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Maryland Politics
Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 10/18/2011

Turnout light in Prince George’s as voters head to polls to replace Leslie Johnson

Turnout appears light in Prince George’s County’s Council District 6, where voters are heading to the polls to replace Leslie Johnson, who stepped down in July.

The contest is between Derrick Leon Davis, a Democrat, and Day Gardner, a Republican, to represent the district on the nine-member County Council. The winner will represent a swath of Prince George’s mid-county from struggling inside-the-Beltway communities to gated neighborhoods with mega-mansions.

Davis easily won the 14-way Democratic primary in September after receiving early support from County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D).

The campaign between Davis and Gardner was low-key without one-on-one debates. The candidates mostly engaged in direct-mail campaigning and neighborhood canvassing.

“A lot of people out there are not happy with business as usual,” said Gardner before Tuesday’s vote. But she acknowledged the odds against her. “It is an uphill battle. I know I am the underdog in this race.”

The district, like the rest of Prince George’s, is overwhelmingly Democratic — with 65,780 registered Democrats out of 77,152 registered voters.

In the primary, Davis received 3,570 votes, or 55 percent of the Democratic ballots cast. Gardner received 109 votes in the Republican primary, 100 percent of those cast. Turnout was about 10 percent.

Davis said before the vote that he was campaigning vigorously, though many believe the outcome was foreordained.

“We are making sure that we are connecting with voters and folks who care about where the county is going,” he said. “We are going to keep pressing hard to the finish line.”

The seat was vacated by Johnson, who was arrested in November after federal investigators monitoring a wiretap heard her husband, then-County Executive Jack B. Johnson, instruct her to flush a $100,000 check down the toilet and to stuff $79,600 in cash in her underwear.

Johnson initially refused to vacate her position. But after a public outcry and calls from fellow council members to step down, she resigned in late July. She and her husband, who pleaded guilty to bribery and tampering with evidence, are awaiting sentencing.

Her council seat has been vacant since then. Earlier, council members, who had been unable to persuade Johnson to step aside after her arrest, stripped her of her seats on council committees, where much work is conducted.

By  |  11:25 AM ET, 10/18/2011

 
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