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Charles County Republicans kicked off two campaigns Monday night, announcing the nomination of former school board candidate Marcus Tillman to the county commissioner race in District 3 while welcoming gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan with a meet-and-greet fundraiser at The Greene Turtle restaurant in La Plata.

A Waldorf resident and lead pastor at Cedar Baptist Church in Capitol Heights, Tillman received 3,273 votes in the June 24 primary, or 3.1 percent, the second-lowest total in the 20-way race for the Charles County Board of Education. The race’s top 14 vote-getters advanced to the general election.

Charles County Republican Central Committee Chairman Collins Bailey said Tillman’s existing campaign infrastructure made him an ideal candidate after the GOP’s previous District 3 nominee, Hughesville resident Steve Mattingly, was ruled ineligible earlier this month.

“One of the things that was great about Marcus is he was already kind of primed and ready to go,” Bailey said. “His wife is a teacher. He has a heart for education, and he got to the point where he believed that he could do more for the county and the school system as a commissioner, so I just think he has the right background and the right attitude.”

Tillman signed onto the “Pledge Team” comprising fellow GOP commissioner candidates Tom deSabla, Mike Bakir and John Young at Hogan’s fundraiser. If elected, the team has vowed to cut taxes and reduce government spending.

A cabinet secretary under former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Hogan expressed excitement with the local Republican candidates and his own campaign, citing a poll released Friday by the Maryland Republican Party showing the candidate within three points of the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D).

“For the first time since 2002, when my friend Bob Ehrlich was elected governor, we have narrowed this race down to within the margin of error,” Hogan said to hearty applause.

Hogan said the poll was proof that a Republican could win the governor’s race in Maryland — despite Democrats’ 2-to-1 voter registration advantage in the state — due to repeated tax increases that have left voters fed up with the current administration.

“Every single day, everywhere I go, all day long, here’s what I hear, ‘I’m a Democrat, but I’m with you in November.’ ‘I’m a lifelong Democrat, but I just can’t take it anymore.’ ‘I’m a Democrat. I’ve never voted for a Republican in my life. I’m voting for you in November.’ It’s gotten to that point where people can’t take it anymore,” he said.

Hogan acknowledged later that his campaign must overcome a similar disadvantage to win Charles County, where Democrats also hold a 2-to-1 edge in registered voters.

“It’s difficult. It’s one of the tougher areas, and we’ve got a battle here in Charles County, but we’re hoping to do better than most people expect,” Hogan said, adding that recent polling shows him outperforming projections in Prince George’s and Charles counties and Baltimore city. “We’re way over our vote total projections, and our goals actually, so we’re doing extremely well, but we’ve got work to do. We’ve got 71 more days, and I would say Charles and Prince George’s are going to need some special attention, and we’re going to spend some time here and try to convince people to give us their consideration.”

Mike Phillips, Hogan’s local campaign coordinator, implored the roughly 50 people who attended the fundraiser to donate, get their friends out to vote, promote Hogan on social media, put campaign bumper stickers on their cars and volunteer to put up signs or staff the campaign’s local office in White Plains.

“We have got to fund this campaign. We need 42 percent of the vote. That takes money,” Phillips said. “We’ve got to get this man elected, or we’re going to be stuck with Tony Brown for eight years.”

jnewman@somdnews.com