Voters in seven states head to the polls Tuesday on one of the most consequential primary election days of 2014. Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah are holding primaries and runoffs. The most closely-watched races are the GOP contest for the U.S. Senate nomination in Mississippi, featuring Sen. Thad Cochran versus state Sen. Chris McDaniel; Rep. Charlie Rangel’s (D) fight to hold on to his seat in New York; and governors’ races in Maryland and Colorado. Check here for live updates through the night.
No official numbers are out, but election monitors are reporting low turnout across Maryland.
“It’s been dismal,” said Blondell Stewart-Nims, an election judge at Friendly High School in Fort Washington. “This is going to be a long day.”
In Bowie, election judge Mary Nelson agreed. “It’s going to be a minority of a minority of a minority that are voting in this primary,” she said.
At Monocacy Elementary School in Dickerson, near the Frederick County line, an election judge reported that 158 people voted as of 1:30 pm. That represents 8 percent of registered Democrats in this precinct.
Only about 4 percent of the state’s eligible voters cast early ballots. Polls show low interest despite the competitive Democratic primary for governor. It might be in part because Maryland is holding a June primary for the first time, a decision made to give officials more time to prepare general election ballots for troops serving overseas.
Tea party activists are keeping close watch today over polling places in Mississippi, where Sen. Thad Cochran (R) is fighting for his political survival in a primary runoff against state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R).
One of the activists keeping tabs on the situation on the ground said Tuesday afternoon the vote was mostly unfolding without incident so far.
“All quiet on the western front,” said Adam Brandon, executive vice president at Freedomworks, one of the groups backing McDaniel that is monitoring the vote. The organization teamed up with others supporting McDaniel to keep watch for irregularities, especially in areas where Cochran is courting Democrats.
On Monday, the Mississippi attorney general and secretary of state warned third-party groups that they must keep their distance from polling places.
“There is no authority in state law for a PAC or other outside group to place ‘election observers’ in Mississippi polling places,” their offices said in a joint statement instructing such observers to stay at least 30 feet away.
A Cochran adviser speaking on the condition of anonymity to provide a candid assessment said Tuesday afternoon that turnout looked high and could exceed the June 3 primary vote. McDaniel edged out Cochran in that vote, but neither candidate received a majority.
Republicans are outnumbered 2-to-1 in Maryland, and at the polls in Tuesday’s primary they could be a rare sight.
By 10 a.m. at Takoma Elementary School, 191 people had voted, and 190 of them were Democrats. At Evangel Cathedral in Upper Marlboro, 142 out of 143.
In the state capitol of Annapolis, Republicans were better represented.
Joanne Alloway, 66, voted for Anne Arundel County real estate broker Larry Hogan, saying he “has the best shot” at winning. Hogan served in the administration of Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the state’s last Republican governor.
“We have extremely high taxes. This county is pretty Republican in a Democratic state, so we have to do what we can,” the semi-retired writer said.
Joanie Stone, 67, a retired health-care professional, agreed, saying Hogan “seemed like the guy next door.”
In a recent Post poll 35 percent of likely primary voters chose Hogan, followed by Harford County Executive David R. Craig with 19 percent, Charles County businessman Charles Lollar with 13 percent and Del. Ronald A. George (Anne Arundel) with 5 percent.
Both Craig and Lollar say they would eliminate the state income tax; Hogan has said he wouldn’t commit to such a drastic move.
The Maryland Democratic gubernatorial primary has been called the ugliest in the country, and that nastiness continued right through Tuesday’s vote. The teacher’s union in Montgomery County filed suit Tuesday against the campaign of Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, seeking to block distribution of a brochure they believe too closely mimics the union’s apple-shaped “teacher recommended” campaign literature.
The “apple ballot” garners much attention in schools-focused Montgomery County, and candidates believe that voters give great weight to teachers union endorsements.
“They have a trademark on apples? They don’t,” Gansler said in an interview Tuesday morning after voting at Pyle Middle School in Bethesda.
Chris McDaniel will at this time Wednesday either be the likely next U.S. senator from Mississippi or an interesting footnote in American political history. If it’s the latter, that footnote should include a key detail: McDaniel is probably the most significant beneficiary of outside campaign spending in recent political history.
Read the full post in The Fix.
A Cochran adviser tells me turnout is looking high in #MSSEN and should exceed the June 3 primary.
Allies of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) are predicting turnout will be higher than it was on June 3.
“Looks like turnout should exceed June 3rd. That was historically high. So [the] pattern of drop-off in [between the] primary [and runoff is] not occurring,” said a Cochran campaign adviser speaking on the condition of anonymity to provide a candid assessment.
Henry Barbour, who ran the pro-Cochran super PAC Mississippi Conservatives, offered a similar take on Twitter.
generally turnout in MS is up from 6/3. E. Corinth at 322 (w/ absentees) at 3 pm compared to 303 total on 6/3. Thad won that box w/ 61.7%
— Henry Barbour (@HenryBarbour) June 24, 2014
Cochran and his allies have made a big effort to woo Democrats and African Americans (who are mostly Democrats) to vote for him in the runoff.
On June 3 vote, 313,483 voters cast ballots. McDaniel took 49.5 percent and Cochran won 49 percent. A third candidate pulled 1.5 percent — just enough to force a runoff.
As of mid-morning, the secretary of state’s office said the vote was proceeding smoothly.
“A quiet election where each voter is allowed to quickly cast his or her ballot without disruption is another positive step forward in Mississippi’s electoral process,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “We are hopeful this is a continuing trend for the remainder of the day.”
Hosemann’s office had no new updates as of 4 p.m. local time.
Many voters may not care about Tuesday’s primary in Maryland. But for NASA engineer Alvin Gray, 60, and four of his six children, not voting Tuesday was not an option.
Casting ballots for Alivin, his wife Pam and now their children is a honored tradition for a Lanham family, steeped in faith and patriotism.
“A lot of people worked hard for us to have the right to vote,” Alvin Gray said.
The Grays, both military veterans, attend the First Baptist of Glenarden, and their children are involved in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Annette Gray, 19, who voted for the first time at Glendale Elementary, said, “I feel like I have say and my voice is being heard.”
Even though Cecilia Gray was 13 and too young to vote, she still wore an “I voted” sticker because “I helped my dad read the read the ballot without his glasses.”
Cantor faced a perfect storm in his district. It’s hard to say whether that will happen again. But keep an eye on Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), who has publicly clashed with the tea party. He faces a primary challenge from Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R), who, like Cantor foil Dave Brat, is endorsed by conservative commentator Laura Ingraham. The polling firm Hanna is using is the same one that was used by Cantor. Rick Santorum (R) did robocalls for Tenney that hit thousands of houses Monday.