18-year-old candidate follows Trump’s path in Maryland election


Mason Carter graduated from high school in May. He lives at home with his parents and has no job. Come Tuesday, the 18-year-old Republican, who says he has been inspired by former President Donald Trump since he was 11, hopes to become one of the youngest officials ever elected in Maryland.

And his chances look good.

Frederick County voted decisively for Joe Biden against Trump in the 2020 presidential race. But in its race against Democrat Julianna Lufkin, Carter is running for the County Council’s 5th arrondissement, its reddest and most rural seat, giving it a significant advantage.

Carter, who declined to be interviewed for this story but emailed and texted responses to some submitted questions, said he wanted to cut taxes and government regulations and improve roads and schools. And he is running against county officials’ decision to put restrictions in place during the pandemic to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

What prompted him to run, he said in an email, was his belief that “the government should stay out of our backs and out of our pockets.”

Frederick County’s population, once predominantly rural and still the state’s leading agricultural county, has jumped 43 percent in the past two decades to 280,000. The growth has overcrowded schools, strained infrastructure, increased government spending, and coincided with a shift in the county’s political makeup. Biden’s victory in 2020 was the first time the county has voted for a Democrat for president since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

Republican Michael Blue, a Walkersville auto repair business owner who represented District 5 for one term, voted according to him to serve his largely rural constituency, which stretches to the Pennsylvania border and includes Emmitsburg, Thurmont, Walkersville and Woodsboro. Often, he said, that involved working with his Democratic colleagues on the board to find legislation acceptable to both parties.

But Carter, then 17, targeted Blue, 63, as a seasoned pro in the primary campaign, attacking him for being “anti-Trump”, for not being a “true conservative” and for being sided “with the Radical Liberals on our County Council.”

“We remain committed to taking back our beautiful county and restoring freedom and freedom,” Carter proclaimed on his page. where he had criticized Blue’s support for mask wearing and other covid prevention measures. “I will never reduce you to your house, shut down your business, shut down your church, force mask your children, or raise your taxes.”

In his campaign, Carter framed his candidacy as an effort for #saveFrederickCounty, a hashtag he uses on billboards, mailings and Facebook posts. In March, he wrote in a campaign survey conducted by Duckpin, a conservative Maryland political and news blog, that “2022 is arguably the Republicans’ last chance to take back Frederick County.”

Carter said he was modeling his approach on that of Trump. “Trump: Art of the Deal” is his favorite book and he regularly praises the former president on the track and on his Facebook feed.

“I had a great time traveling to Scranton, PA to support our amazing president,” Carter said on his campaign’s Facebook page in September. “We are the freedom movement. Proud to be a Republican MAGA.

Carter won the July primary with 2,841 votes to Blue’s 2,469. Lufkin, 31, who co-owns a restaurant business with her mother and is also the first woman to graduate from a one-year program at the Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing, had never applied for a position politics before. She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and won 2,442 votes.

Carter’s work experience is relatively limited: six months as a reporter for a local newspaper and a stint in retail customer service. His forays into politics include founding his high school’s Republican club and volunteering in local political races.

Watch: Q&A with Maryland gubernatorial candidates

His campaign resonates with 57-year-old Tim Clarke, a retired law enforcement officer who lives in Rocky Ridge. Carter’s youth doesn’t bother Clarke.

“I just think he’s the best candidate. He worked hard and he’s going to get my vote,” Clarke said. “I wish I had someone a little older but…his thought process is similar to mine. We are both conservative.

Clarke said he gave Carter a lot of credit just for running for office.

William and Angelina Walsh of Woodsboro are registered Democrats who have lived in Frederick County for 50 years. They both voted for Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in previous elections, but when they left early voting at the Thurmont Library last week, they said they had voted for a direct Democrat, including Lufkin.

“He hasn’t been around long enough to know what’s going on,” William Walsh, 72, a retired federal civil servant, said of Carter. His wife, also a retired federal employee, agreed. “I wouldn’t vote for anyone associated with Trump,” Angelina Walsh said.

Blue said he was not entirely surprised to lose to Carter, who was endorsed by Republican Maryland gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox, a state delegate from Frederick who defeated the sorted successor on the wing of Hogan, a moderate Republican, in the July primary.

“I knew with the way the political environment is, not just here in Frederick County but in a number of places across the country, that Democrats and Republicans, in both parties, the extremes weed out some of the more moderate candidates in the primaries,” he said.

Blue said ruling from the far left or the far right “just doesn’t work”.

“I think it’s pathetic if you can’t see a point of view or someone else’s opinion has merit,” he said. “You may not quite agree, but we are more alike and agree on more things than we are. And if we accept that and work from that particular angle, we can have much more productive governance that citizens deserve. ”

Blue, who backed Trump for president, said he decided to support Lufkin in the run for the board. He said it will be “not an easy battle” for her, but he believes she has the right life and work experience for the job and can win.

Blue said Carter was an energetic activist, but he thinks young people are too inexperienced to serve on the council.

“It has nothing to do with me not supporting a Republican who beat me. I really [couldn’t] careless. I think this Mason Carter is way over his head,” Blue said. “I wish him the best. … I’m not going to oppose him, but I just don’t see how, without a lot of help, he will be able to carry out his duties. … Every vote, every decision that it takes affects all citizens of Frederick County.

Lufkin said she decided to run this year because of concerns about child food insecurity, underfunded public schools, poor internet quality in the county’s more rural areas, and the ongoing assessment of the opioid epidemic.

“I turned 30 and realized I wasn’t having the impact I wanted on my community,” Lufkin said in an interview. “I wasn’t helping in the way that I thought help was needed.”

Carter said in an email that his ultimate goal in life was to be a husband and father, but “with rising prices, high taxes, rising crime and overcrowded schools, I’m afraid not being able to give my children the life they deserve here in Frederick County.

While inflation has driven up prices everywhere and some schools in Frederick are overcapacity, even some of Carter’s boosters say crime isn’t rising.

“We’ve seen eight straight years where we’ve seen a reduction in serious crime,” Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said. Frederick News-Post this week. “So it’s not necessarily a problem when you see what’s going on around us, but we don’t want it to become a problem.”

Jenkins, who was sheriff for 16 years and is racing again this year, supported Carter in the race.

Lufkin said she and Carter disagree on political issues, but it’s her work and life experience that separates the two candidates: “I’ve been working in the family business since I was 14 or 15,” she says. “So that seems like a pretty fundamental difference.”

Lufkin said she would work with Republicans to reach consensus on issues even if that meant making occasional concessions — something she said Carter wouldn’t do with Democrats.

Trump, election denial, QAnon and Dan Cox: In Maryland, the GOP is marginalizing itself

Carter, who sent mailers with a photoshopped image of Lufkin with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) who called Lufkin “the AOC of Frederick County,” said in an email that he would be “more than happy to work with my friends and fellow Democrats on policies and issues that will improve the quality of life for our families.

Lufkin has $9,630 in hand when he last deposited Oct. 27. Carter has $11,861 according to his Oct. 28 filing.

In March, Carter was asked in the Duckpin Questionnaire if Biden had been legitimately elected president in 2020. He replied, “No.”

He said then that he would accept the results of the primary election. When asked last month if he would accept the general election results if he lost, Carter said he would not commit to doing so.

“How can you legitimately accept something that hasn’t happened yet? »

Peter Jamison contributed to this report.

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