Wes Moore held onto a comfortable lead in the race for Maryland’s Democratic nomination for governor after the first day of counting mail ballots Thursday, but Tom Perez cut more than 4,150 votes from Moore’s cushion.
But for Perez to win, he must still overcome a nearly 31,000 vote gap. Experts say it is mathematically possible, but he faces a series of formidable hurdles to overcome the deficit. Political experts and campaign strategists will be studying in particular the mail-in count from Montgomery County, where Perez held a more than 20 percentage point lead over Moore in the votes counted so far.
Nineteen counties updated vote totals on Thursday, but that did not include full results from most of Maryland’s largest counties by Thursday night. Vote counting will continue on Friday morning, with Baltimore City, Baltimore County and others expecting it would take until next week to finish counting the first batch of mail votes.
The Moore and Perez campaigns both said they had workers monitoring the process in multiple locations. Both campaigns expressed confidence that all votes would be counted.
Brian Jones, a spokesperson for the Moore campaign, said the team was “eager” for the remaining votes to be counted.
“We feel good,” Jones told reporters at Baltimore City’s election warehouse, where ballots were being scanned. “I think we saw the strength of this coalition that competed in every corner of the state, particularly here in Baltimore City, but also in Baltimore County and in the region.”
He added: “We really believe, fundamentally, that every vote needs to be counted.”
Tom Perez’s spokesperson, Sean Naron, sounded a similar theme.
“After Tuesday’s initial results, it’s clear this is a two-person race between Tom Perez and Wes Moore,” Naron said.
The Perez campaign performed well in in-person voting in Montgomery County, but also built “a diverse, broad coalition” across the state.
Perez staff plan to monitor trends as the mailed ballots are counted. “We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves on anything,” Naron said.
During in-person voting — early voting and election day voting — more than 378,000 Democrats cast a vote in the governor’s race statewide. It’s possible that nearly as many votes will come from mailed ballots.
As of Wednesday, Democratic voters had returned 182,678 ballots by mail or drop box. Another 189,659 ballots were still outstanding, and any ballots postmarked or placed in a drop box by 8 p.m. on election day will be counted.