Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman nearly halved the lead of Republican challenger Jessica Haire during the first day of counting of mail-in ballots, boosting the prospects of the Democratic incumbent.

The state Board of Elections canvassed 11,200 ballots yesterday out of the 52,630 received. Pittman received twice as many as Haire, shrinking Haire’s lead to 5,968 votes, with more than 41,000 mail-in ballots left to count. Pittman trailed by nearly 11,000 votes after early voting and Election Day ballots were counted Tuesday.

Haire now leads with 51.8%, compared to 53.5% on election night. Anne Arundel is among the counties that did not begin canvassing mail-in ballots until Thursday

Anne Arundel County Council member Jessica Haire, a Republican, was leading Democratic incumbent Steuart Pittman on Election Day but saw her lead shrink after the first day of counting of mail-in ballots. (Haire campaign)

Of the more than 52,630 ballots that had been mailed to Anne Arundel’s elections office, more than 31,000 were from Democrats and more than 11,000 from Republicans.

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Pittman’s campaign was confident Friday morning that the coming days of ballot counting would put Pittman in the lead. The final count will not be completed until next week.

“The margin will continue to shrink until we ultimately take the lead as additional mail-in ballots are counted, and will provide us with a healthy margin of victory once all votes are counted,” his campaign tweeted Friday morning. “We ran a robust ballot chase program, with mail-in ballots receiving phone calls, texts, door knocks, emails, mail, digital outreach, and other reminders to return their ballots. As such, we anticipate continued high return rate of Dem ballots with a vote for the County Exec.”

Haire’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Pittman — a South County horse farmer and trainer — was first elected in 2018 in his first bid for elective office. During his campaign, Pittman touted his accomplishments during his first term: the hiring of 100 new police officers and 500 more teachers, the county’s new AAA bond rating and infrastructure investments to address traffic issues in the county of 590,000 residents. He won endorsements from the police and teachers unions, and also was one of the first leaders in the state to endorse Democrat Wes Moore for governor.

Haire, a one-term County Council member who is married to the chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, pledged to cut property and income taxes, prioritize funding for public safety and modernize county government. In television spots, she promoted herself as a lawyer and civil engineer who will get things done.

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The elections office will count some ballots on Saturday, with the next large batch to be tallied on Monday.

In another closely-watched county executive race, Democratic incumbent Calvin Ball cruised to victory over Republican Allan Kittleman, whom he had unseated four years prior. Ball, the first Black person to be elected Howard county executive, received more than 58% of the vote compared to less than 42% for Kittleman.

Both Baltimore suburbs have seen local seats flip between Democrats and Republicans in recent elections. Haire and Kittleman distanced themselves from the GOP’s far-right gubernatorial nominee, Dan Cox, while aggressively raising money. Haire loaned her campaign $575,000.

In Harford County, Republican Bob Cassilly received 66% of the vote to defeat Democrat Blane H. Miller III in the county executive’s race in that deep-red county north of Baltimore. Cassilly, a state senator, will succeed Republican Barry Glassman, who lost a bid for state comptroller.

“I am very honored and deeply humbled to have been entrusted by the voters of Harford County with the responsibility of serving as their next County Executive,” Cassilly said in a statement late Tuesday. “My family has been a part of this beautiful County for over 200 years and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help shape its future as we chart a course that seeks to preserve Harford’s heritage and natural beauty, build on our many strengths, embrace our diversity, and meet the many challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing world.”