- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rep. Chris Van Hollen emerged the victor Tuesday in Maryland’s hotly contested Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by longtime Democratic stalwart Barbara A. Mikulski, who is retiring.

Returns from the State Board of Elections show that as of Wednesday morning, Mr. Van Hollen had secured 434,423 votes, or 53 percent, and Rep. Donna F. Edwards garnered 317,052 votes, or 39 percent, in their primary, widely regarded as a steppingstone to November’s general election in Maryland, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2-to-1.

Throughout the polarizing contest, Ms. Edwards had campaigned hard to become the first black woman elected to the Senate since Carol Moseley Braun in 1992, and her battle with Mr. Van Hollen grew so heated that the White House stepped in to criticize a pro-Edwards PAC for using an image of President Obama to attack her rival in a TV ad.

On the Republican side, state House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga sailed to victory with 129,817 votes, or 36 percent, in a crowded field of more than a dozen Republicans running for the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Van Hollen’s and Ms. Edwards‘ pursuit of the open Senate seat left their own congressional seats vacant, and a host of Democratic candidates stepped up to fill void.

In the 8th Congressional District race to replace Mr. Van Hollen, state Senate Majority Whip Jamie Raskin won with 38,902 votes, or 34 percent; wine superstore owner David Trone held 31,529 votes, or 27 percent; and former hotel executive Kathleen Matthews, wife of MSNBC host Chris Matthews, had 27,401 votes, or 24 percent, among nearly a dozen Democratic candidates.

Mr. Trone, chief executive of Total Wine and More, spent a record $12 million of his own money in his congressional bid — making the contest based in Montgomery County the most expensive House primary in the country, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Takoma Park resident Susan Alexander said she voted for Mr. Raskin because he is smart, thoughtful and experienced.

“He really knows the process. He knows how to get things done,” said Ms. Alexander, 58.

Frederick County lawyer Dan Cox led the Republican field with 19,471 votes, or 45 percent, for the 8th District.

In Ms. Edwards‘ 4th Congressional District, centered in Prince George’s County, former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown beat out a packed field with 44,712 votes, or 42 percent. His nearest rival, former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, received 36,717 votes, or 34 percent, in early polling results. The district race attracted a half-dozen Democrats.

Dolores Hooban, who was voting at Evangel Cathedral in Upper Marlboro, said she was supporting Mr. Ivey for his state’s attorney work with families suffering from domestic abuse.

“It’s a big problem in P.G. County, and people keep it quiet. People are embarrassed. … I just think he was a champion for that,” Ms. Hooban said. “When I heard he was running, I jumped on it.”

George McDermott, a contractor, led the Republican race with 6,296 votes, or 46 percent, for the 4th District.

Ms. Edwards‘ and Mr. Van Hollen’s seats are considered safe for Democrats, as is the Senate seat.

State elections officials anticipated heavy turnout because the presidential nominations were still undecided. In addition, a record number of Marylanders cast ballots during the state’s eight-day early-voting period, which ended Thursday. About 258,000 people took advantage of the early-voting option, which was introduced in 2010.

In Tuesday’s primary, election officials abandoned electronic touch-screen voting machines and employed old-fashioned paper ballots for the first time since 2002. Glitches and security concerns prompted state lawmakers in 2007 to enact a return to paper ballots.

“The paper ballots are a huge improvement,” said Mike McMahon, chief election judge at Takoma Park Elementary School. “There’s so much less frustration.”

Election workers in Prince George’s County reported the same: “We have not had one single problem,” said Phyllis Dumas, a volunteer poll worker at Kenmoor Middle School. “[The voters] act like we’ve been doing this all along.

In Baltimore, a judge ordered four precincts there to remain open late Tuesday to compensate for their tardy openings for the primary elections.

Ms. Edwards‘ campaign filed an injunction to keep the precincts open in majority-black Baltimore.

Regina Bennet, 58, a deputy clerk at Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court on the Eastern Shore, said she voted for Mr. Van Hollen because, unlike Ms. Edwards, he didn’t rely on TV attack ads.

“He didn’t’ say a lot of negative, negative stuff about Donna Edwards,” she said. “I want positive stuff and don’t like the negative stuff.”

Ms. Bennet, who is black, said race and gender did not influence her vote: “That’s not a factor for me. I vote for the person. I don’t care if they are white, black, pink or purple.”

Voter turnout was steady at polling places in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Gia Irving, 20, voted for the first time Tuesday at Greater Lighthouse Church in Lanham and said she had no issues with the paper ballots.

“It was pretty easy,” Ms. Irving said. “Hopefully, my vote counts.”

Michael Elliot Smith of Landover said he voted for Mr. Brown to represent the 4th Congressional District because he appreciates Mr. Brown’s experience in office.

“I’m sorry he lost the governor seat,” Mr. Smith said, referring to Mr. Brown’s loss to Republican Larry Hogan in 2014. “[I like] his commitment to the state.”

Loni Browning, 64, an artist who voted in Centreville, described herself as a “lifelong liberal Democrat.” She said she voted for Mr. Van Hollen in the Senate race, citing his similarities to Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Still, Ms. Browning said the choice between him and Ms. Edwards “was a tough one” because she likes supporting women and Ms. Edwards had inspiring story of being a single mother who rose out of tough circumstances.

She said Ms. Edwards needs more experience in Washington. “She needs to work better within the system,” she said.

Virginia S. Walker, 78, said she voted for Mr. Van Hollen because of his support for the Obama administration’s agenda.

“I think he’s in line with Obama,” Ms. Walker said after casting her vote in Gaithersburg.

Ms. Walker, who worked for more than two decades at the National Naval Medical Center, also said there is a more personal reason she backed Mr. Van Hollen.

“I like him a lot because he looks out for government employees,” she said.

• Faith E. Pinho, S.A. Miller and Ben Wolfgang contributed to this article, which is based on wire service reports.

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