Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has a strong operation in Prince George’s County. (Courtesy Photo)

On April 26, hundreds of thousands of Prince Georgians are expected to go to the polls to select their preference for a number of political races that could ultimately determine who has power in Washington.

Early voting ended on April 21 and county residents will vote in the Democratic and Republican primaries on April 26 for president of the United States, U.S. Senator and the House seat in the Fourth Congressional District. Prince George’s County has the largest number of registered Democrats in Maryland-436, 837, according to statistics from the Maryland Board of Elections.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the front-runner for the Democratic Party nomination for president and has a headquarters in Bowie, Maryland. Maurice Simpson, the president of the Prince George’s County Young Democrats, is leading the effort for the former first lady in the county and sees her as an extension of his political idol, President Obama.

“I helped the Obama campaign in 2007 and 2008 to elect the first Black president of this country and I want to make history again this year by electing the first woman president,” Simpson told the AFRO.

Simpson led a rally in Suitland on April 17 that featured U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) as the lead speaker that was attended by dozens of people.

While Simpson has respect for Clinton’s opponent, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), he said there is overwhelming support in the county for Clinton.

“We have had many requests for yard signs and literature for Secretary Clinton,” he said. “Our supporters are voting in overwhelming numbers according to what we see in early voting. I don’t think there is much of a presence of Bernie Sanders in Prince George’s County.”

The Sanders campaign has an office in College Park and has supporters in the county.

“Bernie has the program to redistribute wealth from the one-tenth of one percent who is doing very, very well to give back to our community,” Maryland Del. Jimmy Tarlau (D-District 47A) told the AFRO. “Bernie is talking about real change. While I respect Secretary Clinton, she doesn’t have that type of program.”

Prince George’s Republicans will vote in their primary between billionaire developer Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. While GOP voters are outnumbered by Democrats 10 to 1 in the county, the presidential candidates do have their patrons.

“I am voting for Ted Cruz,” Marcus W. Skelton of Bowie told the AFRO. “I am looking for someone who can assume the role and duties of the presidency and Ted Cruz is the best candidate for that.”

Neither of the GOP presidential candidates have significant operations in the county.

The race for Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D) seat has generated a lot of attention in the county. Both Democratic candidates, U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) have a strong presence in the county and it has even caused disagreements among political allies.

For example, one of Van Hollen’s staunchest backers is Maryland State Sen. Joanne Benson (D-District 24). Benson has appeared in campaign ads for Van Hollen and has walked with him in county neighborhoods asking residents to vote for him.

However, Emma Andrews, one of Benson’s earliest supporters and public education activist said she is voting for Edwards.

“I am with Donna because she has been in the U.S. Congress long enough to know what a senator does and we don’t have very many Blacks in the U.S. Senate,” Andrews said.

The House seat in the Democratic race that Edwards is vacating is largely between former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey and Maryland Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-District 21). Ivey has been endorsed by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III.

“He is the only person, on Day 1, who’s going to be able to go up there and know the ins and outs of the hall of Congress,” Baker said.

Brown has been tapped by Benson and several of her colleagues in the Maryland Senate as well as Prince George County Council members Derrick Leon Davis (D-District 6)) and Karen Toles (D-District 7). Pena-Melnyk is being backed by Maryland Del. Erek Barron (D-District 24), who is a close ally of Benson’s.