Maryland voters in both parties looked to return in competitive primary for governor late Tuesday, with veteran leaders pitted against political outsiders who vow to shake up the system, which could take days to decide due to the lengthy counting process. of the ballots.
Democrats chose from a field of nine candidates, including Tom Perez, a former Democratic National Committee chairman and labor secretary; Peter Franchot, the state comptroller, who has been in Maryland politics since 1987; and Wes Moore, a bestselling author and former nonprofit executive who campaigned as a political newcomer.
Republicans, as they have done in several other states this year, chose between a moderate embrace by the establishment and a far-right candidate who has reinforced lies about the 2020 election and is backed by former President Donald J. Trump.
The Trump-backed candidate, Dan Cox, a state representative for the first term, faced Kelly Schulz, the choice of government leader Larry Hogan, who has been barred from reelection by term limits.
Because Maryland law prohibits the processing and counting of ballots returned by mail and in drop boxes until Thursday, the outcome of the closest races may not be known for days, several campaign officials warned.
As Democrats try to retake the office of a governor held by a Republican, Mr. Hogan, since 2015, their primary struggle has been defined by stylistic differences rather than ideological ones. Mr. Perez and Mr. Franchot emphasized their long experience in government, while Mr. Moore argued that the party needed new blood.
“You know what you’re going to get with Tom Perez,” said Mr. Perez in an interview last week outside an early vote site in Silver Spring. “It’s a workhorse, not a show horse. It’s someone with a proven track record of getting things done.”
In an interview on Tuesday on MSNBC, Mr. Moore dismissed criticism that he had given misleading impressions about his personal history and achievements, saying the real risk would be to elevate an incumbent candidate.
“People are not looking for the same ideas from the same people,” he said.
Cox, whose campaign yielded little money, received more than $1.16 million in television advertising from the Democratic Governors Association, which sought to aid his primary campaign in the hopes that he would be easier to beat in the general election. Democrats across the country have used similar strategies this year to aid far-right Republicans in the GOP primaries, despite the risk that it could backfire.
If Ms. Schulz, who served as chief of staff for Mr Hogan, wins the primaries, DGA officials said they should probably invest more in the general election. Ms Schulz predicted in an interview that if Mr Cox made it to the general election, he would lose 30 percentage points.
At least 169,000 Democratic absentee ballots and more than 38,000 Republican ballots had been returned on Monday, according to the State Board of Elections. Another 204,000 Democratic and 58,000 Republican absentee ballots were sent to voters and remain open. Ballots stamped on Tuesday will count if received before July 29.
An additional 116,000 Democrats and 51,000 Republicans voted during the eight days of the early personal vote in the state, which ended last week.
Turnout was expected to exceed that of Maryland’s competitive primaries. Four years ago, in another hotly contested Democratic primary for governor, 552,000 people voted. Officials involved in the Democratic campaigns expected between 600,000 and 700,000 votes in the primary for governor this year.
The picture of the Republican rise was darker. There has been no meaningful statewide GOP primaries in an interim year since 2014, when Mr. Hogan first ran. That year 215,000 Republicans voted.
In the state’s open contest for attorney general, Republicans chose Michael Anthony Peroutka, who has spoken on several occasions with the League of the South, a group calling on the states of the former Confederacy to secede again from the United States, and Jim Shalleck, a district attorney who has served as president of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
In the Democratic primary, Representative Anthony Brown, who served as Lieutenant Governor under Governor Martin O’Malley, took on Mr. O’Malley’s wife, Katie Curran O’Malley, who served as a Baltimore judge for 20 years.
Republicans have not won an election for Maryland’s attorney general since 1918.
In other Maryland races, former Representative Donna Edwards tried to reclaim the seat of the Prince George’s County-based house that she gave up to run for Senate in 2016. Her candidacy has been embroiled in a proxy war over the policies of Israel.
The United Democracy Project, a political action committee affiliated with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, has spent $5.9 million to help Mrs. Edwards’ Democratic opponent, Glenn Ivey, a prosecutor. Mrs. Edwards, for her part, is supported by J Street, a liberal Jewish organization.
And in a House district stretching from the suburbs of Washington across Western Maryland to the West Virginia border, Mr. Trump and Mr. Hogan — frequent critics of each other — have backed the same candidate.
That candidate, a 25-year-old conservative journalist, Matthew Foldi, is running in a Republican primary to face Representative David Trone, a wealthy Democrat. But first, Mr. Foldi would have to defeat Neil Parrott, a Republican state legislator who lost the 2020 general election to Mr. Trone.