With early voting totals tallied and most of Tuesday’s Democratic primary Election Day results in, incumbent Marc Elrich and challenger David Blair are preparing for another likely down-to-the-wire finish in the Montgomery county executive race — and their major rival, Hans Riemer, concedes he is unlikely to win.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Blair, a businessman who lost to Elrich by 77 votes in the 2018 primary, led all candidates with 28,961 votes (39.6%), according to the latest results released by the State Board of Elections. Elrich, the incumbent, was in second with 27,770 votes (38%). Riemer was in third with 14,911 votes (20.4%).
All of the ballots cast during early voting has been recorded and all but 12 Election Day precincts had been registered, Montgomery County Board of Elections spokesperson Gilberto Zelaya told reporters on Thursday.
According to State Board of Elections data, 25,453 Democratic mail-in ballots had been received by the county. Zelaya could not specify how many more would be received in the coming days, other than saying election workers had picked up “a lot” of ballots at more than 50 ballot drop boxes on Election Day. About 115,000 mail-in ballots had been sent to county voters, state data shows.
In a brief interview, Riemer admitted that it was highly unlikely that he would make up ground via mail-in ballots.
“I don’t expect the additional ballots to change the outcome in a significant way,” he said. When asked if that was a concession to Blair and Elrich, Riemer said: “I suppose, yeah.”
The at-large County Council member, who has been on the council since 2010, said he was proud of the campaign he ran and wouldn’t change anything.
“I think we have a whole new generation of people engaged in the process … . I’m just super happy with everything and have no regrets, and I’m excited to see the county progress from here,” Riemer said.
Elrich said during a news briefing Wednesday that he was optimistic that the mail-in ballots would favor him.
Elrich says his optimism stems from the fact that he believes a number of voters may have submitted their ballots before the onslaught of Blair TV advertisements against him near the end of the campaign.
“A lot of votes came in before the slew of negative advertising really bombarded the airwaves,” Elrich said. “And I think that … the negative stuff was effective at the end … . Before the negative, negative stuff really became overwhelming, there’s a lot of votes that probably got cast. We’ll see what happens.”
Blair could not immediately be reached for comment by phone Wednesday.
Elrich said Riemer’s campaign hurt his chances at re-election, stating that Riemer’s advertisements and comments in debates misrepresented his record on housing, issues related to keeping schools open during the pandemic and other issues.
Riemer denied that accusation, saying he ran because he thought could win.
“I thought by running, I could make this election about making the changes we have to make to make a successful future,” he said.
The county Board of Elections begins canvassing mail-in ballots tomorrow, Zelaya said. The board hopes to have the results from the remaining Election Day precincts reported by day’s end, he added.
It’s unclear how long the count could take, but Elrich said he’s prepared that he may have to wait as long as two weeks until the final results are in.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org