Sunday, August 7, 2022

Marc Elrich declares victory as counting of Montgomery County election results winds down

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich declared victory in the Democratic primary for that office last night, after the Board of Elections released election results showing him provisionally clinching the nomination. The board said it has only 34 ballots left to count today. As it stands this morning, yesterday's counting gave Elrich a total of 55,469 votes (39.20%), and second-place finisher David Blair 55,427 votes (39.17%). That is a difference of only 42 votes. While that number will change by the end of the day today, it is unlikely to change the outcome of the primary race.

"I am honored to be the Democratic nominee for County Executive," Elrich said in a statement last night.  "I want to thank the voters.  I love this county and care about our residents so very deeply. This primary has been a long journey (and certainly exciting). Now, with the results certain, we must work together to ensure Montgomery County remains solidly Democratic and turns out for [Democratic gubernatorial nominee] Wes Moore and our entire Democratic ticket. I look forward to continuing to work together to help...Montgomery County and all our residents succeed and thrive."

Once the count is final, Blair will have the option of requesting a free recount, due to the razor-thin margin of Elrich's victory. If Elrich prevails again in that count, he will have done what County Executive Neal Potter could not in the early 1990s. Elected in reaction to many voters' belief that developers and special interests were wielding too much power over the County government in 1990, Potter only served one term. Developers put big money behind Rockville Mayor Douglas M. Duncan (D) in the 1994 election, and Duncan served twelve years as executive.

Duncan would likely have been able to easily win again in 2006, but chose to run for governor of Maryland, before withdrawing from that race for health reasons. His successor as executive, Ike Leggett, was somewhere between Duncan and Potter on development issues. With the County political machine forming a more muscular cartel in 2002, it seized majority control over the County Council with the victory of its well-funded "End Gridlock" slate that year. The result was a dynamic of conflict between the executive and legislative branches, that only accelerated with the 2018 election of Elrich, a popular politician who has promoted responsible growth policies to limit the impact of development on existing neighborhoods and school capacity.

As we await confirmation of final results, and the likely recount, political junkies across the County have to thank both men for providing a dramatic race by each running very strong campaigns. This has certainly been exciting - and it's not over yet! But if anyone ever tells you your vote doesn't count or doesn't matter, look at this race.

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