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Trouble continues for GOP picks to elections boards; Moore withdraws two other nominees

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Trouble continues for GOP picks to elections boards; Moore withdraws two other nominees

Mar 27, 2023 | 10:52 pm ET
By Bryan P. Sears
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Trouble continues for GOP picks to elections boards; Moore withdraws two other nominees
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Christine McCloud, a Howard County resident, was nominated by the Maryland Republican Party to fill a vacancy on the state Board of Elections. The Senate Executive Nominations Committee held her nomination Monday after questioning her for several minutes about her views on election policies. Photo by Bryan P. Sears.

Two more Republican nominees to elections boards ran into confirmation problems in the Maryland Senate on Monday. 

The Senate Executive Nominations Committee voted to hold the nominations of Christine McCloud and Michelle Ewing. The pair were nominated to the state and Talbot County boards of elections, respectively. 

Ewing faced an 11th hour social media effort to block her nomination to the Talbot County Board of Elections. Opponents objected to her support for keeping a Confederate monument on the lawn of the Talbot County courthouse, and critics also made claims that she was an election denier. 

A spokesperson for Gov. Wes Moore (D) said the governor’s office received a number of complaints about Ewing. 

In an interview before the hearing, Ewing said she was told by Sen. Johnny Mautz (R-Middle Shore) that the Senate Executive Nominations Committee would not recommend her to the full Senate. Ewing said she was not withdrawing her nomination but instead chose not to attend or participate in the hearing given the predetermined outcome. 

“It’s not going to hurt me one way or the other,” said Ewing. 

Ewing, who described herself as a supporter of former President Donald Trump, said she was not an election denier. 

“I believe the election in Talbot County was legitimate,” she said, adding that she similarly believed the 2020 election in Maryland was not tainted. 

But Ewing said she had concerns, shared by many other Republicans, about elections in other states including Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

The nominations committee also voted to hold off on a vote to recommend McCloud for confirmation. 

McCloud, who has a background in hypnotherapy, was questioned about her lack of election experience. She told the committee her efforts were limited to volunteer work holding a sign at a polling place for an unidentified candidate. 

McCloud was also asked about her personal views about the legitimacy of the 2022 election as well as the ability to carry guns into polling places. 

The key moment, however, was when McCloud was asked about her views on the use of mail-in ballots. 

“I don’t think it is secure,” McCloud said. “I know people that have gotten mail in ballots sent to their house and they’ve gotten several mail-in ballots. It just seems like it’s not 100%.” 

An audible reaction could be heard from one senator sitting near a table of reporters. 

It is unclear if or when the committee might decide to vote on McCloud. 

She and Ewing are the second and the third Republican nominations to a state or local elections board to fall on hard times this legislative session. 

A month ago, Moore rejected the state Republican Party’s nomination of William T. Newton to the state board of elections. The governor cited Newton’s public criticisms of election results as well as a guilty plea in Baltimore County on embezzlement charges that involved his mother, who was suffering from dementia. 

Nominees to MEDCO, School for the Deaf boards withdrawn

Moore’s office withdrew two candidates for Senate confirmation Monday night, including Thomasina Coates, who was announced Friday as a nominee to the Maryland Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors.

Coates (D), a Charles County commissioner, has been embroiled in a legal dispute with fellow county commissioners since December relating to the continued employment of County Administrator Mark Belton. Late last year it came to light that Coates was censured in 2020 for bullying and discriminatory acts against Belton.

Also withdrawn Monday, without explanation, was Moore’s nomination of Stephanie Dolamore of Baltimore to the Maryland School for the Deaf Board of Trustees. Dolamore is director of policy initiatives at the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council and an assistant professor of administration at Gallaudet University.

Danielle E. Gaines and Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.