Chris Van Hollen won the Democratic primary nomination in Maryland for a crucial US Senate seat. The incumbent dominated the polls on Tuesday and faced little challenge from Michelle Smith, a political newcomer. 

Van Hollen, 63, secured more than 77% of the votes in the Democratic primary. Smith, on the other hand, managed to get the remaining 61,425 votes, CNN reported.

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Incumbent Van Hollen is likely to be a favourite in the upcoming midterm elections in November. The Democratic party is known to have a stronghold in Maryland, a state where Republicans are outnumbered 2:1.

The Democratic Senator is likely to face Chris Chaffee or Lorie Friend, who currently lead the Republican primary race for the Senate seat.

Maryland primaries have emerged as one of the most demanding elections this season. Senior lawmakers, former Presidents and even celebrities have thrown in support for their favourite candidates. Maryland is also voting for the governor’s office, all eight House districts, the attorney general’s office and more.

On the Democratic side, Tom Perez, a former US labor secretary and former Democratic Party chair, has the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a native daughter of Baltimore, while bestselling author Wes Moore has the support of Oprah Winfrey and US Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat.

Other top candidates include Comptroller Peter Franchot, former Attorney General Doug Gansler and former US Education Secretary John B. King Jr, according to AP reports.

Also Read: In Maryland primary, a 2024 proxy battle brews between Donald Trump, Larry Hogan

The Republican primary provides a potential 2024 preview of the appeal of candidates in the mold of Hogan and Trump, who offer competing visions for the future of the party.

It could take days, or even longer, to determine the winners in the most closely contested races. That’s because Maryland law prohibits counties from opening mail ballots until the Thursday after election day.