- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Maryland’s Democratic voters picked Ben Jealous, a former NAACP president, as their standard-bearer for the fall race against popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, as state officials tried to work through an eleventh-hour registration mix-up affecting up to 80,000 voters and several other hiccups that led them to extend voting by one hour in several Baltimore precincts.

In another post-2016 battle between the liberal and establishment wings of the Democratic Party, Mr. Jealous defeated Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and six other Democrats for the right to take on Mr. Hogan.

With nearly all precincts reporting, Mr. Jealous held a 40 percent to 29 percent lead over Mr. Baker, with the next closest challengers at about 8 percent, according to unofficial election results.

Mr. Jealous claimed victory late Tuesday evening, and The Associated Press called the race for him at 10:36 p.m.

“Today we have come together, from all corners of Maryland, to send a message to the Republican administration in Annapolis — that their time in power is coming to an end,” Mr. Jealous said in remarks prepared for his victory speech.

Mr. Jealous had campaigned on a staunchly liberal platform that included calls for a single-payer health care system in the state, free college tuition and the legalization of marijuana. He won high-profile endorsements from national progressive figures including Sens. Bernard Sanders, Cory A. Booker, and Kamala D. Harris, as well as a number of union groups, including the Maryland State Education Association.

But Mr. Jealous said he is not running to the left or to the right, but “towards the people of our state.”

“Health care, education, ending mass incarceration, ending the student debt crisis, and protecting the environment are people issues,” he said in the remarks. “And unlike Larry Hogan, I have the vision, the plans, the experience, and the courage to risk my own political standing for progress.”

Mr. Baker, meanwhile, had the support of many big-name Democrats in the state, including former Gov. Martin O’Malley, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, and Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

Democrats said they are prepared to deny Mr. Hogan a second term in office after his shocking upset win in 2014 and want their ballots to send a strong anti-Trump message to the White House as well.

In Bethesda, 70-year-old Patricia Lane came out despite months of chemotherapy treatments because she was worried about a lack of civility during Mr. Trump’s presidency.

She was appalled by recent news of illegal immigrant children being separated at the border from their parents and thinks many other women and mothers are similarly motivated. She said such voters are “who they’re afraid of at the ballot box.”

She voted for Mr. Baker for the Democratic nomination for governor after hearing a radio interview with him and said he would be a better general election candidate than the more liberal Mr. Jealous.

Cheryl Joyner, 48, of Silver Spring — who said she would prefer to use her middle name because she didn’t want to get targeted by Mr. Trump — also saw her vote as a way to oppose the president. She voted for Mr. Jealous.

“I heard him speak, and I really liked the things he was saying and the movement,” she said.

“I think marijuana should be legalized in Maryland,” she said. “I’m not even a smoker, but I’ve been sick, you know. I’ve just recovered from cancer. I believe in pain medicine.”

But Mr. Hogan’s team responded to Mr. Jealous’s win by saying the choice for Maryland voters “could not be clearer,” and that the incumbent is a “steady hand” who has worked in a bipartisan way to move Maryland in the right direction.

“In Ben Jealous, they find a risky blend of ideological extremism and recklessness who would move Maryland in the opposite direction and toward the bitter partisanship and dysfunction that poisons Washington, D.C.,” said Hogan campaign manager Jim Barnett.

But the elections were also taking place against the backdrop of the Monday disclosure that close to 80,000 voters — four times the initial estimate over the weekend — could have to cast provisional ballots because the state didn’t properly record address and party change requests.

“In our sense of urgency to inform the public, given the close proximity of the primary election, the numbers that were initially reported did not accurately reflect the total scope of the people impacted,” said Christine Nizer, head of the state transportation department’s Motor Vehicle Administration.

Mr. Hogan’s office said the administration was “incredibly disappointed” by the development but that every eligible voter will be able to cast a ballot and the governor has directed the auditor for the Department of Transportation to conduct a comprehensive review of the situation.

But state Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore Democrat, and Delegate Anne R. Kaiser, Montgomery County Democrat, issued a statement demanding the resignation of Ms. Nizer along with “anyone else who was part of the Hogan administration’s attempt to sweep this under the rug, leaving Marylanders with concerns about their constitutional right to vote on the eve of an election.”

Provisional ballots won’t be counted until July 5, muddying the waters on a primary day when voters were also casting ballots in races for U.S. Senate, the state’s eight congressional seats and a number of local races. All 188 state legislative seats are also up this year.

There were also reports of intermittent issues at polling places around the state.

Election officials were trying to stop paving from taking place in front of one polling place in Allegany County. In Baltimore, the city’s board of elections director told The Baltimore Sun that some voters at one polling place weren’t immediately able to cast ballots because machines hadn’t been set up on time.

Donna Duncan, assistant deputy director for election policy at the State Board of Elections, said she believed the issues were ultimately resolved.

But a court ended up ordering three precincts in Baltimore to stay open until 9 p.m. — an hour after polls were supposed to close — because they opened late.

As for other races, Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin easily turned aside a handful of primary challengers, including government leaker turned transgender rights activist Chelsea Manning.

Mr. Cardin is poised to face Republican Tony Campbell, who held off about a dozen other contenders on the Republican side. The AP called the race for Mr. Campbell at 11:07 p.m.

U.S. House incumbent members were also dealing with primary challengers of their own, though none of the incumbents lost.

About a dozen candidates were also battling for their respective party’s nominations in the race to replace Democratic Rep. John K. Delaney in the 6th Congressional District. Mr. Delaney bypassed a re-election bid to focus on a 2020 presidential run.

On the Democratic side, businessman David Trone emerged from a crowded field to claim the nomination, with the AP calling that race shortly after 11 p.m. On the Republican side, defense consultant Amie Hoeber cruised to an easy win over several challengers.

Further down ballot in the race for Montgomery County executive, voters were choosing among six Democratic candidates: businessman David Blair, state House Majority Leader Bill Frick, former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow, and County Council members Roger Berliner, George Leventhal and Marc Elrich.

Perennial candidate Robin Ficker was the only Republican in that race.

With nearly all precincts reporting, Mr. Elrich and Mr. Blair were locked in a tight battle for first, with both pulling about 29 percent support.

Current Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett opted not to seek a fourth term.

In the battle to replace Mr. Baker as Prince George’s County Executive, Democrats were choosing from a field of nine candidates, including county State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, former Lt. Gov. Sam Bogley, Air Force veteran Billy Bridges, former U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, State Sen. Anthony Muse, former Obama administration official Paul Monteiro, and residents Lewis Johnson, Michael Kennedy and Tommie Thompson.

One Republican, Jerry Mathis, was on the ballot in that race.

With nearly all precincts reporting, Ms. Alsobrooks had 62 percent of the vote, followed by Ms. Edwards with 24 percent and Mr. Muse with 10 percent, according to unofficial election results. Ms. Edwards conceded the race Tuesday evening.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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