive’s office. Typically, a member of the House or Senate steps up and emerges as the victor. No doubt, by 2014 many Republican legislators would have strongly considered the opportunity. In fact, word on the street says Steve Schuh has already planted a seed. While he would certainly be a formidable primary opponent next year against Leopold, their friendship is well documented. Of course, he may shoot himself in the foot by wasting his golden chance.

Of course, let’s not discount the Democrats. They could benefit from a contentious primary or an anti-Leopold sentiment. The two big names being floated are Ron Bateman and Jamie Benoit. I hear Bateman has no interest whereas he’s doing a job he loves. Likewise, Benoit denies interest but provides the independence, tenacity and toughness necessary for the job. Outside of those two, I truly believe an unknown could emerge much the same way we saw with Janet Owens.

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In the coming months, take a close look at who becomes the vocal opposition to the County Executive. Keep in mind, that voice may come from either side of the aisle.


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