Marc Elrich, left, David Blair, right

County Council member Marc Elrich on Monday was certified as the winner in the Democratic county executive primary, clinching the top spot with a 79-vote lead over Potomac businessman David Blair.

In response, Elrich released a statement thanking his five primary opponents and the constituents who cast ballots for him.

“I am honored to have the support of so many thousands of residents throughout Montgomery County who agree that we can close the opportunity gap facing our children, grow an economy that works for everyone, and restructure county government to work better for all our residents,” he said in the prepared statement.

The certified results show Elrich beating Blair by 37,529 votes to 37,450.

During a Monday meeting, the Montgomery County Board of Elections made a few final tweaks to the unofficial vote count after reviewing about 30 cases of contested ballot rejections.

Upon considering the challenges submitted by various candidates, the elections board accepted one complete ballot and one partial ballot that had initially been excluded from the count.
The changes shaved one vote from Elrich’s lead over Blair. The Potomac businessman has said he’s leaning toward asking for a recount and has the next three days to make up his mind.

A recount could end up costing Blair, because the 79-vote margin is more than 0.1 percent of the total votes cast for him and Elrich.

A preliminary estimate puts the cost of a manual recount in the county executive race at nearly $190,000.

Elections officials said a recount in the county executive race, if requested, might begin Monday. The tentative plan was first to complete a recount in the District 16 delegate race involving Democratic candidates Sara Love and Samir Paul.

Election Director Margaret Jurgensen said her office could switch the order and do a Blair recount first, although staff would need a little additional time to prepare for checking the county executive race.

Paul wasted no time after election night to request a recount in the District 16 contest, which he lost to Love by eight votes. The margin in this case is within the 0.1-percent range, so the county will have to cover the majority of the recount cost, estimated at roughly $25,000.

Several elections board members said they were troubled by the Motor Vehicle Administration programming error that affected about 83,000 voters statewide. Because of a computer glitch, updated party affiliations and addresses weren’t processed in time for the primary.

The state sent the local board a list of names for the 83,000 voters, so county officials could make sure they didn’t toss out any ballots because of discrepancies caused by the MVA glitch.

The board on Monday also addressed a question about Council member Nancy Floreen’s bid for county executive—namely, whether it was allowable for her earlier this month to file her intent to run as an independent, even though she was still registered as a Democrat at the time.

Kevin Karpinski, legal counsel for the elections board, advised board members that Floreen’s initial filing seems to comply with state law. However, she must change her party affiliation by the time she has filed her certificate of candidacy, Karpinski said. Floreen said last week that she’s submitted paperwork to update her party status.

She has until Aug. 6 to gather the roughly 7,200 signatures necessary to get her name listed on the general election ballot.

With Floreen’s arrival as a candidate, the county executive contest has turned into a three-way race, also including the Democratic nominee and Republican Robin Ficker.

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