State Roundup, July 9, 2018

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OLSZEWSKI WINS BY 9 VOTES: Election officials declared former Del. Johnny Olszewski Jr. the winner of the Democratic nomination for Baltimore County executive — by a mere nine votes — after a count of absentee and provisional ballots Friday, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

BROCHIN TO SEEK RECOUNT: State Sen. Jim Brochin said he plans to ask for a recount after losing the Democratic nomination for Baltimore County executive by just nine votes. Former Del. Johnny Olszewski Jr. was declared the winner Friday night after all absentee and provisional ballots were counted, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. “We are going to ask for a recount, as is available under law,” Brochin said Saturday morning. “The question is: What kind of recount?”

  • Brochin said he will ask for a recount, saying human error is a way of life, John Lee reports for WYPR-FM. Brochin said he would like to have every paper ballot manually recounted county wide. Brochin said the state uses a verified paper trail in elections for this very reason. “This is a great test case of taking actual paper ballots and comparing them with the computer, which I don’t know a better way,” Brochin said.

ELRICH WINS BY 80 VOTES: Montgomery County Council member Marc Elrich has pulled off a win in the Democratic primary for county executive, clinging to his slim lead as the final ballots in the race were counted Sunday. Potomac businessman David Blair had been whittling away at Elrich’s advantage over the past couple weeks, as election officials tallied up absentee and provisional ballots, but he ultimately failed to overtake the Takoma Park progressive, reports Bethany Rodgers in Bethesda Beat.

HOWARD INCUMBENT LOSES BY 2 VOTES: Political newcomer Liz Walsh has upset incumbent County Councilman Jon Weinstein in Howard County’s Democratic primary, elections officials announced Friday, Kate Magill reports for the Howard County Times. With all absentee and provisional ballots counted, Walsh beat Weinstein by two votes, according to Howard County Board of Elections Director Guy Mickley.

BLACK CAUCUS CAUTIOUS, OPTIMISTIC ON JEALOUS: Teo Armus of the Post writes that it would be a stretch to call Ben Jealous part of Maryland’s African American political establishment. But at a “unity breakfast” Saturday morning, leaders of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland said they were cautiously optimistic the Democratic nominee for governor would win in November after a long primary season. The audience Saturday gave a standing ovation during a speech in which Jealous called on Democrats to organize “harder than we’ve ever organized” to register new voters and encourage them to turn out at the polls in November.

HOGAN RELEASES TAX RETURNS: Gov. Larry Hogan released three years of tax returns Friday, showing he’s made about $2.4 million while governor of Maryland. Hogan was paid $175,000 last year as governor, but most of his household income came from his private real estate business, Luke Broadwater and Michael Dresser of the Sun report.

83,493: Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that the State Board of Elections and the Motor Vehicle Administration appear to have reached agreement on the number of voters whose changes of address or party registration weren’t properly recorded in time for the June 26 primary elections. The number is 83,493, according to deputy elections administrator Nikki Charlson. That’s fewer than had been reported by the elections board as of June 28, but more than the number used by the MVA.

PESTICIDE USE ON RX POT PLANTS IS CLAIMED: State regulators are investigating allegations that a politically connected medical marijuana grower in Maryland illegally used pesticides in growing cannabis plants that were later harvested for sale to patients, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun. Three former employees at the Anne Arundel County growing center of the cannabis producer ForwardGro made the charges in sworn allegations sent to the General Assembly last week by a newly formed association of companies in the medical marijuana business that oppose pesticide use in growing the plants.

70 DISPENSARIES PLANNED: The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission expects to have licensed about 70 dispensaries by the end of next month, with hopes to clear the more than 100 pre-approved marijuana retailers for openings by 2019. In June, the commission offered final approval to another seven dispensaries throughout the state, including three in Greater Baltimore, Morgan Eichensehr of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

CRAB-PICKING PROBLEMS: Scott Dance of the Sun goes over the problems that are plaguing the crab houses along the Eastern Shore, including the lack of workers from Mexico to pick the crabs. Many Eastern Shore seafood processing businesses have been hamstrung, if not shut down, by a shortage of visas for the foreign guest workers on whom they have come to rely, he writes.

SMITH ISLANDERS COUNT ON GOVERNMENT, GOD: On Smith Island, Maryland’s only inhabited island with no bridge connection to the mainland, residents prize self-reliance, writes the Bay Journal’s Jeremy Cox in MarylandReporter. But for more than two decades, civic activist Eddie Somers and his neighbors had been pushing for outside help to save their low-lying island properties from slipping away into the surrounding Bay. Now, they’ve gotten it. Since 2015, federal, state and local sources have invested about $18.3 million in three separate projects on and around Smith Island, adding about two miles of reconstructed shoreline, several acres of newly planted salt marshes and hundreds of feet of jetties.

EVERY VOTE COUNTS: To the 75% of Maryland’s registered voters who failed to vote on Primary Election Day, you missed out on the chance to actually decide some important races. Two votes — yup, you and your absentee friend — turned out to be the difference in a Howard County Council race. Nine votes is all that separates the two top contenders for Baltimore County executive. Two county council races in Prince George’s County came down to 31 votes and 55 votes. Less than 150 votesare the difference in the race for Montgomery County executive, where final tallies aren’t official.  [Official count is now 80] Voting does, indeed, make a difference, writes Barry Rascovar in a column for his politicalMaryland blog.

DEL. WASHINGTON CLAIMS VICTORY: Del. Mary Washington claimed a narrow victory Friday in her tight race in North Baltimore with incumbent Sen. Joan Carter Conway following the count of all absentee and provisional votes, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun. The two-term delegate scored an upset win over the veteran Conway in the Democratic primary for the 43rd District seat. The unofficial margin after Friday’s count was 492 votes. Washington declared victory in a Facebook post.

3rd PARTY CHALLENGES IN WA CO: All but one of Washington County’s Republican legislators were home free in this year’s primary election because they faced no challengers from their own party. But while Del. Paul Corderman, R-Washington, is the only one facing a major-party challenger this fall — Democrat Peter Perini — third-party candidates are challenging the rest, Tamela Baker writes in her Political Notes column for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

‘GAME ON’ IN ARUNDEL EXEC RACE: For months, Steve Schuh and Steuart Pittman have been quietly building their campaigns for Anne Arundel County executive. Pamela Wood of the Sun writes that now that the primary elections are behind them, they’re ready to start selling their messages to county voters. “Game on,” said Pittman, a south county Democrat who is trying to unseat Schuh, the Republican incumbent. “We both felt the people in contested primaries should enjoy the limelight,” Schuh said.

MO CO FINANCE EXPERIMENT: In an op-ed for the Post, Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal writes that in 2014, the Montgomery County Council adopted an experiment in democracy, to be tested in the 2018 election. Public campaign financing was supposed to open opportunities for a more diverse, grass-roots pool of candidates and reduce the influence of big money. Now that the primary election (which usually is decisive in determining winners in heavily Democratic Montgomery) is over, how did the experiment work? Not very well in the county executive and open-seat District 1 races, better in the race for at-large Montgomery County Council seats.

PG COUNCIL RACES: Rodney Streeter and Sydney Harrison claimed victory late Friday in two closely watched Prince George’s County Council races that were too close to call after last week’s primary, Rachel Chason of the Post reports. In District 7, Streeter, chief of staff to council member Andrea Harrison (D), led Krystal Oriadha, a progressive activist, by 31 votes after officials finished tallying provisional and absentee ballots. In District 9, Sydney Harrison, the clerk of the county court, led activist and attorney Tamara Davis Brown by 55 votes.