All posts by David Lublin

Are Republicans Trying to Help Aruna Miller?

By Adam Pagnucco.

Much has been said about the Maryland Republican Party sending out racist mailers targeting Congressional District 6 candidate Aruna Miller.  The standard interpretation of this seems to be that the GOP sees Miller as a strong candidate and is trying to keep her out of the general election.  Indeed, the Washington Post editorial board made that argument.  But what if the Republicans are actually trying to help Miller instead?

The classic example of intervention in an opposing party’s primary is Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill’s promotion of conservative GOP Representative and eventual opponent Todd Akin.  McCaskill spent $1.7 million on ads accusing Akin of being “too conservative” during his GOP primary, helping boost him past the rest of the field.  And that’s not all – when Akin pulled a successful TV ad in favor of one that flopped, McCaskill schemed to have her pollster contact Akin’s campaign to persuade him to re-run the high-performing ad.  Once Akin won his primary, McCaskill exploited his weaknesses to finish him off and get reelected.

Two “anti-Akin” ads by McCaskill and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Why do we bring this up?  Some of the people who received the GOP mailers were female Democrats, including Miller herself.  A few took to Facebook and Twitter to complain about it.  And if they didn’t get them directly, they may have read about them in publications like the Washington Post, Bethesda Magazine and India West.  How do you think they are going to react when they see a female Democratic candidate getting bashed in racist mail sent by Republicans?  They are going to rally to Miller, of course, and that’s what happened on social media.  Maybe that’s the point.

Miller uses GOP racism to motivate her supporters.

Aruna Miller is doing really well in this campaign.  She is raising lots of money, doing well at forums, attracting great endorsements from the Sierra Club and the teachers and is the most prominent woman running in a primary electorate that is roughly 60% female.  But look at this race from the standpoint of the GOP.  They know David Trone won an absolute majority of the vote in rural Frederick and Carroll Counties in the CD8 primary – the kind of areas that Republicans need to dominate in the sixth district.  They know Trone could spend $10 million in a general election, something no other Democrat can do, and that would free up national Democratic money to go to other Congressional districts around the country.  Most of all, Trone looks more like incumbent Congressman John Delaney than any other candidate – a center-left businessman who says he has created thousands of jobs.  The GOP knows that kind of candidate can win in this district.  Why would they want another one like Delaney?  And if they don’t, why not help a rival win?

Maybe we’re reading too much into this but we don’t think the GOP is stupid.  This kind of tactic can work.  Just ask Claire McCaskill!

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We Get Phone Calls

By Adam Pagnucco.

Sometimes your author gets phone calls like this.

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Politician X:  Hey Pagnucco!  How’s the kid?  How’s business?

Me:  Well, I –

Politician X:  Great to hear it.  I got something you need to write about RIGHT NOW.

Politician X then tells a story about Politician Y.  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 equal to felonious behavior and/or rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and 1 equal to peeing in the shower, this is a 2.5.  Nothing illegal here, but there might be some questionable judgment IF it’s true.  As background, Y is not running against X, but Y has endorsed one of X’s opponents.  X also heard a rumor years ago that Y told someone X is a conniving politician.

Me:  OK.  Do you have any proof that Y did that?

Politician X:  No.  But you know it’s gotta be true!  Remember when Y did that other thing?

X retells another story about Y from a while back that was never verified.  That one might have been a 3.5 IF it ever happened.

Me:  Are there any documents?  Any links?  (The allegation does not involve anything easily verified like a vote on legislation, a campaign contribution or a screenshot.)

Politician X:  I don’t know.  Maybe you can find something.  Ask Politician Y.  Maybe he’ll be stupid enough to admit it!

Me:  Um, OK… Lemme think about whether this is provable, and if so, how.  In the meantime, if you believe it’s true and you can back it up, say it on Facebook.  Then maybe it will be covered.  At least it will be discussed, and if there’s anything there, it might come out.

Politician X:  I can’t do that!  I’m running for office.  If I say that, Y’s supporters will come after me.  That’s why we have blogs.  You guys will say anything!

Me: … … …

Politician X:  I’ll check back later to see how that story is coming along.

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Look folks.  We like investigating allegations, but there has to be something to them.  If you’re going to tell us something, be ready to 1. supply evidence or 2. go on the record.  We’re not gonna print unfounded speculation on your behalf just so you can get someone else to say something YOU want to say but won’t.  We’re not the New York Times, but there are such things as libel laws.  If you want to libel someone, do it yourself!

If you are thinking of making a call like the one made by Politician X above, don’t bother.  And Politician X, if you are reading this – and we know you will! – the next time you make a call like this we are gonna print your name.  Believe that!

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Joy Nurmi: Meitiv Flunks Science Test

By Joy Nurmi.

Danielle Meitiv frequently reminds us that she is a scientist. Then one should wonder why, when she accuses our County Executive of failing to endorse women candidates, she fails at one of science’s most basic tenets – sample size and probability of drawing a false‐positive conclusion when the sample is too small.

According to one of the country’s top science organizations – the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – sample size is important. In the NIH publication, “How sample size influences research outcomes,” NIH says: using a sample smaller than the ideal increases the chance of assuming as true a false premise.

So when Ms. Meitiv draws the conclusion that our County Executive is not interested in gender balance because of his endorsements in the Council at-large race, one might ask about how Mr. Leggett’s track record stacks up in a larger sample size. For example, when one looks at all the candidates he has endorsed in the current election, one sees that it includes four women: Aruna Miller, Lily Qi, Charlotte Crutchfield and Rebecca Smondrowski. Interestingly enough, that equals 50% of his total endorsements. And with his endorsement of Aruna Miller, he was out up front and early when many were hanging back.

Look carefully at Mr. Leggett’s endorsements. They are not only gender balanced, but they are rich in diversity as well. It is important to note that this County has never elected any Latino or Asian for an at-large seat. And, Mr. Leggett is the only African American ever elected to an at-large office.

Where has Ms. Meitiv been in furthering this goal of diversity, correcting these deficiencies? She criticizes Mr. Leggett only because it benefits her as a candidate. It gets her publicity.

Look also at the top tier of management in County government appointed by Mr. Leggett. Twenty-two of the 44 top managers/directors are women. Again, 50%.

He has been highly successful in advocating for gender balance and diversity on a number of fronts. He has advocated with our governors for a more diverse judiciary, including recommending many women for judgeships, who have since been appointed. He has endorsed many women for elected office in the past. The examples are too numerous to list. In fact, you will not find any leader anywhere who has such a track record of fostering diversity and gender balance in so many facets of public life to equal Mr. Leggett’s.

It is truly unfortunate that Ms. Meitiv lashed out without facts, and as a result, failed this science test.

Joy Nurmi is a Special Assistant to County Executive Ike Leggett and a former Chief of Staff at the County Council.

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Female Candidates Accuse Leggett of Sexism

By Adam Pagnucco.

County Executive Ike Leggett’s decision to endorse four men in the Council At-Large race – incumbent Hans Riemer, Gabe Albornoz, Hoan Dang and Will Jawando – has provoked public accusations of sexism from two women who are running for office.

Council At-Large candidate Danielle Meitiv kicked things off on Facebook minutes after Leggett’s endorsement of Jawando was announced, writing, “Nice how our County Exec doesn’t think we need any women on the Council at large.”

District 18 Delegate candidate Mila Johns followed up, directly accusing Leggett of “sexism, pure and simple,” and eventually shared Meitiv’s post on her own page.

Council Member Nancy Floreen also weighed in on this, although somewhat indirectly.

The sentiment expressed by Meitiv and Johns is shared by other women running for office.  Several of them blasted Leggett to your author in scathing terms but would not go on the record.  That makes sense – most politicians want to avoid public disputes with a sitting County Executive at election time.  One candidate who was willing to comment on the record was Brandy Brooks, who is running for Council At-Large and co-wrote an essay about gender parity in politics with Meitiv.  Brooks told us:

For many, 2018 could be the year for women, people of color, and working people, but not if we aren’t actively changing our political system both internally and externally. Maryland has one of the worst records in the country on gender parity: we rank 38th on the gender parity index with a score of 12.1 (down from 21.2 in 2014) with few women in federal, state, or local office. To be clear, the four men who have been endorsed by the county executive are qualified candidates — that is not the question. However, not endorsing a single woman running at-large sends the wrong message about how our political and elected leaders view gender parity. Some will argue that more of the women running should have sought the endorsement. Unfortunately, this view continues to fault women instead of asking why our leaders aren’t being intentional to seek women to endorse as well. It continues a pattern that leaves many on the margins. Thankfully, there are many strong women candidates running for office in 2018 to change this status quo, and I’m excited to be one of them.

If Leggett’s choices win, it’s possible that the council might have just one female member in its next term: District 4 incumbent Nancy Navarro.  Since its current structure was established in 1990, the nine-member council has never had fewer than two female members and has sometimes had three or more.  Additionally, the issue of how women are treated in politics has erupted in Annapolis as the General Assembly grappled about how to deal with harassment in its most recent session.  One at-large candidate (Delegate Charles Barkley) has even been accused of inappropriate behavior with women.

Riemer, Albornoz, Dang and Jawando are not unusual choices for Leggett.  The Executive has had a cordial relationship with Riemer during their time in office together.  Albornoz is widely regarded as one of his best department directors.  Dang and Jawando are solid candidates and both would bring assets to the council if elected.  But surely Leggett and his team should have expected pushback on this in the wake of his criticism of the District 39 state legislators for accepting Lesley Lopez on their slate, a dispute in which gender was raised as an issue.

In Leggett’s defense, he has filled his administration with strong and competent women, including but not limited to Department of Permitting Services Director Diane Schwartz-Jones, Office of Management and Budget Director Jennifer Hughes, Health and Human Services Director Uma Ahluwalia, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Lily Qi, former libraries director Parker Hamilton and Special Assistant Joy Nurmi.  (Some of these ladies have left multiple boot prints on your author’s rear end!)  Leggett’s wife, Catherine, is an admired player in county politics who chairs the Executive’s Ball and raises money for the arts.  We are sure that Leggett’s MANY female supporters will step up in his defense should they deem this criticism worthy of response.

So who’s right?  That’s for you, the readers, to decide.

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Leggett Endorses Jawando

County Executive Ike Leggett has endorsed Council At-Large candidate Will Jawando.  The Executive has previously endorsed Gabe Albornoz (his Recreation Director), Hoan Dang and incumbent Hans Riemer in the race.  We reprint Jawando’s press release below.

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April 18, 2018

Inquiries: info@willjawando.com

County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett Endorses Jawando

ROCKVILLE, Md. – In a statement released today, Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett endorsed Will Jawando in his race for County Council At-Large, noting Jawando’s record of public service and progressive leadership.

“I am honored to endorse Will Jawando for County Council At-Large. Will is an exceptional leader with a lifelong record of public service to Montgomery County and the nation. He worked as a public policy attorney on Capitol Hill and for President Obama in the White House. I was proud to appoint Will to serve on the Montgomery County Commission on Juvenile Justice, and worked with him to provide support for Summer R.I.S.E, a summer career internship program for high school students that he spearheaded,” Leggett said. “As an active, progressive community leader, Will understands the needs of Montgomery County and is committed to making our outstanding county even greater. I’m voting for Will, and respectfully urge you to join me in electing him to the County Council.”

If Jawando wins his contest, he will be only the second person of color to be elected to a county-wide office in Montgomery County. Leggett was the first, and only to date. Jawando recognized that when he welcomed Leggett’s endorsement.

“I’m privileged to earn Ike’s support, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to continue his legacy of public service in Montgomery County,” Jawando said. “We’ve worked together on closing the opportunity-and-achievement gap in our public schools, addressing issues of juvenile justice, and engaging our underrepresented communities in the civic process. I’m dedicated to addressing those issues that matter most to our families — our schools, fair and affordable housing, reliable transit and jobs. That’s the promise of Montgomery County.”

Aside from creating and managing the first year of Summer R.I.S.E., and his work on the Montgomery County Commission on Juvenile Justice, Jawando co-chairs the African-American Student Achievement Action Group, and created a community-based non-profit called Our Voices Matter, which works with underrepresented populations to increase civic engagement, voter registration and leadership training.

To learn more about the Montgomery County Promise, please visit www.willjawando.com.

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Ortman-Fouse Files for Matching Funds in Record Time

By Adam Pagnucco.

Board of Education member Jill Ortman-Fouse, who is running for Council At-Large, has filed for matching funds from the county’s public financing system.  Ortman-Fouse took 49 days from the date on which she established her campaign committee to apply for matching funds, a FAR shorter period of time than any other candidate.

Ortman-Fouse’s application, made on April 16, lists $23,466 in contributions from 368 county residents, exceeding the Council At-Large thresholds of $20,000 and 250 residents.  Below is the number of days between committee establishment and matching funds application for the twenty candidates in public financing who have applied for matching funds.  (Five other candidates submitted applications but were ruled ineligible by the State Board of Elections.)  Bear in mind as you read the stats below that the candidates have different qualification thresholds.  Executive candidates must collect $40,000 from 500 county residents.  District council candidates must collect $10,000 from 125 residents.

Ortman-Fouse totally smoked her competition in filing time, something that is going to turn heads among her competitors.  In just one term, she has become arguably the most popular school board member in the county since Blair Ewing, who left to run for County Council twenty years ago.  One reason for that status is her close attention to answering constituent questions and her constant social media interaction with them, something that is typical of the best elected officials in county and state governments but is unusual for school board members.  That has given her a network of supporters that approaches the level of incumbent County Council Members.  How far that penetrates into the rank-and-file voting public is unknown, however, as few voters can name their school board members.  And Ortman-Fouse has also been handicapped by her late start, missing out on the endorsement processes of many influential organizations.

That leaves us with a general observation.  It’s true that the top fundraisers in the Council At-Large race are men and that men have received most of the influential institutional endorsements (with some going to Brandy Brooks and Danielle Meitiv).  But the Democratic primary electorate is roughly 60% female and of the seven councils in the current structure since 1990, only one (the 1998-2002 council) lacked a female at-large member.  So don’t count out the women, dear readers – and especially not Jill Ortman-Fouse!

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Reznik Calls on Board of Public Works to Reject “Shadow Government” Highway Contract

By Adam Pagnucco.

Delegate Kirill Reznik (D-39) has written to the Board of Public Works asking them to reject an engineering and management contract awarded by the Maryland Department of Transportation for its planned expansion of the Capital Beltway and I-270.  According to the Washington Post, the winning consortium included a former employer of the state’s Secretary of Transportation and was awarded the contract despite finishing second in its written proposal.  The Secretary did not vote directly on the contract, but he had dinner with a representative of his former employer and obtained an ethics clearance after the award was made.  Post reporter Michael Laris described the bidding process as “expedited and unusual” and wrote:

The winning firms, known collectively as the “general engineering consultant,” would act as something of a shadow government for the Maryland Department of Transportation, which says its plan to hire firms to build, finance and maintain toll lanes is too big and complex to govern itself.

Referring to much of the above, Delegate Reznik said he was “incredibly alarmed” and asked the Board of Public Works to “restart the process in an open, fair, public, and transparent way, without the involvement of potential conflicts, and only after the public has had an opportunity to weigh in.”  We reprint his letter below.

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Council At-Large Undervoting, Part Two

By Adam Pagnucco.

In Part One, we learned that even though voters can vote for up to four Council At-Large candidates, they vote for only three on average.  Today we examine whether that statistic varies based on geography.

The chart below shows the total number of Council At-Large votes cast in the 2014 Democratic primary, the total number of Democratic votes for Governor and the ratio between the two from precinct votes on Election Day.  (Precinct-level turnout numbers from the state include early voters, absentee voters and provisional voters, distorting their use as a denominator, so we used votes for Governor as a proxy for Election Day voters by precinct.)  On average, each Democratic voter cast three votes for Council At-Large candidates.  That statistic varied very little between Congressional districts, state legislative districts and council districts.

Let’s take a deeper dive and look at local areas.  Again, there is minimal variation.  A mild outlier is Precinct 11-00 in Dickerson, home of at-large challenger Beth Daly.  Was there some undervoting there for Daly and her 2014 teammate, at-large incumbent Marc Elrich?  (The two finished first and second in that precinct and smoked everyone else.)  One note: the term Democratic Crescent refers to Cabin Branch, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park, areas which tend to exert disproportionate impact on Democratic primaries.

Over and over, we have seen that the average Democratic primary voter casts three votes for Council At-Large candidates.  That statistic has been stable over time and does not vary much by voting mode (early, election day, absentee or provisional), geography, presence of open seats or candidate count.  We see no reason why it would be significantly different in this election.  What does that mean?

One obvious implication relates to one of the hottest places to find votes in a MoCo primary: the Downcounty areas of Downtown Silver Spring, Takoma Park and nearby locations to the north and northeast.  Hans Riemer, Evan Glass, Will Jawando, Danielle Meitiv, Chris Wilhelm, Brandy Brooks, Seth Grimes, Cherri Branson, Jill Ortman-Fouse and Jarrett Smith are among the candidates who are from there and/or are running hard there.  If each voter is only voting for three at-large candidates, there simply are not enough votes to go around for all of the above candidates.  Who emerges from that scrum?

Riemer ought to finish first in that area.  He is not just the only incumbent in the race; he also finished second in Downtown Silver Spring, Takoma Park and Kensington to Marc Elrich in 2014, his best places of finish anywhere in the county.  The next tier might be Glass, Jawando, Ortman-Fouse and Grimes, all of whom have done well in prior races in that area.  How many votes are available there for anyone else?

One of the greatest challenges of running for Council At-Large is how to allocate scarce resources across a vast county-wide electorate in the face of lots of competition and other draws on voters’ attention.  Those candidates who successfully target the voters who align with their values, message, bio and (in some instances) demographic will have a leg up on their less strategic rivals.  With only three at-large votes per voter, the premium on strategic engagement is higher than ever.  It might just be decisive in an exciting and historic race.

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Glendening Endorses Milano

Former Governor Parris Glendening has endorsed District 18 House candidate Leslie Milano.  We reprint her press release below.

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Former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening Endorses Leslie Milano, D18 Delegate Candidate

For Immediate Release Contact: Janiene Bohannon, Communications Director

janiene@milanofordelegate.com

(Silver Spring, Md., April 14, 2018) – Former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening endorsed Leslie Milano for the House of Delegates, District 18 today.

Milano—a respected public health executive, human rights advocate, and mother of two—is running on a platform of socially-responsible economic growth, expanding the renewable energy sector, and addressing school overcrowding for Marylanders. Glendening served as the Governor of Maryland from 1995-2003, and was previously the County Executive of Prince George’s County from 1982-1994.

“For the last 15 years I have worked with advocates and elected officials around the country and the world on efforts to protect our environment,” said Glendening. “Leslie’s focus on transit, walkable, sustainable communities and solar energy will make her a leader in efforts to protect our environment and our planet. She understands good environmental policy is good for the economy. She knows Maryland can be a leader in making alternate energy an important part of our economy. That is why I am enthusiastically supporting Leslie Milano for election to the Maryland House of Delegates.”

Glendening added, “I’ve been involved in Maryland politics for four decades, and as governor, I worked closely with the Maryland House of Delegates to help working families. Leslie Milano brings strong Democratic values, business experience and an innovative approach that isn’t typical in today’s politics.” He continued, “In our current political climate, we need strong women at every level of government, and Leslie Milano is a bright, savvy emerging leader for Maryland.”

At the age of 25, Milano co-founded a nonprofit labor rights organization dedicated to improving conditions for factory workers abroad. She gave lectures on 300 college campuses and business schools focused on corporate social responsibility, and helped to end certain labor abuses affecting hundreds of thousands of women workers. For the past six years, Milano has been the executive director of a public health consulting organization dedicated to patient safety. She has negotiated multi-million-dollar contracts with state and federal agencies to successfully reduce healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals and nursing homes.

“For District 18 and beyond—whether it be education, gun violence prevention, healthcare or workforce development—we can be the progressive leader that builds coalitions with other progressive states to move our country in the right direction,” said Milano. “An endorsement from Gov. Glendening is very meaningful given his long, successful career in public service for Maryland at the highest level of our state government.”

Milano has also received the candidate distinction from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a leading gun violence prevention organization. Milano holds two master’s degrees in Theology/Ethics from Union Theological Seminary and International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University, as well as a certificate of leadership from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. For more information about Leslie Milano, visit www.milanofordelegate.com.

Currently eight Democratic candidates are running for three seats. The primary is June 26, and early voting starts June 14.

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Leggett Endorses Dang

By Adam Pagnucco.

County Executive Ike Leggett has endorsed Council At-Large candidate Hoan Dang.  This is a nice boost for Dang as we have not heard of Leggett endorsing anyone other than incumbent Hans Riemer and his Recreation Director, Gabe Albornoz.  We reprint Dang’s press release below.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 16, 2018

MEDIA CONTACT

Jonathon Rowland

Email: jonathon@votedang.com

County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett Endorses Hoan Dang for Montgomery County Council At-Large

Silver Spring MD — Today, County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett endorsed candidate Hoan Dang for Montgomery County Council At-Large.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with Hoan Dang for many years. We collaborated in the beginning as fellow board members of IMPACT Silver Spring. Since then, I’ve appointed him to serve on the County Executive’s Asian Pacific American Advisory Group and the Washington Suburban Transit Commission,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “Hoan’s extensive work serving Montgomery County residents shows that he’s a selfless public servant. This is demonstrated by his work to close the achievement gap as a board member of the George B. Thomas, Sr. Learning Academy and his previous efforts to eliminate health disparities for our diverse community as co-founder of the Montgomery County Asian American Health Initiative. Hoan is a tireless advocate and attentive to the needs of the community throughout the County. As a County Executive, that is the exact sort of Councilmember I want to work with.”

Leggett continued, “As a budget expert, former refugee and community leader, I believe Hoan possesses the breadth and depth of experience needed to serve on the County Council from day one, and that’s why I am proud to endorse and support his campaign.”

“I am honored and humbled to have the endorsement of County Executive Ike Leggett. Ike is not only a widely respected voice in our county but at the state level as well. His tireless efforts make Montgomery County a more equitable, safe and welcoming place for all people,” said County Council At-Large candidate, Hoan Dang. “Ike was the first African American Councilmember and also the first African American Montgomery County Executive. I hope to be the first Asian American County Councilmember, and I am honored to have the support and endorsement of this trail blazing leader.”

Hoan Dang has also been endorsed by: Delegate Henry “Hank” Heller (D19, ret), Darrell Anderson (Mayor of Washington Grove, ret), Reggie Felton (Board of Education, ret), Henry Lee (Board of Education, ret), Madaleine Sigel (Woman’s Democratic Club, ret), Michael Lin, (Organization of Chinese Americans, ret), Jae Shin (League of Korean Americans-Montgomery County, ret), Montgomery County Public Schools Retirees Association, and The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization.

For more information on Hoan Dang and about his candidacy, visit www.votedang.com.

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