With Maryland’s primary election just days away, candidates for Baltimore State’s Attorney made their last minute pitch to voters with a full weekend of events and appearances.
According to University of Maryland Law Professor Larry Gibson, one of the top political strategists in the state, this last minute flurry of activity is normal, and is directed towards energizing volunteers and making sure everyone is clear about their assignments for election day.
A supporter of incumbent State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy, Gibson emphasized that a pre-election rally like the one held September 10 at her campaign headquarters is something she's done almost every campaign. To wow her volunteers, Jessamy had big names on the podium with her, including Maryland senators Catherine Pugh, Verna Jones and Joan Carter Conway, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings and former congressman Kweisi Mfume.
“People want to hear from their leaders,” said Gibson. “It is fairly normal to talk to the troops.”
But there is a new twist in this election cycle: early voting. And reports published by the Maryland Board of Elections on Sept. 10 show Maryland voters have embraced the option.
Early voting was heaviest in Baltimore and Prince George's counties, with 12,876 and 14,541 voters turning out over five days, and more Democrats than Republicans are voting early.
"At least African-American voters are engaged,” Gibson said. “In Baltimore County almost a third were African American.”
Cummings said he's committed to getting people to realize this is an important election at both the federal and local levels. The governor and state legislature will be tasked with redistricting the state, which determines an area’s representation in the state legislature and resource allocation.
“I'd like Democrats in control of both houses at the state level [to handle this task],” he said. “[Also,] Obama still needs a team of people supportive of him so he can get things done over the next two years. He's got to have help and we've got to send him a team of people to get this done.”
Cummings predicted Jessamy will do well in the Democratic primary on Sept. 14, and doesn't see the issue of race playing into the final days of the contest between Jessamy, who is Black, and challenger Gregg Bernstein, who is White.
“A lot of people feel she's a good state's attorney and her record has been distorted in several ways,” he said. “They also feel she deserves fairness in campaigning. I also know that she's fair and that's important to me. I want honesty and integrity in that office.”