Democrats will retain their supermajorities in the House of Delegates and state Senate over the next four years.
Despite the late surge of support for Republicans nationally and in certain corners of Maryland, vulnerable Democrats appeared to hold on to their seats in several swing districts Tuesday, and the Democrats may have even made incursions into Republican districts.
But the final outcome of some closely watched races will not be known for several days, until mail-in ballots are counted in Anne Arundel County and a few other places, and some incumbents could still wind up losing. But those results will not impact the overall balance of legislative power in Annapolis.
In the legislative term that is winding down, Democrats held a 32-15 edge in the state Senate and a 99-42 advantage in the House of Delegates.
Only a handful of Senate seats were hotly contested this fall, and in the most hard-fought race involving an incumbent, Democratic Sen. Katie Fry Hester appears to have prevailed over her Republican challenger, Del. Reid Novotny in the 9th District. With all Election Day precincts reporting, Hester had 54.03% of the vote while Novotny had 45.88%. Whatever mail-in ballots are left to be counted in the district should favor the incumbent.
As a novice candidate four years ago, Hester ousted veteran Republican lawmaker Gail Bates by a narrow margin, taking advantage of a heavier than normal Democratic turnout. This time, Hester may have benefited from a change in district lines that took territory out of Carroll County and replaced it with a small sliver of northern Montgomery County – though Hester actually performed better in the Howard County part of the district than in the Montgomery piece in preliminary results. The district otherwise takes in the Ellicott City area plus western Howard County.
Another first-term senator was trailing on Tuesday night, but may have the edge when mail-in ballots are tallied.
Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel) was running behind Stacie MacDonald (R), a wealthy businesswoman who self-funded her campaign, after early voting and Election Day ballots were counted. MacDonald had 18,034 votes for 51.18%, while Elfreth had 17,164 votes for 48.71%. But more than 7,000 mail-in ballots are outstanding and won’t begin to be counted until Thursday. If voting patterns in the state hold, they should favor Elfreth by a sizable margin.
Democrats and Republicans may wind up splitting tight battles for two open Senate seats.
In the Harford County-based 34th District, former Del. Christian Miele (R), who previously represented Baltimore County in the House of Delegates, appears to have edged former Del. Mary-Dulany James (D), who was making her third bid for the Senate seat, 53.63% to 46.16%. It doesn’t appear as if there are enough outstanding mail-in ballots for James to overcome Miele’s lead. He would replace outgoing Sen. Robert Cassilly (R), who was overwhelmingly elected Harford County executive on Tuesday.
In District 33 in Anne Arundel County, where Sen. Ed Reilly (R) is retiring after 13 years, Del. Sid Saab (R) was leading attorney Dawn Gile (D) 52.07% to 47.82%. But there may be enough uncounted mail-in ballots for Gile to prevail. This race got nasty in the final weeks, and Saab sued Gile for slander over campaign literature that the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee produced.
Six new senators were elected Tuesday:
- Michael McKay (R-Allegany) was elected in the 1st District to replace retiring Sen. George Edwards (R-Garrett)
- Karen Lewis Young (D-Frederick) was elected in the 3rd District to replace retiring Sen. Ron Young (D), her husband
- Former Del. Bill Folden (R-Frederick) was elected in the 4th District to replace departing Sen. Michael Hough (R), who was leading the race for Frederick County executive
- Ben Brooks (D-Baltimore County) was elected in the 10th District to replace retiring Senate Finance Chair Delores Kelley (D)
- Former Sen. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s) won his old seat back in the 26th District following the retirement of veteran office holder Obie Patterson (D)
- Johnny Mautz (R-Middle Shore) was elected in the 37th District to replace Sen. Adelaide Eckardt (R), whom he defeated in the GOP primary in July
Close House races
Del. Brian Crosby’s reelection race in St. Mary’s County was a top priority of House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County), and he appears to have won.
In District 29B, Crosby, vice chair of the House Economic Matters Committee, was leading in his rematch with former Del. Deb Rey (R), 51.6% to 48.25%. Whatever mail-in ballots have yet to be counted should favor Crosby, who clung to a raw vote lead of 327.
But another vulnerable Democratic incumbent, Del. Heather Bagnall (D-Anne Arundel), appeared to be in trouble Wednesday morning.
In District 33C, Republican Kerry Gillespie, a self-described Mama Bear, who rallied against some COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, was leading Bagnall, 53.95% to 45.94%. There may not be enough mail-in ballots in that subdistrict for Bagnall to overcome her 1,127-vote deficit.
A Republican incumbent is also in trouble: Del. Brenda Thiam (R-Washington), who was appointed to her seat in 2020, was trailing her Democratic challenger, Brooke Grossman, by 34 votes. Thiam is the first Black woman in history to serve in the House GOP Caucus.
A subdistrict within Harford County’s 34th Senate district produced one of the tightest House races in the state, and the two parties appear to have split the two seats. In that District 34A race, Harford County Councilmember Andre Johnson (D) was in the lead with 27.88% of the vote, followed by former Del. Glen Glass (R), who is trying to get his old job back, with 25.69%. Del. Steve Johnson (D) – no relation to Andre – was next with 24.44%, while the other Republican, police officer Teresa Walter, was at 21.85%. It’s possible that mail-in ballots could alter the outcome, but unlikely.
Democrats seem poised to pick up a seat in the two-seat Howard-Montgomery District 9A, but the outcome is by no means final. Del. Trent Kittleman (R), seeking a third term, was in the lead, with 28.65%. The two Democrats in the race were just 59 votes apart – with businesswoman Natalie Ziegler at 24.46% and scientist Chao Wu at 24.35%. Republican Jianning Jenny Zeng had 22.47%.
The race to replace retiring Del. Ned Carey (D) in a northern Anne Arundel County district that borders Baltimore City couldn’t be closer. Republican Ashley Arias had a seven-vote lead over Democrat Gary Simmons, 3,930 votes (49.96%) to 3,923 votes (49.87%). Mail-in ballots will decide the outcome.
Here’s a look at newly elected House members:
- District 1A: Jim Hinebaugh (R)
- District 1C: Terry Baker (R)
- District 2A: William Valentine (R)
- District 3: Kris Fair (D), Karen Simpson (D)
- District 4: April Fleming Miller (R)
- District 5: Christopher Bouchat (R), Chris Tomlinson (R)
- District 7A: Ryan Nawrocki (R)
- District 8: Nick Allen (D)
- District 10: N. Scott Phillips (D), Jennifer White (D)
- District 11A: Cheryl Pasteur (D)
- District 13: Pam Lanman Guzzone (D)
- District 17: Joe Vogel (D)
- District 18: Aaron Kaufman (D)
- District 23: Adrian Boafo (D), Kym Taylor (D)
- District 24: Tiffany Alston (D)*
- District 26: Jamila Woods (D)
- District 27A: Kevin Harris (D)
- District 27B: Jeffrie Long (D)
- District 29C: Todd Morgan (R)
- District 33A: Andrew Pruski (D)
- District 33B: Stuart Schmidt (R)
- District 37B: Tom Hutchinson (R)
- District 42C: Joshua Stonko (R)
- District 43A: Elizabeth Embry (D)
- District 44B: Aletheia McCaskill (D)
- District 45: Jackie Addison (D), Caylin Young (D)
- District 46: Mark Edelson (D)
- District 47B: Deni Taveras (D)
*previously served in 2011 and 2012