Voters will head to the polls Tuesday to resolve one of the costliest primary fights in Maryland history and nominate scores more politicians for November's general election.
With experts forecasting low turnout, candidates were out in force trying Monday to lure voters — long accustomed to September primaries — to cast a ballot in Maryland's first June primary since the Eisenhower administration.
"It's really a turnout question in an election like this," said Barbara A. Hoffman, a former state senator and longtime political observer. "The candidates who bring out the votes will win."
The blitz began before 7 a.m. Democratic front-runner Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown was hustling for votes outside the New Carrollton Metro station, clapping his hands and periodically shooting thumbs-up signs to passing commuters.
"Alrighty, g'morning," he bellowed in the style of a carnival barker. "Election Day is tomorrow. It's finally here. Tuesday, June 24, here we go!"
"Thanks," Gansler responded. "So does my mom."
Del. Heather R. Mizeur, the third Democrat in the race, toured Baltimore-area landmarks from Dundalk to Cross Street Market, predicting that her low-budget campaign that's been third in the polls would pull off an upset.
"We are experiencing an incredible surge of momentum," she said. "Something's really shifted in the last few weeks."
It is the most expensive primary race ever in Maryland, said John T. Willis, author of a book on the history of Maryland politics and executive in residence at the University of Baltimore's School of Public Policy.
In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin, the victor Tuesday will be favored to win in November.
The negativity that flavored the Democratic race continued Monday, with Gansler accusing Brown of "dirty politics," telling voters the Brown camp was behind negative publicity about Gansler's attendance at a party where teens later said they were drinking.
And Gansler's most recent negative campaign literature landed in mailboxes over the weekend, featuring a graphic that read "Anthony Brown's 'wheel of corruption' "and attempting to tie Brown to a series of Maryland political figures who found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Brown campaign manager Justin Schall dismissed the mailer as a composite of "half-truths."
Candidates in the more genial race for the Republican nomination also crammed in a final day of politicking.
Republican Del. Ron George, who holds the distinction of polling lower than any candidate in either party in the race for governor, doled out his dwindling supply of yard signs and exuded optimism. He said he detected a seismic shift in the Republican race over the past two weeks.
"I've always been a strong finisher," he said. "I think people will be surprised."