ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP/WBOC)- Large numbers of Maryland voters were expected to take advantage of a rare opportunity to influence the presidential nominating contests during the state's primary elections on Tuesday.
Further whetting voter appetites, a high-profile U.S. Senate race also was being decided along with two strongly contested U.S. House primaries. A record number of Maryland voters cast early ballots during the eight-day, early-voting period that ended Thursday.
Polls have shown Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and top Republican contender Donald Trump leading in Maryland. The state is 28 percent black, and Clinton has been a heavy favorite among African-American voters elsewhere.
Sabrina Stevens of Riverdale Park, who brought her 15-month-old son with her to vote, said she agreed with Bernie Sanders on many issues but voted for Clinton because she believes Sanders is making promises he can't keep.
"I started off very solidly for Bernie, and then over the course of the election he really lost me," Stevens said. Clinton, she said, is "more prepared to actually do things in office."
Steve Drake, 55, a Republican from Silver Spring, voted for John Kasich. He said Ted Cruz is too divisive and he that he can't take Trump seriously.
"Of the three remaining, I think he's probably the lone adult in the room," Drake said of Kasich.
In the Senate race, Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards have been battling in a contentious Democratic primary to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
Mattie Warren, 24, of Hyattsville, voted for Van Hollen.
"Donna Edwards is a very aggressive person, and I don't think we need aggressive people right now," she said. "I think we need more caring."
Republicans in the Senate primary are hoping Gov. Larry Hogan's popularity will help propel them to victory in November in a state where they are outnumbered by Democrats 2-1. Del. Kathy Szeliga, who represents parts of Baltimore and Harford counties, is running against Richard Douglas, a former Defense Department appointee in the George W. Bush administration. Chrys Kefalas, who worked as an attorney in former Gov. Robert Ehrlich's administration, also is running in the crowded primary.
Baltimore voters are deciding a crowded Democratic mayoral primary that includes state Sen. Catherine Pugh and former Mayor Sheila Dixon as front-runners.
Pugh's campaign spokesman, Anthony McCarthy, said some people who showed up at one of her offices broke car windows and slashed tires when they were told they couldn't work at polling places. Pugh then decided that anyone who showed up to work would be allowed to work and be paid for it, McCarthy said. One man, 53-year-old Jerome Tuggle, was arrested after Baltimore police said he used a rock or brick to break the window of a security vehicle. He was taken to the city's booking facility, police said. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.
Meanwhile, Mikulski's retirement is rippling into two congressional districts that include the suburbs of the nation's capital, seats now held by Van Hollen and Edwards.
The 8th Congressional District, which has been held by Van Hollen since 2003, is rich with candidates. Wine superstore owner David Trone has broken the record for the amount a self-funded House candidate has put into a single campaign, putting in more than $12 million of his own money. Former local television anchor Kathleen Matthews, who is married to MSNBC's "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, and state Sen. Jamie Raskin also are running. Also in the mix are state legislators Kumar Barve and Ana Sol-Gutierrez.
In the neighboring 4th Congressional District, former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is running against former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey and Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk in the Democratic primary. They are running for the seat Edwards has held since 2008.
In the 1st Congressional District, which includes the Eastern Shore, incumbent Republican Rep. Andy Harris is being challenged by Jonathan Goff, former Maryland Del. Michael Smigiel and Sean Jackson. Former Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton is facing off against Joe Werner in the 1st Congressional District's Democratic primary.