Incumbent King beats Ali in Dist. 39 primary
Ali vastly outspent King in losing bid in contest that turned negative
Sen. Nancy King appears to have narrowly defeated Del. Saqib Ali in the race to represent District 39 in the Maryland State Senate.
With primary election day ballot results final and half of all absentee ballots counted, King leads the race by 249 votes, according to the most recent information available.
In District 39, some 554 absentee ballots remain uncounted and more may be turned in until 10 a.m. today. In the first round of absentee ballots counted, which included 210 voters from District 39, King widened her lead over Ali by 26 votes.
Ali called King before midnight on the night of the primary election to concede.
Ali spent at least $96,000 more than King in the race, which was characterized as one of the nastiest in Montgomery County.
"It's been a tough campaign for both of us," King said after the call from Ali. "I didn't think it was going to be as close as it was."
King celebrated the primary victory with supporters and other candidates at the Montgomery Village Golf Club. Ali gathered with followers at a private home in Gaithersburg.
"We fought the best race we possibly could," Ali said. "We spent nearly a quarter million dollars, knocked on thousands of doors. We tried to concentrate on the issues."
Ali said King's negative campaign mailers one of which featured a photo of Ali with darkened skin did not help her gain ground with voters. Her campaign sent six negative mailers attacking Ali, according to the blog Maryland Politics Watch.
For her part, King said the mailer could have had an ink problem or a proofing issue, but the color was not purposely manipulated.
"I thought (the negativity) was necessary," King said. "My whole team felt like, sad but true, that I couldn't run on the positives of my record. It just came to the point where I had to come out and strike.
"I've had five political races and I've never had to go negative before. And I hope I never have to again."
King was elected as a delegate in District 39 in 2003 and re-elected in 2007. She was appointed to the state senate later that year after Sen. P.J. Hogan stepped down to join the University System of Maryland.
Ali was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2006.
In the most recent campaign, Ali sent mailers touting himself as a "true blue Democrat" and a family man. A software engineer by day, he sent one mailer that featured a newspaper classified ad searching for a state senator who "must understand the new Maryland economy."
Ali, whose term as delegate ends in January, would not comment on his future in politics. "I'm going to go home, take a nap, rest and see what tomorrow brings," he said. "We're going to hold our heads high."
King started the election season with $62,632.07. Her campaign had raised $116,105 as of Sept. 3, the last date campaign finance reports were due to the state. The campaign still had $94,414.98 on hand Sept. 3.
Ali started the election season with $170,055.58 and raised $76,866.38. On Sept. 3, his campaign had $66,331.10 on hand.
Final spending figures for both campaigns were not available Monday.
Votes still are outstanding in all county races.
Marjorie Roher, a Montgomery County Board of Elections spokeswoman, said 10,139 absentee ballots were issued and 5,307 had been counted as of Friday.
A second count will take place after today's deadline.
If the Sept. 14 results hold, King will face Republican Robert J. Smith in the general election on Nov. 2.
District 39 includes Montgomery Village, Washington Grove, and parts of Germantown, Darnestown, North Potomac and unincorporated Gaithersburg.