Maryland Democratic Rep. Albert R. Wynn clinched victory in the Sept. 12 primary in the 4th District, following a final vote count and a concession by challenger Donna Edwards, who fell just short of toppling the seven-term incumbent.
A count of all votes showed that Wynn defeated Edwards, a lawyer and community activist, by 49.7 percent to 46.4 percent and by 2,725 votes out of more than 82,000 cast. George McDermott, a little-known candidate, took 3.9 percent.
“The final votes are counted and we’ve fallen short by just a few,” Edwards said in a statement Sunday.
The final tally of the primary was unclear for nearly two weeks because of widespread voting problems in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties — the two suburban Washington, D.C. jurisdictions that make up the 4th District.
In Montgomery, some voting precincts were not provided with the proper equipment to operate new electronic voting machines, and early morning voters were turned away. A court order on primary day allowed Montgomery precincts to stay open an hour later, but late voters had to fill out “provisional” ballots on paper that were not counted until last week.
In Prince George’s, some poll workers were unable to send the electronic results to election officials on time, and ballots from machines in several precincts were apparently left unsecured overnight. Edwards also threatened to file a lawsuit over the unsecured votes.
As officials finished counting provisional ballots, it became clear Edwards would be unable to close the approximate 3,000 vote margin that had separated her and Wynn on primary night. Wynn won 57 percent of the vote in Prince George’s County, which cast more than two-thirds of the primary vote. Wynn’s advantage there was sufficient to overcome Edwards’ lead in Montgomery, where she won 60 percent.
Even as she conceded the race, Edwards called for an investigation of what went wrong on primary day. “Whether these failures happened as a result of incompetence, inefficiency or some other more nefarious explanation, they are unacceptable,” Edwards said.
Edwards’ late-starting campaign seemed to catch Wynn by surprise and proved to be the toughest primary campaign the incumbent faced since winning the seat in 1992. Wynn had won at least 80 percent of the vote in each of his past six Democratic primary elections.
Edwards centered her campaign on Wynn’s 2002 vote to authorize military operations in Iraq — a vote Wynn has since said he regrets. Edwards also criticized Wynn for voting with Republicans and against most Democrats to overhaul energy laws and to repeal estate taxes.
Despite his near-loss, Wynn is expected to win easily this November against Republican nominee Michael Moshe Starkman, who is a prohibitive underdog in a strongly Democratic and black-majority district that gave Democratic Sen. John Kerry 78 percent of the vote in the 2004 election.