WASHINGTON — Maryland voters stuck with tried and tested, male candidates in three open contests in some of the most expensive primary races in the country Tuesday.
Women seeking Democratic nominations for U.S. Senate and two House seats in Maryland’s D.C. suburbs were snubbed by voters, setting up a likely scenario that Maryland would send an all-male delegation to Congress.
Republicans, however, gave a victory to state Del. Kathy Szeliga, who beat 13 other contenders to win her party’s Senate nomination. She’ll face an uphill battle however in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 to beat Rep. Chris Van Hollen in November and fill the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Barb Mikulski — the longest serving woman in the history of Congress.
According to unofficial election results, Van Hollen won 53 percent of the vote to beat fellow Rep. Donna Edwards, 39 percent, in what had been a bruising, costly Democratic contest. Edwards, who congratulated her opponent but conceded little else, took her party to task for not expanding the diversity of the state’s congressional representation.
“It is time for us to have our seat at the table. As women, as workers, as black and brown people, as communities of color. We are no longer content to have you make the decisions for us,” Edwards said.
Edwards, who is black, would have increased the racial diversity of the Senate and at least maintained its ranks of women lawmakers if she would have been elected in November.
“I have another message for my beloved Democratic Party: Hear me now. You cannot show up in churches before Election Day, you cannot sing the first and last verse of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ you cannot join hands and walk across the Edmond Pettus Bridge and call that ‘post-racial’ and ‘inclusion’,” she said.
The campaign has touched on diversity and constituent services, and ad put out by a group supporting Edwards drew the ire of fellow Democrats President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Edwards campaigned as a candidate more committed to holding liberal principals without settling for political deals. Van Hollen ran on his record as a pragmatic progressive who is able to reach across the political aisle to get things done.
Van Hollen, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, has risen to be the top-ranking Democrat on the House Budget committee. He benefited from key endorsements from local, state and federal elected leaders. And former Gov. Martin O’Malley announced his support for Van Hollen Monday.
In his victory speech, Van Hollen focused on winning in November and his goals beyond that including addressing gun violence, climate change and criminal sentence reform. He pledged to follow in Mikulski’s footsteps by “never forgetting the people back home in our neighborhoods, delivering results.”
Combined, the two campaigns had spent $9 million through the end of March making it one of the most expensive Senate contests in the country this election cycle.
A state senator from Montgomery County won the hotly contested Democratic primary to fill Van Hollen’s House seat. The 8th District stretches through parts of Montgomery, Frederick and Carroll counties.
Jamie Raskin, who will face Republican Dan Cox in November, said he won by focusing on ideas and people.
“A dramatic upset victory for grass roots organizing and true blue progressive politics over big money, and the victory will enter the history books,” Raskin told a cheering crowd in Silver Spring.
He said that voters know the difference between an election and an auction — a reference to the millions of dollars that businessman David Trone put into the race — the most expensive House primary in the nation. Together with TV anchor Kathleen Matthews, the three contenders spent more than $12 million by of the end of March.
Raskin earned 34 percent of votes cast. Trone came in second with 27 percent and Matthews garnered 24 percent, according to unofficial election results.
Neither Trone nor Matthews had run for political office previously but Trone hinted that he might consider another run in the future.
“Sometimes it takes time to get things started. But we can’t stop,” he told his supporters in Rockville. He called the primary fight “great fun.”
Voters in the neighboring 4th District also stuck with a familiar name giving former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown another chance at a life in politics after his stinging loss to Republican Larry Hogan in the 2014 governor’s race.
Brown won a three-way battle for the Democratic nomination with 42 percent of the votes cast, topping former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, 34 percent, and state Del. Pena-Melnyk, 19 percent.
In a race that also touched on race and gender, Pena-Melnyk told The Associated Press that as an “Afro-Latina, she’d bring needed diversity to the state’s delegation, which has just two women and no Hispanics.” Brown and Ivey are both black.
Brown will face Republican George McDermott in November for the chance to fill Edwards’ House seat and represent parts of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties.
Brown said he won the race with old fashioned, door-to-door politics. He said volunteers helped spread his message that he wants to build communities that support and strengthen families.
Extended voting in Baltimore
No problems were reported at any local polling locations. However a judge ordered four polling locations in Baltimore to stay open an extra hour. The locations opened late and the Edwards campaign requested the extended voting hours.
A last-minute hearing was held in a parking garage near the Baltimore courthouse, where a small fire was reported and forced the building to be evacuated.
State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone said her agency opposed the request because extending hours at some polls would delay the release of results statewide, The Associated Press reported.
Lamone said she was aware of 14 late openings, most by about 30 minutes.
Elsewhere in Maryland, the polls closed on time at 8 p.m.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report from Lanham, Kyle Cooper reported from Silver Spring, Michelle Basch reported from Bethesda, Alan Etter reported from Largo and Dick Uliano reported from Rockville. The Associated Press also contributed.
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