By Glynis Kazanjian
With 96% of the vote in and fewer than 500 votes between the two leaders in the Montgomery County executive race, health care executive David Blair announced the race “too close to call” Tuesday night as he narrowly trailed County Councilmember Marc Elrich.
At 11:16 p.m. on Twitter Blair told friends and supporters to “stay tuned.”
“We’re waiting for every Montgomery County ballot to be counted,” Blair spokesman Cooper Patterson said over text. “We have no plans to concede at this time. We’re still waiting on provisional ballots, mail-ins and final precinct reports.”
Elrich campaign spokesperson Ben Spielberg acknowledged their campaign won’t know what the final vote is until the absentee and provisional ballots are counted, but said Elrich “feels good about where we’re at.”
According to the Montgomery County Board of Elections website, Elrich is ahead by 452 votes out of 118,749 cast. Elrich received 34,729 votes and Blair received 34,277.
The county election board will begin counting absentee ballots on Thursday and provisional ballots on July 5.
This week the State Board of Elections announced approximately 80,000 voters may have to use provisional ballots for the primary election due to a computer transmission error from the Motor Vehicle Administration, when some voters attempted to change their address and party affiliation.
The Montgomery County election board is required to certify the primary election results within 48 hours of the final absentee ballot canvass, which will take place Friday, July 6.
The Democratic winner will face Republican Robin Ficker in November, but the 75-year-old perennial GOP candidate for several offices hasn’t won an election since his race for the House of Delegates 40 years ago.
Trone wins 6th
In the 6th Congressional District Democratic primary, wine retail magnate David Trone claimed victory over seven Democrats vying to replace Rep. John Delaney, who is running for president in 2020. While Trone and establishment candidate Aruna Miller traded leads for a short while after the polls closed, Trone’s lead stayed steady.
He defeated Miller 40% to 30%. Sen. Roger Manno, who gave up his seat in District 19 to run for Congress, came in fourth.
This is Trone’s second attempt at winning a seat in Congress. In 2016 he placed second to state Sen. Jamie Raskin in the 8th Congressional District primary election after spending at least $12 million of his own money. Trone has already spent $9.5 million in this year’s race.
Trone will face Republican primary winner Amie Hoeber in the general election.
Council at large
In the County Council At-Large race, County Executive Ike Leggett endorsed (Correction 6/28/18) three of the four candidates who defeated 29 others in the Democratic primary. Three at-large seats belonging to Marc Elrich, Roger Berliner and Nancy Floreen opened up due to term-limits that Robin Ficker had put on the ballot two years ago.
Incumbent Hans Riemer, Will Jawando, a former Obama administration official and attorney, Evan Glass, a non-profit executive director, and Gabe Albornoz, the Montgomery County Department of Recreation Director are the top vote getters. The Democratic primary winners will face four Republicans in the general election.
Andrew Friedson won the Democratic primary in Council County District 1, where Berliner is serving his third and final term. Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, who is serving her fourth term in Legislative District 18, finished second.
Incumbent District 2 Councilmember Craig Rice easily defeated Tiquia J. Bennett in the Democratic primary, winning 73% to 26%.
Sidney Katz, who is serving in his first term, prevailed over challenger Ben Shnider in County Council District 3 race 52.5% to 47.5%.
Nancy Navarro, who has served two terms and two years in County Council District 4, defeated opponent Jay Graney 90% to 9%.
Incumbent Councilmember Tom Hucker won re-election with 67% of the vote facing off against two primary opponents.
Incumbent legislators lose
In state legislative races, two incumbents lost their seats to newcomers.
Del. Shane Robinson, District 39, will not be returning the House of Delegates next year. Political newcomers Lesley Lopez and Gabriel Acevero will advance to the general with incumbent Del. Kirill Reznik. A seat opened up in the district when Del. Charles Barkley announced a run for County Council At-Large, which he lost.
After serving only one term in Legislative District 19 and receiving a large number of endorsements, Del. Marice Morales lost her seat. Incumbent Del. Bonnie Cullison, and challengers Vaughn Stewart, former policy director to Sen. Jamie Raskin during his congressional run, and Charlotte Crutchfield, who was endorsed by Leggett, will advance to the general. Two seats opened up due to Sen. Roger Manno running for the 6th Congressional District, which he lost, and Del. Ben Kramer running for Senate. Kramer ran unchallenged in the Senate race.
In Legislative District 18, two seats opened when Sen. Richard Madaleno announced a run for governor and Del. Jeff Waldstreicher ran for Madaleno’s seat. Waldstreicher held off efforts by Dr. Dana Beyer, a former County Council chief of staff, and business owner Michelle Carhart to win the Senate primary election with 49% of the vote.
Incumbent Al Carr, Democratic Central Committee Vice Chair Emily Shetty and Jared Solomon, a Democratic activist and non-profit chair, will move on to the general election.
District 18 was considered one of the most competitive primary races in the county. Opponent Helga Luest accused Waldstreicher of asking her to drop her House run and instead run in the Senate, which in her view would have helped to dilute the female vote in the Senate race. Waldstreicher denied it, but he did ask Beyer to run “down slate” in the House, instead of in the Senate. Beyer said she thought about it, but decided against it.
Clerk of Court incumbent Barbara Meiklejohn defeated Safe Silver Spring President Alan Bowser, an attorney, winning with 69% of the vote. Bowser was endorsed by Leggett and Meiklejohn ran as part of the “courthouse team” with State’s Attorney John McCarthy.
While early voting turnout nearly doubled this primary election compared to 2014, many people reported voting on election day to be low.
Jack Elmendorf, a Blair campaign worker, said there “were more signs than voters” at Leisure World’s three polling locations on Tuesday, and that turnout was lower than expected which caused some concern to the Blair campaign.