Recount confirms Olszewski Jr. win
In the spirit of the World Cup, the struggle to earn the Democratic nomination for Baltimore County Executive extended through extra time (absentee ballots), overtime (provisional ballots) and was finally resolved by penalty kicks (manual recount).
As of Saturday afternoon, former state delegate and Dundalk resident John Olszewski Jr. was finally, indisputably confirmed as the winner of the election and will face Republican Al Redmer Jr. in November.
Olszewski’s final margin over Jim Brochin: 27,820 to 27,803. Seventeen votes.
Vicki Almond finished third with 26,842. Kevin Marron was fourth with 2,136.
“Tonight there is absolutely no doubt — we have won this primary,” Olszewski Jr. told supporters on Saturday night at his local campaign headquarters on North Point Boulevard next to Costas Inn. “I am so honored to accept the Democratic nomination and be the Democratic nominee for county executive.
“I may have a few more grey hairs than I did a few weeks ago.”
Olszewski had a nine-vote lead over Brochin after absentee and provisional votes were counted, prompting Brochin to request a manual recount.
The recount took three days, starting on Thursday and ending Saturday afternoon.
Brochin conceded the election shortly before Olszewski met with his supporters on Saturday night.
“I’d like to thank the dedicated folks at the county Board of Elections who worked to make sure every vote was counted and every voter heard,” Olszewski said.
The manual recount lacked a bit of drama, as Olszewski reportedly maintained the lead after each day of counting.
Olszewski led by 346 votes after election day. That lead shrunk to 42 votes after most of the absentee ballots were counted, and slipped to seven votes after the final 200 absentee ballots were counted.
He picked up two votes from the provisional ballots to take a nine-vote lead into the recount, where he gained eight more votes on Brochin.
Most of the change during the recount came from “overvotes”; ballots on which the voter had filled in more than one candidate.
According to Tucker Cavanaugh, Olszewski’s campaign manager, the Board of Elections examined each ballot on which there was an overvote to see if the voter’s intention could be determined.
If, for example, a voter had filled in the circle for one candidate, then placed an ‘x’ over it and filled in a circle for another candidate, the Board of Elections panel gave that vote to the candidate who did not have the ‘x’ over their circle.
“This election was a critically important reminder that every vote does matter,” Olszewski said. “I commend Brochin and Almond for running incredibly strong campaigns. Their campaigns, in turn, made ours stronger, too. It will inspire all of us in the days ahead.”
Each of the three main candidates did best among their base: Olszewski won on the east side of Baltimore County, Almond won on the west side and Brochin did well in central and northern Baltimore County.
Olszewski emerged the winner due to a strong showing on the west side, where he finished second to Almond in most of the precincts. He also finished second to Brochin in most of the areas where Brochin won, while the runner-up spot on the east side was split between Brochin and Almond.
Olszewski also took southwest Baltimore County and portions of the west side. Brochin won just a handful of precincts in western Baltimore County, and practically none on the east side.
And, in a race where only 17 votes separated the top two finishers, there’s the question as to how much impact Marron’s otherwise insignificant showing had on the outcome. Had he not run, which candidate would have picked up the most of Marron’s 2,100 votes?
While saying he was confident his lead would hold up, Olszewski confessed “surviving the recount has really been a journey”.
“I’m excited to get back to work. We will build a better Baltimore County, and we will build it together.”
Speaking at Olszewski’s rally on Saturday, county executive Don Mohler commented on the low turnout in the primary.
“This is to the 75 percent of [registered Democratic] voters who skipped the primar y and said ‘see you in November,’” Mohler said. “Every vote counts.”
“By November, I believe people are going to get to know [Olszewski], get to sense his vision, and say ‘I believe in this guy.’”
John Olszewski Jr. speaks to supporters and the media at his campaign headquarters on North Point Boulevard after a manual recount confirmed his victory in the Democratic primary for county executive on Saturday.