From WTOP’s Election Desk: Presidential possibilities in Maryland, Virginia

Welcome back to WTOP’s weekly election update! WTOP’s team of reporters will keep you informed on the latest through November as primary and election races heat up in the District, Maryland, Virginia and nationwide.

Local politics and elections | Nick Iannelli

Both Maryland and Virginia governors may run for president

It’s possible that the 2024 Republican presidential race will feature both governors from our region.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who was just elected last year, is a political newcomer, but his natural talent as a headline-grabbing politician has attracted national attention, leading to speculation that he could ultimately run for president.

Youngkin addressed that speculation during an interview with Newsmax, answering a question about a potential run by saying the words “rest assured I have my eyes on 2024.”

He clarified by saying 2024 will be his “30th wedding anniversary,” but it was an obvious wink and a nod hinting that he is considering a run.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that he has been invited to attend this summer’s Iowa State Fair, a key stop for candidates with presidential aspirations.

Too late to change party affiliation in DC

If you were hoping to change your party affiliation ahead of the D.C. primary election, it’s too late now.

The deadline for registered voters to do that was on Tuesday, May 31.

Since it is a primary and not a general election, voters who are registered as independents will not be able to vote until November. Only those registered in one of the four major parties — Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and D.C. Statehood Green Party — will be able to participate in the primary.

If you are not registered to vote in D.C., you can still register during early voting or on Election Day.

In-person early voting runs from June 10 through June 19. Primary day is June 21.

Gun debate swirls around Virginia House race in NRA backyard

The debate over gun control has been renewed nationwide, and that is particularly true in the U.S. House race in Virginia’s 10th District in Northern Virginia, which includes the National Rifle Association headquarters.

As The Washington Post noted, the incumbent Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton “emerged in her first two terms as a fierce gun-control advocate.”

“The question is, do you want somebody in Congress who’s going to be fighting for common-sense gun-violence prevention legislation, or do you want somebody who’s going to throw up their hands and say, ‘Oh, well, there’s nothing we can do?’” Wexton said in an interview with the Post.

In November, Wexton will face Republican candidate Hung Cao, a retired U.S. Navy captain who has made his opposition to gun control clear.

“Gun control has never stopped anyone,” Cao said, speaking to Loudoun Now. “There’s a lot of evil in the world and we’re not going to stop it with gun control.”

Asked why mass killings such as the ones of the past few weeks don’t seem to happen in other countries, Cao brought up a 2012 stabbing incident in Japan and claimed that “[More] people get bludgeoned to death and stabbed to death than they get shot.”

Maryland candidate for governor has COVID

Wes Moore, one of the Democrats running to be Maryland’s next governor, said he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Moore tweeted that he is infected but without symptoms.

“I urge my fellow Marylanders to please stay safe,” Moore said. “I’m isolating and working from home and eager to be back on the campaign trail ASAP!”

Numerous Maryland politicians have had COVID-19, including Gov. Larry Hogan, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.

Photo of the Week

Maryland political candidates behind podiums
Candidates vying to be Maryland’s next governor pitch voters at a Democratic candidates’ forum in Ocean City on June 1, 2022. (Courtesy Maryland State Bar Association via YouTube)

Md. gubernatorial candidates forum

A group of the democratic candidates for governor of Maryland made their pitches at a forum in Ocean City Wednesday night.

Sponsored by the Maryland State Bar Association and moderated by The Baltimore Banner’s Pamela Wood and WTOP’s Dick Uliano, the forum touched on gun violence, education, health care and housing, as well as more bar-centered topics such as cameras in the courtroom and election of judges.

Uliano said he was struck by the contrast between former prosecutor Doug Gansler and Obama administration education secretary John King over the question of school resource officers, as well as political newcomer Jon Baron’s suggestion to require lockboxes and gun safes.

Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III talked about “the importance of including everybody when the economy grows,” Uliano said, and claimed he stepped into a corruption-ridden government structure and created a vibrant, growing economy.

Mainly, Uliano said, “I think it was a chance for these individuals to explain themselves a little bit; they gave opening statements about their visions for the state.”

Uliano has covered many debates, but he said this was his first crack at moderating one. He wanted to be aggressive but not too aggressive, and said, “I was a little worried that I’d screw something up, but I didn’t.”

Wes Moore, Tom Perez and Peter Franchot didn’t attend.

You can read more about the forum and see the video.

— Rick Massimo

From Capitol Hill | Mitchell Miller

GOP Senate primary still undecided in Pennsylvania

A winner has still yet to be decided in Pennsylvania’s GOP primary for the U.S. Senate, between Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick, with a statewide recount now underway.

The two candidates were separated by fewer than 1,000 votes out of more than 1.3 million cast, triggering the recount, which is mandated when the margin is half a percent or less.

Representatives for Oz and McCormick have been on hand in various counties for the recount, which needs to be completed by June 8.

McCormick is seeking a hand recount of votes cast in a dozen counties as well, which his campaign would need to pay for. The statewide recount will cost taxpayers more than $1 million.

In another development, the U.S. Supreme Court this week paused the counting of some 860 Republican mail-in ballots that didn’t have a handwritten date on them. McCormick is seeking to have the ballots counted, while Oz has objected.

While the race is extremely close, there have been no allegations made of voter fraud, which some Pennsylvania Republicans cited after the 2020 presidential election.

The Pennsylvania GOP nominee for governor, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, has consistently supported former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election and contention that the presidential race was stolen.

The winner of the GOP Senate primary between McCormick and Oz will face Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who won the Democratic Senate nomination, in the general election.

Trump won’t let go of voter fraud claims

While Republicans have not raised any voter issues of fraud in this year’s Georgia primary, that hasn’t stopped Trump making baseless claims in the Peach State.

Trump is unhappy that his endorsed GOP candidate for governor, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, was trounced by incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, and that former Rep. Jody Hice, another candidate he supported, lost in his bid to defeat Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

The former president’s Save America PAC issued a statement promoting an article that included several bogus assertions about the Georgia election. Among them, that Perdue couldn’t have lost to Kemp because — well, the margin was so big.

The article states that nobody in any election gets 74% of the votes, which, as The Washington Post has pointed out, is not true.

Looking ahead

Another round of primaries will be held Tuesday, June 7, in California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota.

The upcoming primaries don’t have the political punch of recent primaries, though there are some things to keep an eye on that could become issues in the general election.

In Iowa, Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, 88, is seeking his eighth term. He’s expected to win his primary. Three candidates are vying for the Democratic Senate nomination, including former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, 33, who was not yet born when Grassley first became a senator in 1981.

Grassley remains favored to win reelection. He’s the second-oldest member of the U.S. Senate, a few months younger than U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., whose current term ends in 2024.

Worth your time

From Nick Iannelli

From Mitchell Miller

Dates to know

Primary day in Virginia and D.C. is June 21; in Maryland, it’s July 19. Here are some other dates in the near future you’ll want to keep in mind.

  • June 10: The deadline to request a mail-in ballot in Virginia, and the day Early Vote Centers open in D.C.
  • June 18: The last day for early in-person voting in Virginia.
  • June 19: The last day for in-person early voting in D.C.
  • June 28: The deadline to register to vote in Maryland.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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