BALTIMORE — Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown won the Democratic primary for governor of Maryland on Tuesday, defeating Attorney General Doug Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur for the nomination.
With 7 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Brown had 59 percent of the vote, while Mr. Gansler pulled in 20 percent, and Ms. Mizeur received 19 percent.
The victory marked a major step forward toward Mr. Brown becoming Maryland's first black governor in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin. Mr. Brown also would be the state's first lieutenant governor to win the governorship.
The primary win also is significant to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who would benefit from having an ally in the governor's office as he considers running for president in 2016. Mr. O'Malley is limited to two terms, and his final term ends in January.
Mr. O'Malley quickly sent out an email after Mr. Brown's victory to urge people to donate to his general election campaign.
"It's important that we come together and get Anthony's general election campaign off to a strong start," the email said, citing laws he and Mr. Brown have made on raising the minimum wage, performing same-sex marriage and approving gun-control legislation.
This year's primary was unusually early for Maryland. It was moved from September to June to comply with federal rules requiring states to send ballots to members of the military and other Americans overseas.
Meanwhile, Republicans were choosing between real estate broker Larry Hogan, Del. Ron George, Harford County Executive David Craig and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar.
After record-high turnout was reported in the state for early voting that started June 12 and ended Thursday, turnout appeared to be light at polling places.
State elections officials said 141,590 people cast ballots in this early voting period, compared with 77,288 in 2010, the first year of early voting in Maryland.
In western Maryland, election officials at two polling stations inside Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown reported relatively low turnout Tuesday with less than 3 percent of eligible voters by noon.
"We think it's very light," said Jeff Powers, the chief election judge for the two polling stations.
Meanwhile, Maryland's eight members of Congress all were nominated Tuesday to serve new terms.
Five of the state's seven House Democrats and its lone Republican had challengers in Tuesday's primary, but most of them were little-known and poorly funded.
Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards, who represents the 4th District, says the strength of the state's incumbents is a credit to Maryland voters and their shared values.
Maryland Republicans are only targeting one seat in the fall: the 6th District seat occupied by Rep. John Delaney. Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino will challenge Mr. Delaney after winning Tuesday's Republican primary.
Mr. Bongino has raised more than $500,000 for his campaign. However, he would likely have to garner some Democratic support in the redrawn western Maryland district, which includes parts of heavily Democratic Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington, D.C.