The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Raskin endorses Elrich in Montgomery County Executive race

Incumbent Marc Elrich speaks during a public forum for Montgomery County Executive candidates in Silver Spring, Md., on June 29. (Craig Hudson/For the Washington Post)

Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) endorsed Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich in his bid for reelection Saturday with days left in the highly competitive primary contest to lead Maryland’s most populous county.

Raskin, a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, stopped by an Elrich canvassing launch on Saturday afternoon to share his support.

“I’ve known Marc for most of my life. He’s always the same Marc,” Raskin said. “You know what you’re going to get with Marc Elrich. We can count on him.”

The Democratic primary winner traditionally clinches the general-election victory in the deep-blue county. Fresh polls from Data for Progress, a liberal policy and polling organization, show Elrich neck-and-neck with businessman David Blair, who came within 77 votes of defeating Elrich in 2018. Term-limited County Council member Hans Riemer and Peter James, the chief executive of a robotics company, also are vying to unseat Elrich.

Elrich has taken hits from his competitors on issues ranging from zoning to affordable housing across dozens of community forums this year. And at least two super PACs have popped up to influence the race — one to specifically drive votes away from Elrich, and another that’s financially backed by real estate and development groups to support Blair.

The tenor and surging spending in the race for county executive and seven County Council seats drew criticism last week from a coalition that includes the Black Ministers Conference of Montgomery County and Progressive Maryland, which held a news conference in Silver Spring on Thursday morning.

“Do not believe everything you receive in the mailbox, on the TV screen,” said Larry Stafford, executive director of Progressive Maryland. “Do your research.”

Council member Will Jawando, who is running for reelection, added: “Montgomery County is not for sale.”

Raskin said he was motivated to share his support for Elrich after seeing so many attack ads in the race.

“It’s totally within the spirit of democracy to have a vigorous fair fight, but I just have a problem with negative politics, especially paid for by outside big money. I think that makes it that makes it a lopsided contest,” Raskin said in an interview Sunday. “So, I just decided that I would come out and tell people how I’m voting.”

Despite the heightened interest from politicos and power brokers, early voting turnout was light, with just over 24,700 people — about 3.7 percent of eligible Montgomery County voters — casting ballots in person, officials said.

An additional 19,424 people returned mail-in ballots, according to the state board of elections. In 2018, more than 36,000 voters turned out in person during the primary’s early voting period, but only 10,610 voted absentee during the entire race.

Raskin, who lives in Takoma Park along with Elrich, commended the county executive’s leadership, especially during the pandemic, saying that “we owe you a debt of gratitude, Marc, getting us through that in such a powerful way.”

“I don’t want to tell people how to vote. We have extremely smart and informed voters in Montgomery County,” Raskin said Sunday. “I just wanted to say, I’ve made up my mind to vote for Marc.”