There was no decisive numbers in Tuesday’s primary balloting, so Judge Jimmy Sarbanes and challenger M.J. Caldwell will face off again in the November elections.
As expected, Sarbanes was the winner in the Democratic primary; Caldwell was the winner among Republicans.
With 100 percent of the vote counted in Wicomico County, Sarbanes was the favorite among Democrats, 2,698 to 1,542, or 64 percent to 36 percent.
Caldwell was the choice of county Republicans, 2,826 to 2,130, or 57 percent to 43 percent.
Though the Circuit Court race was nonpartisan and the men’s names appeared on both party ballots, Sarbanes is known as a Democrat and Caldwell a Republican.
Both men are Salisbury residents with long ties to the local legal circle.
Sarbanes was sworn-in in March to a new seat that the legislature created. Previously a partner in the Laws & Sarbanes law firm, he was appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley from among three vetted judicial applicants.
Caldwell also placed his name in contention for the judgeship. He is a partner at Caldwell & Whitehead.
State law requires that newly appointed judges stand for election in the first voting cycle following their elevation. That puts Sarbanes before the voters this year.
Having been passed over for the new judgeship (Caldwell was among three selected finalists considered by the governor), Caldwell decided to challenge Sarbanes.
State procedures seek to keep the races nonpartisan, therefore, both men’s names will appear on the June Republican and Democratic primary ballots without any attached party affiliations.
To escape a second matchup on the November ballot, one man would have needed to deliver a knockout blow to the other, by winning on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.
The seat was created as a Wicomico County Circuit Court judgeship — the county’s fourth — but the post requires that judge spend two weeks a month in Dorchester County because that county is also short of judicial resources, according to the statistics.
The judgeship pays $144,908 annually.
Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org