Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby faces an uphill battle to overcome a nine-point deficit to defense attorney Ivan Bates in the Democratic primary for the city’s top prosecutor.
Mosby, who is vying for a third term in office, needs a substantial amount of the mail-in ballots to go her way and for Bates and former prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah to split the remaining votes.
With 95% of precincts reporting as of early Wednesday morning, Bates’ 41% of the vote topped Mosby’s 32%. Vignarajah had garnered 27% of the vote.
“It looks as if Ivan Bates has earned enough votes through early voting and election day voting — it’s not guaranteed — but he’s carved himself a path to victory,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College. “For him to put up the numbers he had with early voting and election day voting, he’s put himself in a good position to win.”
More than 47,000 ballots have been counted so far, including 13,100 early votes.
The tallies from 12 Baltimore precincts remain to be returned after in-person voting concluded, as officials look for flash drives that weren’t turned in from some polling places Tuesday night, Baltimore Election Director Armstead Jones said.
Final results hinge on the mail-in ballots that elections officials are slated to begin counting Thursday morning. So far, they have received 22,000 of the 44,000 ballots that were sent out.
Bates and Vignarajah are challenging Mosby for the second time, having lost handily to her in the 2018 primary. This time, Bates is out to an early and sizable lead. He described himself as “cautiously optimistic” in a phone interview Wednesday.
“I’m just really thankful and humbled for the outpouring of support from so many of our citizens of Baltimore,” Bates said.
Jones said his crew of up to 25 people will tally votes until 6 p.m. Thursday. It could take several days to know the final results: the Baltimore City Board of Elections will determine whether officials continue to tally votes into the weekend, said Jones, who added that he was considering recommending Saturday, but not Sunday.
“Everyone is tired,” Jones said.
At separate campaign events Tuesday night, Bates and Mosby also expressed a sense of exhaustion. Neither claimed victory or conceded.
“We don’t know the outcome,” Bates told supporters at an event in Charles Village. “It’s clearly in God’s hands.”
The crowd, filled with people wearing navy-blue Bates’ campaign t-shirts, shouted back: “We got this!”
“I don’t count my chickens before they hatch,” Bates said. “What I do know is this: If we are blessed enough to win, we have a lot of work to do for the city. We made a lot of promises and plans.”
About a mile away from Bates’ event, Mosby addressed supporters and reporters at Melba’s Place, a nightclub in Baltimore’s Abell neighborhood, around 11:40 p.m.
“It’s going to be a while before we know who won this race,” Mosby said. “But what we do know is that this race is not over.”
Her supporters chimed in, shouting: “You won!”
“I never thought that this was going to be an easy race,” Mosby continued. “It’s never been easy. And when you are trying to implement change, there’s always going to be resistance.”
Mosby deferred comment to a campaign spokesperson.
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“There are still thousands of votes to be counted, and we will fight until every single vote from every single precinct has been accounted for,” said Robyn Murphy, a spokesperson for the campaign.
Kromer said the early voting and election-day returns showed Mosby still has a solid base, saying the percentage of votes she garnered reflected the 30% approval rating she earned in survey conducted for the online news site Baltimore Banner by the Goucher College Poll.
“The question is ‘how many more votes are out there for her?’” Kromer said.
Mosby’s campaign has been clouded by her federal indictment on perjury and mortgage fraud charges. Federal prosecutors allege she lied about having suffered financially from the coronavirus to withdraw $90,000 from her retirement savings under the CAREs Act and used the money to make down payments on two properties in Florida. Federal prosecutors say she also lied on loan applications for those homes.
Despite the early and election day returns not going the way Vignarajah’s team wanted, he said Wednesday that his campaign is holding out hope.
“We are obviously behind, but there are somewhere between somewhere between 20 and 40,000 votes left to be counted,” Vignarajah said in an interview. “We do see a path to victory — none of this was ever going to be easy. We remain hopeful.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Emily Opilo contributed to this article.