Maybe you purposely tuned out the pre-election noise — the endless TV ads, the mailbox-jamming campaign literature, the weekend door-knockers. Or you’ve been obsessing instead on the high-profile races in the likes of Texas and Georgia. Or maybe you just put off learning about the candidates and issues in Maryland because there was plenty of time before Election Day.
But fear not, even with the polls open Tuesday, you still have time to get up to speed before they close at 8 p.m. Here is a cheat sheet for those who need to catch up on who and what Marylanders are voting on, plus links for further enlightenment.
Who’s on top — of the ballot, that is?
The main card is the gubernatorial contest. Gov. Larry Hogan is seeking a second term, which, should he be successful, would mark the first time in more than 60 years that a Republican has won re-election to Maryland’s highest office. His opponent, Ben Jealous, is the former president of the NAACP and would make history if he were to win: the Democrat would be Maryland’s first black governor.
Jealous, with running mate Susan Turnbull, has campaigned for universal health care and prekindergarten, higher pay for teachers, prison reform and other progressive initiatives. Hogan, running with Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, has touted what he considers his moderate, work-across-the-aisle approach focused on pocket-book rather than partisan issues.
Any other races of note?
Residents of several counties are picking their own chief executives.
Campaigning for the open seat of Baltimore County executive are former state delegate Johnny Olszewski Jr., the Democratic nominee, and Al Redmer Jr., the Republican, also a former delegate and current state insurance commissioner. Olszewski, a former teacher, has called for more education spending and outlawing housing discrimination against poor people who receive rent subsidies, while Redmer has said the county should look into having developers build schools that they would lease to the county and find ways to make housing more affordable and attractive to young families.
In Howard County, campaign spending topped $1 million in a lively contest between incumbent Allan Kittleman, a Republican, and Democratic county councilman Calvin Ball. The two floods that have ravaged Ellicott City in less than two years have become an issue, with Kittleman touting his $50 million plan to tear down buildings and expand waterways, and Ball saying more needs to be done and criticizing his opponent for seeking to repeal a stormwater remediation fee, known derisively as the “rain tax.”
And in Anne Arundel County, the incumbent executive, Steve Schuh, a Republican is facing a challenge from Democrat Steuart Pittman, a farmer turned activist turned farmer again. Schuh describes himself as a moderate, in favor of slowing government’s growth and cutting taxes and fees when possible. Pittman has campaigned to limit development, increase affordable housing and reduce poverty.
This is more interesting than I imagined. Is there one place to get more information on these and other races?
https://elections.baltimoresun.com. You’re welcome.
Are there any of those trick questions that always come as a surprise at the end of the ballot?
Question 1 asks whether the governor should be required to channel hundreds of millions of dollars in casino funds to education, above the minimum required. Known as a “lockbox,” the measure would prevent the governor from using gambling money to meet the legal baselines for education funding. If approved, it would provide an estimated additional half-billion dollars for schools by 2022.
Question 2 asks whether to allow voter registration on Election Day itself. Currently, qualified individuals can register to vote during early voting periods, like the one that ended last week, but the law requires registration to end before Election Day.
I bet there are local questions as well, right?
Yes. The State Board of Elections has them all here.
In Baltimore, for example, Question F proposes taking the inspector general out from the mayor’s office. That would make the watchdog agency, which investigates city officials for corruption, an independent body. And, Question E asks if the city should be barred from privatizing its drinking water and sewer systems.
And here’s what to know about the questions in Baltimore County.
Beyond the individual races and questions, any issues beyond the current moment at stake?
Democrats view this election as a referendum on President Donald Trump, saying voters need to push back against his administration and his party. Meanwhile, the Maryland GOP has a “Drive for Five” effort to flip enough seats in the state Senate to deprive the Democrats of their supermajority, which allows them to override Hogan’s vetoes without needing any votes from Republican senators.
They say that could help prevent partisan gerrymandering of congressional and legislative districts after the 2020 Census.
How will I find out who won the Maryland races?
The Baltimore Sun will have live results here as the polls close.