As expected, the blue state of Maryland is seeing potentially unprecedented low turnout for today’s GOP presidential primary.
Linda Lamone, the administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections told The Baltimore Sun that she predicted that about 25 percent of the electorate would show up at the polls today.
But at about 11:45 a.m., turnout was just 2.1 percent in Baltimore, said Donna Duncan, election management director, according to The Sun.
Turnout will likely pick up a bit during the evening commute as voters go to the polls after work.
* While the fate of the presidential race is nearly sealed, an election in the western part of Maryland has the potential to upend Republicans’ control of the House of Representatives.
Ten-term incumbent Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett is up for reelection in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District and faces state Delegate Kathy Afzali and state Sen. David Brinkley in the GOP primary.
On the Democrat side, a race between state Sen. Rob Garagiola and businessman John Delaney is expected to be close.
But the high profile nature of these races isn’t yielding the voter turnout state leaders had hoped for.
"We've done everything we can to get the voter turnout," said Ben Cardin, a Democrat who faces opposition in his bid for a second term in the U.S. Senate. Cardin says he's been to political events in recent days at which people are unaware that the primary election takes place Tuesday. "It's been a struggle."
In addition to the fact that this isn’t a general election, one possible explanation for the low voter turnout is that the election falls during kids’ spring breaks and parents often vote after dropping their kids off at school or before picking them up.
But in D.C., the turnout hasn’t been any better.
The largely Democratic District is expected to be an easy win for Romney. Rick Santorum is not even on the ballot for this primary.
District voters are also deciding 10 local primary races today. This is the first time that a presidential primary and D.C. Council primary have occurred at the same time and the lack of a Democratic challenger to President Barack Obama, according to the Post, is expected to keep turnout low.
* LooseLips reports that outside the polls some 200 volunteers are trying to collect signatures to get the question of whether the city should ban corporations from donating to political campaigns on November’s general election ballot.
They need to collect at least 23,000 valid signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot.
* Fresh off a strong campaign fund-raising report for the first quarter of 2012, Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine’s campaign hosted a conference call today to discuss the state of this competitive U.S. Senate race in Virginia.
Kaine is the lone Democratic contender, but his expected opponent, Republican George Allen, faces three other competitors in the GOP primary. Both Kaine and Allen are former Virginia governors.
Kaine’s Campaign Manager Mike Henry said he expects this race to be "one of the closest we have ever seen.”
If that’s the case, then get ready for a nail biter. Allen narrowly lost this very seat to Sen. Jim Webb in 2006 by a margin of 0.39 percent.
Mo Elleithee, Kaine’s senior advisor, said Allen’s GOP primary battle could play out in Kaine’s favor. As the Republican candidates debate social issues, they will inevitably highlight the differences between Kaine’s and Allen’s position, according to Elleithee.
"I think you are going to see the candidates fight it out over who is most conservative," Elleithee said. "We are going to sit would collect from back and enjoy the show in the coming weeks."
Kaine’s camp announced this morning that it raised more than $2.2 million in the first quarter of 2012 and has more than $4.4 million cash on hand.
Allen’s campaign announced that the Republican raised more than $1.4 million since the start of the year and has nearly $2.66 million cash-on-hand.
Allen will have to spend money in a GOP primary campaign, while Kaine will not.
* Perhaps Virginia and Maryland aren’t so different after all.
The head of the Maryland Senate warned today that because of an impasse in budget negotiations the General Assembly may have to extend its legislative session for the first time in 20 years, according to The Washington Post.
Virginia did not pass its budget before its legislative session adjourned and is currently in a special session to hammer out and pass its budget.
“I don’t think the budget is going to get wrapped up any time in the next couple days,” said Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. “The budget is what you are about, morally. . . We would like to make the tough decisions this year rather than put them off until a later time. Hopefully we’ll prevail, but we’ll see.”
The main differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill is that the Senate would collects its new revenue from an across the board income tax while the House would hike taxes for the top fifth of the state earners.