Low Voter Turnout Story in Maryland Election

George Wenschhof

When the absentee ballots are finally counted, the primary turnout in Maryland will fall way short of what I had predicted to be a low 35%.  Sadly, it was common to see lots of campaign signs at polling locations and few voters.

The move of the primary date from September to June surely impacted turnout.  But, as I pointed out in my column Monday, the ongoing gerrymandering of districts of the political party in power, the unregulated amount of money in politics and the difficult process for a viable third party to become established, all play a significant part in voter apathy and their lost of trust in government.

There were no big surprises across the state with Lt. Governor Anthony Brown winning the Democratic nomination for governor of the state.  He will face Republican Larry Hogan as he campaigns to become the first African American governor of Maryland and the third in the nation.

The good news for Brown is both of his opponents; state delegate Heather Mizeur and Attorney General Doug Gansler spoke in their concession speeches how they will help ensure a victory for Brown in November.

It would be wise for the Brown campaign to find a prominent role for both to play in the general election and if successful in November, a position in his administration.

State senator Brian Frosh, the most experienced and qualified candidate, came from behind in early polling to convincingly win the Democratic nod for Attorney General.

Likeable and effective Democratic state Comptroller Peter Franchot, who decided against a run for Governor, will be favored to win easily in November.  One of the three members of the state’s powerful Board of Public Works, he is known to speak his mind, especially when it comes to spending taxpayer money effectively.

In one unexpected result, Senate minority leader David Brinkley (R-district 4) was crushed by state delegate Michael Hough.  Hough, who received 68% of the vote, used the tea party playbook of negative campaigning, primarily accusing Brinkley of not being a conservative.

Hough will face a spirited battle from Democrat Dan Rupli in the general election, but Rupli will need help from disgruntled Brinkley supporters in the district that has a heavy Republican voter registration.

Ike Leggett beat back a challenge for former county executive Doug Duncan with a 45% – 32% win in the Democratic primary in his bid to continue as county executive.  Leggett is heavily favored to win in November.

State delegate Tom Hucker(D) leads by 217 votes over Evan Glass(D) in the Democratic District 5 Montgomery County council primary.  Hucker should withstand absentee counting to win that contest.

In Frederick County, voters had their first opportunity to vote for county executive and county council as they move to implement charter government.

Incumbent Frederick board of county commissioners president Blaine Young (R) narrowly won the Republican primary with 53%, despite his campaign spending heavily against two candidates; David Gray and Mark Sweadner, who did little campaigning and spent little money.

This sets up the anticipated battle between Democrat Jan Gardner and Blaine Young over who will become the first executive for Frederick County.

If, past numbers are a reliable guide, look to see voter turnout in November exceed 60%.

Stay tuned.

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