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Staff photo by CARRIE LOVEJOYCharles Lollar, the GOP nominee to oppose Congressman Steny Hoyer in the November general election, and fellow candidate Collins Bailey greet each other in Prince Frederick.
Ex-Marine and businessman Charles Lollar of Newburg captured the GOP nomination to oppose U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer in the Nov. 2 general election after claiming 58 percent of the primary election votes as of midnight Tuesday.
Lollar, 39, received 16,097 votes, well more than the 8,596 cast for business owner and Charles County Board of Education member Collins Bailey, who had 31 percent of the total vote in the 5th District. Fellow Republicans Chris Chaffee and Chris Robins finished a distant third and fourth with 1,557 and 1,468 votes, good for 5.6 and 5.3 percent, respectively.
Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) did have two primary opponents — retired Defense Department budget analyst Sylvanus Bent, 78, of Accokeek and graduate student Andrew Gall, 27 — but received 81 percent of the primary vote and ran away with the Democratic nomination. Gall and Bent received 13 and 6 percent of the vote, respectively.
Unseating Hoyer, 71, a 15-term incumbent who has become one of the nation's most influential and well-funded politicians, will be a tall order.
Bailey, 56, ran against Hoyer in 2008, but the congressman won re-election by a healthy margin with 74 percent of the vote to Bailey's 24 percent.
Lollar, who has featured sonorous rhetoric and generated fresh enthusiasm at Republican and tea party events across the region, was confident he will show better this November.
"When it comes to this district, in my opinion, I feel very comfortable and very confident that we will not only make a dent in this election but that we're going to win this election," Lollar said, adding that "arrogance has gotten to [Hoyer's] head" and driven the congressman to vote for legislation unpopular in his district.
Gracious in defeat, Bailey quickly threw his support behind Lollar.
"We are blessed to have him to be the nominee in Maryland's 5th district and I'm proud to be his friend," Bailey said of the nominee before a group of GOP supporters in Prince Frederick following Lollar's victory.
"To me, it made me proud to be a Republican to have two guys with the integrity and class of Collins Bailey and Charles Lollar," said Frank McCabe, president of the Calvert County Republican Central Committee.
Todd Eberly, a political science professor and acting director of the Center for the Study of Democracy at St. Mary's College of Maryland, pegged the race "advantage Hoyer, but probably the most competitive race he's seen in years."
"It's clear" from Tuesday's turnout that Republicans are more into this election cycle than Democrats — the same amount of Republicans turned out as did for the 2006 gubernatorial primary, compared to half as many Democrats, Eberly said.
"I still say the 5th Congressional District overwhelmingly favors a Democrat being re-elected, especially when that Democrat is the second-ranked democrat in the Democratic party," he added. "That said, he's going to have a contest on his hands and I think he realizes that."
Lollar should perform well in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties, where many Democratic voters also lean conservative, allowing him to focus more on Prince George's County, Eberly said.
Lollar has made promises at public events to, if nominated, run a campaign free from partisan bickering and reiterated that commitment early Wednesday morning.
"We want this campaign to be about unity and bringing people together, not keeping people separate," he said.