State Roundup, July 16, 2018

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NO COMPROMISE OF STATE ELECTIONS FOUND: Maryland officials are investigating a Russian investor’s ties to a local software vendor that maintains part of the State Board of Elections’ voter registration system, legislative leaders said Friday. At a hastily called news conference, Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch said the FBI informed them and Gov. Larry Hogan that without the state’s knowledge, a Russian investor had bought the software vendor in 2015. Miller called the news “shocking” but said the FBI did not indicate that Maryland elections had been compromised, Luke Broadwater and Jean Marbella of the Sun report.

RUSSIAN HACK & BALTIMORE: The federal indictment charging 12 Russian agents on Friday with hacking Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign includes an allegation that a Twitter account, @BaltimoreIsWhr, to invite people to join a “flash mob” and to post images using the hashtag “#BlacksAgainstHillary.” Jean Marbella reports for the Sun that it is the latest revelation of how social media was used locally and nationally in an attempt to influence the election.

VOTING SKIPPED? Thousands of Marylanders may have skipped voting in the June primary after they were warned at the last minute that they would have to cast provisional ballots because of a computer glitch. State elections officials told lawmakers at an Annapolis hearing Thursday that turnout among those voters affected by the glitch was less than half that of the electorate as a whole, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

Johnny Olszewski Jr. talks to supporters after recount victory. From his Facebook page.

OLSZEWSKI DECLARED WINNER: Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that after three days of recounting paper ballots, Johnny Olszewski Jr. was affirmed Saturday evening as the winner of the Democratic primary for Baltimore County executive. Elections officials hand-counted 87,222 ballots and determined that the former state delegate won by 17 votes over the second-place finisher, state Sen. Jim Brochin. County Councilwoman Vicki Almond remained in third, and Carney resident Kevin Marron finished fourth.

EIGHT TAKEAWAYS: Former Del. Johnny Olszewski Jr. won by a tiny margin in the Democratic primary for Baltimore County executive. But, opines the editorial board of the Sun, the political significance for the county and perhaps the state is enormous. The board offers eight takeaways from the victory, including that while Baltimore County has traditionally been the home to centrist or conservative Democrats, Mr. Olszewski proved there’s an energized progressive wing to the party that can be mobilized around issues like a higher minimum wage, public campaign financing and universal pre-K.

WHAT THEY SPENT: The three leading candidates in the Democratic primary for Baltimore County executive spent a significant amount of money on television ads before the vote, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. Combined, they spent nearly $1.67 million on TV ads in the Baltimore market in the weeks leading up to the June 26 primary, according to an analysis by The Baltimore Sun of contracts that were filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

WHAT’s NEXT: The nominees are now in place for the general election race for Baltimore County executive. Former Del. Johnny Olszewski won a recount over the weekend, a 17 vote win over state Sen. Jim Brochin. Now he faces state Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer in the general election. Morning Edition Host Nathan Sterner spoke with WYPR’s John Lee about what happens next.

HOGAN-JEALOUS REVS UP: The Maryland governor’s race between Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Democratic nominee Ben Jealous revved up on Friday — more than three months before Election Day — with attack ads, appearances and appeals, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.

OLDER DEMS LINE UP FOR HOGAN: They are mostly older, mostly white and mostly male. Many have not held office in years. But Gov. Larry Hogan is hoping that the 40 Democrats — and counting — who have endorsed him in recent days will be a potent weapon in his campaign to defeat Democratic nominee Ben Jealous and become the first Republican governor to win a second term in Maryland since 1954, Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

FLOREEN DISCUSSES RUN: A Miner Detail Radio podcast host Ryan Miner sat down with Montgomery County Councilwoman Nancy Floreen on Sunday to discuss her Independent bid for Montgomery County executive. Floreen discussed her challenges ahead in getting on the ballot, and spoke about her decision to forgo the Democratic primary and instead switch to an “Unaffiliated,” Maryland’s version of an Independent.

FLOREEN CRITICIZED 3rd-PARTY VOTERS: In Bethesda Beat’s Politics Roundup, Bethany Rodgers and Louis Peck writes that Montgomery County executive independent candidate Nancy Floreen’s critics dig up a Facebook post reprimanding third-party voters who gave Trump the election; Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman crosses party lines to endorse Gov. Hogan; Hans Riemer declares his support for Marc Elrich as Democratic Montgomery County exec nominee.

‘CELEBRATING’ ELBRIDGE GERRY: On Sunday, to spread awareness of gerrymandering and inspire congressional district reform, a coalition of political groups hosted a birthday party for Elbridge Gerry, who would turn 274 years old on Tuesday, Cameron Dodd of the Frederick News Post writes. “We’re celebrating his birthday, but we’re actually dunking bad Eldridge Gerry up here for ruining our democracy in honor of his birthday,” said Ashley Oleson, administrative director and redistricting advocate with the League of Women Voters. “It’s just a fun way to get people out and raise awareness.”

CAMPAIGN PHOTOS: Got a photo of a rally, event, sign waving? We’ll be running them in State Roundup. Send them in .jpg format to Len@MarylandReporter.com.

Del. Mary Beth Carozza, far right, running for state Senate in District 38 on the Lower Shore, spoke to supporters at a get-out-the-vote rally on Saturday at the Worcester County Republican Party Headquarters in West Ocean City. “We are proud of the progress we have made in four years,” Carozza said. “Larry Hogan and his family spend so much time here on the Shore and what does that mean for us? It means he understands our priorities. He’s listening to us.” Campaign photo

NATIONAL HARBOR EXPANSION: MGM National Harbor, the Prince George’s County casino, hotel and entertainment complex, opens a $48 million expansion Sunday in response to strong demand, the casino operator said. The move adds a larger poker room, off-track horse betting in partnership with the Maryland Jockey Club, 285 slot machines and dining and bar options to the second floor of the $1.4 billion casino project that opened near Washington in December 2016. There is also an expansive new terrace overlooking the Potomac River that includes a smoking area, Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports.