ANNAPOLIS – After almost two weeks of uncertainty, Larry Mark Epstein was told Friday he had won the Republican nomination for comptroller by eight votes, nudging out Timothy R. Mayberry.
“I think it just shows how important every vote is,” said Jim Burton, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party.
Epstein, 49, a certified public account, did not wait for Friday’s official announcement from the state elections board to begin his general election campaign against former Gov. William Donald Schaefer (D).
“As of Monday, I started to campaign … going ahead as if we were going to win [the primary],” Epstein said. The 1990 Republican comptroller nominee this week hired a scheduler and a campaign manager.
“We need to be more organized than [in] the primary,” he said.
He also said he has been in touch with GOP gubernatorial nominee Ellen Sauerbrey, and they will campaign together. He said he is working to gain name recognition, and ordered 2,000 lawn signs with his name on them.
Mayberry, 42, had pledged months ago to support whichever of the six Republican candidates won the nomination, said campaign spokeswoman Dee Richards. The 1994 Republican comptroller nominee and a former vice president for CitiBank and Bank of Baltimore was unavailable Friday for comment.
Donald F. Norris, a professor of policy sciences at University of Maryland-Baltimore County, said the Epstein/Schaefer matchup would be “real interesting.”
He described the two as “a young Republican with [accounting credentials] and an old Democrat with a lot of baggage.”
A spokesman for Schaefer, 76, a former mayor of Baltimore, said he had no comment Friday on Epstein’s win.
An analysis of the returns from the Maryland State Administrative Board of Election Laws showed each of the top Republican candidates won votes in his own back yard.
Epstein, of Glyndon, won three counties in the GOP primary, including almost 15,000 votes of the 25,544 cast in his own Baltimore County. He also won Baltimore City and Harford County.
Mayberry, of Washington County, took that county along with six others: Allegany, Frederick and Garrett in western Maryland; Howard and Carroll in central Maryland; and Worcester County on the Eastern Shore.
Overall, Mayberry won 42,480 votes to Epstein’s 42,488.
Republican Michael Steele, 39, who was endorsed by Sauerbrey, came in third in the primary, with 37,736 votes.
Ardath Cade, 62, a human services officer for Anne Arundel County and widow of Sen. Jack Cade, won 32,102 votes; Robert Kearns, 71, of Queenstown, won 17,321 votes; and Eugene Zarwell, 56, of Gambrills, won 9,706 votes.
“I think people in general think I have the best credentials,” Epstein said. “I was the only [candidate] with credentials to beat Schaefer.”
Epstein has 24 years of public accounting experience and is a partner of the Owings Mills accounting firm, Hertzbach & Company. He also served four years as the head of the Tax and Budget Commission for Baltimore County, overseeing the county budget and revenue departments.
Schaefer, who also had five primary opponents, won 55 percent of the Democratic vote – or 229,815 of the 418,776 votes cast.
He is considered the favorite for the seat in this heavily Democratic state.
But Norris said events in the White House could affect the general election outcome.
“One of the things that has to concern all the Democratic candidates is the effects of the Clinton-Lewinsky [situation] and how it could affect voter turnout,” Norris said, referring to the president’s admitted “inappropriate relationship” with a White House intern. -30-