Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan made his way through Harford County Thursday evening a few hours before the close of eight days of early voting in advance of Tuesday's general election.
Almost 11 percent of Harford's nearly 164,800 active registered voters cast their ballots during the eight days of early voting that began Oct. 23 and ended at 8 p.m. Thursday, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections.
The four early voting sites in Harford drew 17,965 earlier voters, with by far the heaviest turnout on Thursday, when 3,863 people voted.
During his stopover in Harford, Hogan walked along Main Street in downtown Bel Air, visiting various businesses and talking with workers and customers.
He next headed to the McFaul Activities Center, one of Harford's four early voting sites, where he met with voters and supporters outside the center. He also planned to visit Havre de Grace to attend the city's annual Halloween parade.
"It's been terrific," Hogan said of his Harford visit before he left the McFaul Center.
He stressed his campaign is not about partisanship and said he has gained support across party lines.
"It's about people who want to come together and make our state better," he said.
Hogan, an Anne Arundel County businessman, and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, the Democratic candidate, are locked in what has become an increasingly close contest to succeed Gov. Martin O'Malley. For Hogan, a win would give the Republicans the governor's office for the first time since Gov. Robert Ehrlich in 2003-07 and only the third time in nearly 50 years.
Amy Finch and Daniel Wehr, both of Edgewood, smiled as they chatted with Hogan.
Both appreciated what they said is Hogan's positive approach to the race, compared to what they consider negative campaigning from Brown.
"I seems that he has more of a positive approach to everything, and it kind of gives you a sense of relief that something better is coming to Maryland," Wehr said.
Harford hasn't voted for a Democrat for governor since the William Donald Schaefer era two decades ago. It went heavily for Ehrlich in his victory over Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 2002 and also gave him comfortable margins in his two losses to O'Malley in 2006 and 2010.
A small group of local elected and appointed officials joined Hogan on his walk through downtown Bel Air, including Harford County Executive David Craig, who finished behind Hogan in June's GOP gubernatorial primary; State Sen. Barry Glassman, the party's nominee to succeed Craig as county executive; County Councilman Joe Woods and Del. Susan McComas.
Also in the group was Bel Air Town Administrator James Fielder, who like Hogan served in Ehrlich's administration – Hogan as Ehrlich's appointments secretary and Fielder as secretary of labor, licensing and regulation.