Category Archives: Adam Pagnucco

Alsobrooks Brags About Beating MoCo

By Adam Pagnucco.

In a blast email sent today, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks bragged about a recent Washington Post story showing her county pulling ahead of Montgomery County in job creation. The email is reprinted below.

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Prince George’s Overtakes Montgomery as Top Job Creator in Maryland Suburbs

Dear Prince Georgians:

In case you missed it, an article published Monday in the Washington Post showed that our County has officially overtaken Montgomery County in terms of job creation for Maryland.

From 2013 to 2018, we added 21,236 jobs in our County, growing by 7.1%.  That growth secures our County’s spot as the top job creator for the entire State of Maryland.  I am Prince George’s Proud to say that these numbers confirm what we have been saying, which is that we are the economic engine for our State.

As the article states, our job growth is due in part to honest and effective political leadership in our County over the past several years.  In addition, our County has aggressively courted businesses by making key investments over several budget cycles.  We are not just waiting for businesses to come, but instead going out and beating the bushes to tell the story of Prince George’s.  These factors, plus the strong working relationship that we have with our colleagues on the County Council, have contributed to a very business-friendly environment in our County.

As we maintain the spot as the top job creator for the State of Maryland, we will not rest on our laurels.  Over the next several years, we plan to continue making investments to incentivize businesses to locate to Prince George’s County.  Some of our top priorities include high-quality dining and amenities, technology companies, and even federal government facilities that are looking to relocate.

We also plan to invest in creating what we call the Downtowns of Prince George’s.  These are areas where we will focus on mixed-use, transit-oriented development to continue attracting new businesses and growing our commercial tax base.  In the past year alone, we have seen several successes with these projects and the investments we have already made.

For example, in the area around the New Carrollton metro, Kaiser Permanente opened its new regional headquarters last year, and we learned that WMATA plans to move its regional headquarters there as well.  Construction will soon begin on the Carillon Project in Largo, which will revitalize the former Boulevard at Capital Centre.

Finally, we broke ground on the Hampton Park Project, which will replace the former Hampton Park Mall in Capitol Heights.  We’ve already secured several commitments from businesses to open in this location when construction is done, including the award-winning Ivy City Smokehouse restaurant and a Market Fresh Gourmet grocery store.

Those are just a few of the accomplishments we had in 2019 in terms of attracting new businesses and job creation.  You have my commitment that my administration will continue telling our story, making critical investments and attracting new businesses to create even more jobs over the next several years.

The best is truly yet to come for Prince George’s, and I know that by working together, we’ll have an even better story to tell in the coming months.

Yours in service,

Angela Alsobrooks

Prince George’s County Executive

Additional Coverage: The Economy is Booming in Prince George’s County

Following the Washington Post article, WJLA ran a story discussing the booming economy in Prince George’s County.  We have thousands of job openings in the County, and engineering firms like ATCS are excited to be here and hiring now. In case you missed the story from WJLA, watch it online by clicking here.

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Grading the County Council

By Adam Pagnucco.

Regular readers know my views on the administration of County Executive Marc Elrich by now, but let’s turn to an equally important entity: the Montgomery County Council. The county’s charter gives the council enormous powers, especially over land use, legislation and the budget, and its decisions are at least as important to the county’s direction as the activities of the executive.

The current council has four freshmen, the most at any one time since the council of 2006-2010. The freshmen include a former county department head, a former senior state government official, a former Obama White House official and one of the county’s most seasoned civic activists, so they came well-prepared to serve. In fact, they have become so ensconced at the council that they don’t seem like true freshmen any more. Overall, while the council has some internal rivalries that occasionally can be seen, it has been devoid of the open infighting that plagued many prior councils. Like them or not, they have mostly stuck together during the trials of governing.

The council’s portfolio is vast and it has made dozens of decisions in its first year. In my view, eight consequential events rise above the others. The council’s performance on these events is the determinant of its overall grade, which appears at the end. Let’s get to it.

Mid-year savings plan (January)

The new council members had hardly adjusted their dais seats when they were confronted with a $41 million budget hole, prompting a mid-year savings plan from the executive. The council – and especially the new members – could have complained, delayed and otherwise squirmed. But instead they got down to business and made the cuts in short order.

Grade: A

MCGEO agreement (March through May)

After Elrich negotiated a set of raises with the largest county employee union that included a peak raise of 9.4%, the council had to decide on their affordability. This was not easy as the union had a long history of torturing defiant politicians. But the council stuck together and unanimously forced Elrich to negotiate slightly lower raises. Expect this issue to return if Elrich negotiates more mega-raises in the face of the county’s financial problems.

Grade: A

MCPS and Montgomery College funding (March through May)

When Elrich released his first recommended budget in March, two of the losers were MCPS and Montgomery College. MCPS received a stingy 0.9% local dollar increase while the college got an absolute cut. Council Member Craig Rice, who chairs the council’s Education and Culture committee, called the budget “an education last budget.” But the council didn’t do a lot better. Yes, it cashed a big state check containing Kirwan money to help MCPS. But local funding for MCPS went up by just 1.2% and the college still took a cut.

Grade: C

OPEB raid (March through May)

One of the biggest problems with Elrich’s budget was that it relied on a $90 million raid on the county’s OPEB fund, which pays for retiree health benefits. The council grumbled about it, but approved the raid on an 8-1 vote with only Council Member Andrew Friedson dissenting. The result was a comment from Wall Street credit agency Moody’s labeling the move “a credit negative.”

Grade: D

Accessory dwelling unit legislation (January through July)

Council Member Hans Riemer’s zoning text amendment to liberalize county restrictions on accessory dwelling units (ADUs) provoked fierce opposition from Elrich and some civic activists. In other years, the legislation would have been either killed or watered down into oblivion. But this time, the council tweaked it and passed it unanimously. The legislation probably won’t result in huge waves of new ADUs, but the council took an important stand on the need to build more affordable units. The issue of affordable housing will come back over and over again during this term.

Grade: A

Public safety communications project (May through July)

When Elrich vacillated on placing the final two towers for the county’s long-standing public safety communications project even after a crippling outage, the council sprang into action. After the council threatened to override Elrich and write the towers directly into the capital project, Elrich ultimately conceded. The council would have received a better grade on this if it had not had its own history of delaying this project, but the council did the right thing in the end.

Grade: B+

Police chief search (July through September)

After the retirement of long-time police chief Tom Manger, Elrich nominated former Portsmouth police chief Tonya Chapman to succeed him. Chapman had more baggage than an airport terminal. Once the council made clear that Chapman did not have the votes for confirmation, the administration considered another nominee who had a pension benefit issue that probably required a legislative fix. That nominee did not fly either, so Elrich ultimately nominated an acceptable choice to many on the council, acting chief Marcus Jones, whom Elrich had previously rejected. This was truly historic stuff. Never before has any council imposed its will like this on an executive to ensure a high caliber nomination for one of the county’s most important positions.

Grade: A+

Fox subsidy (November)

I have written about this again and again. It could take a while, but this decision is going to come back to haunt the council.

Grade: F

Overall

Setting aside OPEB and corporate welfare for Fox, the council’s record is pretty decent on a number of issues. And the council was magnificent in forcing Elrich to hire a competent police chief. Year two should be more challenging, especially if the county’s lackluster economic performance forces tough choices on the budget.

Overall grade: B

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MoCo Political Awards 2019

By Adam Pagnucco.

The year 2019 is in the books and it’s time for some political awards, both good and bad.  Buckle up!

Best Freshman Elected Official (County): District 1 Council Member Andrew “Real Deal” Friedson

Let’s go to the lab and create the perfect politician.  We shall start with brains and policy experience.  The person has to be a life-long district resident who roams it constantly, addressing issues large and small.  The person has to hire good staff.  The person has to have the guts to vote no when everyone else votes yes.  Fiscal expertise counts too.  Add it all up and we just created Andrew “Real Deal” Friedson, the new star of the county council.  As a freshman, Friedson is still at the beginning of his elected career.  But his ability is off the charts and the Real Deal has just begun living up to his nickname.

Best Freshman Elected Official (State): District 18 Delegate Jared Solomon

True story: when candidate Jared Solomon was running for a seat in the statehouse, he was one of the very few politicians ever who mailed me a hand-written thank-you letter after our introductory interview.  Since then, he has become an energetic and conscientious Delegate who jumped feet-first into his district’s two biggest issues: the Beltway project and school construction.  Solomon is both one of the smartest people in the room and one of the nicest.  That’s hard to pull off for anyone not named Jamie Raskin.

Reporter of the Year: Caitlynn Peetz, Bethesda Beat

You might think that news on public schools is boring.  If so, you have never read Caitlynn Peetz’s riveting stories on the rapes at Damascus High School and parental clashes over MCPS’s boundary study.  Peetz loves her vocation and it shows.  She digs deeper and works harder than just about anyone else in local media.  She also happens to be a kind, generous and funny person.  How does someone like that wind up in the press?

Will Not Fade Away Award: Brandy Brooks

Most of the county council candidates who did not win in 2018 have faded from the public eye, at least for now.  Not Brandy Brooks.  She maintained her profile with a strong, though unsuccessful, run for planning board and has retained a loyal following among many county progressives.  Last year, I predicted that Brooks would have a great chance to win if she ever runs again and I am now more confident of that than ever.

Most Meaningless New Law of the Year: Liquor Monopoly Name Change

As of July, the county’s Department of Liquor Control was renamed Alcohol Beverage Services.  Does anyone care?  Aside from whatever companies were paid to change the name on the signs and business cards, the answer is a big fat NO.

Whiplash Award #1

In November, the council voted in favor of a bill mandating 30-hour work weeks for some janitors that its own staff predicted would “likely” kill building services jobs.  Two weeks later, the council passed a resolution calling for a renewed commitment to economic development.

Whiplash Award #2

Also in November, the council unanimously passed a new law mandating consideration of racial equity in all county activities.  A week later, the council voted to give $500,000 in tax money to a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation.

Labor Union of the Year: MCGEO

How do you get a 6% raise?  You jump up and down and demand a 9% raise, and then when you get 6%, you grudgingly accept it and resolve to come back for the rest later.  2019 will go down as yet another year when MCGEO proved its immense value to its members.

Activists of the Year: YIMBYs

In most years, Council Member Hans Riemer’s bill to liberalize restrictions on accessory dwelling units would have encountered rough sledding and maybe outright defeat.  Not in 2019, as MoCo’s YIMBYs – the acronym stands for “yes in my backyard” – sprang into action and helped get the bill passed.  YIMBYs, unlike NIMBYs, believe MoCo needs more housing and they have emerged as one of the county’s more effective, albeit loosely organized, issue groups.  Additionally, the YIMBY MoCo Facebook page has become one of the most interesting venues for policy and political discussions in the county.  If the YIMBYs get more numerous and better organized, they could have a real impact on the next county election.

Do Not Mess with Me Award: Bob Dorfman

When Council Member Hans Riemer released information showing that county liquor stores were losing money, Alcohol Beverage Services Director Bob Dorfman blew him to smithereens.  Read this quote from WUSA Channel 9 but hide the children first!

“We have an ill-informed councilmember who has got a politically motivated campaign that’s taking something purely out of context because he as a councilmember should have been smart enough to know that a plan had already been put in place almost a year ago that addresses each of the components of the loss,” Alcohol Beverage Services Director Robert Dorfman said.

Dorfman said the county has already cut the stores’ losses by $2-million a year, and hopes they’ll turn a $5-million dollar profit within a few years.

He said Riemer was needlessly panicking employees who work at the stores. “Mr. Riemer, by putting out all this stuff to the press, is causing those employees, hard-working, good, county employees, that he supposedly represents, obviously he’s not doing it very well, obviously he doesn’t care much, those employees are getting calls from customers and family members asking them whether they’re going to have jobs,” Dorfman said.

This is not the first time Dorfman has slammed a liquor monopoly critic.  He once went after Seventh State founder David Lublin too.  All of this has me feeling jealous.  I’m one of the fiercest opponents of the liquor monopoly around and I have written countless columns denouncing it.  What do I have to do to get you to spank me, Bob?

Retirement of the Year: Glenn Orlin

Former county council deputy staff director Glenn Orlin is one of the great heroes of county government who is unknown by much of the general public.  In a decades-long career in both the state and county governments, Glenn has become one of the foremost experts on capital budgets and transportation in all of Maryland.  The council relied on his incredible institutional knowledge, his expertise and his good judgment as much as any other single staff member.  What makes Glenn truly great is not just his competence and experience, but his patience, generosity and ability to teach others.  His legacy includes a huge portfolio of transportation projects, including his beloved Purple Line, as well as generations of folks who have learned from him – including me.  Glenn is still doing contract work for the council, but whoever eventually succeeds him will have very big shoes to fill.

That’s all until next year!

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Thanks, Adam

Thanksgiving seems a perfect time to say thanks to Adam Pagnucco. For many years, Adam wrote many wonderful posts for Seventh State and its predecessor, Maryland Politics Watch. Combining his penchant for bringing hidden information to light with his wicked sense of humor and insightful analysis, Adam kept everyone jumping and uncovered many stories before the local news media.

Adam has now moved his writings over to Bethesda Beat, an invaluable online news source for all things Montgomery County. He’s already doing an excellent job of ruffling feathers over there, most recently with his column asking if Montgomery is becoming a second-class county.

I’m incredible grateful for all that Adam has contributed to Seventh State over the years from his smart private insights to his great blog posts. I’m even more thankful for his generous friendship, which I know will continue no matter where he hangs his hat.

Happy Thanksgiving to Adam and to all of Seventh State’s dedicated readership.

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LIUNA’s Endorsement of Hogan is a Big Deal

By Adam Pagnucco.

In politics, it’s an iron law that unions always endorse Democrats, yeah?  Labor is known for supplying money and manpower to the Democratic Party in an alliance dating back decades.  But the truth is more complicated owing to the complexities within the labor movement little appreciated by outsiders.  And that truth just erupted in the Governor’s race in a big way.

Recently, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), one of the largest unions in the country, endorsed Republican Governor Larry Hogan.  As the Washington Post noted, LIUNA had supported Hogan’s 2014 opponent, then-Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, and gave him a last-minute $500,000 loan.  Why is this such a big deal?

First, LIUNA is in part a building trades union.  A big chunk of its half a million members work in the construction industry alongside unions representing carpenters, electricians, operating engineers, iron workers, bricklayers and more.  Accordingly, it has an interest in landing construction projects for its members.  The Post reported, “A spokesman for the union said it is backing Hogan because of his emphasis on building roads and bridges – particularly his $9 billion proposal to add toll plans to Maryland’s most congested highways.”  LIUNA Mid-Atlantic Vice President Dennis Martire added, “Transportation infrastructure continues to take a back seat for many elected officials… It’s refreshing to see Governor Hogan’s proposed plans for Maryland’s roads and highways.”  Local organizations affiliated with two other building trades unions – the Roofers and the Plumbers and Pipefitters – have also endorsed Hogan.  Don’t be surprised if more trades climb on board.

Second, LIUNA is one of the most diverse unions in the country.  It represents large numbers of African Americans and Latinos who are not as socially conservative as the other trades and public safety unions that are supporting Hogan.  Many LIUNA members are government employees, and in Montgomery County, the union represents trash haulers who are employed by county contractors.  The union’s legislative agenda goes beyond traditional building trades issues.  In endorsing Rich Madaleno in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, the union cited his work on earned sick leave and the $15 minimum wage.  LIUNA also endorsed Marc Elrich for County Executive.  That’s right, folks – here is an organization that supported Madaleno, Elrich, Brown AND Hogan.

Third, LIUNA spends massive amounts on Maryland political campaigns.  From 2005 through June 2018, the union contributed $2.2 million to Maryland candidates, PACs and independent expenditure committees.  Its biggest expenditures were $678,065 to the Clean Slate Baltimore PAC opposing 2016 Mayor candidate (and former Mayor) Sheila Dixon; $528,500 to Anthony Brown’s 2014 campaign for Governor; $150,000 to the One State One Future Super PAC for Brown; $78,250 to the state Democratic Party; and $35,000 to the Progressive Maryland PAC that ran negative TV ads against County Executive candidate David Blair.  There is no indication that the union will spend any money promoting Hogan, who – Lord knows! – doesn’t need more money.  But LIUNA’s resources are now off the table for Democratic nominee Ben Jealous, who could have used them.

Speaking of Progressive Maryland, LIUNA is one of their dues-paying affiliates.  That didn’t stop Progressive Maryland from criticizing LIUNA’s endorsement of Hogan on Facebook, an almost unheard-of act by an umbrella group against a member.  That’s how much LIUNA’s choice stings the left.

Finally, consider this.  One of the most remarkable findings in the recent Gonzales poll showing a sixteen-point lead for Hogan over Jealous was its estimates for Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.  Those are two jurisdictions Jealous needs to win by big margins, but the poll shows him leading Hogan by six points in the City and thirteen points in Prince George’s.  We are skeptical that those margins will hold.  But to the extent that middle-class African Americans are a key to the election, it’s hard to think of many labor unions that represent more middle-class African Americans than LIUNA.

There’s a long way to go to Election Day and Jealous still has some large and powerful groups behind him.  But none of this is good for the Democrats.  Hogan must be smiling all the way to the hiring hall and beyond.

Disclosure: The author worked for LIUNA in 1994 and 1995 and spent sixteen years working for building trades unions.

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MoCo Gubernatorial Primary: Precinct Results

By Adam Pagnucco.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous won every county in Maryland in the Democratic primary except Prince George’s and Calvert, where Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker outpolled him.  In MoCo, Jealous received 35.6% of the vote and Baker received 32.5%, a difference of 3.1 points.  The precinct results we show below only include election day votes, which accounted for 68% of the votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in MoCo.  Still, they show the patterns of voting for Jealous and Baker as well as for Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18), who finished third in the county, and former Michelle Obama aide Krish Vignarajah, who finished fourth.

Overall, MoCo saw a two-man race between Jealous and Baker.  Madaleno was a distant third; he finished first in Kensington but no higher than third anywhere else, including in District 18.  Vignarajah was fourth overall but finished third in Council District 2, State Legislative District 39 and several areas mostly located in Upcounty.  Generally speaking, Baker did well in white, wealthy areas in the southwest while Jealous won almost everywhere else.

Jealous’s Five Best Local Areas

  • Brookeville: 48% (first)
  • Takoma Park and Damascus: 46% (first)
  • Montgomery Village: 43% (first)
  • Silver Spring East County: 43% (first)

Jealous’s Five Worst Local Areas

  • Bethesda: 31% (second)
  • Leisure World: 31% (second)
  • Potomac: 28% (second)
  • Kensington: 28% (third)
  • Chevy Chase: 25% (second)

Baker’s Five Best Local Areas

  • Cabin John: 41% (first)
  • Bethesda: 39% (first)
  • Leisure World: 39% (first)
  • Potomac: 39% (first)
  • Chevy Chase: 38% (first)

Baker’s Five Worst Local Areas

  • Glenmont/Norbeck: 25% (second)
  • Clarksburg: 24% (second)
  • Poolesville: 24% (second)
  • Brookeville: 24% (second)
  • Damascus: 21% (second)

The racial differences in voting between Jealous and Baker can be easily seen in the demographic splits.  Baker won majority white precincts and the size of his advantage grew as the white percentage rose.  Jealous won “majority minority” precincts by 14 points.

One more factor to consider is the Washington Post, which endorsed Baker and attacked Jealous.  In a forthcoming blog post, we will compare the performance of Council At-Large candidates endorsed by the Post to those who were endorsed by MCEA.  The Post candidates’ performance was strongest compared to those supported by MCEA in Chevy Chase, Cabin John, Bethesda and Potomac – many of the same places where Baker performed best and Jealous performed worst.

We show the full splits below.

  

While Jealous won MoCo, he lost in the wealthy areas that tend to have disproportionate numbers of campaign contributors.  That’s an important fact to note since Jealous is trailing Governor Larry Hogan badly in fundraising from MoCo.  Jealous should tap into any MoCo surrogates he has, especially in Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Potomac and Kensington, to help him fortify those areas and raise money from them.  If they don’t come around to the Democratic nominee, Jealous’s path to Government House will be that much harder.

Next, we will begin looking at the County Executive candidates.

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MoCo Democratic Turnout: Precinct Results

By Adam Pagnucco.

Data Christmas has arrived as precinct results from the primary are now available from the State Board of Elections! We have been busy crunching them and will now begin rolling them out for our beloved readers.  Let’s start today with turnout among MoCo Democrats.

Overall, MoCo Democratic turnout was 35% in the 2018 primary, higher than the state average of 29%.  MoCo ranked second to Talbot County among the state’s 24 jurisdictions on this measure.  MoCo’s rate of 35% was higher than it was in 2010 and 2014 (26% each time) but lower than 2006 (40%) and 2002 (45%).  Still, being second in the state after being in the middle of the pack in the last two gubernatorial cycles is a good thing for MoCo.

Looking inside the county, there were vast differences in Democratic turnout between local areas.  Here are the five highest rates and the five lowest.

Highest Democratic Turnout Rates

Leisure World: 52%

Chevy Chase: 49%

Cabin John: 47%

Kensington: 45%

Takoma Park and Bethesda: 44%

Lowest Democratic Turnout Rates

Burtonsville and Damascus: 28%

Montgomery Village: 27%

Clarksburg: 27%

Germantown: 26%

Glenmont/Norbeck: 24%

These differences were reflected in state legislative and council districts.  Council District 1 led with 45% while Council District 2 was last with 28%.  State Legislative District 16 led with 44% while District 39 was last with 26%.  In the Democratic Crescent – the areas inside and near the Beltway that sent Jamie Raskin to Congress – turnout was 44%.  That compares to turnout rates of 29% in Upcounty and 34% in the rest of the county.

In precincts where support for term limits in 2016 was less than 65%, turnout was 42%.  In precincts where support for term limits was more than 80%, turnout was 31%.  This suggests confirmation of a post we wrote before the primary: Democrats who voted for term limits were less likely to vote in the primary.

Another factor that stands out is the differences among precincts based on their racial composition.  We have been matching precincts to racial data from Census tracts since the 2006 cycle.  (We have redone this numerous times since then to accommodate the 2010 Census and shifting precinct borders.)  Among majority white precincts, Democratic turnout was 41% and turnout rose as white percentage increased.  Among “majority minority” precincts, Democratic turnout was 29% and that rate fell as the white percentage declined.  Precincts that were more than 33% Latino had a combined turnout rate of 26%.

We show the full splits below.

These patterns of higher turnout in white areas, wealthy areas and the Democratic Crescent and lower turnout in Upcounty, areas with lots of people of color and lower income areas had a powerful impact on the races for Governor, County Executive and County Council At-Large.  We will begin looking at those races soon.

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Who is Paying for RGA’s Campaign?

By Adam Pagnucco.

As we have previously written, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) has launched a TV and mail campaign promoting Governor Larry Hogan and attacking Democratic nominee Ben Jealous.  RGA is a 527, not a PAC or a federal political committee regulated by the FEC, and since the Citizens United decision it is free to advocate for and against candidates.  However, in Maryland, it is registered as an Independent Expenditure (IE) Committee and must disclose its contributions and expenditures.

Below are the 21 entities (17 organizations and 4 individuals) who have contributed to RGA’s Maryland IE account.  They have combined to contribute $1,037,500 to the campaign.  All but one (Gary Mangum of Bell Nursery) are from out of state.

The four healthcare and pharmaceutical companies contributed $300,000, which is interesting considering that Jealous is known for advocating single payer healthcare.  Indeed, one of RGA’s TV ads slams Jealous’s healthcare proposal over its alleged cost.  The $100,000 contribution by student testing firm Data Recognition Corporation is also noteworthy.  Is it seeking contracts in Maryland?

One more item from the IE filings stands out: the vendors collecting its money are all based out of state.  Are there no consultants based in Maryland who are capable of doing political work?  So far, the IE has spent $1,648,663 on TV, online ads, mail and consulting fees.  Compare that to the $2.9 million raised by Jealous’s campaign for the entire cycle.

RGA’s last IE report was dated July 11.  If the campaign continues, there will be more reports.  Who knows how much they will spend by the time they are done?

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Hogan is Blowing Out Jealous in MoCo Fundraising

By Adam Pagnucco.

Montgomery County is sometimes referred to as “the ATM of Maryland.”  That’s because it’s the largest single source of tax revenue for the state and generates much of the state aid that is sent to other jurisdictions.  But in politics, MoCo is also the ATM of statewide Democratic politicians.  U.S. Senators, Governors, Attorneys General, Comptrollers and candidates for those offices are heavily dependent on the county for political money.  Sure, they raise money from Downtown Baltimore, Roland Park, Towson, Pikesville, Owings Mills and Annapolis too, but from a fundraising perspective, nothing compares to the mansions of Chevy Chase, Bethesda and Potomac.

Now there’s a new person claiming MoCo as his political ATM.  He’s not a Democrat.  He is Republican Governor Larry Hogan, and he is blowing out the Democratic nominee, Ben Jealous.

Hogan’s fundraising edge is well known.  But what has not been previously reported is how much money he is raising from Montgomery County.  The table below shows that he has raised $13.5 million over the cycle with $1.5 million coming from MoCo.  That’s about five times the $303,376 amount that MoCo donors have given to Jealous.

Hogan’s edge in business fundraising is huge; Jealous only received three contributions from MoCo business entities totaling $1,750.  But Hogan has a 5-to-1 edge in MoCo individual contributions too and it is not solely due to big checks.  Hogan’s average contribution from MoCo individuals is $239; for Jealous, that figure is $196.  Do the rough math and it’s obvious that waaaaaaaay more people in MoCo have given money to Hogan than Jealous.

How does this compare to previous races?  Below we compare fundraising by the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial tickets over the last four cycles.  Running mate accounts are included.  MoCo results are shown at top and grand totals are shown at bottom.  All data is through June 10, the cutoff for the most recent 2018 report, to make the data comparable across cycles.

Of the prior three cycles, 2006 is the most comparable to the present day since it had a GOP Governor and a Democratic challenger.  One difference was that Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley was running against MoCo Executive Doug Duncan, who had a natural advantage in MoCo fundraising.  Even so, O’Malley did not trail Governor Bob Ehrlich by much in MoCo and had a modest advantage in total fundraising.  In the next two cycles, the Democrats blew out the GOP nominees in both MoCo and in total raised.  Interestingly, Hogan’s MoCo fundraising this cycle is similar to the amounts raised from MoCo by O’Malley in 2010 and the Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman team in 2014.  Meanwhile, Jealous’s MoCo fundraising is in the same ballpark as what Ehrlich collected from the county in 2010.

That means the Hogan-Jealous gap, both in MoCo and overall, is extremely unusual by historical standards.  It’s not surprising that an incumbent Governor would lead in fundraising.  It IS surprising that he would blow out a challenger in the number one financial stronghold for the opposing party by five to one.  And Hogan is doing that with former Maryland Democratic Party Chair and long-time MoCo player Susan Turnbull on Jealous’s ticket.

Jealous became the Democratic nominee shortly after this reporting period closed.  With his primary rivals out of the way, he should begin raising more money from MoCo and other Democratic money sources soon.  But the financial gap he has against Hogan is probably too big to be closed.  And a big reason for that is Hogan’s support from MoCo donors.

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Did the MVA Voter Issue Change Any Maryland Primary Results?

By Adam Pagnucco.

The failure of the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to transfer data on some voters who changed their registration information to the State Board of Elections (SBE) has attracted lots of attention from the press and members of the General Assembly.  Here is a key question: did it actually change the outcomes of any elections?  New data allows us to examine this issue.

Recently, SBE sent the General Assembly the number of voters affected by the MVA registration change issue by party, precinct, state legislative district and Congressional district.  We show the total number of voters affected by state legislative district below.  (Note:  The data does not include all potentially impacted voters because SBE cannot map all addresses on file with MVA to addresses in the voter registration list.)

Now what happened to these voters?  These are folks who tried to change their voter registration address or party affiliation at MVA and, unfortunately, the changes were not passed on to SBE.  One of five events would have happened to these voters.

Possibility 1: 5,163 affected voters voted normally because they changed addresses within the same area.  We don’t have their distribution by legislative district.

Possibility 2: They could have voted through a provisional ballot which was subsequently accepted.

Possibility 3: They could have voted through a provisional ballot which was subsequently rejected.

Possibility 4: They could have been told at the polling place that they must cast a provisional ballot and then left without voting.

Possibility 5: They may not have tried to vote at all.

Right now, we don’t know the distribution in each one of the above five event categories.  We do know that the number of affected voters who voted provisionally was 3,538 but we don’t know how many of those ballots were rejected.  Possibility 4 – leaving the polling location without voting – is the most unknowable of all and also the most disturbing.  It’s also a very real possibility as illustrated by Maryland Matters’ report of this exchange at a General Assembly hearing between SBE Administrator Linda Lamone and two state legislators.

Del. Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery) seemed concerned that while the estimated overall turnout statewide was about 25 percent, among the affected voters – roughly 8,700 affected voters who used either provisional or regular ballots – the turnout was less than 10 percent.

“Is it reasonable to say that this may have had a deterrent effect on voters, or are you concerned that it could have had a deterrent effect on voters?” Luedtke asked.

“Yes,” Lamone replied.

“That’s a key issue for us,” Luedtke said.

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), vice chairman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, asked Lamone if she knew of any studies that showed the use of a provisional ballot was “dissuasive.”

“I have seen some discussion of that, senator,” she said. “I haven’t seen the numbers, but I have seen some discussion that people believe that it’s less than a vote – it’s not a real ballot.”

Under further questioning by Pinsky, Lamone agreed that voters could have been put off by the prospect of using a provisional ballot.

“There could be some number of voters out there who didn’t vote because of this error?” Pinsky asked.

“That’s correct,” Lamone replied.

Did any primary election results change because of this mistake?  We will never be able to answer that question, but we can identify some elections that were close enough so that an impact was possible.  Below are eight races across the state in which the number of voters affected by the MVA issue was at least five times the winning margin held by the victor.

This does not include the Baltimore County Executive race (a seventeen-vote margin after recount) or the Howard County Council District 1 race (a six-vote margin after recount) because their boundaries do not match state legislative district data, but obviously, they could have been affected.  Other than those two races, the ones in which the MVA mistake had the greatest probability of affecting the election were the contests for Montgomery County Executive and House District 16.  In the MoCo Executive race, Marc Elrich led by 492 votes in early and election day voting and David Blair led by 73 votes in provisional voting.  That compares to a total of 5,381 MoCo Democrats affected by the MVA issue.

Going forward, there are two areas of concern.  First, there must not be a recurrence of this issue in the general election.  And second, now that the state has passed automatic voter registration, a law that mandates the passing of voter information between numerous state agencies and SBE, the potential for the kinds of problems seen at MVA is now greatly magnified.  Imagine the chaos that would result from MANY thousands of voters showing up to the polls thinking they had registered but then finding out that SBE did not have their information.  It would make the MVA issue look tiny and would have the potential to affect a whole lot more elections.

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