Why I Support David Blair

By Lawrence N. Rosenblum, CPA.

As Ike Leggett’s Treasurer and long-time friend, I had great concerns two years ago about whether the next Montgomery County Executive would preserve his legacy and build on his great accomplishments. Much to my dismay, I had strong doubts that the people rumored to be running would do that.

Last summer, I met David Blair and my half-hour introductory meeting lasted almost two hours. I instantly realized that he was the Obi-Wan who would ultimately be our only hope. Since then, I’ve become convinced that not only will he protect and improve upon Ike’s successes, but he will be an outstanding County Executive in his own right.

Here’s why: he really cares about the future of Montgomery County; he has demonstrated superior executive ability by growing a small business from a one room office into a $6,000,000,000 Fortune 500 Company; he’s smart and knows how to create jobs; and he is one of the best listeners I have ever met (which is rare for a politician).

The fact that he has invested his hard-earned money into this campaign shows us that he puts his money where his mouth is. Because he knew he was not well known, and that it would take a tremendous amount to become competitive, he was reluctant to ask others to contribute to what may have been a futile effort. He took great risk and I applaud that.

It’s time for fresh ideas and new approaches. The same old, same old won’t work anymore as we face unprecedented challenges locally. We must find ways to do more with less. We must embrace and leverage new technology and initiate innovative solutions. I’m convinced that David can and will do just that.

Since he sold his company, David has traveled the county and met with thousands of Montgomery County residents researching best practices and further understanding the issues we face. Not having vast political experience is a plus in my book because he has the knowledge, fresh ideas and discipline to lead.

It’s a shame that David’s competition has resorted to such vile, negative campaigning. Spreading ridiculous lies doesn’t hoodwink our smart voters. The backlash from these attacks is only fueling David’s supporters to work even harder to help get him elected. It takes great courage and restraint not to lower oneself and fight back. I’m so proud of David for not playing in the mud with them. I should remind those who attack David for being a Republican while he was in his 20’s raising a family and building a business (and not enmeshed in politics) that beloved progressive Bernie Sanders has only been a Democrat for one of the last 25 years and he isn’t one today.

Lastly, students of history will remember that there was only one time since the adoption of our charter form of government (1970) that a sitting County Council Member was elected to the position of County Executive. That exception turned out to be a disaster for the county. They call this position County Executive for a reason. And here’s why: legislators are usually not good executives. Executives make good County Executives.

I’m so proud of the non-traditional, positive, innovative and uplifting campaign David Blair has run. I support him 100% and you should too.

Larry Rosenblum has been Ike Leggett’s Treasurer since 2005.

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Lobbyists with Blair Connection File Flimsy Claim Against Elrich and Berliner

Screenshot from online Listings of Registered Lobbyists

Lobbyists Sushant Sidh and David Carroll, Jr. have filed a complaint against Marc Elrich and Roger Berliner’s campaigns for county executive. Sidh and Carroll are principals at Capitol Strategies, an Annapolis lobbying firm that represented Catalyst Rx while David Blair was still CEO of the company.

I am posting the complaint made by Sidh and Carroll to the State Board of Elections below in full, which has already been discussed on A Miner Detail. Seventh State received a copy of the complaint via email from Sushant Sidh at 4:59pm on Friday afternoon.

As Adam has previously mentioned, we both receive requests to publicize dirt on campaigns. Seventh State did not publicize this claim alleging illegal collusion between Progressive Maryland and the Elrich and Berliner campaigns because I think it has little merit.

The complaint uses words like “reasonable to assume” and “there is reason to suspect” but provides no hard evidence for gauzy suppositions with the sole source being a reference to an article in A Miner Detail. The follow-up email on the amended complaint this morning at 10:26am does not contain any further information.

This complaint followed on one previously filed by Brian Kildee alleging coordination between David Blair and Empower Montgomery. Blair was one of the founders of Empower Montgomery. (The complaint cites a 7S post that points out that Blair’s name was removed from the website listing of the founders.) While Kildee has donated to Bill Frick, also a candidate for county executive, he has not been linked to either the campaigns of Marc Elrich or Roger Berliner.

Seventh State did not publish this complaint either, which has also now been posted below. Kildee’s complaint contains a number of attachments that I haven’t posted here. This complaint is more interesting but does not, in my view, contain conclusive proof of coordination between Blair and Empower Montgomery.

I do not know if Sidh and Carroll’s complaint was meant as retaliatory but the timing will only serve to feed such speculation. Efforts to reach Sidh and Carroll for comment immediately before publication of this piece were unsuccessful.

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Evaluating the Negative Mail in the Senate Race

The negative mail has been flying fast and furious in District 18. How accurate is it?

Where’s Waldstreicher?

Let’s start with Dana Beyer’s attacks on Del. Jeff Waldstreicher. She opened with a clever mail piece playing on Where’s Waldo? entitled Where’s Waldstreicher? that went after Jeff’s attendance record. Specifically, it pointed out that Jeff has missed far more county delegation votes than any other delegate and also missed a lot of committee votes in 2015. Additionally, Jeff has convened the special committee on drug and alcohol abuse only once since 2011.

More recently, I received this piece that additionally attacks Jeff for hiding from his constituents. (Note: two of the quotes come from previous Seventh State reporting.)

Are these claims by Dana Beyer about Jeff Waldstreicher accurate? Yes. The quotes are not taken out of context and Jeff has indeed cancelled several campaign appearances on short notice for a variety of reasons.

This is a very effective negative advertisement. Going after an incumbent for missing a lot of important votes and being afraid to meet his constituents is utterly legitimate. It directly undermines Jeff’s claim to be a progressive champion since he misses important votes and seems to be doing his best to avoid answering questions from constituents on issues in public settings.

Jeff has not responded publicly. However, he has paid for neighbor letters to go out claiming that the attack on his attendance record is false. Similarly, he has told constituents one-on-one that it’s not true. However, the letter cherry picks his committee attendance in a different year and doesn’t even discuss his frequent absences from delegation meetings. So Jeff’s claims that Dana’s criticisms are false are deceptive and untrue.

Jeff Returns Fire

What about Jeff’s attack on Dana? After issuing statements in the past saying “when they go low, we go high” and paying for neighbor letters than attack Dana’s campaign as negative, Jeff has decided to close out his campaign with a very negative mail piece that castigates Dana for criticizing President Barack Obama.

How accurate are Jeff’s negative attacks on Dana? Completely. They are accurate quotes that detail Dana’s sharp criticism from the left of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Some might point out that the quotes that Jeff uses are very old. Indeed, they are from 2009 and 2012. But that doesn’t render them untrue.

Moreover, as in the case of Dana’s attack on Jeff, he seems to have captured something important here. While Dana supporters would likely portray her statements as a trenchant progressive critique, they come across as almost limitless in arrogance.

Dana blithely sets aside political realities that limited the nature of the health care reform bill and seemingly negates that Obama achieved a long-time Democratic dream. It communicates the sense that she really understands these issues better and clearly would have handled this challenge better than the President.

The piece captures the utter certitude that can be useful to a surgeon handling a crisis in the operating room but less appealing in a junior politician who needs to work with colleagues who will not have patience for lectures of this sort. This same tone can also come across as talking down rather than listening to constituents.

Conclusion

I have heard some local residents decrying the negative tone of one or the other campaign. However, these are reasonable lines of attack. They are not made up or spurious allegations and neither distorts the other’s record. You’re free not to like it but the claims all seem reasonable enough to me.

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Acevero Claims an Endorsement He Doesn’t Have

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 39 House candidate Gabe Acevero sent out a mailer claiming an endorsement from a prominent MoCo organization yesterday.  The problem is that the group never endorsed him.

Below is the mailer sent by Acevero.  Note the logo in the top row, second from right.  It belongs to International Fire Fighters Local 1664, which represents career fire fighters employed by the Montgomery County Government.

Acevero also claims the fire fighters’ support on his website.  Their logo appears in the second row, second from right.

In fact, the fire fighters’ endorsements in District 39 include Senator Nancy King, Delegates Kirill Reznik and Shane Robinson and new House candidate Lesley Lopez, who is running with the incumbents.  The union notified us of these endorsements via email on June 13.  Their list of General Assembly endorsements appears on their website.

IAFF Local 1664 President Jeffrey Buddle sent us the following official statement upon learning about Acevero’s claim.  The union repeated the statement on Facebook.

The Montgomery County Career Fire Fighters Association -IAFF Local 1664 conducted a vetting process of candidates for the Maryland General Assembly.

In District 39 we endorsed the following candidates:

Nancy King – Senate

Lesley Lopez – Delegate

Kirill Reznik – Delegate

Shane Robinson – Delegate

Gabe Acevero did not receive our endorsement and does not have permission to use our IAFF organization logo on any campaign materials.

We asked Acevero for an explanation of this yesterday.  As of this writing, he has not responded.  If he does respond, we will update this post.

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Marc Elrich’s 80-Hour Appeal

By Adam Pagnucco.

Marc Elrich’s blast email below summarizes his message and rallies his troops for the final hours of the campaign.

*****

Your help in the next 80 hours will be critical

Friends,

I’m running for County Executive because we have an important choice in this election. On one side are developers and their allies, who have long had too much influence in county government (I’m the only County Councilmember, and only County Executive candidate, to never take their campaign money). They’re spreading misinformation and opposing my candidacy because they know I’ll make them pay their fair share for schools, transit, and green space.

On the other side are teachers, nurses, firefighters, environmentalists, labor unions, progressives, and twenty other organizations who have endorsed me because they know I’ll always stand with you. I would be honored to have your support as well.

With a little less than three days left before polls open on election day, my campaign is working around the clock and could use your help with the items below. Whether you can give money or time, anything you can do could be the difference between a win and a loss. Here’s what we need:

1) Donations. $2,945 in small donations this weekend is what we need to finish this election strong. If you haven’t given the $150 individual maximum yet, please contribute now. If you have already given the $150 maximum, please ask a family member or friend to contribute.

2) Volunteers. If you can door knock, phone bank, staff a polling location, or drive materials to people who need it, please let us know.

3) An Appeal. Your neighbors and colleagues trust you more than anyone – please send them an email or put out a message on social media letting them know why you’re voting for me and asking them to do so, too.

I also hope you’ll join me at the Barking Dog to watch the election results come in on Tuesday night. With your help, I think we’ll have a lot to celebrate.

Thanks,

Marc

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Mila Johns: End the Monopoly

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 18 House candidate Mila Johns has sent out a mailer calling for an end to MoCo’s liquor monopoly.  The mailer contains an endorsement from Comptroller Peter Franchot, a hero to monopoly opponents who has been calling for its end for years.  This is the first mailer we can recall seeing on this subject and we appreciate Johns’s courage in calling this question so publicly.

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MoCo Early Voters Are Not Who You Think

By Adam Pagnucco.

Early voting wrapped up yesterday and the State Board of Elections has posted results.  Folks, we can say this: a wild race just got a whole lot wilder.

First, as we saw from the first day of early voting, turnout is waaaay up.  Here is the distribution by party in the 2014 and 2018 primaries.

Early voting is up for everyone but especially for Democrats.

Now here is the early voting by Congressional, State Legislative and County Council districts.

The biggest increases in early voting have occurred in State District 15, State District 16, Council District 1 and Congressional District 6.  The lowest increases – by far – have occurred in State District 20 and Council District 5.

Below we show early voting by gender and age group.

Women have an edge here but not a huge one.  The age group results are astounding.  Turnout is up by a gigantic amount for people aged 18 through 24.  It went up by the least amount for people aged 45 through 64.

Additionally, one of the campaigns analyzed the voting patterns of those who voted early for us.  Roughly half the Democratic early voters had voted in at least two of the last three mid-term primaries (2006, 2010 and 2014).  The other half had voted less regularly or not at all.

We draw the following tentative conclusions from this data.

1.  Voters in Congressional District 6 and nearby areas turned out more strongly than the rest of the county.  This might reflect the intense campaigning of the congressional candidates there and especially the massive spending by David Trone.  This is good news for countywide candidates who run strong in those places.

2.  Voters in District 20 – the liberal heart of MoCo that includes Takoma Park and inside-the-Beltway Silver Spring – did not turn out to the same extent.  This is not a great thing for countywide candidates whose base is in that area and is especially bad for County Executive candidate Marc Elrich.

3.  Tons and tons of voters who are not targeted by most campaigns – especially young people, irregular voters and new voters – have come out and are roughly equal to the super Dems.  This adds an element of unpredictability to the race.  For the most part, these voters are not getting overwhelmed by mail, door knocks and phone calls as are super Dems.  How are they getting information on local races?  Television is one source.  Those campaigns with the resources for a huge target universe (like Trone and David Blair) are communicating with them while others are not.  If they are using Google to research candidates, they are encountering sources like Bethesda Magazine and the blogs since few other sites write about down-ticket races.  Some of them may not be voting down-ticket at all and may only be casting votes for Governor and Congress.

4.  And finally, we offer our standard caveat: we don’t know if higher early voting will cannibalize from election day voting or add to it.  We won’t know that until Tuesday night.

This is a helluva race, folks.  Every time we think we might be starting to figure it out – BAM! – something unexpected happens.  If you’re a MoCo political junkie like we are, this election is one for the ages!

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