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Maryland 2010 election live blog: A hopeful O'Malley party gets started

Christopher Dean Hopkins

Quick headlines: Average turnout, higher in Baltimore suburbs | Bipartisan agreement on ambulance fees | Kratovil voters express enthusiasm gap | Spending priorities in Beltsville | Cheering on mom in Largo

UPDATE 9: 39 p.m.: The parking lot of the Prince Georges County Board of Election is packed with cars and the entrance to the warehouse part of the building is lit with flood lights and protected by sheriff deputies standing outside vehicles with flashing lights.

"Things went well," said Prince George's County Board of Elections Administrator Alisha Alexander. "We were very pleased with how voting went today."

Compared to the September elections when the board released results late because equipment problems, Alexander said she expected that board would more than half the votes counted by 10:30 p.m.

-- Hamil R. Harris

UPDATE 8:26 p.m.: Maryland Democrats from throughout the state began to trickle into the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, where they are gathering Thursday night in the hope of an election night celebration for Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Supporters of the incumbent governor nibbled on spring rolls and sipped beers as they kept their eyes fixed on large-screen TVs, waiting for the first results from early voting, which were expected soon after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) was scheduled to speak before 9 p.m., followed by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. O'Malley was camped out at a nearby hotel, where he plans to watch the results with his family before joining the festivities at the museum.

-- Ann Marimow

UPDATE 5:50 p.m.: The parking lot at Clarksburg High School is full and 17 campaigners are out front, indefatigably chipper after chatting up voters all day in cooling temperatures.

A line of 11 people waiting to vote at one of the 20 voting units stretches to the door, while students at the school sell baked goods and coffee in the corner.

The unofficial number of voters at this location is about 1,244 according to chief judge Femi Akinnagbe, 28, a pre-medical, post-baccalaureate student from Gaithersburg.

"This is generally a very active precinct," he said. "A lot of this turnout continues from the fervor of the 2008 election. People who are for the changes of '08 are voting to reaffirm them, and those who are against them are allowed a chance to vote."

Registered Democrat Melissa Jones, 40, said she voted Democrat "all the way."

While she's "not overly excited" about O'Malley, health care is her primary concern, and she hopes he shifts his attention to the issue.

"I feel like on each end of the spectrum people aren't having their needs met," said Jones, who serves as the center director for the Knowledge Learning Corporation, a childcare and early childhood education provider. "There are those who aren't getting the health care they need."

-- Akeya Dickson

UPDATE 5:14 p.m.: Maryland State Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone projected "typical" Election Day turnout hours before polls were scheduled to close Tuesday. Lamone projected 56 percent participation statewide based on a limited survey of precincts and early voting figures, compared with 57.5 percent turnout for the gubernatorial election in 2006.

Lamone said she was getting reports Tuesday afternoon that "polling places are getting busy" after a "cold and dark" start to the day. She cautioned that the projections by her staff include Election Day turnout and early voting, but not absentee ballots.

In the Washington suburbs, which are expected to favor Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, the State Board of Elections survey projects 49 percent turnout in Montgomery County and 58 percent turnout in Prince George's County.

In the counties surrounding Baltimore, where former Republican governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., is popular, the survey projects 58 percent turnout in Baltimore County and 64 percent in Anne Arundel County.

-- Ann Marimow

UPDATE 4:41 p.m.: Bernie Shapiro, 53, said he was turned off by Council District 2 candidate Craig Rice when he didn't respond to the League of Women Voters Guide.

"They mail out requests and are very objective, they just run your response," said the registered Democrat. "The least he can do is put in a response."

Shapiro said he doesn't think Robin Ficker is the man for the job either, and that he isn't a fan of Ficker's heckling at Washington Wizards games.

He voted for O'Malley again and hopes he makes job creation a priority over the next 4 years if re-elected.

"I wasn't excited about Ehrlich from the beginning," he said. "O'Malley has been in a real tough spot economically and has done the best he can to improve our state with what we he's had to work with."

-- Akeya Dickson

UPDATE 4:10 p.m.: At Tulip Grove Elementary School in Bowie, voters passed by the usual colorful campaign signs on their way in, but by 3 p.m. there were no pamphlet-wielding campaign workers like at many other polling spots.

Barbara Van Oot, 43, a Democrat and stay-at-home mother from Bowie, said O'Malley got her vote for governor because "I think he (Ehrlich) is more for big business."

As her 6-year-old son, Benjamin, spun around the school flagpole, Van Oot said no particular issue drew her to the polls.

"I just want more help with funding for education, jobs and health care," Van Oot said.

As for her newly elected Prince George's officials, Van Oot said, "I just want them to keep track of the budget and make sure they're spending wisely."

Eileen Williams, 61, of Bowie, said she voted for O'Malley because "I think he's more for the regular person. Ehrlich was more for the big guys. I think middle-income Marylanders need the help, and I don't think Ehrlich would give that to them. I think Ehrlich is too concerned with the rich."

Williams, a Democrat, said she wants O'Malley and her newly elected Prince George's officials to raise more money for schools and public safety.

"No one wants their taxes raised, but we need to do it for schools and better police and fire protection," Williams said.

-- Katherine Shaver

UPDATE 3:35 p.m.:
Matthew Creger, 22, a resident of New Carrolton and a senior majoring history at the University of Maryland, decided to walk to his voting precinct at Charles Carroll Middle School.

"It seems eco-friendly to walk about three blocks," said Creger, who was in the Comcast Center in 2008 when President Obama visited the University of Maryland.

Creger also heard Obama when the president called into the syndicated Ryan Seacrest Show on Hot 99.5.

"I wanted to vote because I appreciate the freedoms we have been given by those who have come before," Creger. "It is going to be interesting to see if the Republicans take over. Two years ago people my age turned out in huge numbers but today there is nothing hip about voting. They are not voting for Obama, they are voting for people that they don't know or care about."

-- Hamil R. Harris

UPDATE 2:32 p.m.: Ryan Whitlow, 32, a county employee who said he's a registered Independent, said he voted for O'Malley.

"My main concern is the Purple Line," Whitlow said. "That was a big deciding factor. I live in College Park and I think that's key to the city's transformation.

Whitlow said he didn't believe Ehrlich's proposal for bus rapid transit would help the city redevelop like O'Malley's plans for a light-rail line would. The 16-mile Purple Line is proposed to run inside the Capital Beltway between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George's, including through College Park.

Whitlow said he voted for O'Malley four years ago too. He said he wants O'Malley to focus on job growth.

"I'd hope to see the economy recover," Whitlow said. "I think they're on the right track. I just don't think Ehrlich's tax cuts is the plan now to get the economy going."

Whitlow said he voted for Peggy Higgins for Prince George's school board because of her experience working for College Park Youth and Family Services.

"She's been dealing with kids for the past 20 years," Whitlow said. "I think she's way more qualified."

Whitlow said he voted for Baker and Eric Olson. He said he wants the next executive and council to focus on lowering crime, improving schools and attracting more businesses to Prince George's.

"It's just changing the county's image," Whitlow said. "For so long, Prince George's has suffered from this bad image from the crime ... We need more police out here."

-- Katherine Shaver

UPDATE 1:18 p.m.: At Paint Branch Elementary School in College Park, it's quiet at 12:40 p.m. A few voters trickle in every 10 minutes or so. Five people shiver in campaign T-shirts out front as they hand out pamphlets and a man collecting signatures for a Green Party petition calls out to voters heading inside, "help us stay on the ballot!"

Catherine Gubisch, 22, a piano teacher and Republican, said she voted for Ehrlich. From what she's read about him, she said, "He seemed to do a lot less spending than O'Malley. I keep hearing about O'Malley's spending, and I don't like the idea of raising taxes."

Gubisch said she was worried that O'Malley would raise taxes, which is her biggest concern.

-- Katherine Shaver

UPDATE 12:51 p.m.: Rich Wierman, 56, an insurance agent from Washington state who moved here in July, was put off by the aggressive, negative ads that he saw leading up to the election.

"The negative ads were amazing, I've seen negative campaigning before but never anything like this. It seemed like they'd use anything," he said. "It backfired in my opinion."

In the council race, the registered Republican said that he voted Republican all the way, and that he felt strongly about the ambulance fees but wasn't swayed by pro- or anti-ambulance fee forces. He already had decided to vote against the fees because "the people who proposed them had something to gain from it; there needs to be an unbiased view."

Generally and philosophically, Dwarika Misra, 77, agrees with the Democratic Party and has voted that way for 25 years -- even if right now he doesn't entirely agree with them.

"I'm a little skeptical about the Democrats now, more than I used to be," he said. "I don't think they always follow their platform and can sometimes change their position according to the polls."

The retired senior research scientist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology was more invested in the governor's race, and voted for O'Malley today just as he did four years ago.

"I don't think he can create any miracles, but I do want him to focus on education and the economy," he said.

Locally, Misra said he's against ambulance fees.

"I think ambulances should be free -- what about the people who don't have insurance or aren't able to afford it?" he said.

-- Akeya Dickson

UPDATE: 12:36 p.m.: Chief Judge Michael Morris of Germantown said the Kingsview Middle School had seen a steady flow of voters Tuesday.

"There hasn't been a time where we haven't had people waiting in line," said Morris, 41, who has been a chief judge at this location since 2008 -- when he pitched in during five elections.

The maintenance manager for Fusion UVC Systems said he started volunteering originally because his job received a request for volunteers from the Montgomery County government. He was one of 10 people who volunteered and is the only person at his job who continues to do so.

"It's a nice break from the day to day and gives me a chance to get invested in the process," he said.

-- Akeya Dickson

UPDATE: 12:27 p.m.: Pat Kirkpatrick, 66, voted for Kratovil when she cast her ballot at the Maryland City-Russett Library, but she said it was hard to do so. Although she usually votes Democrat, she was not impressed with Kratovil's track record and his tendency to follow House leadership.

"Kratovil is so pro-Pelosi in everything he does," she said. "And I'm not a fan of hers."

Ultimately, she voted for Kratovil because,"We gave the Republicans eight years, so we should give the Democrats the same," she said.

Maurice Duble, a scientist at NASA, voted for Kratovil as well. Duble, 64, appreciated Kratovil's positive messages during the campaign season. "Frank Harris has only had negative, attacking commentary," he said.

-- Nathan Rott

UPDATE: 11:22 a.m.: Bernice McQueen, 58, a medical technician who lives in Beltsville, voted at High Point High School. The registered Democrat said she voted for O'Malley, as she did four years ago.

"I'm hoping he's able to put more money into the state and open up more jobs and do a lot for the schools," McQueen said.

McQueen said she couldn't remember whom she voted for in the Prince George's executive or county council races but said she hopes whoever is elected will improve local schools.

"I hope they keep money coming in, especially for the schools," McQueen said. "The schools are losing so much. They're cutting a lot of programs for the children. We need more teachers, and they need to make their salaries better."

-- Katherine Shaver

UPDATE: 11:12 a.m.: Kamran Sarwar, 25, a student at University of Maryland -- Baltimore County and a registered Democrat, said he voted for O'Malley primarily because he kept college tuition affordable.

"I thought he'd be better for education and better at repaving the roads," Sarwar, of Beltsville, said.

Sarwar also said he had voted for Baker for county executive. He hopes the new Prince George's council and executive focus on three things: the economy, the crime rate and education.

"I hope they make the crime rate lower and the education system better," Sarwar said.

John O'Master, a Prince George's elections judge for 30 years, said turnout at High Point High School in Beltsville this morning was lower than he expected, even for a midterm election. He said there were times, even during the 7 a.m.-9 a.m. pre-work rush, when there was no one voting.

By mid-morning, 5 minutes could pass before a voter walked in.

"I was surprised," O'Master said. "I expected it to be busier for a pretty contentious election -- I expected people to come out and vote with fire in their eyes. So far that hasn't happened."

-- Katherine Shaver

Original post, 10:52 a.m.: Despite a stiff cold wind and school being out today, Kim Christian, a substitute teacher and cheerleading coach at Gwynn Park High School, was passing out campaign literature with her children at Largo High School.

cheervote.JPG"My hope is that more parents will get involved in the school system," said Christian who was campaigning for a school board seat in District 6. "We want to be proud of our facilities like they are in other counties, especially when it comes to football and track fields."

Sandi Rosser, chief election judge at Largo, said voting had been "pretty good," in terms of turnout for a non Presidential election.

Ron Bell, 63, a resident of Largo, still had President Obama and the historic 2008 election on his mind after he cast his ballot.

"I just think we need to back the president," Bell said. "He came in with a mess and he has been cleaning it up."

Bell said he was excited that so many new people were running for seats on the school board, including two 18-year-olds.

"We need young people to run," he said. "We need change."

-- Hamil R. Harris

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  | November 2, 2010; 9:39 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections, Hamil R. Harris, Prince George's County  
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Next: UPDATED: Ehrlich voters react to news of call for O'Malley

Comments

Based on the known corruption in our "Almost Free State", I guess there were a ton of PCI Cards pre-voted, with more than enough for O'Malley to win.
O'Malley and the MD Dems are crooks, almost as bad as national Dems like Schumer and his ilk in Congress.
Guess I'll be taking my retirement money, and leaving for a state more friendly to my pocketbook.

Posted by: Norman56 | November 2, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what Bernie Shapiro is talking about when he said I didn't fill out the League of Women Voters questionnaire but I guess he was mistaken.

http://www.lwvmd.org/n/sites/default/files/LRVotersGuide2010General2.pdf

I guess it's too late to ask for his vote since he was wrong!? :)

Posted by: ricepolitics | November 3, 2010 1:46 AM | Report abuse

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