Former president Barack Obama made a last-minute campaign stop in Northern Virginia on Monday, stumping for U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and 10th Congressional District candidate Jennifer Wexton, as politicians throughout the region wooed voters on the final day before the midterm elections.
The nation’s 44th president surprised several dozen young campaign staffers and volunteers working for Wexton, a Democratic state senator trying to oust two-term Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock in a race that is key to the Democrats’ hopes of winning a majority in the House of Representatives.
“The character of this country is on the ballot,” Obama told the volunteers.
Elsewhere in the region, candidates shook hands with voters in diners and at Metro stops, did last-minute interviews and helped volunteers hand out literature and post signs at polling places.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan spent the morning in battleground Baltimore County, stumping for state insurance commissioner Al Redmer Jr., a Republican who is battling with progressive Democrat Johnny Olszewski Jr. for Baltimore county executive.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous touted his progressive agenda in radio and television interviews and then toured campaign offices in key Democratic strongholds urging volunteers to turn out 1 million Democratic voters.
Here’s a look at what’s on the ballot in Maryland, Virginia and the District.
Voters in Maryland will make history on Tuesday regardless of whether they elect Hogan or Jealous.
Hogan would be the state’s first Republican governor reelected in 60 years. Jealous would be the state’s first African American governor. Hogan leads in the polls and has outraised Jealous by a 3-to-1 margin. Still, Jealous said he “felt good” as the race neared an end, buoyed by an outpouring of volunteers and help from celebrities and state and national Democratic officials.
“It’s been an incredible surge,” he said after campaigning this weekend with comedian Dave Chappelle. “The people who are knocking on doors are having great conversations. It’s the same thing we experienced during the primary.”
Hogan hugged supporters and smiled for photos outside the Bethesda Metro station on a drizzly Monday afternoon, saying he felt confident but not complacent.
He said he was unfazed by the possibility of a so-called “blue wave” of Democratic anti-Trump voters ushering him out of office — noting that polls show a sizable chunk of Democratic voters intend to cross party lines to support him.
“The good news is that if a blue wave comes, we have a purple surfboard,” Hogan said. “It could be a ripple, it could be a wave. Either way, we’re going to win.”
While the governor’s race has drawn the most attention, U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin and state Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, both Democrats, also face energetic challengers in their bids for reelection. Frosh is battling Republican Craig Wolf; Cardin faces Republican Tony Campbell, independent Neal Simon and Libertarian Arvin Vohra.
Two vigorously contested congressional races could drive up turnout in the western and eastern parts of the state: Democrat David Trone is taking on Republican Amie Hoeber to succeed outgoing Rep. John Delaney (D) in the 6th District; and Rep. Andy Harris (R) faces a robust challenge from Democrat Jesse Colvin in the 1st District.
Voters will also be deciding competitive county executive races in Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, and electing legislators to fill all the seats in the General Assembly. The state GOP has targeted five Senate seats that, if flipped, would limit the Democrats’ ability to override Hogan’s vetoes.
Over the weekend, Democratic volunteers ramped up their efforts and contacted more than a half million voters. In the past three months, officials say, they have made 3 million voter contacts through phone calls, door knocks and texts.
Turnout in early voting was more than double the 2014 total in Maryland, and more than triple in Montgomery County, where there is a three-way battle for county executive. Vying for the post are Democrat Marc Elrich; fellow at-large County Council member Nancy Floreen, a Democrat-turned-independent; and Republican Robin Ficker.
Elrich said he was ready for the campaign to be over.
“It’s reached that point,” he said Monday afternoon. “Everything that could have been said has been said.”
Voters will also decide two state ballot questions. One question asks whether the state constitution should be amended to create a “lock box” on casino revenue and require the state to spend the money on public education. The other asks if voters should be able to register on Election Day.
National Democrats have poured a lot of resources into Virginia this year, targeting four of the state’s most competitive congressional races in hopes of picking up seats in the House.
Stewart bills himself as “more Trump than Trump” and based his campaign on provocative rhetoric and appearances with pro-Confederate groups. Though he nearly got the GOP nomination for governor last year, Stewart has struggled to connect with voters in urban and suburban parts of the state.
He raised about $2.6 million compared with Kaine’s $22.3 million and was shunned by many other Republicans down the ticket. Stewart planned to close out the campaign Monday night with a rally in Prince William.
Going into election season, the state’s fiercest battle seemed to be the 10th District, where Comstock is trying for a third term even as the suburbs she represents turned increasingly blue. The seat has been in Republican hands for nearly 40 years.
Wexton raised as much money as Comstock and brought in powerful surrogates, describing the race as a referendum on Trump. Comstock had to strike a complicated pose, distancing herself from the president and emphasizing her track record on local issues.
But the Comstock-Wexton contest was sometimes overshadowed by drama in other parts of the state. In Virginia’s 7th District, a mix of Richmond suburbs and rural areas stretching from Culpeper County in the north to Nottoway County in the south, Rep. Dave Brat (R) and Democrat Abigail Spanberger have been locked in a tight race.
In Hampton Roads, popular incumbent Rep. Scott W. Taylor (R) was saddled with allegations that staffers submitted fraudulent nomination signatures in an effort to get an independent candidate on the ballot.
His Democratic opponent, newcomer Elaine Luria, has painted Taylor as untrustworthy because of the scandal. The district is heavily military, and while it went for Trump by a narrow margin in 2016, it supported Democrat Ralph Northam for governor last year.
Two political newcomers are vying for the 5th District seat, which is being vacated by freshman Rep. Thomas Garrett (R), who announced in the spring that he was struggling with alcoholism and would not seek reelection. Republican Denver Riggleman, a former Air Force intelligence officer and distillery owner, faces Democrat Leslie Cockburn, a former “60 Minutes” producer and author.
Virginia voters will also find two proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.
One would make it possible for localities to grant a partial tax exemption to real estate that is subject to recurrent flooding if the owner has invested in flood-proofing the property. The other measure would make it easier for the surviving spouse of a veteran with 100 percent disability to keep a tax break.
Voters in Arlington and Alexandria will also vote in school board and local government contests.
In the District, voters will be electing seven D.C. Council members, the mayor, the attorney general and the city’s nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives, along with other, less prominent offices.
But attention is focused on a single race: The contest between incumbent council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and independent challenger Dionne Reeder for one of two at-large council seats. The other seat is expected to go to incumbent council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large).
The race between Reeder and Silverman has emerged as a proxy battle between larger forces in the District, as well as a political test for Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who is expected to win a second term in the overwhelmingly Democratic city. She faces independent Dustin Canter, Libertarian Martin Moulton and Statehood Green Party candidate Ann Wilcox.
Bowser has endorsed Reeder in the council race, directing an unprecedented amount of mayoral clout toward an effort to unseat an incumbent council member.
Silverman, a first-term lawmaker, is a former journalist and former employee of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. Her support of the city’s generous new family and medical leave law has earned her the enmity of some D.C. business groups — and of Bowser, who opposed the legislation.
Reeder has criticized the paid-leave law for lavishing city resources on workers who commute to the District from Virginia and Maryland, and alleged that Silverman has been unfairly aggressive in her oversight of government programs and projects that benefit the predominantly African American neighborhoods of Southeast Washington.
Silverman has defended her record, saying she was seeking to make sure that taxpayer dollars are wisely spent.
Jennifer Barrios, Erin Cox, Peter Jamison and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.
6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Virginia
7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Maryland
7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the District