More than a week after primary election night on June 26, Harford County Council candidate Robert Wagner can finally say he is the winner of the Republican nomination in the race for the District E seat on the council.
“A long, drawn-out process, [but] we made it through it,” Wagner said after the results of the third and final absentee and provisional ballot canvasses were finalized late Friday morning.
As a result, the field is set for local and state offices for the Nov. 6 general election.
According to unofficial totals from the Harford County Board of Elections, fewer than 25 percent of the county’s 140,935 eligible registered Republican and Democratic voters participated in the primary election. Total turnout was 34,317 voters.
In the 2014 primary, when independent and minor party voters could vote in contested school board races, 34,698 of 158,858 eligible voters cast ballots, 21.8 percent, according to election board archives. There were no contested school board races this year, so only eligible Democrats and Republicans could participate in the primary.
For those candidates who were locked in tight races following primary election day voting, another 10 days of waiting ensued for an absentee ballot canvass June 28, a provisional ballot canvass Thursday and the final count of absentee and provisionals Friday.
All local counts were held at the Harford County Board of Elections headquarters in Forest Hill. Elections staffers counted more than 300 ballots Friday.
Wagner is a former District E councilman and council president who joined the Republican primary race toward the end of the filing period in late February. After losing the council presidency in the 2006 primary election, he was unsuccessful in making a comeback four years ago, running for council president but losing in the primary to the eventual winner, Richard Slutzky.
This year, Wagner defeated Diane Sengstacke by 38 votes, 1,264 to 1,226, giving him 50.76 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial totals posted on the Harford County Board of Elections website. Friday is the deadline for local boards of canvassers to certify the primary results, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections website.
Wagner and his wife, Tina, watched Friday’s count along with a small group of candidates and citizen observers.
“I support him 100 percent,” Tina Wagner said. “I thank everyone who came out to vote. It was a close primary, and we’re happy with the results.”
Robert Wagner and incumbent Republican Del. Susan McComas, who clinched the top spot in a four-person primary race for state Legislative District 34B, said they are focused on winning as they prepare for the general election in November.
“It was a really tough primary, and I’m thankful for providence and my family,” said McComas, who is seeking a fourth term.
McComas, who represents the Abingdon and Bel Air areas in Annapolis, finished with 1,096 votes, just 59 votes ahead of Walter “Butch” Tilley, a member of the Harford County Liquor Control Board.
Tilley finished with 1,037 votes; County Councilman James McMahan was in third with 736, and Jan Marie Christensen had 542 votes.
“I’m very thankful for those that supported me,” McComas said.
She will face Democrat Jeff Dinger in the general election. Wagner will face Democrat Bridgette Johnson. Dinger and Johnson were unopposed in their respective primaries.
The incumbent delegates in District 34A, Republican Glen Glass and Democrat Mary Ann Lisanti, will move on to the general after winning their parties’ nomination.
Glass finished his primary with 1,758 votes, just 55 votes ahead J.D. Russell, who will be his partner on the general election ballot. Russell had 1,703 votes, while Havre de Grace Councilwoman Monica Worrell was in third with 1,658 votes, and R. Douglas Anstine had 167 votes.
Lisanti ended the race with 3,794 votes and will run with Steve Johnson, who had 2,190 votes. Sarahia Benn was third with 2,123.
There will be three Republicans on the general election ballot for three House of Delegates seats in Legislative District 7, which straddles eastern Baltimore County and western Harford. Incumbent Dels. Kathy Szeliga and Rick Impallaria, plus Lauren Arikan, are the Republicans, as they were the top vote-getters in a field of 13 candidates.
Allison Berkowitz and Gordon Koerner, the only two Democratic primary candidates, will challenge them, along with Green Party candidate Ryan Sullivan, according to the state election board website.
Szeliga took the largest portion of Republican District 7 votes, 3,729, or 22.49 percent. Impallaria was in second with 2,432, and Arikan in third with 2,203 — Arikan edged out Aaron Penman, a sergeant with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, by 63 votes. Penman earned 2,140 votes, according to the county totals.
The Harford elections office had 323 absentee and provisional ballots on the table for Friday’s count. The Board of Elections, sitting as the Board of Canvassers, accepted 313, including 274 absentees and 39 provisionals.
Seven absentee ballots had been rejected — six had not been submitted in a timely manner, and one had been signed by the wrong person, according to Stephanie Taylor, project manager for the Board of Elections.
Three provisionals were rejected — one because the person had already voted with an absentee ballot, one voted outside their party affiliation and one presented a driver’s license and Social Security number that could not be verified, according to Taylor.
Canvassers board Chair Maria Terry thanked election Director Kevin Keene and his staff “for their hard work during the election.”