Republican candidates in general face an uphill path to office in largely blue Montgomery, Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction. But this November’s county executive election could be more unpredictable than most.
The Democratic nominee remains unclear a week after the primary, with liberal at-large council member Marc Elrich leading businessman David Blair by just 149 votes. Provisional ballots are scheduled to be counted on Thursday, and another round of absentee ballots will be tallied on Friday, but officials say the process could stretch into the weekend.
Meanwhile, another Democrat, veteran at-large council member Nancy Floreen, filed paperwork Monday to run as an independent for county executive, saying she did not support either Elrich or Blair and — once the nomination is decided — may want to give voters another choice.
In a post on the Seventh State blog on Tuesday, state Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery) warned Democrats in the county against splitting their votes between their party’s nominee and an independent, such as Floreen.
“Republicans don’t actually do this. Yes, they fight in the Primary, and then they back their nominee. Every. Single. Time,” Reznik wrote. “And they will do it for Robin Ficker. And they will come out to vote.”
Ficker, a lawyer who ran unopposed for the GOP nomination, was one of three Republicans who sought to use the county’s new public campaign-financing system in the current election cycle.
He filed suit on June 15 after receiving an email from Jared DeMarinis, director of the division of candidacy and campaign finance for the State Board of Elections, informing him that his campaign committee did not qualify for the funding.
Candidates using public financing had to raise a minimum amount of small donations from a certain number of county residents. Ficker said he had raised more than the required $40,000 from 500 donors by the May 12 deadline but encountered problems entering the data into the state’s website.
Attorneys for the state and county had requested Ficker’s suit be dismissed or decided in favor of the government.
But Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general, said the state and county also reviewed Ficker’s claim that he qualified for the financing after he filed the suit.
“As a result of that evaluation, we took another look at Mr. Ficker’s application and have determined that he met the contribution thresholds for qualifying for the Montgomery County public election fund,” Coombs said in an email.
Ficker said he was happy to avoid the litigation in this case.
“They have enough contributions there to qualify and quite frankly, I think a judge in the end would have seen that and awarded the money to us,” Ficker said. “And this way it just short-circuits that process and makes everybody happy.”