Edgewater County Council member Jessica Haire held an early lead over former Annapolis Del. Herb McMillan for the Republican nomination in the Anne Arundel County executive race after more than 28,000 in-person and early primary votes were counted late Tuesday evening.
With all 195 precincts reporting around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, Haire had 12,321 votes (43.09%) to McMillan’s 11,457 (40.07%), according to the state board of elections. The tally included about 5,200 early votes.
The primary race remained too close to call with thousands of mail-in ballots yet to be counted Thursday and only 864 votes separating the leading candidates.
About 13,000 ballots will be canvassed starting at 10 a.m. Thursday, said Richard Siejack, deputy director of the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections.
Siejack couldn’t say how long the count would take but all options are on the table, including counting into the weekend if needed, he said. Preliminary results will be announced later Thursday. Additional canvass dates for mail-in and provisional ballots are scheduled for July 27 and 29.
“I’m so grateful to my volunteers for their tireless efforts over the last year and for the voters’ support during early voting and on election night,” Haire said in a message. “I look forward to seeing the mail-in ballots counted and then moving onto the General Election where we can share a better vision for Anne Arundel County!”
McMillan said Wednesday morning he was still feeling optimistic about his chances due to the number of outstanding ballots in areas where he feels confident he’s popular, and the small gap between him and Haire.
Polling a distant third behind Haire and McMillan was former Anne Arundel County Council member John Grasso, who received 3,484 votes (12.2%). Fernando Berra III and Chris Jahn, received 835 (2.9%) and 495 votes (1.7%), respectively.
Democratic incumbent Steuart Pittman, who is unopposed in his primary race, received 22,530 votes.
Several statewide races were decided Tuesday, including a quick late-night call by The Associated Press, which projected Del. Dan Cox would be the Republican nominee for governor. Cox was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and leads his opponent, former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who was backed by Gov. Larry Hogan, 132,428 (56.2%) to 94,850 (40.3%).
The race for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee was still too close to call Wednesday with author and nonprofit leader Wes Moore leading all candidates with 138,393 votes (36.7%). Trailing behind him are former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez with 103,438 (27.4%) and state Comptroller Peter Franchot with 73,732 (19.6%).
The Associated Press also called the Democratic primary for Maryland attorney general for U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown. Brown led former Judge Katie Curran O’Malley 219,865 votes (59.6%) to 149,153 (40.4%), with mail-in ballots yet to be counted. As of Wednesday afternoon, O’Malley had not conceded. On the Republican side, Michael Anthony Peroutka beat Jim Shalleck 115,551 votes (58%) to 83,598 (42%).
Del. Brooke Lierman is the Democratic party’s choice for state comptroller. She will face unopposed Republican and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman. Lierman defeated Bowie Mayor Timothy Adams 229,863 votes (64%) to 129,062 (36%) for the nomination; he conceded the race Wednesday morning.
Early returns from Election Day began rolling in about an hour after polls closed Tuesday. Throughout the day, voters trickled into polling places across Anne Arundel County, motivated by competitive races for governor, concerns over tax increases and plain old civic duty.
In other notable local races, all three contested County Council primaries were too close to call.
John Dove, a medical device operator running as a Democrat to represent District 4, holds a narrow lead over his opponent former Anne Arundel County Public Schools Board member Julie Hummer with 1,667 votes (40.4%) to her 1,478 (35.9%). The two other Democrats running for the District 4 seat are significantly behind with business expert James Estepp at 677 votes (16.4%) and program manager Ash Khan at 300 (7.3%).
“I am pleased that we are ahead right now but understand that the mail-in ballots will eventually decide the winner,” Dove said in a message, adding that he owes the success of the moment to his devoted volunteers.
After having to suspend his campaign due to a family emergency, Khan said he wasn’t expecting many votes but is thrilled to see Dove and Hummer in the lead.
“I think either of those candidates are going to be wonderful people. I had a great time talking to each of them while we were campaigning,” Khan said. “I am excited to see where this county is going to go the next four years.”
In the Republican District 4 primary, real estate agent Cheryl Renshaw leads pharmacist Tom Wieland with 803 votes (53%) compared to his 718 (47%).
Renshaw said the initial election results are making her more focused her priorities: better education, safer neighborhoods and less government involvement in residents’ lives.
The closest council race is the primary in District 7 in which Shannon Leadbetter leads opponents Dawn Pulliam, who works in the defense sector, and Cailey Locklair, president of the Maryland Retailers Association, with 2,264 votes (38.9%) compared to Pulliam’s 1,823 (31.4%) and Locklair’s 1,727 (29.7%). The three are running for the seat soon to be vacated by Haire.
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While Leadbetter, who works in sales, is happy with her current lead she will “eagerly await” the results of the mail-in ballots, she said.
“I know my opponents and I all worked hard and put in a solid effort to reach the voters,” Leadbetter said in a message Wednesday.
After her first good night of sleep in a while, Pulliam said she’s still feeling optimistic about her chances.
“If you think about where we’ve come not having name recognition or people knowing who I am and what I’m about, I couldn’t have asked for any better,” Pulliam said. “I look forward to seeing what the results are.”
In the race for a Republican nominee for sheriff, incumbent Sheriff Jim Fredericks leads with 15,829 votes (62.1%). Of his three Republican challengers, James McNeill is closest behind with 4,663 votes, or 18.3%.
The Anne Arundel County Board of Elections sent out more than 45,000 mail-in ballots to voters, about 33,000 to Democrats and 12,000 to Republicans. By Monday, sllightly more than 18,000 ballots had been returned, 14,000 from Democrats and 4,000 from Republicans. Mailed ballots had to be returned before polls closed Tuesday or postmarked by Election Day to be counted.