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Md. Campaigns Worry Snow, Sleet Could Dampen Turnout

A wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain, coupled with bitter cold temperatures, threatens to dampen turnout late today as thousands of Marylanders trek to their precincts to vote before polls close at 8 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory, warning that rural Western Maryland and the suburbs north of Baltimore will bear the brunt of the inclement weather.

Three inches of snow have accumulated in parts of Western Maryland and snow has sprinkled in Baltimore and some of its suburbs. In Annapolis, there is freezing rain, while roads across the state, including in the Washington suburbs, are becoming slick, said Luis Rosa, National Weather Service meteorologist in Sterling, Va.

Temperatures hovered in the high 20s mid-afternoon. Forecasters expect temperatures to rise above freezing level by 10 p.m. and rain to continue overnight.

"Precipitation will be light and wintry, but we won't have big accumulations," Rosa said. Still, he warned, "some people may be afraid to go out" to vote.

Some voters said the cold weather wouldn't keep them from the polls. Staff writer Raymond McCaffrey interviewed Democrat David Boyce, 61, of Arnold, at a precinct in Anne Arundel County who said "it could be sleeting and I'd be here."

Boyce said he voted for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. "I believe the tone and climate of politics in America is horrible, and I really think he can make a difference -- to change that," Boyce said.

The most severe inclement weather is in Republican strongholds -- the mountainous Western Maryland and the suburban and exurban counties north of Baltimore. Some of those Baltimore suburbs make up the 1st Congressional District, where a fierce battle is underway for the GOP nomination.

John Flynn, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said party officials are monitoring the weather, but are hoping turnout remains strong through the evening hours.

"I'm not sure how it's going to play out," Flynn said. "We were anticipating high turnout."

But some of the campaigns are worried about how low voter turnout might affect the race. Staff writer William Wan interviewed Mike Brown, who is managing the 1st District congressional campaign of Sen. E.J. Pipkin.

"It's cold as heck out here today," Brown said. "Between the weather and a presumptive presidential nominee on the Republican side, some people who would have otherwise voted may not."

By Philip Rucker  |  February 12, 2008; 3:03 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Potomac Primary  
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