Yesterday, Seventh State looked at the big winners from the primary but today’s post lists some people for whom the election just didn’t work out as well as they hoped.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that Progressives for Progress had a banal, redundant and misleading name, there is little evidence that this pro-development group led by Steve Silverman had much impact. Not only did David Blair lose the big county executive race but Laurie-Anne Sayles, Kate Stewart and Kristin Mink won over PfP’s preferred candidates. Councilmember Will Jawando also easily won reelection. A whole lot of money dumped to obtain many chilly receptions.
Close only counts in horseshoes. David Blair has now dumped oceans of money to get elected county executive and fallen short twice. Despite his argument that he would know how to get things done, he couldn’t seal this deal despite being an affable fellow and liberally lubricating the way with his wallet. Blair’s failure to get meaningfully involved in the county beyond donations after 2018 made it all the harder to sell himself. Lots of people who hoped to ride the Blair train are also disappointed. Hard to imagine Blair trying this again but if he does go after his white whale, his opponent can run on “Make him spend it all!”
The Republican Party made its brand so toxic nationally that even moderate Republicans like Connie Morella and Howie Denis no longer have a prayer here. But Gov. Larry Hogan showed that there was room to grow for center right candidates, as he won an impressive 44.1% in Montgomery in 2018. The nomination of fringe nutcases like Dan Cox for governor and Michael Peroutka will utterly undo this effort to create a more palatable Maryland Republican brand. Great news for Democrats running in swing districts and the party’s super majority in the General Assembly.
Saqib Ali’s uphill campaign to unseat an incumbent delegate in District 15 didn’t just lose but crashed and burned in the wake of abuse allegations. Ali once had a promising political career. But after winning election in District 39, he promptly put himself forward for the Senate opening. When MCDCC chose far more experienced Nancy King, he spent the rest of his term alienating colleagues and preparing for a close but ultimately unsuccessful challenge. Since then, he’s pursued office fruitlessly and continued to burn rather than build bridges.
Brandy Brooks seemed to have a lot going for her as she entered this campaign season. Her strong progressive message excited a major constituency in Montgomery Democratic primaries. And then it all fell apart amid serious accusations of sexual harassment. It likely would not have mattered anyway as a high burn rate left the campaign with little money.
It has been awhile since the primary but it’s never too late to evaluate winners and losers. Today, we look at five winners.
Councilmember Evan Glass is the new king of the mountain. Not only is he expected to be elected Council President but he came in a comfortable first in the primary for the four at-large seats. Many had thought Will Jawando would top the pile, setting him for a future county executive run, but Glass’s electoral muscle showed that he is also one to watch.
Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher faced the toughest state legislative primary challenge in Montgomery County. Not only did he win but his impressive margin of 63.8% should discourage not only future outsider challenges but also give his delegates pause before taking a run at him next time.
A lot has already been written about the election of a majority of women to the Montgomery County Council. People should remember that this talented group is extremely diverse as the politics of Marilyn Balcombe and Kristin Mink span the full range of Council divisions. This should put paid to silly claims from four years ago about women being unable to win here.
Most of the focus has been on women but Asian Americans had a good year too. Wes Moore’s choice of former delegate and congressional candidate Aruna Miller for the lieutenant governor slot on his ticket certainly grabbed attention. But Kristin Mink is also the first Asian American to win election to the Montgomery County Council — long overdue for this fast-growing group.
Montgomery County is like a giant cruise ship. No matter who is the captain, it’s hard to change direction and it happens slowly. Ongoing major expenditures for schools and other core services take up the bulk of the budget. The pandemic occupied most of Marc Elrich’s first term. To the extent he was able to pursue his priorities, Elrich has not acted in a radical or shocking way. Yet Elrich somehow makes his opponents, including the Washington Post, absolutely unhinged. Despite facing sums of money that would be impressive even in a Maryland gubernatorial race, he still won.
After losing by 77 votes four years ago, David Blair came up 32 votes short against Marc Elrich this time. Some speculated Blair would go to the courts to try and see if he could get more ballots counted, but he has sensibly chosen not to go that route. It would almost certainly have been a losing battle legally and in the public eye.
Here is the press release:
Rockville, Md., August 24, 2022 — David Blair released the following statement on the 2022 Montgomery County Executive Democratic primary election:
“Today, the Board of Elections certified the recount results of the primary election and my bid for County Executive came up 32 votes short. Earlier today, I called Marc Elrich to wish him the best over the next four years.
While we didn’t win, no doubt we pushed the conversation forward in key areas such as early childhood education, career readiness, environmental progress, affordable housing, economic development, public safety and much, much more. I wish a heartfelt thank you to our campaign team, our volunteers, and our many, many supporters. Their energy, dedication, and vision for a better Montgomery County has been truly inspiring.
I also want to acknowledge and thank the Board of Elections staff and volunteers who ensured every vote was counted and counted accurately.
While I may have come in second place in the primary, I’m blessed in life with an incredible wife, family and friends that I adore, more success than I deserve, and a deep desire to give back to the community that I call home. No doubt whatever I do next will be focused on improving the quality of life for those who call Montgomery County home.”
The addition of the newly discovered 102 provisional ballots (not all Democratic) has cut County Executive Marc Elrich’s lead to 35 votes. The Board is certifying the election today. David Blair will have until Tuesday to select the type of recount he wants.
Despite the very tight margin, I expect little change in the final tally.
Montgomery County does not have DRE machines anymore, so there are no memory sticks. We do have Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs). Voters can use these to create a paper ballot with a bar code and a list of candidates for whom they voted. The Board of Elections does a sample audit to make sure the barcode accurately reflects the listed candidates.
Additionally, voters can receive ballots electronically but must mail them back printed out. These ballots are then entered on the BMDs, so every ballot has a paper trail.
Another reader pointed out that an audit resulted in added votes in a previous race. If the Board finds additional votes, as I pointed out in the previous post, this could indeed alter the result, but I expect that this is unlikely.
My basic conclusion remains the same: the recount is unlikely to alter the result. I appreciate the feedback and corrections from my readers.
55,286 mail ballots have been counted. Incumbent County Executive Marc Elrich won them by 1,499 votes, allowing him to make up his somewhat smaller election night deficit.
The results thus far disprove the theory that later mail ballots would tend to help Blair more as they were cast after he received the WaPo endorsement and his campaign really amped up. Elrich did well in the initial sets of ballots but also the most recent sets, which overall would have been cast later. David Blair did well in between.
There are a total of 63,584 mail ballots, so around 8,000 more to count. The exact total is unclear as some undoubtedly did not vote in the primary for county executive who cast ballots. But surprisingly few, I imagine, since more voted in that contest than in the top-level gubernatorial primary (555 more by the current count). This is highly unusual as people tend to roll-off and vote less as they move down the ballot.
Of course, provisional ballots also remain to be counted. That count may go even more slowly with the need to check the eligibility of each voter. But most will be deemed eligible and counted. No idea here on who will win those critical ballots.
Tonight’s mail ballot count puts County Executive Marc Elrich back in the lead by 120 votes in this seesaw race that has gone back and forth.
Roughly 10,000 Democratic mail ballots plus all of the provisional ballots remain to be counted. They could easily tilt back the vote in Blair’s direction.
David Blair caught up by 20 votes yesterday. He now trails incumbent County Executive Marc Elrich by 276 votes. A total of 98,724 valid votes have been counted in the Democratic primary with 25,637 being mail ballots.
According to the Montgomery County Board of Elections Twitter account, there are lots of mail and provisional ballots yet to come with an unofficial mail-in total of 68,975 ballots and provisional total of 8,030 ballots. This includes Democrats, Republicans and others. The mail-in total will grow as additional ballots are received.
In the Governor’s race in Montgomery County, there are currently 16,540 valid mail votes for Democrats and 1,781 for Republicans. So of the 18,321 votes, 90.3% were in the Democratic primary. There are also a tiny number of unaffiliated voters who can only vote for school board.
Voters tend to “roll off” the ballot as they move to down ballot contests. But that’s not happening in the hotly contested county executive Democratic primary. 16,730 Democrats cast valid votes in that contest. Republicans conform to the normal pattern with just 1,523 votes cast.
There are roughly 68,000 mail ballots, so there should be around 61,400 total Democratic ballots if the party breakdown stays the same. That leaves around 44,700 Democratic ballots left to be counted by my seat of the iPhone estimation. Of course, valid mail ballots continue to trickle in.
More results should be released at around 11pm tonight in the nail biter county executive Democratic primary.
Today, Elrich added 5,514 (43.7%) votes while Blair gained 4,667 (37.0%)–a net gain of 847 votes for Elrich. Currently, Elrich has 35,300 votes to 35,004 votes for David Blair, so Elrich leads by 296 votes. Though enough to move Elrich into the lead, his spread over Blair in percentage terms is smaller than yesterday—a lead of 6.7% as opposed to yesterday’s 15.6%. But both leads are stronger than Blair’s on election night in either the early or Election Day vote.
Montgomery County is now reporting a total 16,730 mail ballot votes in the county executive race and the trend continues in incumbent County Executive Marc Elrich’s direction. The addition of 12,629 more mail ballot votes on top of the 4,101 reported last night has propelled Elrich into the lead.
Remember that if the Board of Elections is indeed counting ballots from earliest to latest received, this means that their composition could continue to vary. In other words, this is not a random sample of mail ballots. We’ll have to see if Blair improved among mail voters as the campaign progressed. UPDATE: At least one source is reporting that ballots are not being processed in order received. At the same time, mail ballots that have not been processed into the system can’t be scanned for votes yet and arrived later than ballots already processed.
But Blair’s advantage has, for now, been erased. The chance that Elrich once again snatches victory from Blair’s grasp is certainly looking better than both yesterday and on election night.