Republican County Council member Jessica Haire performed better among Election Day voters, building a lead of nearly 11,000 votes Tuesday over incumbent Democrat Steuart Pittman in the race for Anne Arundel County executive.
But the race is not settled because of at least 45,000 early votes still to be counted.
Throughout the day, a steady stream of voters flowed through county polling places, citing civic duty, change and a ballot referendum that would legalize recreational marijuana as their motivation. Other voters cast their support between the leading candidates in the Maryland governor’s race: Republican Dan Cox and Democrat Wes Moore. Moore declared victory later in the evening.
One of the most closely watched local races is for Anne Arundel County executive. All seven County Council races are up for grabs as well as races for Maryland General Assembly, sheriff, Orphans Court and state’s attorney.
Eight days of early voting in Anne Arundel County resulted in 38,925 residents casting their ballots ahead of Election Day. Early voting returns showed Pittman ahead of Haire by about 2,800 votes. But Haire had a margin of more than 13,000 votes over Pittman among those who voted in person on Tuesday.
As of Tuesday, at least 45,000 Anne Arundel County voters — 27,300 Democrats, 9,800 Republicans and 8,400 from other parties — had returned mail-in ballots, according to the county Board of Elections. Canvassing of those ballots, and others that are returned by mail or to drop boxes, will begin Thursday.
After polls closed, Haire and Pittman retreated to their respective election night parties to blow off steam, thank their supporters and watch returns come in.
About 100 Haire supporters gathered at Glory Days in Edgewater, dining on buffet food and swigging drinks from an open bar. One of the attendees, Bill Kraus, a retired Air Force colonel said he supported the one-term legislator “because she is a problem solver.”
“She has the kind of attitude to reach across the aisle to get things done and I think that’s what we need right now,” Kraus said.
“It feels good to be done,” Haire said in an interview at the restaurant in her home district. “I ran a good race and the numbers will be what they will be. At this point, I’m running on adrenaline and coffee.”
Around 100 Pittman supporters milled about a ballroom at the Waterfront Hotel in Annapolis, dancing to music and listening to a parade of Democratic legislators speak as they awaited the incumbent’s arrival.
Field organizers and volunteers for the Pittman campaign said they were happy to come celebrate with Pittman and the other Annapolis Democrats.
“They value working class people, they value lifting all people and taking care of one another and they value a woman’s right to choose,” said Jessie Dunleavy, who knocked doors for Pittman and several other Annapolis-based Democrats. “They care about human beings.”
Around 10:30 p.m., Pittman took the stage to raucous applause and expressed confidence that he’ll win reelection.
“I love this job and I am going to keep this job,” he said. “There is not a path for my opponent to win this election.”
At Haire’s party, former Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides, who is challenging Annapolis incumbent Lisa Rodvien for the District 6 County Council seat said he was proud of the race he ran no matter the result.
“I’m proud of the race we ran,” Pantelides said. ”When I ran for Mayor of Annapolis we got results back the same day but I don’t expect to know these results until Friday.”
“I believe in my heart the numbers are going to be there,” Rodvien said at Pittman’s party. “I feel fantastic.”
In District 1, Democratic candidate Pete Smith held a lead over Republican Jeremy Shifflett, 9,280 votes to 7,746 votes.
In District 2, Republican Noel Smith led incumbent Democrat Allison Pickard 8,356 votes to 8,081 votes. Libertarian David Sgambellone had received 609 votes.
In District 3, incumbent Republican Nathan Volke had received 18,907 votes. Write-in candidates, including Democrat Michael Gendel, had received 916 votes.
In District 4, Democrat Julie Hummer led Republican Cheryl Renshaw, 11,462 votes to 5,439 votes.
In District 5, incumbent Republican Amanda Fielder led Carl James Neimeyer, a Democrat, 16,393 votes to 10,567 votes.
In District 6, Pantelides led Rodvien, 11,797 votes to 11,041 votes.
In District 7, Republican Shannon Leadbetter led Democrat Shawn Livingston, 15,318 votes to 9,310 votes.
Results from 13 ballot questions, including eight specific to Anne Arundel County government, also will be forthcoming. Maryland voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize adult-use cannabis late Tuesday.
Although multiple court rulings have cleared the way for mail-in ballot counting to begin ahead of Election Day, the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections announced last month that it would not begin counting mail-in and provisional ballots until Thursday.
Anne Arundel’s five-member majority Republican board announced additional canvassing dates are scheduled for Nov. 15, 16, 17 and 18. The board has reserved Monday as an additional canvassing date if needed.
“The Anne Arundel County Board has determined that, based on its experiences in the most recent elections (including the July 19th Gubernatorial Primary), it has the appropriate resources available to canvass all mail-in and provisional ballots within the 10 day window between Election Day and the Nov. 18 certification date and therefore early canvassing of mail-in ballots will not be required,” the board said in an Oct. 15 news release.