Love Tops Paul by Just Nine Votes in the Democratic Primary for District 16 Delegate Seat

The Blair High teacher says he plans to ask for a recount


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Samir Paul and Sara Love

Via Samir Paul/Sara Love

District 16 delegate candidate Samir Paul on Monday announced he intends to petition for a recount in his narrow primary loss to former ACLU public policy director Sara Love.

The unofficial primary results released Sunday night show Love edging Paul out by nine votes in the Democratic contest for the seat now held by Del. Bill Frick (D), who decided to run for county executive instead of pursuing reelection. It was a come-from-behind finish for Love, who trailed Paul by 118 votes at the close of Election Day but overtook him when the provisional and absentee ballots were tabulated.

On Monday, Love, 51, said she was “cautiously optimistic” about her chances of prevailing in the primary battle.

“I hope [the result] stays the same as it is now, but we’ll just see how the process unfolds. This has been such a roller coaster that it’s really hard to say. I am hopeful,” she said.

With all ballots tallied, Love had 11,294 votes and Paul had 11,285, according to the unofficial total. The margin between them is within 0.1 percent of the total votes cast for the two candidates, meaning Paul would not have to pay for a recount if he requests one, under state law.

However, Paul, 29, on Monday asked supporters to contribute funds to his campaign to help cover the legal costs entailed by a recount.

“It’s a tight race, and we just want to make sure that every single vote is counted, so that at the end, we can have confidence in the result,” Paul, a Montgomery Blair High School computer science teacher, said in a phone interview. “I’m really proud of the campaign we ran, and I think we surprised a lot of people and broke a lot of expectations.”

Paul can file a formal petition for a recount within three days of July 19, the date the state elections board is expected to certify the primary vote numbers. 

Love, who worked at NARAL Pro-Choice America before taking her job at the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland , and Paul are competing for the third delegate seat in the Bethesda-based district. Incumbent delegates Marc Korman and Ariana Kelly were the top two-vote getters in the Democratic primary for the district.

Attorney Bill Day is the only Republican contender in the District 16 delegate race.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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