The June 26 primary results have been long determined for most Maryland races, but it’s still undecided in several close contests in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
The Democratic nomination for the Montgomery county executive is coming down to absentee and provisional ballots, with two men — a wealthy businessman and a longtime progressive politician — locked in a close battle. In Prince George’s County, all eyes are on two County Council races.
After 6,329 absentee ballots were counted in Montgomery County last week, council member Marc Elrich (D-At Large) was 149 votes ahead of Potomac businessman David Blair.
Election officials began counting roughly 3,600 provisional ballots, including about 2,456 Democratic ballots, Thursday morning. After 508 Democratic provisional ballots were counted Thursday, Elrich’s lead over Blair had slipped slightly to 141 votes.
A second round of absentee ballots — those that were postmarked, but not received, by Election Day — was scheduled to begin to be counted on Friday morning. County Board of Elections spokeswoman Marjorie Roher said there are an additional 3,700 absentee ballots remaining to be counted, in addition to the ballots that will arrive in the second round.
Election officials said they expect the count will continue into the weekend.
While the Democratic primary has in the past largely determined who will win the seat in the November general election in the mostly blue county, this year could see another twist: Council member Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) has filed to run as an independent for the seat.
But it is unclear whether Floreen, a 16-year council member, will continue to pursue her bid for an independent run for county executive if Blair is nominated. While Floreen has said she supported neither Elrich nor Blair and wanted to give voters another, independent choice, she also has said she was holding off on deciding whether to run based on the outcome of the June 26 primary. Floreen has said she considers the prospect of an Elrich administration “a disaster” for the county.
The status of Floreen’s candidacy is also up in the air. Her paperwork was accepted by the Board of Elections on Monday’s deadline, pending legal review; at issue is whether Floreen could file paperwork declaring an intent to run as an independent while she is a registered Democrat.
Kevin Karpinski, attorney for the county Board of Elections, said that question would probably be decided by Monday — the first day voter registration reopens, and the day Floreen has said she will switch her party to unaffiliated.
In Prince George's County, interest is focused on two contested County Council races.
In District 7, Rodney Streeter, chief of staff to council member Andrea C. Harrison (D), led Krystal Oriadha, a progressive activist, by 33 votes as of Thursday afternoon. In District 9, Clerk of the Court Sydney Harrison led local activist Tamara Davis Brown by 59 votes. There are no Republicans on the ballot for either seat, so the results of the primary will be decisive.
Officials in Prince George’s County began counting 5,208 provisional ballots Thursday morning, but results will probably not be official until Friday at the earliest, said Prince George’s County Board of Elections Deputy Administrator Daneen Banks.
She said the office had also received 180 absentee ballots as of Thursday morning.
Streeter, a longtime Andrea Harrison aide who previously worked in the D.C. government, says he wants to improve senior services, focus on constituent services and create more reentry programs for newly released prisoners. Oriadha, who works for a nonprofit group focused on diverting youths from prison, supports universal prekindergarten, backs an increase in the minimum wage and wants to address the district’s food deserts. She lives with her wife in Seat Pleasant and would be the county’s first openly gay council member. Streeter and Oriadha are vying to replace Karen R. Toles, who unsuccessfully ran for one of two new at-large seats.
Sydney Harrison, who was elected clerk in 2014, graduated from Prince George’s County public schools and worked as a small-business owner and Realtor. Brown, an attorney specializing in telecommunications law, said she wants to make the council “more open and transparent.” For years she has kept an email group that explains legislation and county policies and, she said, has more than 5,000 members. They are vying to replace Mel Franklin, who was the top voter-getter in the at-large race.