Md. gov results: 9 Dems vying for nomination; Trump looms large in GOP race


The three leading Democratic candidates in the polls are longtime Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot; author and nonprofit CEO Wes Moore; and former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

The polls are now closed and votes are being counted in the closely watched Democratic and Republican primaries for Maryland governor.

But expect the vote counting to take longer than you might be expecting.

Maryland elections officials cannot start counting the over 200,000 mail-in ballots received from voters until Thursday morning, meaning it’s possible the outcome of several races won’t be known for several days or even weeks.

In the weeks leading up to the primary, polls showed the Democratic primary had essentially tightened to a three-man race — with more than a third of voters still undecided.

The three leading Democratic candidates in the polls are longtime Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot; author and nonprofit CEO Wes Moore; and former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

On the Republican side, polls essentially show a statistical dead heat between two candidates with drastically different records and rhetoric.

Kelly Schulz, former Maryland Commerce secretary, has been endorsed by her old boss, Gov. Larry Hogan, who is term-limited. Hogan, who is said to be considering a run for president, has offered a full-throated endorsement of Schulz.

Her opponent, Republican Del. Dan Cox, has clashed with Hogan and boasts an endorsement from former President Donald Trump.

Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in the state by 2 to 1, but Hogan easily won a second term in 2018 and has remained popular over the course of his eight years in office.

Among both Democrats and Republicans, a recent poll found gas prices, inflation and public safety were the top issues cited by voters.

Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, nearly 500,000 Marylanders voters requested mail-in ballots, and the State Board of Elections had received a total of over 213,000 as of Monday. In order for mail-in ballots to count, they needed to be postmarked or placed in a ballot drop-off box by 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The tally of early votes and mail-in ballots returned by voters as of Monday totals more than 385,000 ballots this primary — compared with 252,000 early and mail-in votes cast before the 2018 primary.

Overall, a total of 872,207 Marylanders cast ballots in the 2018 primary.

Only in-person votes cast during early voting or on primary day were being reported Tuesday night. Local boards won’t begin counting mail-in ballots until Thursday at 10 a.m., meaning many races could remain too close to call until a substantial number of mail-in ballots are counted.

Final certification of the election will take place the week of Aug. 8.

The Maryland General Assembly approved legislation this spring that would have allowed local boards of elections to count mail-in ballots early, but Hogan vetoed the measure, saying it lacked election security measures such as signature verification for mail-in ballots.

In the Democratic race, the large field of candidates largely found themselves in agreement on big-picture items — such as the need to secure funding for a massive, multibillion-dollar plan for the future of education in the state, including universal pre-K, as well as efforts to ensure accountability for police misconduct while also dealing with a rise in crime.

At the lone televised debate last month, candidates traded barbs and sought to differentiate themselves.

Moore, who has faced criticism over exaggerating his early connections to Baltimore, has accused Franchot, the state’s top tax collector, of taking donations from companies with business before the Maryland Board of Public Works.

The other Democratic candidates include former U.S. Education Secretary John King; former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler; former Obama White House staffer Ashwani Jain; former Clinton administration official Jon Baron; retired teacher Ralph Jaffe and philosopher and perennial candidate Jerome Segal.

A Goucher College poll released in late June showed Franchot, Moore and Perez essentially tied at around 15% of the vote, with 35% of likely voters still undecided and nearly two-thirds of voters saying they could still change their minds even if they had a preferred candidate.

On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump has played an outsized role in the race.

Cox, who has trumpeted his Trump endorsement, attended the Jan. 6 rally on the White House Ellipse immediately preceding the riot at the U.S. Capitol and tweeted “Mike Pence is a traitor” around the time the mob was breaking in to disrupt the counting of electoral votes. (Cox later issued a statement saying he denounces violence.)

Hogan has called Cox a “QAnon whack job” and a “crazy guy.”

Polls show even more Republican voters are undecided heading into the primary. In the Goucher poll, 25% of voters said they planned to vote for Cox and 22% for Schulz — with 44% of voters still undecided.

Among Republican voters, both Hogan and Trump remain popular, and Maryland Republicans are evenly split about whether the Republican Party should continue to be led by Trump.

Former Del. Robin Ficker, an anti-tax advocate who has successfully placed several local ballot initiatives in Montgomery County, is also seeking the Republican nomination, as is attorney Joe Werner.


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