National Association of Counties
Washington, D.C.


 County officials fare well in national, statewide elections

By Charlie Ban

Candidates with county government service on their resumes scored four seats in the U.S. House and victory in the country’s highest-profile U.S. Senate race.

They also won two governors’ races and five statewide offices.

New Castle County, Del. Executive Chris Coons saw his candidacy change overnight when Christine O’Donnell won the Republican primary. Her surprise victory over veteran Congressman and former Delaware Gov. Mike Castle brought the race into the media’s consciousness and gave Coons an opponent without Castle’s significant experience and cachet.


Photo courtesy of the News Journal

New Castle County, Del. Executive Chris Coons addresses supporters on Election Day after winning a U.S. Senate seat as his wife and children look on.

The victory was overwhelming. Coons’ votes in New Castle County alone — the largest of the state’s three counties — surpassed O’Donnell’s for the entire state.

Coons was an active NACo member. He served as chair of the 2008 Presidential Election Committee and over the years as a member of the Environment, Energy and Land Use, and Community and Economic Development Steering committees.

Though Coons will be one of 100 legislators in the senate, two county officials will shortly find themselves the governors of their respective states.

City and County of Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D) won the Colorado governor’s race.

"It’s a time that’s going to be a crisis for government, because property tax revenues will come in at lower pace, thanks to the mortgage crisis," said Colorado Counties Inc. Executive Director Chip Taylor. "I’m hopeful that as the mayor of a county and city, he has some kind of sensitivity for what counties are going through."

"It’s too early to make many prognostications, but he does have a lot of county officials on his transition team and committees, so that is promising."

Republican Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker won the Wisconsin race.

"We’re all very excited to see someone from county government become governor," said John Reinemann, the Wisconsin Counties Association legislative director. "His experience as executive of the largest county in the state gives him a unique opportunity to approach some of the problems counties will be facing in the coming biennium."

Four other county officials lost their gubernatorial races.

Meanwhile in Alabama, Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks (R) won 58 percent of the vote for the state’s 5th District seat. Former Maricopa County, Ariz. Treasurer David Schweikert (R) won 53 percent of the vote for his state’s 5th district seat.

After suffering defeat in 2008, former Bucks County, Pa. Commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican, reclaimed the 8th District congressional seat from Democrat Patrick Murphy.

South Carolina’s 1st District seat went to State Rep. Tim Scott, a Republican, who had served as the chairman of the Charleston County Council.

In other election news, former NACo President Ken Mayfield lost his bid for another term as a Dallas County commissioner. Mayfield, who served as NACo president from 2002–2003, had served on the Dallas Commissioners Court since 1995.