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Mary Washington leads Sen. Conway in Maryland Senate race but holds off on claiming victory

Del. Mary Washington holds a news conference last year with members of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Baltimore.
Del. Mary Washington holds a news conference last year with members of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Baltimore. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Del. Mary Washington held a lead of more than 500 votes in her race against Sen. Joan Carter Conway for a Baltimore seat in the Maryland Senate Wednesday but said she was not yet prepared to claim victory.

Conway, a 22-year veteran senator who chairs a powerful Senate committee, trailed Washington by 529 votes in the Democratic primary election with all but two of the 43rd District’s 55 precincts counted. Absentee and provisional ballots also remain to be tallied in the North Baltimore district.

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Washington lost the early vote to Conway but steadily gained a lead in Tuesday’s Election Day voting. She described herself Wednesday as “exhausted but enthused.”

“We feel very confident that the trend of the election night will continue,” the two-term delegate said.

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Washington, 56, said she hadn’t heard from Conway, 67, since the election. If Washington’s lead holds, Conway will become one of three out of six Baltimore senators toppled on a bad night for incumbents. Sens. Nathaniel McFadden and Barbara Robinson were also defeated by younger challengers as the city delegation experienced a generational shift.

All of the 188 seats in the Maryland General Assembly — 47 in the Senate, 141 in the House of Delegates — were on the ballot Tuesday, forcing many veteran incumbents in the Baltimore region and elsewhere to face possible ouster as voters decided whether to make sweeping changes in Annapolis. 

Washington said the two precincts remaining to report are at the IT Academy, which opened late on Election Day and where voting hours were extended. A spokesman for the city elections board did not return a call seeking an explanation of the reporting delay.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, along with other leading Democrats, strongly supported Conway in her re-election bid, but Washington said she’s prepared to put that in the past if she is declared the winner.

“I look forward to working with everyone,” she said.

Conway said she’s waiting to see more numbers before issuing a statement.

“The numbers are what they are,” she said. “The numbers could do either way.”

Conway said she was not devastated by the possibility of defeat. She blamed the apparent outcome in part on “horrible” mailings sent out by Service Employees International Union Local 1199E.

“There’s nothing going to change for Joan. Something will definitely change for Baltimore city,” she said.

If the numbers continue to show her losing, Conway said she will issue a concession. She indicated it would not be conciliatory.

“I’ll tell the truth,” she said.

The 43rd District was also the site of a close race for the House. Veteran Democratic Del. Curt Anderson was left vulnerable by late-breaking news that he is facing an ethics investigation over allegations of sexual misconduct. Anderson has denied the allegations. He could not be reached for comment today.

With thousands of provisional ballots uncounted across Maryland, key races — including the Democratic primary for Baltimore County executive and hotly contested state legislative races — are undecided.

Anderson was in third place in the three-member district, trailing second-place finisher Regina T. Boyce by three votes and ahead of fourth place finisher Nilesh Kalyanaraman by 369. Kalyanaraman said Wednesday that he would wait for additional votes to be counted before making a statement.

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The impact of the report, published by The Baltimore Sun after early voting closed last Thursday, might be visible in the results. Anderson beat Kalyanaraman by 1,015 votes among those who voted early. But on Election Day, the challenger received 646 more votes than the seven-term incumbent.

The first-place finisher in the district was Del. Maggie McIntosh, who outpolled Boyce by more than 3,000 votes.

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