Brochin calls for recount in narrow Baltimore County executive Democratic primary

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Images via Twitter/John Olszewski Jr. campaign website

Sorry, Baltimore County Dems, but it could be at least another week before you know your official candidate for this fall’s county executive general election.

State Sen. Jim Brochin today formally requested a manual recount of all paper ballots in the race. In figures released by state elections officials on Friday, John “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr., a former two-term delegate for Baltimore County’s 6th District, won the June 26 primary over Brochin by nine votes.

The Baltimore County Board of Elections certified the results this morning. But Brochin says that margin is simply too close to not ask for another tally.

“I just think nine votes—you need certainty, and nine votes doesn’t give you certainty,” he said.

Olszewski’s campaign manager, Tucker Cavanagh, said in a text message that “Johnny is so honored by the outcome” of the election.

“We are very confident in the integrity of the process and the accuracy of the County Board of Elections’ diligent work to make sure everything vote is counted,” he said. “We will be engaged in the recount process, but we are also focused on continuing to share our message and the general election.”

The vote tallies for the Democratic primary for Baltimore County executive released Friday were: 27,804 for Olszewski Jr., 27,795 for Brochin and 26,835 for outgoing Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond. Kevin Francis Marron placed fourth with 2,135 votes.

Olszewski—or Brochin, if the recount ends up putting him on top—will face Republican Al Redmer, Jr., a moderate backed by Gov. Larry Hogan who easily beat the more conservative Del. Pat McDonough in the GOP primary last month.

Brochin’s campaign manager, Marc Lazerow, said they were given four recount options, and decided to go with a manual recount of all paper ballots cast in the election. The other choices included “manual tabulation” of reports from voting machines, re-scanning paper voted ballots or manually recounting images of all voted ballots, rather than the actual ballots themselves.

Citing a timeline from the Baltimore County Board of Elections, Lazerow said the process would begin Thursday at 10 a.m., and could take six or seven more days from there.

Katie Brown, director of the county Board of Elections, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday. A staffer there said the office is busily preparing for the effort.

The county board tackled a similar task in 2014, when Tony Campbell called for a recount in the GOP primary for Baltimore County executive against George Harman. Harman was pronounced the winner by 20 votes, two more than originally tabulated after the primary. He went on to lose to Democratic incumbent Kevin Kamenetz.

Brochin said he spoke with Olszewski on the evening of June 26 to tell him that he “ran a great race.” But last Friday, after the results tabbed Olszewski’s margin of victory at nine votes, Brochin says he called his opponent back to tell him he planned to call for a recount.

“Nine votes?” Brochin said. “Human error happens. It just does. And when you get into single digits and you have this many votes cast, I get back to the [issue of] certainty.”

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Associate Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan is Baltimore Fishbowl's associate editor. He previously covered Baltimore-area news as a web producer for Fox45/WBFF-TV. Before arriving in Baltimore, he worked as an assistant editor for CQ Researcher in Washington D.C., and a reporter for Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. Look for his freelance bylines in Baltimore City Paper and DCist.
Ethan McLeod
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