Category Archives: District 20

SEIU Fuming Over Smith Appointment

A reliable source reports that SEIU is not happy that MCDCC voted to appoint Del. Will Smith over Del. David Moon to the District 20 Senate vacancy caused by Jamie Raskin’s resignation, in order to take up his seat in the U.S. House.

Several members of the Central Committee who voted for Smith plan to seek elected office in 2018, and SEIU is already making noises about wreaking its revenge at that time. Whether this is just talk in the heat of the moment or serious, only time will tell.

The outcome is interesting if only because the current MCDCC was packed with union supporters in the wake of union unhappiness with the Committee’s support for the all-Democratic Council’s position on police bargaining.

However, while SEIU, MCGEO (county employees), UNITE and Mid-Atlantic Laborers supported Moon, the FOP (police) and IAFF (firefighters) supported Smith. Perhaps the outcome only speaks to SEIU and MCGEO’s relative influence compared to FOP and IAFF.

In any case, the group of unions that supported Moon has promised to stick together during the 2018 elections. MCGEO’s efforts to throw its weight around in 2016 were notably ineffective. We’ll see if this new coalition has any more impact.

The bitterness coming from SEIU notably contrasts with the positive tone expressed by Del. Moon and his other supporters today. On his Facebook page, Moon very graciously wrote:

Congratulations to my new Senator and homie William Colonel Smith Jr! Though I campaigned vigorously to represent the activist wing of the party, I know he’ll do a fine job. As I told the Washington Post, this is a proud moment for Montgomery County.

It’s not always easy to write notes like these. However, it was not only the right but also politically smart approach.

How MCDCC Members Voted on the D20 Senate Appointment

Here is how the members of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee voted on the District 20 Senate vacancy:

Will Smith (19)
Darrell Anderson
Mumin Barre
Juan Cardenas
Arthur Edmunds
Natalia Farrar
Loretta Jean Garcia
Marjorie Goldman
Johntel Greene
Julian Haffner
Mimi Hassanein
Jennifer Hosey
Marlin Jenkins
Aaron Kaufman
Linda Mahoney
Jonathan Prutow
Venattia Vann
Tim Whitehouse
Jheanelle Wilkins
Brenda Wolff

David Moon (8)
Luisa María Arévalo
Alan Banov
Wendy Cohen
Harold Diamond
Michael Gruenberg
Dave Kunes
Emily Shetty
Erin Yeagley

Abstained (1)
Chris Bradbury

Will Smith is the New D20 Senator

Congratulations to Will Smith on becoming the new senator from Distric 20,, after Jamie Raskin resigned in anticipation of taking his in the U.S. House of House of Representatives. Del. Smith is serving his first term in the House of Delegates, as is his major rival for the seat, Del. David Moon.

MCDCC’s choice of Del. Smith was expected at least by me, but Del. Moon put up a stronger fight than I anticipated. I look forward to seeing what soon-to-be Sen. Smith can do in the Maryland Senate and the continued service of Del. Moon, who has made an excellent start in that body.

Will Smith will be the first African-American Senator from Montgomery County–a welcome first in a county that is almost one-fifth African American. At the same time, he will bring talents to the Senate beyond racial symbolism.

Congratulations to Will Smith. Thanks also to David Moon, Darien Unger, Scott Brown, and Arthur Jackson, Jr. for throwing their hats into the ring. Now, on to filling the delegate vacancy.

 

Will Smith for Senate

This is a guest post by Terrill North:

Knocking on doors in District 20 will introduce you to national-level union bosses, campaigners for Nepal, law professors, and hundreds of professionals committed to social justice.  Our community is lucky to have so many people who care, but unfortunately, they are not always people who know.  They may not know D20 is home to the largest concentration of poverty in Montgomery County, or that the majority of children in public school qualify for free and reduced-price meals.  They may know we’re diverse, but cannot name 10 Black or Brown people whose families form the majority of the population.

I can’t knock any of the names under consideration for our soon to be vacant Senate seat, I know most of them well and can say they legitimately care.  Will Smith, however, has demonstrated the deepest connections to every corner of District 20.  I first met Will while volunteering for IMPACT Silver Spring, where he worked with AmeriCorps connecting our most vulnerable neighbors with social services. He and I later chaired Montgomery County’s Community Development Advisory Committee, which decides how to allocate several million dollars of federal funding to organizations serving marginalized communities.  Will has planted strong roots across populations that don’t always show up at the voting booth through long-term work with Gapbusters Learning Center and Gandhi Brigade.

And I don’t just mean to say that Will knows African-Americans, he started a scholarship fund for immigrant youth who did not qualify for most grants and scholarships because of their status.  He is a natural problem solver who has taken his commitment to people at the margins from this community to the state legislature.

Will has already established himself as a leader in Annapolis. In fact, Delegate Smith passed more pieces of legislation last year than any other freshman legislator and was a strong supporter and leader in getting the Second Chance Act passed.  He sponsored legislation creating tax incentives for employers who hire returning citizens (ex-offenders) and worked to create a reporting system for SWAT team deployments in communities of color.

As important, Will was appointed by the House Speaker to serve on two important working groups on justice reinvestment (think: reducing mass incarceration) and reforming the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (think: establishing civilian review of police misconduct).  Will already has the confidence of leaders in Annapolis to represent the interests of people at the edge.  Jamie Raskin always claimed the mantle of the effective progressive – he didn’t just talk a good game, he got things done for people that need advocates to get things done.  Will has made building the necessary relationships to be effective a priority and will be the effective leader D20 needs in the State Senate.

It would be a big deal to send an African-American to the Senate from Montgomery because we have never done it before.  But Will represents much more than that.  I think people need to understand that Will is the first member of his family to graduate from college, a dream shared by many of the young D20 residents eating free lunch each day.  His service as a Naval Officer and journey to Obama appointee and civil rights attorney is relatively unique, even in Montgomery County (where only half of high school grads attend college).

Half of arrests in MoCo are of black men, despite blacks making up roughly 19% of the population (34% in D20).  Quite frankly, the American dream is at risk here as much as anywhere else. Will is unquestionably progressive and unquestionably qualified, but also brings a set of experiences that are unlike any other Senator from Montgomery.  We need his voice at the table in the Senate and that is why I enthusiastically support Will Smith for Senate!

The Next Senator from District 20

The battle to replace Jamie Raskin in the State Senate is currently the object of much speculation but the logical and likely appointment by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) seems obvious: Del. Will Smith.

All three sitting Montgomery senators who gained that office via appointment were already delegates: Craig Zucker in District 14, Brian Feldman in District 15, Nancy King in District 39. Each had served at least one full term in the House before moving to the Senate.

Beyond experience, selection of a delegate also make sense because the exact same constituency has already elected them to the General Assembly. The three delegates are not just the most obvious but most democratic choices.

Among the three delegates, Del. Sheila Hixson could have it if she wanted it but doesn’t. That leaves Del. David Moon and Del. Will Smith. Both are former campaign managers for Sen. Jamie Raskin’s past campaigns and won election in 2014.

Prior to their election, highly diverse District 20 had an all white state legislative delegation. The election of Korean American Moon and African American Smith changed that. Beyond personal ties, Sen. Raskin and Del. Hixon’s desire to diversify the delegation no doubt played a role in their joint endorsements of Moon and Smith.

The Montgomery County Democratic Party remains interested in promoting greater racial diversity in the delegation. MCDCC will be under enormous pressure to take this into account during its deliberations.

This factor weighs heavily against David Moon. No African American has ever won election or appointment to the Senate from Montgomery County. According to the Census, African Americans now form roughly 19% of the County’s population.

In contrast, there is currently one Asian American Senator–District 16 Sen. Susan Lee. She forms one of eight, or 12.5%, of the Montgomery County Senate delegation–not far off the estimated 15% of the County’s population that is Asian American.

There are currently three African Americans (Dels. Al Carr, Pam Queen and Will Smith) and four Asian Americans (Dels. Kumar Barve, Aruna Miller and David Moon along with Sen. Susan Lee) in the entire Montgomery state legislative delegation, so African Americans have less overall representation in terms of absolute numbers and percentages.

David Moon has advocated for increased minority representation in the General Assembly. He has promoted minority candidates and helped to pass along his considerable campaign skills. Nonetheless, the logic of these very ideas will work against him in a jurisdiction and party attuned to racial balance, especially since District 20 has the highest share of African Americans in the County.

Other African Americans have thrown their hat into the ring, notably former County Councilmember Valerie Ervin and Will Jawando. Both are well qualified but have political strikes against them that mitigate against an appointment over Smith.

Ervin has touted that her appointment would be a double win, as her appointment would bring the share of women in the Senate delegation to parity. However, she abandoned her seat on the County Council before the end of her term to take up another job, which annoyed many activists.

Additionally, Ervin supported Edwards for Senate–not the popular position in Montgomery. While this is not nearly as problematic as her resignation, Ervin’s quotes in the media expressing ambivalence about endorsing Van Hollen in the immediate aftermath of the election are much more damaging.

Jawando faces an uphill climb for different reasons. Smith beat him for a delegate seat in 2014. Why should MCDCC second guess the choice of the voters? Second, after losing that race, he made a quixotic bid for the congressional seat against Raskin.

If Jawando had supported Raskin, he would have been very well positioned for the delegate seat. Opposing Raskin, who has long had very strong support among this same constituency, has made winning that seat far more difficult, especially since he received even fewer votes in his congressional bid than his delegate race.

David Moon for Senate


By Adam Pagnucco. (Editor’s Note: As always, this post–and endorsement–reflects the views of the author. No broader support or opposition to David Moon is meant by this post or note.)

I still remember the day I first met one of the great masterminds of MoCo politics.

It was March 2008.  A group of us gathered at SEIU Local 500’s headquarters to discuss how to help Nancy Navarro win the upcoming Council District 4 special election.  The room was full of progressive activists, ace operatives and labor people, most of whom had lots to say.  Your author, not being shy, ranted and raved with the best of them.  Off at the end of the table sat a quiet, scrawny little guy who looked like he weighed about 80 pounds.  He stared into his computer and said almost nothing during the two hour meeting.  I elbowed the attendee next to me and asked, “Who’s that?”  “Oh, that’s David Moon.”

Moon was already a household name among MoCo activists at that point, having been the campaign manager behind Jamie Raskin’s 33-point State Senate victory two years before.  But he was just getting started.  Moon’s skills were put to the test during the two special elections that followed as he endured a close loss by Navarro the first time, followed by an even closer win the next year.  I had been involved with union organizing and political campaigns during my time in the labor movement, but I had not met many campaigners of his caliber before.  Moon was simultaneously creative and disciplined – a rare combination for anyone.  He would do the tedious, mind-numbing work of producing the walk sheets and handling the follow-up data entry, and then turn around and come up with something new on the fly.  He could think big picture and then slap Apple Ballot stickers on lit all night.  He seemed to live on Diet Coke and junk food.  If you wanted to find him, the best way was to locate the largest pile of empty cans and wrappers and see who was sitting in the middle of it.  Most remarkable of all, Moon was almost without pretense.  All campaign managers have egos and some are unbearable.  But Moon would meet any suggestion, whether brilliant or stupid, with a shrug and grab the good ones while quietly disposing of the clunkers.

The David Moon of today was still evolving in the 2008-2010 period, but even then you could see where he was headed.  Most operatives are motivated by some combination of the thrill of winning, wanting a job with the victorious candidate, wanting to run for office themselves or just the fun of the game.  None of that was enough for Moon.  He had a Plan, and it was wildly ambitious.  He wanted to build a base for true progressivism in Montgomery County.  And by that I don’t mean just electing people who toss goodies to liberal interest groups while trying to move up the ladder.  Moon’s vision was to combine the political and economic forces of new residents, economic development, labor rights, people of color, environmentalism, smart growth and political reform into a movement for real change.  For a while, he did that through running other candidates’ campaigns and working with organizations like Action Committee for Transit, Communities for Transit, Casa de Maryland and FairVote.  But like most good quarterbacks, he eventually called his own number and ran for office himself.  He outwitted, outlasted and outplayed a number of capable opponents on his way to Annapolis.

As a Delegate, Moon has not backed away from any of the causes he supported early in his career, but he picked a focus: social justice.  Most freshman Delegates regard the House Judiciary Committee as a backwater.  They have to deal with the dominance of crusty old committee chair Joe Vallario and they can’t get the fundraising connections that members of other committees can (especially Economic Matters).  But Moon wanted to be on Judiciary; in fact, he actively lobbied for it because it is the place where criminal justice issues are decided.  And that’s where Moon has planted his flag.

Moon has been nothing less than a prophet on unfairness in the criminal justice system.  When he was running for Delegate, he wrote:

It’s time for a grown-up conversation about our criminal justice system. Maryland leads the nation in marijuana arrests, and black residents of Montgomery County are over 3 times more likely to be arrested for possession than white residents. This costs us between $100-$200 million a year and ruins the lives of young people by barring them from employment, student loan eligibility and more. Let’s look at the evidence and start rolling back the failed “War on Drugs” in Maryland.

Months later, the Baltimore riots erupted partly as a result of these issues.  Moon has been advocating on them ever since.  He has introduced numerous bills to rein in justice system excesses.  In 2015, he passed a bill through the House that would have excluded possession of a small amount of pot as a reason for parole violation.  (It died in the Senate.)  He has proposed letting voters decide whether to legalize marijuana and fought against efforts to recriminalize it.  Slowly but surely he is helping criminal justice reform advance, and in the years to come, the work of Moon and his allies will pay off.

Moon also returned to his political reform roots by teaming up with Republican Delegate Kathy Szeliga on a bill that would stream live video of General Assembly sessions, something that the Montgomery County Council has been doing for years.  He opposed tens of millions of dollars of corporate welfare given to Northrop Grumman even while many Democrats (including some from Montgomery County) supported it.  His greatest triumph was passing a constitutional amendment that would allow special elections for U.S. Senate, Comptroller and Attorney General vacancies.  (This is subject to approval by voters.)

Moon’s work on criminal justice has produced something that’s uncommon for MoCo legislators: growing collaboration on a key priority with lawmakers from the City of Baltimore and Prince George’s County, who often co-sponsor his bills.  Moon has also helped create an informal group of cooperating progressives who resist reactionary bills no matter their source – even including the Democratic leadership.  A progressive caucus is a long-time dream of the left, but Annapolis leaders have always prevented it through a combination of pressure and cooptation.  Such tactics do not work on the indefatigable Moon.  He will not and cannot be deterred.

David Moon is an unusual elected official.  His experience as one of MoCo’s top campaigners has given him the ability to pursue big picture goals through patience, methodical assemblage of leverage and the implementation of tactics designed to build momentum.  He has demonstrated that capacity throughout his entire career, both in office and out.  He has worked on nearly the entire spectrum of progressive issues.  His priorities are perfectly in line with District 20 Democrats, who are probably the most progressive constituency in the entire state.  He is the natural heir to Jamie Raskin.  While I can appreciate the perspective of those who would like to appoint a caretaker to serve out the rest of Senator Raskin’s term and there are other good people available, the prospect of sending Moon to the upper chamber has too much upside to resist.

David Moon for Senate.

There is Still Time to Move to District 20 or 40

vacancy

Eighth Congressional District Democratic Nominee Jamie Raskin will presumably vacate his State Senate seat some time after the November elections. A number of people’s names are already being bandied about to fill the seat, including Heather Mizeur who  represented D20 in the House of Delegates until 2015 but now lives on the Eastern Shore.

Good news for Mizeur and any other potential Senate aspirants. There is still time to establish residency in D20 because Article III, Section 9 of Maryland’s Constitution requires that legislators live in a district for only six months in advance of the election. May 9th is six months before the day after Election Day.

Sen. Raskin could wait until being sworn into Congress to resign his seat, which would delay the appointment process. As the General Assembly session begins in January, I imagine he would want to start the ball rolling earlier, so that someone could be in the seat from the beginning of the session.

Of course, all of the above also applies to District 40, which can expect with equal certainty that now Sen. Catherine Pugh will become Mayor of the City of Baltimore after the general election. So watch for any moving trucks in these districts!

 

Ervin Canvassing Support for Senate Vacancy

valerieervinglogoFormer Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin is already canvassing support for the expected vacancy in the State Senate when Eighth Congressional District Democratic Nominee Jamie Raskin wins election to the U.S. House.

Ervin represented District 5 on the County Council from 2006 until she stepped down in 2014. She served on the Board of Education for two years prior to winning her Council seat. After leaving public office, Ervin served as the Director of the Center for Working Families and then the National Participatory Democracy Project.

Though Ervin worked most recently for progressive causes, she had excellent ties with the business community during her time on the Council. Earlier this year, she briefly sought the Democratic nomination for the Eighth Congressional District but abandoned the race due to fundraising difficulties.

Despite this setback, Ervin will be a formidable candidate. In the Washington Post, Ervin expressed her frustration at Donna Edwards’s defeat and her strong belief that the party needs more diverse candidates.  Ironically, for the Maryland Senate, this may not be the best comparison as black men are much more underrepresented than black women.

Six of the nine of African-American senators are women, so black women are 12.7% of the Senate membership, as compared to 15.8% of the population – a gap of 3.1%. In contrast, black men comprise 6.4% of the Senate, less than one-half their share of Maryland’s population.

A more advantageous comparison for Ervin is within Montgomery County, which has no African-American senators, though blacks are 18.8% of the population. Three of Montgomery’s eight senators are women – a decline of one from after the election due to the replacement of Karen Montgomery by Craig Zucker.

Regardless, as likely the most experienced politician by far to seek the vacancy, Ervin would bring much more to the race than her race or gender, though both would be assets to a Democratic Party seeking more diversity in its legislative delegation.

In the wake of Edwards’s defeat, Ervin has been hesitant to support Democratic U.S. Senate Nominee Chris Van Hollen. This may just be an election night reaction after a tough loss but she’d do herself a lot of good with the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, which will fill any vacancy, if she’d endorse him quickly.