Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown won the Democratic primary for governor of Maryland on Tuesday, easily outdistancing Attorney General Doug Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur for the nomination. Republican Larry Hogan cruised past three opponents to capture the GOP nod.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Brown had 51 percent of the vote. Gansler had 24 percent, and Mizeur 22 percent, according to unofficial figures from the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Hogan was leading Harford County Executive David Craig 43 percent to 29 percent.
The victory marked a major step forward toward Brown becoming Maryland’s first black governor in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin. Brown also would be the state’s first lieutenant governor to win the governorship.
Brown told a jubilant group of supporters in his victory remarks at about 10:30 p.m. that he wanted his general election campaign to be about the future. He thanked supporters for campaigning with a spirit that each person was part of something bigger.
“Each of us is part of that mission,” Brown said. “Each of us is part of that purpose. Each of us is part of that goal to build a better Maryland.”
The primary win also is significant to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who would benefit from having an ally in the governor’s office as he considers running for president in 2016. O’Malley is limited to two terms, and his final term ends in January.
O’Malley quickly sent out an email after Brown’s victory to urge people to donate to his general election campaign.
“It’s important that we come together and get Anthony’s general election campaign off to a strong start,” the email said, citing progress he and Brown have made on raising the minimum wage, legalizing same-sex marriage and approving gun-control legislation.
The Republican race was between Hogan, Del. Ron George, Craig and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar.
Hogan said Craig called to congratulate him, and Hogan said he will continue campaigning for a change in Maryland. “Our entire focus is on jobs, middle-class families and restoring our economy,” he said.
Hogan is a real estate broker who served as secretary of appointments in former GOP Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s administration from 2003 to 2007.
Hogan focused on economic issues in his campaign. Like other GOP candidates in the primary, Hogan has criticized tax increases approved during O’Malley’s administration.
If elected governor, he says he’ll work to get spending under control. Then, Hogan says he would see what taxes can be rolled back in the state.
Hogan says his work in the private sector and in state government enables him to better understand the problems businesses experience in Maryland.
Hogan founded the political activist organization, Change Maryland. He was the Republican nominee for Maryland’s 5th Congressional District in 1992. His father, Lawrence J. Hogan Sr., was a Maryland congressman from 1969 to 1975.
Brown played a leading role in implementing health care reform in Maryland. Gansler fiercely criticized Brown throughout the campaign about severe flaws in the exchange website. The lieutenant governor shrugged off the criticism, pointing to the number of Marylanders who ultimately gained insurance coverage. That stance appeared to mollify voters, and some who supported him Tuesday said one person can’t be blamed for the health exchange’s problems.
Brown campaigned to expand Maryland’s economy, including creating a commission to study tax reform. He also says he wants to offer universal pre-kindergarten in Maryland by 2018.
Gansler said he called Brown to congratulate him.
“We had a spirited debate on the issues,” Gansler said. “We agreed on a lot more than we disagreed.”
Mizeur, who used public financing and whose campaign didn’t have nearly as much money as Brown’s or Gansler’s, said her campaign illustrated how effective a grassroots effort can be.
“There were a lot of skeptics who said I would never make it this far,” said Mizeur, who positioned herself as the most liberal of the Democratic candidates on economic, social and environmental issues. “People who lead from fear told me to get back in line. But together, we showed them the power a movement can have when we work together for positive change.”
In the Democratic primary, Tefta Karagjozi said she voted for Brown. The 60-year-old special education teacher, who lives near the state capital of Annapolis, said she appreciated the investment that Brown and O’Malley have made in education.
“The fact that they know we need the money, and we need the funds, and we need the programs — I think that’s the key, so that clinched it for me,” she said.
In the GOP primary race for governor, Bill Day said he voted for Craig. “I think that he probably has the most appeal among a large portion of Maryland Republicans, and I think he’s probably the most competitive candidate in a general election,” Day said after voting in Annapolis.
Jim Triebwasser said he cast his ballot for Hogan. “I see that he’s going to straighten out the mess that we have,” Triebwasser said. “There’s just too much being given away. Taxes are going up, and I want to see more people be more self-sufficient in their lives.”
Bill Barkley said he voted for George, an Annapolis jewelry store owner who has served two terms in the Maryland House of Delegates.
“He’s a business owner, and so he’s been there, and that’s important,” said Barkley, 71.
Nine precincts in Montgomery County reported errors with electronic poll books used to look up voter names. Affected voters were allowed to cast a provisional ballot. A county elections official said Tuesday afternoon that replacement electronic poll books were delivered.
This year’s primary was unusually early for Maryland. It was moved from September to June to comply with federal rules requiring states to send ballots to members of the military and other Americans overseas.
After record-high turnout was reported in the state for early voting that started June 12 and ended Thursday, turnout appeared to be light at polling places. State elections officials said 141,590 people cast ballots in this early voting period, compared with 77,288 in 2010, the first year of early voting in Maryland. In western Maryland, election officials at two polling stations inside Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown reported relatively low turnout on Tuesday with less than 3 percent of eligible voters by noon.
“We think it’s very light,” said Jeff Powers, the chief election judge for the two polling stations.