Blair won’t explicitly say he’ll back Elrich in the November general election
Less than a week after asking the Board of Elections for a recount, County Executive Democratic candidate David Blair conceded defeat this week, as a recount held that Marc Elrich remains the winner of the Democratic Primary.
While Blair asked the County Board of Elections for a recount last week – citing concerns about voters being purged from the rolls due to a computer glitch within the Motor Vehicle Association database – Blair formally conceded this week after the recount he requested failed to change the outcome of the election.
“The outcome of the recount wasn't surprising. The outcome of the election is a disappointment...our message clearly resonated with many people across the County, and we came within a whisker of winning,” Blair said.
Blair and Elrich were locked in a closely-contested primary that took almost two weeks to decide, as the Election Day vote total had Elrich ahead of Blair by fewer than 500 votes. Elrich’s lead would slowly slip, as Board of Elections officials began counting thousands of absentee and provisional ballots that decreased his lead.
When election officials counted all the votes, however, they declared Elrich the winner, with just 79 more votes than Blair, which Blair contested. On Monday, Blair called Elrich, conceding the election.
While Blair has enough funds to mount a legal challenge against the recount – spending millions of his own dollars during the campaign – he said the recount is the end of his campaign and that he will not pursue a legal challenge to the recount results.
“After we take a moment to celebrate, we will turn our attention to the general election, where I am eager to continue our conversations about how to build on what is great about our county and find real solutions where they are needed,” Elrich said after the recount results were announced.
While Blair said he was open to working with Elrich in the future and that he plans to stay involved in local politics, he said has not put much thought into which candidate he will endorse for the General Election.
“I will say historically I have always supported the Democratic nominee,” said Blair, who did not commit to endorsing Elrich in the General Election.
Blair ran his campaign focusing on a message of economic development that included promises to streamline regulatory enforcement and to not raise taxes,
In early July, Council member Nancy Floreen filed her intent to run for County Executive, changing her party affiliation from Democrat to Independent.
While Floreen is still in the process of gathering the more than 6,000 signatures that are needed for her to be on the November ballot, as a former Democrat who favors some progressive issues, she could become an appealing candidate for many, especially more pro-development voters.
“I believe all Democrats, Republicans and independents would benefit from a third, independent choice,” Floreen said in a statement announcing her intent to run.
Floreen, who has chaired the County Council Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, has argued for more development as a way to mitigate the expensive housing costs in many parts of the county.
Elrich won his campaign on promises to fund education and infrastructure by raising taxes on developers to accommodate the needed government spending that comes along with growth. While Floreen’s more business-friendly politics may clash with Elrich’s stance on development, Republican nominee Robin Ficker has the same critique for both candidates – that they both voted an 8.7-percent property tax increase in 2016.
While some believe that the Democratic vote could be split between Elrich and Floreen, Ficker, a Boyds-based attorney and political activist, said Floreen’s entry into the race will have no effect on his path to victory.
Ficker said he plans to label Floreen and Elrich as unpopular establishment candidates, which voters had already rejected when they passed the term-limit referendum Ficker championed in 2016.
“The term limit vote was a vote for change; it was not a vote to promote people to County Executive,” Ficker said.