Category Archives: Adam Pagnucco

Delauter Says Civil War Was About “True Freedom,” Not Race

By Adam Pagnucco.

Frederick County Council Member Kirby Delauter once threatened to sue the Frederick News-Post for using his name without permission.  That statement wound up spreading all over the country, making Delauter by far the most well-known politician in Frederick.  But now, Delauter has accomplished an almost impossible feat by topping that quote.  On Facebook, he has declared that the Civil War and current social disruptions were not about race, but “about true freedom.”

In a Facebook post yesterday, Delauter wrote, “Growing up I never really understood how Americans could fight each other in a civil war…….. I’m starting to understand how that happened…….and how close we are to repeating history.”  Many people might agree with that statement.  But then he followed up with, “And it wasn’t about race then and it’s not about race now. It’s always been about true freedom.”

Actually, the Civil War was all about race since the primary reason the Southern states seceded was to protect slavery.  This is a proven fact given what the Confederate states themselves said in their declarations of secession.  States’ rights, the argument for the war which was subsequently made up in an attempt to whitewash history decades later, does not appear in the declarations but slavery is mentioned over and over.  Georgia and South Carolina specifically criticized the federal government for not forcing Northern states to send back escaped slaves and punish those who aided them.  This is an argument AGAINST states’ rights and certainly against “true freedom.”  Here’s a sample from the declarations.

Mississippi

In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

Texas

Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery– the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits– a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?

The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slaveholding States.

Georgia

The faithless conduct of our adversaries is not confined to such acts as might aggrandize themselves or their section of the Union. They are content if they can only injure us. The Constitution declares that persons charged with crimes in one State and fleeing to another shall be delivered up on the demand of the executive authority of the State from which they may flee, to be tried in the jurisdiction where the crime was committed. It would appear difficult to employ language freer from ambiguity, yet for above twenty years the non-slave-holding States generally have wholly refused to deliver up to us persons charged with crimes affecting slave property. Our confederates, with punic faith, shield and give sanctuary to all criminals who seek to deprive us of this property or who use it to destroy us. This clause of the Constitution has no other sanction than their good faith; that is withheld from us; we are remediless in the Union; out of it we are remitted to the laws of nations.

South Carolina

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

As for what is happening now, it’s all about race.  Anyone who doubts that should watch this video made by a reporter who embedded herself with the racists and anti-Semites who marched in Charlottesville.  Listen to what they say and what their intentions are.  They leave little doubt about their agenda.

It’s hard to commit a bigger gaffe than Delauter’s threat to sue a newspaper for “unauthorized” use of his name.  But Delauter has accomplished the impossible by claiming that the Civil War and current social disruptions are about “true freedom” and not race.  Delauter is currently running for County Executive.  Frederick County voters will have several choices for that office in both parties who are vastly superior to Delauter.  Hopefully they will end his political career once and for all.

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Leggett Backs Away from Junk Science Study

By Adam Pagnucco.

County Executive Ike Leggett, who commissioned a county-financed study on the impact of a minimum wage increase blasted by the Economic Policy Institute as “absurd junk science,” is backing away from its results.  Leggett asked in a letter to the study’s authors that they review the methodology and findings in their report.  He also revealed that his administration had “received word from your firm that there might be a problem with the methodology and calculation of fiscal impact and resulting job impacts.  You have indicated that the job losses might be less than what is expressed in the report.”

Let’s recall that this very same firm prepared a study recommending retention of MoCo’s liquor monopoly – a study that did not include review of your author’s proposal to replace its revenue.  If the minimum wage study is so flawed that the Executive is retreating from it, what does that say about this same company’s work on the liquor monopoly?

It’s worth noting that the Executive’s letter to the study’s authors comes at the exact same time that the County Council is sending him an exhaustive list of questions about the study’s methodology.  The council is set to review the study in public next month.  One line of questioning examines the minimum wage bill’s impact on county labor costs, which could range into the tens of millions of dollars.  That issue is sure to become more prominent in time.

We reproduce the Executive’s letter below.

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MoCo’s Essential Man

By Adam Pagnucco.

Ever wonder why some politicians stay in office waaaaaay too long?  One reason is that some of them believe they are truly essential and that government would collapse without them.  We will give them this: some politicians really do leave a lasting mark, and even sometimes for the better!  But the true operations of government depend on legions of competent, honest and experienced public servants who are almost totally unknown to the public.  These are the essential men and women who keep the trains of government running on time.  And in Montgomery County, the most essential man of all is unquestionably Steve Farber.

Farber has one of the most mundane titles of all time: council administrator.  At first glance, such a title connotes unglamorous tasks like emptying garbage pails, cleaning windows, wiping the dais and changing toilet paper rolls.  But in fact, the position is crucial to the proper functioning of the County Council and Farber excels at it.  Unfortunately for all of us, he is retiring.

Part of Farber’s job is to be the leader of the council’s Fifth Floor staff.  These employees are not part of the personal staff retained by Council Members in their offices but are rather central, merit system analysts who advise the institution as a whole.  They are subject matter experts, each overseeing the operations of a few departments and/or agencies on behalf of the council.  When legislation is introduced, briefings are held or budget items are considered, the Fifth Floor analyst who covers the relevant subject areas gathers pertinent information and writes it up for the council to consider.  Occasionally, the analyst will make recommendations with the understanding that Council Members have the final word.  At its best, the Fifth Floor acts as a check and balance on the views of the departments and agencies overseen by the council.  It is hugely important for Council Members to have their own independent sources of expertise; otherwise, they might tend to see primarily what the Executive Branch and the agencies want them to see.  The Fifth Floor predated Farber’s arrival, but he expanded their ranks, protects their independence and champions their contributions.

But Farber is so much more than the merit staff’s leader.  He is the ultimate consigliere, the quiet adviser in the shadows who knows all and says little – at least in public.  His immense and largely secret power derives from three sources.

Institutional Knowledge

Farber has been at the council since 1991 and has an incredible memory.  No matter what the council deals with in the present, he has seen something like it in the past and recalls it like yesterday.  Names, dates, policies, documents – whatever it is, Farber either knows it or knows how to get it.  Few people in county government compare to him on this measure and no Council Member comes anywhere close.  That gap in knowledge can put Farber in the driver’s seat when no one can really see that he’s driving.

Cautious Use of Political Capital

Another secret of Farber’s success is that he spends his political capital very carefully.  He is concerned with budgetary and fiscal issues, especially ones affecting long-term sustainability and the bond rating, but it is otherwise rare for him to weigh in directly on legislation or policy issues.  By picking his spots carefully and not squandering his power, Farber maximizes his ability to influence the big picture events that he cares about most.

Finding Money for the Reconciliation List

Every year, the council proposes to add millions of dollars to the Executive’s recommended budget.  Their vehicle is the reconciliation list, which is a ledger of spending additions and reductions that must be balanced out at the end.  One of Farber’s tasks is to find a way to pay for this list.  No one else in the building fully understands how he does this.  His unique, encyclopedic knowledge of the county budget enables him to locate money under the couch cushions that few others know about.  Try as they might, it is impossible for the Executive Branch to hide money from Farber.  He never funds the entire reconciliation list – and constantly warns the Council Members (often futilely) not to overstock it – but he finances enough of it that the council is usually satisfied.  It’s an incredible and invisible source of power.

How does he pull all of this off?  It’s a great mystery, but sometimes there are clues.  First, he never gets involved in politics, NEVER.  He never takes sides in spats between Council Members or tries to steer politically sensitive things like who gets selected as Council President.  Second, he never takes credit for anything.  If you listen to Farber, he has never had a good idea.  Instead, it’s Council Members from the past who have done great things – even if they really originated with Farber.  When he talks to current Council Members, he will remind them of these past accomplishments and suggest similar monumental undertakings.  If a Council Member agrees, then the idea becomes his or hers – and not Farber’s.  The consigliere will then praise the enlightened ideas of the boss!  Third, he never makes arguments based on personal or political concerns, only on facts – of which he is the undisputed master.  And fourth, his discretion is second to none.  The CIA could waterboard every person in the council building and Farber is the one who would never talk.  Everyone knows this.  That’s why they talk to him.  And that’s why the consigliere knows more than the rest of them.

For all his greatness, Farber has had ups and downs like everybody.  For many years, he was a lonely voice calling for fiscal restraint, occasionally joined by Council Members Phil Andrews and Marilyn Praisner.  That earned him the resentment of union leaders and agency heads who prefer loose purse strings.  Farber got his way during the Great Recession, when the council had little choice but to cut spending and abrogate labor contracts, and he played a big role in saving the county’s bond rating.  But the subsequent easing of fiscal pressure allowed the council to start spending again, resulting in the Giant Tax Hike and the passage of term limits.  If the council had listened to Farber all along and passed regular modest, restrained budgets, there’s a chance those things may not have happened.

County residents have benefited mightily from Farber’s service even though the huge majority of them have no idea who he is.  His dedication to facts over rhetoric, his devotion to sound fiscal management, his work to have the council act as a real check on the Executive Branch and above all his iron integrity have made county government more honest and efficient than it would otherwise be.

Farewell to MoCo’s Essential Man.

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Conservatives Spread MoCo Junk Science Far and Wide

By Adam Pagnucco.

Discussion of Montgomery County’s minimum wage study, branded “absurd junk science” by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), is spreading like wildfire through online conservative outlets.  It is now fortifying right-wing arguments against minimum wage hikes all over the United States.

The study, exposed by EPI, Seventh State and economists interviewed by Bethesda Magazine as possessing numerous crippling methodological problems, has nevertheless been embraced by right-wing online media.  That includes articles by Fox News, Breitbart, Townhall.com, Young Conservatives, the New Right News, the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, L. Brent Bozell’s CNSNews, the Job Creators Network’s Information Station, the Washington Free Beacon, a Washington Examiner columnist, a Forbes Magazine columnist, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Economic Collapse News. Because the conservative echo chamber cross-pollinates its content, it’s probably just a matter of time before the study makes its way to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other big-time right-wing hosts.

It’s worth noting what a few of these outlets are saying.

Forbes Magazine columnist Tim Worstall:

The study’s findings are pretty bleak:

The county’s current minimum wage is $11.50. The study concluded that an $11 hourly wage was the local market rate needed to attract and retain employees. It found that increasing the wage would cost the county an additional $10 million per year to increase county employee wages.

The report found there are about 88,000 “low-wage jobs” in the county, in which employees make $1,250 or less per month that could be affected by the minimum-wage increase.

Economic Collapse News:

Study after study, report after report, common sense continually highlight a crucial fact: a $15 minimum wage results in lost jobs, lower pay, less work for workers and jobs that are not being created.

The Daily Wire:

In all, raising the minimum wage to $15 would result in the loss of $396.5 million of income in the county by 2022.  And even Democrats — or smart ones — know what a $15 minimum wage would do to low-income workers.

Washington Examiner Columnist Ron Meyer:

A county considering raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour commissioned a study on the impacts of the hike, and the results are staggering. It should serve as a wake-up call to other localities considering large increases…

For those who care about empowering low-income Americans and lifting workers out of poverty, the mounting evidence and data show raising the minimum wage to $15 isn’t compassionate, just, or charitable. It kills opportunity and creates more poverty, especially for young Americans trying to build their skill sets and make ends meet.

Those still doing #FightFor15 have important questions to answer: Why are you ignoring evidence that hurts low-wage workers? If you don’t care that it hurts low-wage workers, what are your real motives? Aren’t there other anti-poverty policy measures you can fight for that would be more productive?

None of these right-wing publications question the study’s methodology.  They embrace it uncritically because it agrees with their worldview.  And as other governments consider their minimum wage policies, the study will be used to discourage increases.  State Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18), lead sponsor of a $15 state minimum wage bill last year, debunked the study on WBAL radio but it will surely come up again.

We do not criticize County Executive Ike Leggett for being concerned about the employment effects of the minimum wage bill.  At some point, an excessively high minimum wage will lead to employment losses and business shutdowns that outweigh the positive benefits for workers who keep their jobs.  At present, no one knows what level of minimum wage that is.  But the MoCo junk science study, which cost the county $149,600, does not help us determine that wage level one bit.  What it does is give aid and comfort to right-wing ideologues who are willing to use any “information,” however flawed, to push their agenda.

Is that a worthy purpose for your tax dollars?

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Is an Incumbent Delegate Getting Pushed Out?

By Adam Pagnucco.

In 2006, Senator P.J. Hogan and Delegates Nancy King and Charles Barkley became fed up with their District 39 colleague, Delegate Joan Stern.  Four months before the election, Hogan, King and Barkley announced that they would not be running with Stern for reelection.  Barkley told the Gazette, “She’s being dropped… I would say it just was not working as a team. I think the three of us [Hogan, King and Barkley] really work well as a team, but not the four of us.”  That left Stern vulnerable to challenger Saqib Ali, who later picked up the Apple Ballot and defeated her.

Is this happening again in Anne Arundel County?

Legislative District 32, which occupies the northern tip of Anne Arundel, is currently represented by four Democrats: Senator James “Ed” DeGrange (first elected in 1998), Delegate Ted Sophocleus (1998), Delegate Pam Beidle (2006) and Delegate Mark Chang (2014).  The Republicans have not come close to knocking out DeGrange in recent years, but they sometimes come within a thousand votes or so in the House races.  (Chang ran unsuccessfully as a Republican in 2006.)

Democratic Central Committee Member Sandy Bartlett is running for Delegate in District 32 and here’s where it gets interesting.  Since December, Bartlett’s campaign account has received contributions from DeGrange ($1,000), Beidle ($500), Senator Jim Rosapepe ($500) and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk ($500).  Rosapepe and Pena-Melnyk represent a district that includes parts of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel.  Soon after Bartlett’s announcement, Beidle wrote on Facebook, “Sandy Bartlett for Delegate in District 32!  Happy to have her join Team 32.”

Wait a minute!  DeGrange, Beidle, Chang and Sophocleus are all members of the Team 32 Slate account.  Bartlett is not.

Unless a fourth House seat is magically created (it won’t be!), someone is on the outs.  The Capital Gazette notes that none of the incumbent Delegates has announced plans to retire, although it reports speculation that Sophocleus (who is 78) might leave.  Let’s remember that Sophocleus had bypass surgery in 2014.  Additionally, Bartlett (who is African American) brings diversity and gender balance to the delegation ticket.

All of this begs the obvious question.  Is Sophocleus getting pushed out the door?

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The Post Should Hire Andrew Metcalf Right Now

By Adam Pagnucco.

MoCo’s most feared man, former Washington Post reporter Bill Turque, has left to terrorize hapless local politicians in Kansas City.  In a rare moment of self-reflection, the newspaper’s bosses have come to realize that “our digital and print readers crave local news” and have posted an ad seeking a Turque successor.  (Let’s remember that this is the same company that killed the Gazette!)  We are sure they will get many qualified applicants, but there’s one name that’s a total no-brainer:

Bethesda Magazine reporter Andrew Metcalf.

Metcalf is a Young Turque.  Just like his older counterpart, Metcalf has been ripping off political band-aids since he arrived here three years ago.  He has covered nearly everything in the county, including budgets, taxes, term limits, legislation, last year’s Congressional election, the Purple Line and much, much more.  His coverage of the liquor monopoly has been second to none, especially his exposure of Delegate Ben Kramer’s conflict of interest as a county liquor store landlord.  He obtained video of Governor Larry Hogan accusing a judge who had ruled against the Purple Line of living at a nearby country club (an inaccurate statement).  He was the first mainstream news reporter to break the news that John Delaney was running for President.  Finally, Metcalf is the author of one of our favorite local stories of all time: “Supposed Nigerian Prince, Robert Lipman Imposter File Public Information Requests with County.”  African monarchs everywhere are writing him into their wills!

Perhaps even more important than his body of work is this fact: Metcalf knows us.  He knows our elected officials, their staffers, the activists, the players and lots of people involved with our political culture.  He knows the structure of the government at both the state and county levels.  He knows our issues: schools, transportation, crime, taxes, jobs, inequality, immigration, cultural diversity and so many others.  He has a deep source network.  And he is developing that combination of respect, trust and wariness that local reporters have with political establishments.  Politicians know they need to be ready when Metcalf calls!

All of these things take time for reporters to develop.  The problem is that we don’t have a lot of time in this county.  One of the most historic elections in our county’s history is approaching in less than a year – and that’s the amount of time it takes most decent reporters to get established.  If the Post hires a brand new person who knows nothing about our county, by the time that person figures out where the bathrooms are, the election will be over.  The obvious solution is to hire a good reporter who already has years of experience covering us and that’s Metcalf.

We understand that Bethesda Magazine publisher Steve Hull is preparing to fire mortar shells at our beloved Limerick Pub in retaliation for this post.  We can’t blame him!  But for the good of the community, the good of local journalism and the good of its own bottom line, the Washington Post needs to hire Andrew Metcalf.  Right.  Frickin.  Now.

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MoCo’s Dubious Minimum Wage Survey

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Executive Branch has released its long-awaited study of the impact of MoCo’s $15 minimum wage bill and it is taking fire.  The primary objection from bill supporters is that much of the study, including the assumptions for its economic modeling, is based on an unscientific, self-selected sample of business owners who were asked to predict what they would do if the minimum wage were raised.  A senior economic analyst with the Economic Policy Institute labeled it “absurd junk science” and wrote:

The closest analogy I can think of would be if the FDA was considering approval of a new drug and instead of reviewing any studies or trials, they instead simply asked the drug company “what percentage of patients do you think this drug will harm versus help?”

Your author agrees with these criticisms.  Want to know why?  Because your author was asked to fill out the minimum wage survey!

On May 12, the county sent me the email below asking for participation in the minimum wage survey.  Note that the email says, “All responses will be anonymous, and the project team will be unable to link responses to specific businesses. Your responses will be used to inform our analysis around wage compression, job loss, and other relevant issues.”

Now, I am self-employed, but I do not own an incorporated business or employ other people.  Just out of curiosity, I clicked on the Survey Monkey link right after receiving the email.  Yes, the link worked and the survey was ready to accept responses.  If I had filled it out (and I didn’t!), by its own admission above, the survey administrator would have had no way to filter out my responses or flag them as fraudulent.

Lord knows who else got the email and exactly who filled out the survey!

Your author does not express an opinion on the policy merits of the $15 minimum wage bill.  That’s a topic for a future post.  But the minimum wage business survey is a different matter.  It was obviously subject to self-selection bias and even potential manipulation.  The fact that it was administered in flagrant violation of all known scientific surveying techniques disqualifies it from being used as a tool to evaluate public policy.

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Politicians Rejoice as Bill Turque Leaves

By Adam Pagnucco.

The most feared person in MoCo politics is not an elected official.  He’s not a union leader, a developer, a big contributor or even a blogger.  He’s Washington Post reporter Bill Turque, who has covered the MoCo beat for over four years.  Happily for politicians and unhappily for the rest of us, Turque has stepped down and it’s unclear what the Post will do next.

MoCo officials did not fully understand what they were getting when Turque began writing about the county.  Among his many previous assignments, Turque covered former D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, a FAR tougher figure than any MoCo politician.  Turque’s battle for information from the school system escalated to the point when his own bosses tried to censor him.  Then there’s the story of when the Post allowed Rhee to use one of their conference rooms to hold a meeting.  Rumor has it that Turque quietly walked in with a notepad.  Rhee was about as pleased as a bride who sees a cockroach in her wedding cake!

Politicians in MoCo had it easy from the Post until Turque showed up.  His two predecessors on the MoCo beat were Mike Laris, who wrote one or two articles a month, and Victor Zapana, who was fresh out of college.  Neither knew a lot about the county.  Turque, in contrast, was a long-time resident who quickly learned the history and the players.  Before long, inconvenient stories began appearing in the paper.  Politicians began longing for the days of scanty coverage!

How to pick the Best of Turque?  There are so many articles to choose from.  There’s the time when he outed a union-linked operative as the author of an anonymous attack website targeting former Council Member Valerie Ervin.  Then there was the article in which he called out the County Council for violating its own law on Public Information Act disclosure in taking down email addresses from the county’s website.  Council Member Marc Elrich, who has long said he turns away developer money, was caught by Turque taking money from an attorney who represents developers.  Council Member George Leventhal has yet to recover from Turque’s posting a video of his berating budget director Jennifer Hughes from the dais which was cited in Bethesda Magazine’s coverage of his Executive campaign launch.  And then there’s the Silver Spring Transit Center fiasco, the subject of countless Turque articles up to his flaying the county for getting fleeced by lawyers and experts.  Years ago, a Leggett administration official complained to me about Turque’s relentless coverage of the transit center.  Your author replied, “You can’t blame the wolf for liking the taste of meat!”

Perhaps no politician in the county will be happier to see Turque leave than David Trone.  Turque wrote a story on Trone’s political contributions early in his candidacy for Congress including the now-infamous Trone quote “I sign my checks to buy access.”  Trone’s campaign never got past that statement.  But there was more, including coverage of the Trone Spy and a Trone company’s payment of a fine for making illegal campaign contributions.  We think Trone should celebrate Turque’s retirement by instituting a blow-out sale at Total Wine.  Spread the joy, Mr. Trone!

The key to understanding Turque is that he’s an old-school, all-business reporter.  If you have real information, he’ll look at it.  If you have BS, spin or rumor that repeatedly doesn’t pan out, he sniffs it out lickety-split.  The worst thing one could ever do with Turque is tell him “there’s no story there.”  To Turque, that is proof that there actually IS a story and it will make him dig harder.  One more thing.  Your author has spent countless hours eating sushi with Turque and to this day I have no idea who he voted for.

The future after Turque is hazy at best.  The Post is searching for a successor.  It’s possible that the Post will bring on another newbie like Zapana or perhaps have its MoCo beat reporter take on work outside the county as its solicitation suggests.  Either of those possibilities would likely result in declines of coverage here.  Add that to the demise of the Gazette and the Examiner and, other than Bethesda Magazine and a couple online outlets, we could have a news desert at a time of historic change in county politics.

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Delaney Dominoes

By Adam Pagnucco.

From the perspective of political blogging (which we all know matters most!), Congressman John Delaney is the greatest Maryland politician of all time.  That’s not because of anything he has done in Congress.  (No one does anything in Congress these days!)  It’s because his decision-making has affected the races for Governor, Congress District 6, County Executive, County Council and several State Senate and House of Delegates seats.  This is an enormous bonanza for political junkies and will keep us VERY busy.  We love you, John Delaney!

Here’s a quick and dirty take on how the Delaney Dominoes are falling.

Governor

None of the Democratic candidates for Governor fit Delaney’s ideological center-left positioning.  Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who can claim that his jurisdiction has not increased either property or income taxes in twenty-five years, might come closest.  But the biggest impact of Delaney’s absence may be geographic.  With the Congressman out and former Attorney General Doug Gansler not showing signs of serious activity, Senator Rich Madaleno might be the only MoCo candidate in the race.  That’s a big deal.  If Madaleno consolidates MoCo while three African American candidates run hard in the City and Prince George’s, this race becomes very unpredictable.  (Disclosure: your author has done work for Madaleno.)

Congress District 6

Total Wine co-owner David Trone has been interviewing elected officials, activists, operatives and other local players for months as he figures out his options.  Our hunch is that he will see Delaney’s congressional district as his best play and run there.  He will join Delegates Bill Frick and Aruna Miller, Senator Roger Manno and former Democratic nominee Andrew Duck on the Democratic side.  The Republicans should have a vigorous primary too as they have a real shot at the open seat.

County Executive

If Trone runs for Congress, that will leave three term-limited Council Members – Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal – as the only Democrats running for Executive at this moment.  But given the fact that most Democrats voted for term limits and anti-tax sentiment continues to linger, it’s hard to believe that a non-Council Member will not get in.  Trone’s absence creates a void that could very well get filled.

County Council

County Council candidates will all sigh in relief if Trone runs for Congress.  That’s because there have been rumors of a Trone Slate for months in which Trone would deposit his own money in a slate account to be drawn on by allied council candidates.  With that possibility off the table, the at-large candidates are on their own.   Since most are in public financing, it’s unlikely that very many of them will accumulate large financial advantages of 3-to-1 to 4-to-1 over their nearest rivals.  That makes for very competitive races in District 1 and at-large.

State Legislative Districts

If Miller, Frick and Manno stay in the race for Congress until the end, that means there will be open seats in Districts 15, 16 and 19.  In District 15, the recent custom has been for the incumbents to pick a new candidate to fill out their slate.  (That is a big reason why Miller originally won her seat in 2010.)  The question is whether any new candidate merits such a selection.  A District 16 open seat race is like an Italian Sunday dinner: everyone shows up.  An open seat in 2010 attracted thirteen candidates and an open seat in 2014 attracted eight candidates.  There will be no rest for Delegates Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman!  Manno’s Senate seat will draw the interest of at least one Delegate, thereby creating at least one House opening.  There are already three non-incumbents who have filed for the District 19 House seats with more probably on the way.

Add the above to actual or possible races in Council District 3, Legislative District 17 (House and maybe Senate), Legislative District 18 (House and Senate), Legislative District 20 (maybe House) and Legislative District 39 (House) and that makes 2018 the most politically active year in MoCo in decades.  Enjoy folks, and remember to thank John Delaney the next time you see him!

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Washington Post Looking for Turque Successor

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Washington Post has posted an employment ad seeking a successor to recently departed MoCo beat reporter Bill Turque.  We will have much more to say about Turque soon, but for now, we re-post the ad itself.  (Andrew Metcalf, do you see this?)

*****

The Washington Post’s Metro desk is looking for a reporter to cover government and politics in Montgomery County, Maryland’s largest and perhaps most powerful jurisdiction.

This is a crucial role, as our digital and print readers crave local news. We are looking for a reporter who can provide strong and authoritative coverage of county government and elections, which are unfolding in a new era of term limits and public campaign financing. As the Metro desk continues to try to redefine local news coverage, we are looking for someone who can spot trends in Montgomery and tell readers across the nation why what’s happening in Montgomery has resonance for them. Similarly, the successful candidate will be able to explain how national issues have real-world consequences right here in Montgomery County.

Covering Montgomery County is a great opportunity to write about issues facing 21st-century suburbs, including immigration, the growing importance of mass transit and the challenges posed by aging neighborhoods and infrastructure. It’s also a great place for accountability reporting, with a budget of $5.4 billion and thousands of employees. In addition, there are nearly a million people who live in Montgomery County, and there are human stories to tell.

We are looking for a reporter who can be a collaborative part of our Maryland politics team by helping to cover the upcoming governor’s race and Congressional mid-terms.

If you are interested, please contact Debbi Wilgoren (debbi.wilgoren@washpost.com) Monica Norton (monica.norton@washpost.com), Mike Semel (mike.semel@washpost.com) or Tracy Grant (tracy.grant@washpost.com) no later than Aug. 11.

 

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