The race for the Democratic nomination for Baltimore County Executive remained too close to call as Tuesday night faded into Wednesday morning. Fewer than one thousand votes separated County Councilwoman Vicki Almond, State Senator Jim Brochin and former Delegate Johnny Olszewski.
But while the Democratic race remained up in the air, the Republican contest was settled. State Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer handily defeated Delegate Pat McDonough for the GOP nomination.
The surprise of the night was that Olszewski made it a three-way race for the Democratic nomination and even held a slight lead—a little more than 300 votes—over Brochin.
A Baltimore Sun Poll a couple of weeks ago had him a distant third. Brochin and Almond mostly ignored Olszewski as they battled throughout the campaign, face to face in forums, in TV ads and on social media.
Brochin claimed Almond was in the pocket of developers. Almond said Brochin over-promised and didn’t understand how local government worked.
For the most part, Olszewski stayed out of all that. Almond said she was was surprised by Olszewski’s strong showing and that it might take a while to sort out the results.
“I’m assuming they’ll have to do the provisional ballots, the absentee ballots, whatever else they need to do,” she said at her party at Diamondz in Randallstown. “But I think it might be longer than a few days.”
Brochin arrived at his party at Souris Saloon in Towson earlier in the evening, before the votes started coming in, He worked the room, shaking hands and talking to volunteers like Jay Liner.
“How are we making out,” he asked. “We did great at Pikesville High, boy. It was nonstop people all yeah you’re cool.”
But by the end of the night, Brochin told his supporters it would be at least a couple of days before a winner could be declared because absentee and provisional ballots have to be counted.
“We’re cautiously optimistic on absentees,” he said. “Before the campaign went negative, that’s when the absentees were cast.”
Celebrating at his party in Dundalk, Olszewski said he was pleased how many people had responded to his positive message of education and jobs.
“I look forward to finishing the count, making sure that every single vote is counted,” he said. “And then we can turn to who our respective opponent might be.”
Meanwhile, Redmer said he is gearing up for the general election, regardless of his Democratic opponent.
“I’m going to be in every neighborhood, in every community talking to as many voters as I can,” he said, “telling our story, seeking their advice and counsel, and hopefully convincing them that I’m the kind of change we need in Baltimore County.”
The Republican contest was at times contentious.
McDonough claimed Redmer was a hand-picked tool of the governor, an empty suit who swiped his agenda.
Redmer countered that McDonough lied about his record, and that McDonough has been an isolated legislator who doesn’t work well with Republicans or Democrats.
Tuesday night, McDonough went down swinging, saying he would not concede and that Redmer ran a dirty campaign.
“We’re not going to forget that and going to make sure someone like that does not occupy office,” he promised.
McDonough has said in the past that win or lose, this was his last campaign.
Ben Spier contributed reporting.