Polls open in Baltimore and across Maryland, as primary election begins

Voters in Baltimore head to the polls Tuesday to select candidates for mayor, City Council and other top city offices.

Across Maryland, competitive presidential and congressional primaries also will also be decided.


Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The combination of races, several of them hotly contested, has some predicting record-high turnout in the state, where more than 260,000 people already cast ballots during early voting.


"It's wonderful to see so many people engaged with the process," said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College.

A dozen Democrats are competing to replace Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, including former Mayor Sheila Dixon, lawyer Elizabeth Embry, state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, City Councilman Carl Stokes and businessman David L. Warnock.

The winner will face the Republican nominee and third-party candidates in the general election on Nov. 8. But Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 10 to 1 in Baltimore, where the primary has for decades served as the de facto election.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are battling for the Democratic nomination for president. On the Republican side, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are trying to slow front-runner Donald Trump.

Reps. Donna F. Edwards and Chris Van Hollen, both Democrats, are vying to replace retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. Del. Kathy Szeliga and Chrys Kefalas are seeking the Republican nomination for that seat.

Eight Maryland seats in the U.S. House are also up for grabs.

Kromer said she is encouraged by the number of viable candidates and record-high turnout during early voting, especially in Baltimore, where more than 30,000 people cast ballots from April 14 to April 21.

"This is a tough year for Baltimore City, coming off the unrest and a general feeling of malaise and unhappiness with the government," she said.


More than 100 people are running for the City Council, including Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young. He is being challenged in the primary by Kim Trueheart, a community activist.

Significant turnover is expected on the council. Six of the 15 members are not seeking re-election, and at least four others have tough primary opponents. Longtime council members Robert W. Curran, Helen L. Holton and Rochelle "Rikki" Spector announced plans to retire and James B. Kraft is running for Circuit Court judge. Stokes and Nick J. Mosby gave up their seats to run for mayor, though Mosby dropped out of the race this month.

Comptroller Joan M. Pratt faces Mike King, an operations manager for a financial services firm, in the Democratic primary. The winner will face Libertarian Jon Bombach in November. No Republican is running for the office.

Pratt has held the position since 1995.

Several last-minute political attacks were made in the final days leading up to the election, including signs against District 11 Councilman Eric Costello, who represents an area that stretches from the South Baltimore peninsula to the downtown business district and parts of West Baltimore.

The red signs with white lettering read "Anybody But Costello!" and lined busy streets in the district.


Costello shrugged off the attack, saying, "I am not going to be distracted by it."

Meanwhile, in the 5th City Council District, Spector said she was dismayed that candidate Isaac "Yitzy" Schleifer was using a quote from her in a mailing.

Spector has endorsed Schleifer's opponent, Betsy Gardner, in the race to succeed her. She said the campaign flier makes it appear she is backing Schleifer.

"I was shocked," Spector said. "This is a deceitful practice."

To counter the ad, Spector sent out a robocall in her Northwest Baltimore district on behalf of Gardner.

"Don't be fooled," Spector says on the call. "I have always enthusiastically endorsed Betsy Gardner."

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Schleifer took offense to Spector characterizing his mailer as dishonest. He said the full content of her quote was used to highlight one of his accomplishments: being named "one of Baltimore's Top Neighborhood Dads."

Spector also is featured in a mailer that went out from Pugh's mayoral campaign. Spector said she did not authorize that, either, and is staying neutral in the mayor's race.

Meanwhile, Baltimore entrepreneur David Troy sent a formal complaint to the State Board of Elections and the state prosecutor alleging that more than 300 fraudulent Twitter accounts have targeted Pugh, an action he argues qualifies as an election law violation.