Jessica Haire maintained her lead over Herb McMillan in the primary race for the Republican nomination for Anne Arundel county executive Thursday following a daylong canvass of mail-in ballots.
Haire, an Edgewater Council Council member, received 864 votes and McMillan, a former Annapolis alderman and delegate, received 651 of the more than 2,000 Republican ballots counted. Haire has 13,185 votes (43.4%) compared with McMillan’s 12,108 (39.9%).
Over more than seven hours, bipartisan teams sorted and reviewed 13,698 ballots — 2,042 from Republican voters and 11,656 from Democrats — returned through the mail or dropped off at ballot boxes.
About 2,500 provisional ballots will be counted Wednesday while the remaining 7,000 or so mail-in ballots will be reviewed July 29, said Deputy Board of Elections Director Richard Siejack. While ballots are still coming in from overseas and other states, those that arrive after 10 a.m. July 29 will not be counted. Two ballot envelopes had to be thrown out Thursday because they were returned without a ballot inside, Siejack said.
McMillan attended the canvass in the morning, prowling the packed room, as 100 canvassers were busy counting the first batch of mail-in ballots at the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections Office. Add several dozen observers, candidates and county staffers, and the election headquarters, located in a Glen Burnie business park near the western foot of the Key Bridge, was packed.
“It’s crazy,” Elections Board Chair Brenda Yarema said. “The public was invited, and they certainly came.”
Shortly thereafter, another election official took to the microphone and asked observers, staff and the chattier ballot counters to lower volume in a room smaller than a school cafeteria.
“Take the noise level down just a bit so the canvassers can concentrate,” he admonished.
After learning the returns Thursday, Haire said she was “energized and thankful.”
McMillan remained optimistic considering how many ballots are still uncounted, he said.
“I am confident in our voters, remain confident we will prevail, and committed to see this through to the finish line,” he said.
Among the watchers was Maryland Republican Party President Dirk Haire, who peered over the shoulders of canvassers as they opened ballot envelopes, noting to a Capital reporter that the canvass appeared to be going smoothly. Haire, who is married to Jessica Haire, said he didn’t think any of the returns would be surprising after the initial release of returns Tuesday night showed his wife with a lead of several hundred votes over McMillan for the Republican nomination.
Several hours later, his prediction came true.
Three contested County Council primaries remained too close to call following Thursday’s canvass.
Julie Hummer leads the four-way Democratic primary for District 4 with 2,259 (39.3%), followed by John Dove with 2,203 votes (38.3%), James Estepp, 904 votes (15.7%), and Ash Khan, 383 votes (6.7%).
Candidates from state and federal races showed up in the afternoon as counting came to a close.
“I’m feeling good but I won’t sleep until I see that check mark,” said Yuripzy Morgan, a Republican running for District 3 in the U.S. House of Representatives, who attended the final hour of canvassing with her mom, Rosa. Thursday’s returns showed Morgan leading her next-closest competitor, Joe Kelley, by more than 1,200 votes.
Maryland Policy & Politics
In the Republican District 4 primary, real estate agent Cheryl Renshaw, 884 votes (53.4%), leads pharmacist Tom Wieland, 770 votes (46.6%).
Shannon Leadbetter, 2,348 votes (38.9%), leads the GOP District 7 primary for the seat soon to be vacated by Haire, followed by Dawn Pulliam, 1,884 votes (31.2%), and Cailey Locklair, 1,798 votes (29.8%).
Returns from early voting and election day voting were reported at all 195 county precincts. Out of the county’s 302,714 eligible Democratic and Republican voters, 56,154 cast their ballots, according to data from the state board of elections Wednesday. That’s about 18.55% of eligible voters.
Despite a national trend of evolving election laws, Maryland is the only state that forbids counting mail-in ballots on election day. The delay has left many state and county races in limbo. Despite more than 13,000 votes being counted Thursday, several races were still too close to call.
Gary Simmons, a Democrat running for the newly created District 12B in the House of Delegates, came to watch the count with his 11-year-old son, Quinten. Thursday’s returns show Simmons, 698 votes (35.9%), held a narrow lead over his opponents Jeff Garcia, 659 votes (33.9%), and Daniel McGinty, 585 votes (30.1%).
“I’ve enjoyed the process,” Simmons said, crediting his lead to door-knocking and grassroots campaigning.
For complete election returns, go to capitalgazette.com/results.