Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) may have won four more years in Annapolis, but voters across the state split their tickets to elect Democratic county executives.
Two counties ― Anne Arundel and Howard ― saw leadership shift from red to blue.
In Anne Arundel, Hogan trounced Democratic challenger Benjamin T. Jealous while Democratic county executive contender Steuart Pittman, a horse farmer and political novice, held a lead over Republican incumbent Steven R. Schuh at the close of Election Day; outstanding provisional and absentee ballots still have to be counted throughout the state.
In Howard, nearly 57 percent of voters supported Hogan. And 52.3 percent supported the Democrat, County Councilman Calvin Ball.
In Frederick County, about 69 percent of voters supported Hogan, and a slim majority, 51 percent, also supported Democratic incumbent County Executive Jan H. Gardner. She led the Republican challenger, Del. Kathryn Afzali, who garnered 44 percent of the vote.
The numbers show either that Hogan’s coattails are short, the Blue Wave is real, or that Marylanders like partisan checks and balances.
Anne Arundel County
Around 11 p.m., Schuh called Pittman to concede the race.
“We came up a little short, I’m afraid to tell you,” Schuh told supporters. “But we worked so hard. We did a great job. We did the best we could do. And sometimes things just don’t go your way.”
Schuh said during the call with Pittman, he “wished him all the best and assured him we would do everything we can do to help him in the transition.”
Pittman delivered a victory speech in front of a raucous crowd at a ballroom in Glen Burnie.
“We’ve only got one month to get ready to take office and put together a new government, a new transparent government, that puts communities first,” Pittman said, to cheers.
“Yeah, this is pretty awesome,” he said, agreeing with someone in the crowd who’d made a similar statement.
He may have help advancing policies once he takes office. According to unofficial results, voters also flipped the balance on the Anne Arundel County Council to a 4-3 Democratic majority.
Gardner’s victory over Afzali rang remarkably similar to four years ago. In a campaign focused on development issues, the Democrat narrowly beat a well-known Republican even as Hogan dominated in the county.
“I want to say thank you to my voters. I thank them for their confidence in me to lead Frederick County for another four years,” Gardner said at a Democratic victory party in the city of Frederick. “My goal is to continue to make life better for people. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. So, onward!”
On the County Council front, Republicans had a 5-2 edge after early voting and Election Day totals, but two races ― one at-large and one in a southwestern county district ― were within 60 votes with provisional and absentee ballots yet to be counted.
In Howard County, Ball, a current member of the Howard County Council, unseated incumbent Executive Allan Kittleman (R).
Kittleman has governed as a moderate for the last four years, having narrowly eked out a victory in 2014. But Ball talked about national and statewide political trends on the campaign trail, while also putting forward a platform that promised funding for schools, diversifying the tax base and protecting the environment.
Ball garnered 52.3 percent of the vote to Kittleman’s 47.6 percent.
In a victory speech, Ball recalled the proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
“We aspire to go far. We went together, and here we are,” Ball told the cheering crowd.
Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathleen Matthews issued a statement about the race on a mixed-bag night for the state party.
“Howard County voters have sent a statement that they believe in Calvin Ball’s vision of an inclusive community with opportunity for all. We are lucky to have a Democratic County Executive with the vision, the experience, and the heart to lead Howard County forward,” she said.
Change is certainly in the future for Howard County, as the entire County Council will consist of new members going forward, thanks to term limits and bids for other office. Democrats will hold a 4-1 edge on the Council.
The last-standing Republican among the “Big Eight” jurisdictions is Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, a sheep farmer and former state legislator, who won 68 percent of the county’s vote.
“I want to thank the citizens of Harford County for their continued confidence in me to chart our county’s future. We have made tremendous progress over the past four years, and I am excited for all the opportunities that are ahead of us,” he said in a statement reported by Fox 45 News.
Yue Zhang contributed to this report.