Former Delegate Johnny Olszewski Junior won a squeaker nine-vote victory over State Senator Jim Brochin Friday night in the Democratic nomination for Baltimore County Executive.
But a recount seems likely.
Olszewski claimed victory at a 9 pm news conference in front of the Baltimore County Historic Courthouse in Towson. He commended Brochin and his other opponent, County Councilwoman Vicki Almond for running strong campaigns.
“They and all of their supporters have so much to be proud of,” Olszewski said.
Tim Hodge, one of Brochin’s attorneys, said they are “definitely exploring" the possibility of asking for a recount.
Hodge added, “We are leaning in that direction.”
Because of the closeness of the race, Brochin can have a free recount. A candidate has to request a recount within three days after an election is certified. That will happen within the next week to 10 days.
When asked about a possible recount, Olszewski said, “I think there is a process in place to determine several options the campaigns have.”
Olszewski added, “It’s been a long arduous campaign for all of us, so I trust that everyone will step back, reflect, and make decisions that are best for them.”
Baltimore County Board of Elections attorney Andrew Bailey said the state board of elections has already done a preliminary audit of the votes and that they will share the results with the candidates.
Bailey said, “Because this is such a razor-thin race, the state board thought it was important to share the information that they have so far.”
The final tally came a week and a half after the primary, and after a day of political drama when around 2,100 absentee and provisional ballots were counted at the county board of elections office.
When the day began, Olszewski had a 42 vote lead over Brochin, but that lead shrank Friday afternoon when about 900 absentee votes were counted. After that, Olszewski’s lead was just seven.
There was a glitch in the absentee count. The first time around, the number of physical ballots did not match the number that were scanned. It was off by three. Bailey said the discrepancy likely was caused by human error.
“You have a number of people moving ballots through.” Bailey said. “We did experience a number of jams.”
The ballots were scanned again, after the scanners were moved across a hallway into a break room. That was so the vote counters could shift gears and start going through around 1,200 provisional ballots.
The numbers matched when the absentee ballots were scanned again. Brochin picked up 35 more votes than Olszewski, making it a seven vote margin in favor of the former delegate.
Then a couple of hours later, the provisional votes came in, giving Olszewski the nine vote win.
County elections board director Katie Brown said her staff worked a lot of hours on this election.
“The staff hasn’t got much sleep,” Brown said. “They’ve been great, though. They’ve been moving right along with everything. It’s been wonderful for them.”
The Republican nominee for Baltimore County Executive is State Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer Jr.