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Analysis: Maryland Congressional Primary, D.C.'s At-large Council Race

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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney predictably won primary victories in Maryland and D.C. yesterday, but there were several closely watched local races on ballots as well. Businessman John Delaney defeated State Senator Robert Garagiola in the Democratic primary in Maryland's 6th Congressional District. In the District, four city council incumbents won easily, but the at-large council race -- including incumbent Vincent Orange -- is too close to call.

WAMU 88.5's District reporter Patrick Madden and Reid Wilson, editor-in-chief of the National Journal Hotline, talked with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt Bush about the results. Here are some highlights: 

Reid Wilson on how Garagiola managed to lose a race in which he was initially widely favored: "He may have had the support, but he didn't actually have the money it takes to run a winning campaign," Wilson says of Garagiola. "John Delaney, he's a businessman, he put a lot of money into his own campaign, and he used that money to go on television, and to mail information about candidacy to voters all across the district." 

Whether Garagiola faltered toward the end: "Garagiola stopped mailing about two weeks ago, so that tells me he really ran short of money," Wilson says. "So even last minute robo-calls from Gov. Martin O'Malley weren't able to really turn that around. Once people see a candidate's name and face on TV, they're much more likely to go in that direction." 

Patrick Madden on the message voters sent in the D.C. primaries: "The question was, would there be this major anti-incumbent message from voters in the District, and the answer really is yes and no," Madden says. "If you're looking for a message from last night, on one hand, the incumbents seemed to skate through pretty easily, but on the one that people were really watching, with Vincent Orange -- he was the guy most closely tied to Jeffrey Thompson, this growing campaign financing scandal -- clearly there was some anti-incumbent backlash."

When the results of the at-large race will be finalized: Election officials need to count these absentee ballots, and they're going to start that process in 10 days; there's about 3,000 of 4,000 absentee ballots," Madden says. "This is not going to be official for at least 10 days, and if it is even closer, when these ballots are counted, there also could be a recount."

Wilson on the kind of race teed up between Delaney and incumbent Rep. Roscoe Bartlett: "This district is one of the few in the country that has been drawn in Democrats' favor by Democratic map makers," Wilson says. "This district is going to be one of the most competitive in the country; it's one of the few chances Democrats have to win back a Republican held seat … I think we're going to see a lot of money spent, particularly from Democrats and Delaney. And Bartlett is a very popular member, so I think it's going to be a very competitive contest."

Madden on "mayor-for-life" Marion Barry's landslide victory for the Ward 8 council seat: "Marion Barry destroyed the field last night in Ward 8," Madden says. "Every time people were talking about how his opponents had all these endorsements, but you cannot count Marion Barry out. He was easily the biggest winner last night." 

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