BERLIN – While Worcester County voters bucked statewide trends in several races during Tuesday’s primary election, they certainly showed up in droves considering there were no local races to decide.
Nearly 44 percent of Worcester County’s registered voters turned out for Tuesday’s primary election, marking a considerable increase over voter turnouts in the county in recent primary elections. During the 2006 primaries, when there were County Commissioner seats and other local elected positions at stake, 32 percent of the county’s voters turned out. During the last presidential primary election in 2004, 27 percent voted.
Worcester County voters followed statewide trends on some races, but parted ways with their Maryland brethren on others. Most notably, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton narrowly edged Sen. Barack Obama at the polls in Worcestery, garnering 47-percent of the vote to Obama’s 45.5-percent.
Statewide, however, Obama captured 60 percent of the vote during Tuesday while Clinton mustered just 37 percent. On the Republican side of the presidential primary election, Worcester voters were right in tune with voters across Maryland with John McCain gathering a little over 60 percent of the vote in Worcester, mirroring the state figures.
In one of the biggest surprises on Tuesday, nine-term incumbent Congressman Wayne Gilchrest was defeated by challenger State Sen. Andy Harris in Maryland’s First Congressional District Republican primary after serving the district for 18 years. Harris collected 43 percent of the vote statewide compared to 33 percent for Gilchrest and 20 percent for Pipkin.
Harris emerged the victor after dominating the race in the three counties in the district on the west side of Chesapeake Bay – Baltimore County, Anne Arundel and Harford – but Gilchrest carried easily carried the majority of the counties in the district on the Eastern Shore, with the exception of Queen Anne’s where Sen. E.J. Pipkin carried the day.
On the Democratic side of the First Congressional District primary, Worcester voters bucked the state trend again, with candidate Christopher Robinson gaining 37 percent of the vote to edge rival Frank Kratovil at 35 percent. Statewide, however, it was Kratovil who emerged the victor, collecting 40 percent of the vote.
All in all, it was a smooth primary election in Worcester, except for a few minor technical glitches and a Tuesday afternoon fire that briefly made it difficult for West Ocean City voters.
“Despite the weather and the situation with Ocean City Elementary because of the fire, we had a very good day and a great turnout,” said Worcester County Board of Elections official Karen Timmons.