Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and challenger David Blair Credit: Submitted photos

Potomac businessman David Blair’s lead grew from 134 votes to 145 votes over incumbent Marc Elrich of Takoma Park in the Democratic primary for Montgomery County executive after the fifth day of tallying mail-in ballots, according to the results posted Wednesday night by the State Board of Elections.

Blair now has 44,722 votes to Elrich’s 44,577 votes. County Council Member Hans Riemer, the other major contender in the race, conceded Friday.

Though Blair initially had a lead after the July 19 Primary Election Day of about 1,100 votes over Elrich before the counting of mail-in ballots began July 21, Elrich had erased that lead and pulled ahead after the July 22 tally.

The weekend’s tabulations showed that Blair was whittling away at Elrich’s slim lead and results released mid-day Monday put him just 141 votes behind Elrich. By Monday night’s release of the results, Blair had regained the lead by 134 votes. That lead grew by 11 votes after Wednesday’s tabulations.

Alysoun McLaughlin, the county’s acting election director, has said she expects that a majority of mail-in ballots — at least 95% or more — will be canvassed and scanned by the first week of August. The goal is to certify the election by Aug. 12, she said earlier this month.

According to the State Board of Elections schedule, candidates have until “within 3 days after the results of an election have been certified by the local board” to request a recount. If a candidate’s vote count is within .25% of that of another candidate, the recount comes at no cost. 

The canvass of 8,030 provisional ballots was opened Wednesday as required by state law, but canvassers instead continued counting mail-in ballots, according to Kevin Karpinski, attorney for the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Ballot counting was expected to continue Friday, according to the county elections board.

Gilberto Zelaya, a spokesman for the county elections board, said during a news briefing Monday morning that county election workers had canvassed and sent 30,218 ballots to the state Board of Elections to post vote results. 

In total, 32,312 mail-in ballots have been delivered through the mail, and 36,663 ballots have been collected from ballot drop boxes, Zelaya said. Mail-in ballots can be received by the county’s Board of Elections until 10 a.m. Friday, Zelaya said.  

Elrich said during a news briefing Wednesday that he understands the challenges that county election workers and canvassers are facing in dealing with a large number of outstanding ballots. He has been critical of Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to veto legislation that would have allowed canvassers to count ballots ahead of Election Day. Instead, election workers needed to wait until 10 a.m. on the Thursday after Election Day to start. 

He said, however, that the county elections board and election staff could have better prepared for some issues that would arise. But Elrich added: “I’m not questioning anything about the integrity of the count.”

Meanwhile, Blair has been on vacation since last week, campaign spokesperson Aaron Kraut said Sunday. He added that Blair and his family were scheduled to return Wednesday.

Asked whether he cared about what Blair has been doing since the July 19 primary election, Elrich said during the news briefing: “Why do I care? He goes on vacation all the time. He’s a billionaire. What difference does it make what he does? It doesn’t relate to my life.”

Here’s where the candidates stand in the races for County Council and the school board. 

County Council

In the County Council’s at-large race, Democratic incumbents Evan Glass, Will Jawando and Gabe Albornoz continue to hold their leads for the first, second and third seats, respectively, of the four available seats. Laurie-Anne Sayles has been holding her lead for the fourth seat since Tuesday night. Republicans Christopher P. Fiotes, Lenard Lieber and Dwight Patel will all move on to the November general election.

In the District 1 race, incumbent Andrew Friedson is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination. No Republicans have filed to run.

In the District 2 race, Marilyn Balcombe’s lead has grown to more than 2,300 votes over William Roberts, who is in second place in the Democratic field. Republican Dan Cuda has no opposition. 

In the District 3 race, incumbent Sidney Katz was leading by more than 3,600 votes over Robert Wu, who is in second place in the Democratic field. Republican George Hernandez is running unopposed.

The Washington Post has projected that Katz will be re-elected in District 3, which covers Gaithersburg and Rockville.

In the District 4 race, Kate Stewart now has a lead of more than 1,900 votes over Amy Ginsburg, who is in second place in the Democratic field. Republican Cheryl Riley is running unopposed.

In the District 5 race, Kristin Mink has a substantial lead in the Democratic field, with a lead of just under 2,800 votes over Fatmata Barrie, who is in second place. Republican Kate Woody is running unopposed.

In District 6, top Democratic contender Maricé Morales has conceded to Natali Fani-Gonzalez, a former Planning Board member who has won nearly 55% of the vote so far.

Fani Gonzalez holds a substantial lead of nearly 5,000 votes over Morales. Republican Viet Doan is running unopposed.

The District 7 Democratic race remains close, with Dawn Luedtke holding a lead of more than 1,500 votes over Jacqueline Manger, who is in second place. Republican Harold C. Maldonado is running unopposed.

Board of Education (top 2 in each race advance to general election)

Incumbent Karla Silvestre continues to have a large lead over all candidates in the at-large race with nearly 55% of the vote. Mike Erickson remains firmly in second place.

In the District 1 race, Grace Rivera Oven continues to lead while Esther Wells remain in control of second place.

In the District 3 race, newcomer Julie Yang continues to have a commanding lead for first place with more than 60% of the vote. Incumbent Scott Joftus is firmly in second place over third-place challenger Marcus Alzona.

In the District 5 race, the top two contenders are nearly tied, with incumbent Brenda Wolff holding a five-vote lead over newcomer Valerie Coll. The candidates each have received 39.31% of the total votes tabulated so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julie Rasicot

Julie Rasicot can be reached at julie.rasicot@bethesdamagazine.com