July 19 is Primary Day in Maryland, an unusual date that was changed from June because of redistricing challenges.

Today is primary day in Maryland, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. across the state for in-person voting. Turnout is expected to be light, in large part because the date is not one with which voters are familiar; it had been changed from June as courts processed legal challenges to redistricting maps. Maryland is the only state in the nation voting today.

[Editor’s note: this story will be updated throughout the day.]

At the top of the ballot, voters are choosing Democratic and Republican nominees for governor. Two-term Republican Larry Hogan is prevented by term limits from running again, and he has been positioning himself for a possible presidential run.

Democrats heavily outnumber Republicans in Maryland, thanks in large part to overwhelming partisan advantages in the Baltimore region and in the suburbs of Washington. Prince George’s County and Charles County are two of the wealthiest Black-majority jurisdictions in the nation, and Democrats control most if not all offices there from local to the national level.

After eight years of Hogan, Democrats are hungry to gain control of the governor’s mansion, and a crowded Democratic field offers a variety of choices, including a former attorney general (Doug Gansler) and a former Obama education secretary (John King). Polls indicate the winner is most likely to emerge from among three candidates: state Comptroller Peter Franchot, who began the race with the most name recognition; former labor secretary and DNC head Tom Perez; and author and non-profit executive Wes Moore.

Endorsements

Perez has been heavily backed by labor unions, and also earned the endorsements of the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun. Moore is considered a charismatic campaigner who brings a compelling life story to the race, and Franchot is banking on strong statewide connections forged as he has traversed Maryland advocating for issues ranging from craft brewing to air-conditioning in Baltimore County schools.

To read the Baltimore Sun endorsements in the governor’s race, click here.

To read the Washington Post endorsements in the governor’s race, click here.

Trump Factor and Democratic Efforts to sway voting

On the Republican side, Hogan endorsed his former Commerce Secretary, Kelly Schulz. In a competitive contest against state Del. Dan Cox, who was endorsed by former President Trump.

Trump put out a statement Monday night, according to The Hill, referring to Hogan as a “Shutdown RINO” due to implementing lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Maryland, tomorrow is a big day,” the Trump statement said. “Get out and vote for Dan Cox for Governor. Get rid of Shutdown RINO Larry Hogan who is trying to get another RINO into office, Kelly Schulz.”

“Dan Cox will be a great Governor,” Trump concluded. “Tomorrow is the day. Get out and vote!”

Democrats have made it clear that they would rather face Cox in the General Election, believing a Trump acolyte would be easier to beat. In fact, the Democratic Governor’s Association has spent heavily on advertising in the Republican primary, trying to duplicate an effort that has been successful in Illinois and other states.

A Goucher College poll from October found that Maryland voters were likely to prefer a Hogan-like Republican over a moderate or progressive Democrat for their next governor. But voters preferred a Democrat over a Trump-like Republican.

Political observers have called the Cox-Schulz battle a proxy war between Trump and Hogan to define the future of the Republican Party.

A delay in results

Because of the mid-July date, turnout in early voting was low, and perhaps half of all ballots this year will be cast by mail. Maryland is also unusual because those ballots will remain uncounted until two days after the vote close – so final results will not be certified for days or even weeks.

The General Assembly passed a law that would have allowed those ballots to be counted as they came in, but Hogan vetoed it.

Competitive races further down the ballot

Other competitive races that will be decided in the primary election include:

Maryland Attorney General: two-term incumbent Brian Frosh announced he would not seek re-election, so the statewide office is open. On the Democratic side, former Judge Katie Curran O’Malley is facing U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown. Republican candidates are Michael Peroutka, a former Anne Arundel County councilmember and Jim Shalleck, a former federal prosecutor.

Maryland Comptroller: the contested Democratic primary pits Baltimore state Del. Brooke Lierman against Bowie mayor Tim Adams. The winner will face Republican Barry Glassman, the Harford County Executive.

Baltimore City State’s Attorney: Embattled Marilyn Mosby is in a heated contest against attorneys Ivan Bates and Thiru Vignarajah.

All 188 members of the Maryland General Assembly will be decided in this year’s election, and several races are particularly contested. Maryland Matters has analyzed the 12 incumbents most at-risk of losing this year. Brown’s run for attorney general is creating an opening in Maryland’s 4th congressional district – the only federal race where an incumbent is not seeking re-election. The Democratic primary features former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey and former U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, who is seeking to reclaim a seat she previously held.

If you’re still undecided on whom to vote for, candidates running for governor, attorney general, and comptroller submitted short videos to Baltimore Fishbowl in which they identified what they think are the 3 most important challenges for Baltimore and the region, and the solutions they support.

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David Nitkin

David Nitkin is the Executive Editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He is an award-winning journalist, having worked as State House Bureau Chief, White House Correspondent, Politics Editor and Metropolitan Editor...