Maryland Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan bounded out of his campaign bus Saturday morning at the farmer’s market in Rockville, where he shook hands with dozens of patrons, posed for a pictures with few merchants selling apples and honey and petted a couple of dogs.
“We’re trying to persuade those last few persuadable voters,” Hogan told a television interviewer tagging along, adding that he was feeling “pretty good” about the way the election looks.
Both major-party candidates had full schedules as the final weekend of campaigning got underway.
The Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, started his day in Baltimore accompanied by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and then hit rallies in Hyattsville and Waldorf — and was scheduled to return to Baltimore for a third “Every Vote Counts” rally.
The first of Brown’s rallies was sponsored by CASA in Action and highlighted the Democrat’s support in immigrant communities.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) joined Brown at the second and reminded a crowd of about 60 people that Hogan had challenged him for Congress in 1992.
“I know Anthony Brown,” Hoyer said. “I know Larry Hogan. Larry Hogan’s no Anthony Brown.”
Both Brown and Hogan are seeking to boost turnout by their supporters in the closing days of an election that has proved tighter than many expected. On Friday, two national prognosticators offered different assessments of how close the contest is looking in heavily Democratic Maryland.
In an interview after the Waldorf rally, Brown dismissed the Cook rating, saying he has felt an “increasing sense of enthusiasm around the fundamental message and the choice this election presents.”
“I’m confident,” Brown said. “I’m not complacent.”
In his remarks to the crowd, Brown said those volunteering for him should consider themselves “public servants.”
“What we’re doing is motivating and inspiring our neighbors . . . to vote,” Brown said.
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who has endorsed Brown as his successor, was also on the campaign trail Saturday. He stopped by Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville in the morning to rally a couple of dozen volunteers and Montgomery County lawmakers before they walked around nearby neighborhoods, leaving fliers promoting Brown on the doors of Democrats.
“This is a critically important district — Montgomery County,” O’Malley said, before relaying that the county lagged Baltimore County in the number of early voters this year, prompting some mild booing from the crowd.
“The bottom line is: Look, Montgomery County wins this thing,” O’Malley said of the jurisdiction where he grew up. “It’s a huge, huge jurisdiction — you guys know that — and just look around the room. We’re a people that understands that our diversity is our strength.”
O’Malley then shared the close margins he has heard from a couple of polls in the Brown-Hogan race.
“I’ve heard some that say as close as two points. I’ve seen others that say four before you allocate the undecideds. Nate Silver...says nine points. My gut tells me it’s likely two or three. And sometimes your gut becomes informed by being through these a few times.”
Later, as O’Malley stirred cream into a cup of coffee, he asked Dels. Craig J. Zucker and Eric G. Luedtke, Democrats who represent the area, what they make of the polls and what they’re hearing on the ground.
“I’m a little nervous,” the governor said.
Several patrons at the farmer’s market in Rockville told Hogan they had already voted for him during Maryland’s early voting period.
“It’s going to be a close race, and every vote’s going to count,” Hogan told one woman in response. “So please tell your friends and family to come out.”
As he later petted one of several dogs he encountered, Hogan suggested he was well-liked among the canine constituency.
“I’ve shaken tens of thousands of hands, but I’ve petted more dogs,” he said, laughing. “If dogs could vote, it would be a landslide victory.”
He later stopped by a pizza place in Ellicott City to shake hands with humans and planned to do the same later Saturday at a grocery store in Severna Park.