Plenty of competitive races for Md. primary

Posted at 9:20 AM, Apr 26, 2016

 ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Large numbers of Maryland voters were expected to take advantage of a rare opportunity to influence the presidential nominating contests during the state's primary elections on Tuesday.

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Further whetting voter appetites, a high-profile U.S. Senate race also was being decided along with two strongly contested primaries in U.S. House districts.

Polls have shown Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and leading Republican contender Donald Trump leading in Maryland as they try to shore up their parties' nominations. Maryland is 28 percent black, and Clinton has done well in states with larger African-American populations.

Sabrina Stevens of Riverdale Park, who brought her 15-month-old son with her to vote, said she agreed with Bernie Sanders on many issues but voted for Clinton because she believes Sanders is making promises he can't keep.

"I started off very solidly for Bernie, and then over the course of the election he really lost me," Stevens said. Clinton, she said, is "more prepared to actually do things in office."

Steve Drake, 55, a Republican from Silver Spring, voted for John Kasich. He said Ted Cruz is too divisive and he that he can't take Trump seriously.

"Of the three remaining, I think he's probably the lone adult in the room," Drake said of Kasich.

In the Senate race, Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards have been battling in a contentious Democratic primary, as Sen. Barbara Mikulski retires at the end of her term.

Republicans in the Senate primary are hoping Gov. Larry Hogan's popularity will help propel them to victory in November in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. Del. Kathy Szeliga, who represents parts of Baltimore and Harford counties, is running against Richard Douglas, a former Defense Department appointee in the George W. Bush administration in a crowded primary. Chrys Kefalas, who worked as an attorney in former Gov. Robert Ehrlich's administration, also is running for the Republican nomination.

Baltimore voters are deciding a crowded Democratic mayoral primary that includes state Sen. Catherine Pugh and former Mayor Sheila Dixon as front runners.

Meanwhile, the effect of Mikulski's retirement is rippling into two congressional districts that include the suburbs of the nation's capital, seats now held by Van Hollen and Edwards, now both running for the Senate.

The 8th Congressional District, which has been held by Van Hollen since 2003, is rich with candidates -- both in the number of people running and in record fundraising. Wine superstore owner David Trone has broken the record for the amount a self-funded House candidate has put into a single campaign, plunking more than $12 million of his own money into the race. Former local television anchor Kathleen Matthews, who is married to MSNBC's "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, and state Sen. Jamie Raskin are running. State legislators Kumar Barve and Ana Sol-Gutierrez also are running in a district that spreads from Washington's Maryland suburbs to the Pennsylvania state line.

Izzy Miller of Silver Spring voted for Trone.

"I like what he says," Miller said. "He seems to be straightforward."

In the neighboring 4th Congressional District, former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is running against former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey and Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk in the Democratic primary. They are running for the seat Edwards has held since 2008.

A record number of Maryland voters cast early ballots during the eight-day, early-voting period that ended Thursday.

Voting got off to a slow start in some Baltimore precincts because they didn't open on time Tuesday morning. City election director Armstead Jones said he was aware of the problem and working to get those locations open.


Associated Press writers Matthew Barakat in Silver Spring and Ben Nuckols in Washington contributed to this report.