After a lively Democratic primary race for Montgomery County executive, contenders Isiah Leggett and Steven Silverman could only watch last night as returns trickled in - a process complicated by problems that caused polling locations in some precincts to open much later than scheduled.
Leggett, a former County Council member and former chairman of the state Democratic Party seeking to become Montgomery's first black county executive, appeared to have a significant lead over Silverman, president of the County Council, with less than half of the precincts tallied at the county Board of Elections.
Montgomery is the state's largest jurisdiction, with more than 927,000 residents.
The contest focused largely on controlling development and extension of the proposed east-west line of the Washington Metro to connect Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
The Democratic nominee will face Republican Chuck Floyd, a former construction manager for the State Department who was unopposed in the primary.
Douglas M. Duncan, the Montgomery County executive, opened his job to newcomers when he embarked on a gubernatorial campaign - then withdrew in June from the Democratic primary quest, saying that he had been diagnosed with clinical depression.
In neighboring Prince George's County, with about half of the precincts reporting, incumbent County Executive Jack B. Johnson was neck and neck with former Del. Rushern L. Baker III in the Democratic primary, according to the county elections board.
Baker picked up several key endorsements late in the primary, including the blessing of former Gov. Parris N. Glendening.. Johnson received the endorsement of former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who was seeking the party's nomination for U.S. Senate.