Culver wins County Executive’s office again

What was expected to be a close contest between the incumbent County Executive and the sitting Salisbury City Council President ended in a rout Tuesday night.

Republican Bob Culver brushed aside Democratic challenger John Hamilton and independent Jack Heath, taking 49.1 percent of the vote in the three-man contest.

Culver becomes the second County Executive in a row to win re-election; the first man ever to hold the post, Rick Pollitt, was re-elected in 2010.

The results were stunning, as many people — both in the city and county — had expected Heath to closely compete with Culver.

Hamilton, a decidedly awkward candidate who wasn’t taken seriously by the political structure, was never expected to fare so well. Even the Wicomico Democratic Club threw its support to Heath, rather than the challenger from its own party.

The vote totals were Culver with 15,463 votes, Hamilton with 9,375 votes or 29.8 percent and Heath a distant third with 6,624 votes or 21 percent.

Despite his huge win, Culver struck a serious tone when asked for his reaction Tuesday night.
“I feel like the citizens are happy with the county and the direction I am leading it,” he said. “That has been confirmed by the vote totals tonight.”

Then, with self-deprecation, he added: “I understand that others might not be so happy with the outcome, but I’ll work on them during the next four years.”

Culver attributed the wide margin to county residents’ views on the city vs. county, and said his style of leadership was preferred overall.

“I do think this turned into a city and county thing,” he said. “I get condemned for keeping necessary funds in reserve to ensure the financial strength of this county, but it’s obvious the residents appreciate the fiscal responsibility I push for.”

Culver added that his opponents “simply weren’t reading the electorate.”

The County Executive made no public appearances in the city on Tuesday night, saying he had awaited the results at his daughter’s home and was driving home to Whitehaven when he heard the final numbers.

Heath, who ran an aggressive campaign and spent comparably to Culver, said he will gratefully continue serving the public from his perch on the City Council.

“I have no regrets. I worked hard,” he said Tuesday night. “I ran the campaign the way that I wanted to run it and obviously I didn’t reach enough voters. And while I’m disappointed I can live with myself.”

“I look forward to serving on the City Council. I think we still have work to do in the city and I’m going to focus on that for as long as I can and see where we go,” he said.

As for whether or not he will run for County Executive again, Heath said it’s far too soon to know.
“Four years is a long time,” he said.

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