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Politics

Five questions ahead of Maryland’s vacation time primary election

With nearly every consequential political seat across Maryland up for grabs, the 2022 primary election is poised to be one for the books.

But there are loose ends to tie as Maryland voters prepare to cast their ballots during this unusual July primary election.

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Like you, The Baltimore Sun has questions. Here’s what we’re asking ahead of Tuesday’s action.

What flavor of Democrat are Maryland voters hankering for?

Maryland, often described as “deep blue” on the political spectrum, has a wide field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates to choose from this election season.

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Voters will pick from nine State House hopefuls representing the whole spectrum of leftist ideology, from the Democratic Socialist lean of Jerome M. Segal to the party establishment politics of Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Polls have shown Dems are running close, suggesting a three-way race between Franchot, former U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez, an Obama-era Democrat, and first-time political candidate Wes Moore, who has a progressive lean.

Though Maryland’s legislature, comptroller and attorney general have characteristically leaned Democratic, Republicans have won three of the last five gubernatorial races, counting Hogan twice and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich in 2002. But the state’s GOP seems split now between a Trump-endorsed of Del. Dan Cox or Hogan-endorsed Kelly M. Schulz.

Is Maryland ready to put a Democrat back in the governor’s mansion, or will the variety of candidate choices fracture the party’s palate when the general election rolls around? Only time will tell.

Can Larry Hogan’s popularity rub off on his hand-picked successor?

Four years after Hogan made an unlikely return as the first Republican reelected to the governor’s office in six decades, can his brand of old-school conservatism still win the day?

Hogan has thrown his political capital behind Schulz, a former delegate he twice elevated to cabinet-level positions — and he remains popular among both Republicans and Democrats.

Whether Schulz can capture that popularity remains an open question.

Both parties will be waiting to see how Maryland Republicans split their votes between Schulz — representing what some are calling a third Hogan term — and Cox, representing the Trump wing of the party.

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The results could influence not just the next few years of Maryland Republican politics, but whether Hogan ultimately challenges Trump for the party’s presidential nomination in two years.

Will Marilyn Mosby remain the Baltimore state’s attorney or will her political career sunset as she prepares for trial?

While she has strong pockets of support, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby faces a battle Tuesday to maintain her office.

Mosby was indicted by a federal grand jury in January and charged with two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements on loan applications to purchase properties in Florida. Her federal trial, originally scheduled to occur ahead of the primary election, is set for Sept. 19. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Mosby appears to have ruffled at least parts of her electorate, too, facing harsh criticism as she prepares to prosecute Keith Davis Jr. in a homicide case for the fifth time.

In a rare move, a judge found a “presumption of vindictiveness” based on Mosby’s decision to charge Davis with attempted murder after he won a new trial in the unrelated murder case. Defense attorneys for Davis also allege Mosby twice violated a gag order prohibiting her from speaking publicly about the case. She will address those allegations before a judge in August.

Mosby has been a lightning rod. But has her image suffered enough to cost her career, or will her opponents, defense lawyer Ivan Bates and former Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah, again split the votes against her as they did in 2018.

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Vignarajah, endorsed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, has been battling his own negative publicity after allegations of abuse and harassment toward staff at the State’s Attorney and Attorney General’s offices surfaced this summer.

Who will be running against Congressman Andy Harris?

U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, a Trump Republican who discussed derailing 2020′s presidential election results, is running uncontested in the primary race. But Maryland’s lone Republican congressman will face off against two competitors in November.

Libertarian candidate Daniel Frank Thibeault will appear alongside Harris on the general election ballot. It’s up to District 1 Democrats to decide Tuesday whether they’ll be joined by former state Del. Heather Mizeur or former Foreign Service Officer R. David Harden.

Mizeur, who lives in Kent County, was a two-term representative of Montgomery County in the Maryland House of Delegates, served as a legislative assistant for multiple members of Congress, was a Takoma Park City Council member and campaigned to be the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014. She lost to Congressman Anthony Brown, who served as lieutenant governor during former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s second term.

Brown, who lost the State House to Hogan in 2014, is running against former Baltimore City District Court judge Katie Curran O’Malley — his former running mate’s wife — to be be the Democratic candidate for state attorney general.

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Mizeur’s campaign priorities revolve around bolstering the economic stability of the Eastern Shore and Baltimore and Harford Counties, farmer-friendly climate policy and expanding affordable access to health care.

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Harden is a Senate-confirmed, Obama-era nominee to the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and received the Presidential Award for Distinguished Service under the Trump administration.

Harden’s platform is rooted in job creation and economic growth, expanded access to health care, bay conservation and bipartisan immigration reform, among other issues.

How many — and which kinds — of voters will turn out Tuesday?

Political observers are on the edge of their seats over whether even a quarter of Maryland voters will cast ballots in a delayed primary that comes while many voters have paid little attention to the races and are on vacation.

Eight days of early voting ended last week with fewer voters turning out than in 2018 — about 182,000 compared to 222,000.

But another 500,000 voters had requested ballots by mail and 165,000 of them already had returned them by week’s end. With those ballots not able to even start being counted until Thursday, the types of voters who turn out in-person versus by mail also could influence how the votes change as the counting drags on.

For instance, some observers say Cox’s supporters — aggrieved by false perceptions of mail-in ballot fraud — could come out in stronger numbers on Tuesday, giving him a leg up in the results that are initially reported. But Schulz’s supporters may trust mail-in voting more, meaning her her vote total would grow through days of counting. In a neck-and-neck race, those late ballots could make all the difference.

For the record

This article was corrected to say congressional candidate R. David Harden is not native to District 1. The Sun regrets the error.


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