The first day of early voting in Maryland featured a potentially awkward moment at a polling center in Prince George’s County — home not only of Maryland’s gubernatorial front-runner, but also the runningmates on both of the other Democratic tickets.
But like any good politician, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) did not rise to the bait.
Trailed by his three voting-age children, Baker walked to the door of the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Complex in Landover Thursday morning just as a black SUV carrying Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and his daughter, Rebecca, 19, pulled up. Vigorous handshakes were in order.
Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), runningmate of gubernatorial candidate Douglas F. Gansler, arrived a few minutes later, with her 14-year-old son. She got a kiss and a hug from Baker.
The normally gregarious Baker (D) has been reluctant to endorse a candidate in the June 24 gubernatorial primary, seeing as Ivey is an old family friend and Brown, also of Prince George’s, is the front-runner and party favorite.
He smiled when reporters asked him where his loyalties lay in the race, saying both Gansler, the state attorney general, and Brown are “tremendous candidates.”
“I will be blessed with whomever we get,” he said, adding that the beauty of the system is that votes are confidential.
It’s a tight spot for a leader with big plans for his county. Baker, who is running for a second term and is unopposed in the primary, needs support in Annapolis for his pending projects. But without Ivey, he said, school reform in Prince George’s would never have been possible.
Baker said power in the state may be shifting toward Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, indicated, in part, by the number of candidates from the Washington suburbs who are running for statewide office.
“The Washington region is where the center of growth will be,” Baker said. “But it’s important for us to show we need the resources back here. . . . They’re going to bring it back.”
Walking out of the polling place, curious people inquired for whom Rebecca Brown had voted. She smiled and held up a sample ballot with a big blue “X” scratched next to her father’s name.
Ivey’s son, Aaron, can’t vote on his own for a few more years. But he helped his mom push the button in the booth. She encouraged voters to take time to research the candidates’ records. Once they do, she said, “I’m 100 percent sure they will vote for Gansler-Ivey.”
The third Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery), and her running mate, Prince George’s County pastor Delman Coates, were visiting early voting sites across the state Thursday, their campaign said.
Mizeur was scheduled to be in Annapolis and Severna Park, while Coates was visiting locations in Silver Spring and Baltimore.
Mizeur is expected to vote with her wife on June 24. Coates and his wife, Yolanda, also plan to vote early sometime next week. Gansler’s campaign said he will vote on Election Day, while Brown’s running-mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ullman, was planning to vote in his home jurisdiction on Thursday.
Early voting centers will operate daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. until next Thursday, June 19. The Maryland State Board of Elections has a list of the early voting locations on its Web site.
Jenna Johnson contributed to this report.