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Election 2022

Elrich and Blair are tied (again) in Montgomery; Cassily, Fitzwater, Haire and McDonough romp

Signs outside polls at Fields Road Elementary School in Gaithersburg. Photo by Margie Hyslop.

Voters in Maryland cast ballots in several county executive primaries on Tuesday. The most closely-watched race took place in the state’s largest subdivision and it featured a rematch from four years ago.

Montgomery County

For the second election in a row, Democrats Marc Elrich and David Blair appear headed toward a prolonged vote-count.

With the early vote and 246 of 258 election day precincts reported early Wednesday, the pair were separated by just 1,062 votes in the hard-fought race for Montgomery County Executive.

The process of counting mail-in ballots, which is expected to take at least ten days, will determine the outcome of the hard-fought primary, with the winner expected to cruise to victory in November. There were more than 25,000 Democratic mail ballots turned in by county voters as of Monday.

Blair, a wealthy former health care executive who has never held political office, received 39.51% of votes as of 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. Elrich, who is seeking a second term, had 38.01% of the vote. When the duo faced off for an open seat four years ago, following three-term County Executive Ike Leggett’s retirement, Elrich notched a 77-vote win following a lengthy canvass.

Blair poured nearly $5 million of his own fortune into the contest this year, and two outside business groups spent heavily as well, one to back Blair, the other to hammer the incumbent. In an interview with WUSA-TV (Channel 9) as the votes were coming in, Elrich called the race “the dirtiest campaign anybody’s ever run here.”

Term-limited County Councilmember Hans Riemer appeared headed for a third-place finish late Tuesday. He received 21% of the vote. Peter James, who ran for congress as a Republican in 2012 attracted just under 2%.

More than 88,000 Montgomery Democrats requested a mail-in ballot.

Anne Arundel County

The race for Anne Arundel County executive is expected to be one of the hardest fought races of the fall, as County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) seeks a second term. Pittman, a political neophyte four years ago, was aided by a very favorable environment for Democrats across the country and region, and toppled a fairly unpopular Republican incumbent, Steve Schuh, by four points.

He’ll face political headwinds this fall and have a record to defend, and Republicans have targeted the seat.

On Tuesday, County Councilmember Jessica Haire was leading in the GOP primary over former Del. Herb McMillan, 43% to 41% with the early vote and all 195 election day precincts tallied. Three other candidates were splitting the remaining 16%.

The race between Haire and McMillan mirrored the Republican primary for governor in many respects, with Haire the pick of much of the state and local GOP establishment and McMillan more aligned with the Trump wing of the party. The primary turned nasty at times, but whichever candidate emerges as the victor is likely to be a formidable foe to Pittman in the fall.

Though Haire, a suburban mom, is considered to have a profile that’s more likely to appeal to moderate and swing voters than McMillan, McMillan a Naval Academy grad, had success in a purple legislative district based in Annapolis.

More than 12,000 Republican mail ballots were requested in the county and more than 4,000 had been returned as of Monday.

Baltimore County 

Former Del. Pat McDonough, making his second bid for the job, appears to have prevailed in the Republican primary for county executive over former Marine Henry Ciezkowski and four others. With the early vote and 233 of 243 election day precincts reported early Wednesday, McDonough had 41% to Ciezkowski’s 18%.

Even with his high profile as a bombastic former radio host and commentator and his 16 years in Annapolis, McDonough is expected to be a heavy underdog to Democratic County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. in the fall. McDonough has also run unsuccessfully for Congress.

McDonough’s wife, Valerie McDonough, was in fifth place early Wednesday in a Republican primary to win a seat in the House of Delegates.

Frederick County

County Councilmember Jessica Fitzwater took a a commanding lead over her fellow council member, Kai Hagen, on Tuesday.

As of 3:30 Wednesday morning, Fitzwater had received 56.73% support in the Democratic primary, compared to 29.19% for Hagen. With all Election Day precincts reporting, Fitzwater had 7,054 votes, compared to Hagen’s 3,629.

Fitzwater celebrated with supporters on Tuesday night, but also urged patience as mail ballots are counted.

“I am incredibly humbled by the votes that have come in so far. But I also know that every vote must be counted and every vote counts,” she wrote on Facebook.

More than 7,600 mail ballots have been returned by Democratic voters in the race.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face off against state Sen. Michael Hough (R), who ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Harford County

Term-limited Harford County Executive Barry Glassman (R) is one of the nicest guys in Maryland politics.

State Sen. Robert Cassilly (R-Harford) is no one’s idea of warm and fuzzy.

But Cassilly appears to be leading the man Glassman would like to see succeed him in Bel Air, Billy Boniface, a top county official. With the early vote and all 72 precincts reporting as of early Wednesday morning, Cassilly had 68% in the GOP primary compared to 32% for Boniface.

Cassilly, a smart and slashing debater, is a favorite of law-and-order conservatives and social conservatives, and is promising to hold the line on excessive development in Harford County. He’ll be heavily favored over the Democratic nominee, Blaine Miller, who barely has two nickels in his campaign war chest. A Democrat hasn’t won a Harford County executive election since 1990.

Glassman is the Republican nominee for state comptroller.