Leggett Leads Race For County Executive

Montgomery County Executive candidate Isiah
Montgomery County Executive candidate Isiah "Ike" Leggett, right, greets Tomer Herishanu and his mother, Limor, at the Jewish Community Center in Rockville. In campaigning, Leggett, 61, emphasized the need to slow development. (By Katherine Frey -- The Washington Post)

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By Ann E. Marimow and Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Montgomery County voters gave Isiah "Ike" Leggett an overwhelming double-digit edge over Steven A. Silverman in the Democratic primary race to become the county's first new executive in 12 years, but neither candidate was prepared early this morning to call the contest.

Widespread glitches at polling places left potentially thousands of provisional paper ballots to be counted in the coming days.

Just after midnight, an ebullient Leggett stopped short of declaring victory as he addressed a cheering crowd. "Montgomery County has demonstrated clearly that nice guys with good ideas can finish first," Leggett said, playing off his opponent's recent ads that called him a good guy with bad ideas.

Silverman left his party about the same time, after telling supporters he did not expect to concede this morning. "Who knows how many provisional ballots" have yet to be counted, he said.

The eventual winner is all but certain to succeed popular executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) as the leader of Maryland's largest jurisdiction, which is overwhelmingly Democratic.

In County Council contests, two slow-growth challengers -- Marc Elrich, a Montgomery teacher and Takoma Park City Council member, and Duchy Trachtenberg, president of Maryland NOW -- were among the top four Democratic voter-getters for the four at-large seats, with five-term incumbent Michael L. Subin trailing.

Two incumbent at-large members -- Nancy Floreen and George L. Leventhal, both Democrats -- were defending their seats.

Leggett's commanding lead, with about half of the precincts reporting, and the apparent ascension of the new at-large candidates, who also stressed the need to moderate the county's pace of growth, suggested that voters may be looking for a new direction from their political leaders.

All three Democratic incumbents in the district races -- Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty), Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) and Marilyn Praisner (D-Eastern County) -- appeared to be headed toward reelection. Valerie Ervin, a school board member, was ahead in the contest for the one open seat, which is being vacated by Tom Perez in Silver Spring.

After a bitter primary battle in the District 20 Senate race, newcomer Jamie Raskin was holding on to a strong lead over longtime incumbent Ida G. Ruben. Consumer protection lawyer Mike Lenett was leading in a three-way Democratic primary to replace retiring Sen. Leonard H. Teitelbaum in District 19.

The matchup between Leggett and Silverman was the first competitive contest for county executive since Duncan was elected in 1994.

The Democratic nominee will face Republican Chuck Floyd, a former State Department employee, and independent antitax activist Robin Ficker in the general election. In a county where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1, the Democrat typically coasts through the November contest.

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