Higher voter turnout in Md. Primary Election

Posted at 6:17 PM, Apr 27, 2016

A competitive race for president, U.S. Senate, and Baltimore City Mayor drew more voters than in past years.

According to the Maryland Board of Elections, nearly 54,000 more Baltimore residents voted this year compared to the 2011 primary election, which was the last time residents voted for mayor.

“The largest in total votes since 1995,” said government and public policy Professor John Willis with the University of Baltimore.

State Senator Catherine Pugh emerged from a pool of 13 candidates. Willis said her years in office gave her the edge with voters.

“They wanted some change but they wanted experience at the same time,” he said.

It was early voting that helped her clinch the win over former Mayor Sheila Dixon. Dixon won the most votes on Primary Election Day, however, Pugh’s 3,600 lead from early voting helped her win with 36.8 percent of the vote. Pugh will face Republican Alan Walden in the general election in November.            

Voter turnout also had a lot to do with other races on the ballot.

“The time of the race fell together with a very competitive Senate race and a very competitive presidential race,” Willis said.

A number of people competed for their party's nomination in the Maryland U.S. Senate race. Between democratic front runners Representative Chris Van Hollen and Representative Donna Edwards, Van Hollen was declared the winner with 53 percent of the vote.

Maryland Delegate Kathy Szeliga won the Republican nod. Her camp is hoping to follow in Governor Larry Hogan's path and score a win for the GOP in a state where registered democrats outnumber republicans 2 to 1, Willis said that’s unlikely.

“I think 2016 will be very different from 2014. In 2014, democrats had the lowest voter turnout ever for the gubernatorial election. I don't expect that to happen in the 2016 presidential election,” he said.

And the race for president is of course getting a lot of attention, so much so that some voters said it's distracted them from focusing on local politics.

“To be honest, I haven't really followed the Senate race as closely as I should have. Mostly, I'm just here to vote for not Trump just put it that way,” said Alan Shook.

However, Republicans in the state felt differently. Donald Trump was selected as the state's nominee with 54.5 percent of the vote. Hillary Clinton won the majority of democrats with 63 percent.

“This was the most visits we've had from presidential candidates in the modern history of Maryland,” said Willis. He added that it’s because candidates in both parties are competing for the number of delegates needed to avoid a contested convention.  

Some other interesting races include the two congressional seats left open by Democratic Representatives Van Hollen and Edwards in their run for Senate.

In the 8th congressional district, Democratic State Senator Jamie Raskin defeated businessman David Trone.

“So far, it was the most expensive House race in the country this year with one individual putting in nearly $12 million and he finished second,” Willis said.

And in the 4th congressional district, former Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown won the Democratic nominee with 41 percent of the vote.

“I thought that margin was healthier than you might've expected in terms of the campaign performance that he had in 2014,” Willis said.

For more primary election results from the Maryland Board of Elections, click here. And for up-to-date and unbiased political news coverage, click here:


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