Updated Nov. 7, 2018
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan secured a second term on Tuesday, holding off a challenge from Democrat and former NAACP CEO Ben Jealous amid an otherwise strong night for Democrats nationally.
The popular governor has built a unique brand during his first four years in Annapolis, distancing himself from the national Republican Party and President Donald Trump while maintaining a focus on economic issues. This likely helped his re-election bid in the largely Democratic state that returned Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin to Washington for a third term and kept seven of its eight House of Representatives seats in Democratic hands. Democrats maintained their majority in the state Senate.
Meanwhile, Democratic County Council Member Marc Elrich held off a late challenge from independent Council Member Nancy Floreen and Republican Robin Ficker to win the Montgomery County Executive seat, promising a progressive economic and social agenda while also pledging to limit development in the county. The erstwhile Democrat Floreen only announced her candidacy only after Elrich eked out an 80-vote win in the Democratic primary over five other contenders. She had pledged to support any Democrat but Elrich, who ran on a progressive platform that would limit development in the county while promoting education improvements and mass transit. Ficker came in third.
In Virginia, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D) held off Republican Corey Stewart to win re-election and Democrat Jennifer Wexton unseated Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) in the 10th Congressional District.
Jealous entered the race at a severe disadvantage after emerging from a nine-person primary field for the nomination, according to Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. Hogan, on the other hand, coasted to his nomination unopposed while building up a formidable campaign war chest. In the final reporting period before the election, financial filings showed Hogan outspending Jealous more than six to one.
“Hogan ran with the benefit of having no challenger in his own party, he was able to amass his resources,” Halber said. “In the meantime, the Democrats went through a bruising primary battle to find themselves a nominee. I think Ben mounted a masterful campaign to win an open seat [in the primary] but that same strategy did not prove successful to remove a very popular incumbent.”
But Halber also said that between securing funding for Jewish institutions in the state and being a fierce advocate for Israel, Hogan has done a great deal to cultivate support in the Jewish support, and he expected final vote numbers would show a unusually strong performance for a Republican in otherwise deep-blue Montgomery County.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D) won re-election in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, and David Trone (D) defeated Amie Hoeber (R) to represent Maryland’s 6th Congressional District. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) was also re-elected to the post.
Hogan’s victory did little to dampen the Democratic enthusiasm at the “Big Blue Wave” election party at the Silver Spring Civic Center, where supporters of Raskin and Elrich watched election results come.
Mary Clive, 74, and her daughter Misha Clive, 37, said they had supported Jealous, but expressed some appreciation for Hogan’s centrist goverrning style. Mary Clive said she was grateful for Hogan’s support for the Purple Line, a light rail line that will connect Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton when it’s completed. And she said she was slightly uncomfortable with some of Jealous’ supporters who were affiliated with the Nation of Islam.
“If all the other Republicans across the country were like Larry Hogan, we wouldn’t be in this constitutional crisis,” Misha said. “He acts with more reason.”
At 17, Meshulam Ungar, a senior at Berman Hebrew Academy, is too young to vote, so he organizes in his school for Democrats.
“When I listen to Marc [Elrich] speak, he’s talking about pragmatic policy. He might be a socialist but he’s speaking policy, he’s talking about things that will improve the county and I support that. It’s the opposite to what we see on the television.”
Silver Spring resident Harvey Kabaker, 76, a lifelong Democrat, also supports Elrich.
“Marc’s right for the county. He wants development to proceed at a reasonable pace and he wants the private sector to contribute to the public sector. When Nancy Floreen [the independent candidate] came in, I resented it a great deal because I see it as mostly in the developers’ interest.”
Katie Friedman, 33, Bethesda, was looking forward to projected Democratic gains in the House of Representatives.
“Having a check on this president is the most important thing we can do right now. Investigating corruption and Russia, that’s what we need our House of Representatives doing. Instead, Republicans just look the other way.”