Category Archives: District 15

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!

Share

Former GOP Delegate Candidate Jumps to the Democrats

Edptychange

Former District 15 Republican Delegate Candidate Ed Edmundson announced his switch from R to D on Facebook yesterday, stating: “Done and Done. Bye-Bye GOP. I will not be part of a Party that picks a racist bigot to head the top of the ticket.” A real loss for the Montgomery GOP because they “desperately need people like him,” as I commented in this space two years ago.

In other news, Gov. Larry Hogan continues his silence on “racist bigot” Donald Trump becoming the nominee of his party.

Share

Only 1 MoCo Candidate Didn’t File Campaign Finance Reports

An examination of the campaign finance reports of Montgomery County General Assembly candidates reveals that all have filed the three required campaign finance reports (or an affidavit attesting to very low fundraising and expenditures).

Except Ed Edmundson

Ed, who I described in a profile as a likeable out-of-the-box candidate and not from Republican “central casting,” has not filed either of the two last reports. One was due before the primary on June 13th and the other was due on August 26th.

While Ed is running a serious campaign, this lapse may prove a stumbling block in his race towards the finish line. As the diligence of other candidates suggests, it just isn’t something a candidate can forget or take lightly.

Late reports are not uncommon, though more often from candidates who are not running serious campaigns and end up filing affidavits that they spent and raised little money. Ed’s June report is now four months late. If campaign finance reports aren’t filed enough in advance of the election, the disclosure purpose of the law is not really being served or respected.

I asked Ed about it yesterday and received this response:

My Treasurer has all the information to file, my focus has been on going door to door. I’m calling him now, and my guess is that everything will be filed tomorrow.

UPDATE: Ed filed his campaign finance reports today.

 

Share

Republican Ed Edmundson Not from Central Casting

logo-edmdI don’t often meet Republican candidates here in Montgomery County, if only because they appear to be thin on the ground. So I was a little intrigued when I met up with Ed Edmundson, a candidate for the House of Delegates in District 15, at Starbucks.

About Ed

Ed is a first time candidate reminiscent of past generations of Montgomery County Republicans, like Jean Roesser, Connie Morella, Betty Ann Krahnke and Howie Denis, who were liberal on social questions but more moderate or conservative on economic issues–long a winning formula in this area and indeed one that still works for several Democrats on the County Council.

Unusually for a Republican, he has been endorsed by NARAL, as have all three Democratic incumbents. It’s not often you hear a Republican talk about fair trade, ending “the school to prison pipeline,” and legalizing marijuana.

Ed gets more conservative on economic questions. He wants to cut the corporation income tax to make Maryland more competitive with Virginia. He also passionately believes that the regulatory structure created by the State and the County is too cumbersome and particularly a burden on small businesses.

On education, Ed proposes radical alterations to the teaching benefits structure by doubling teach salaries and eliminating pensions in favor of 401(k) plans. In my view, Ed is very fuzzy in terms of how to pay for large tax cuts and increased education spending. He wants the federal government to pay for increased education spending by cutting defense.

While decidedly out-of-the-box and even courageous for a Republican, it also requires decisions far outside the scope of the authority of the House of Delegates. State officials needs to pay for changes within the State’s own budget. The last four years have demonstrated that waiting on Congress is not a strategy. Despite this impracticality, Ed nonetheless brings a genuine passion regarding economic questions.

Specifically, he advocates for the positive, appealing part of the Republican message that government needs to work to encourage business and develop a more holistic strategy towards that end. And he expresses deep concern about those who view business with hostility rather than a crucial part of the solution.

In short, while his ideas haven’t gelled and the numbers don’t add up, the Republicans desperately need more people like him who don’t fear the future but who want to streamline government to promote prosperity and pay for needed government services. At least Ed shows some imagination, while Larry Hogan serves up the reheated sauce of “waste, fraud, and abuse” as “vision.”

Why Ed Won’t Win

Ed faces a lot of obstacles in his uphill bid for a delegate seat. First, District 15 has become much more solid Democratic turf since the Republicans last won seats in the area. Democratic partisans are now less willing to crossover and vote even for moderate or liberal Republicans–the undoing of Howie Denis on the County Council–because the national brand has become so tainted.

Second, District 15 has an extremely solid delegation with no weak links who could provide an opening. If Speaker Busch has good sense, he’ll find a way to appoint Kathleen Dumais as Judiciary Chair and sideline (Chair Emeritus?) past-his-sell-by date Joe Vallario. Aruna Miller has consistently struck most as smart, serious, and hard working. Recently appointed Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo has already made a positive impression. These are the sort of legislators we need to keep who make it difficult for opponents to make a good case to fire.

Third, there is always the Ficker problem. Running on a ticket with the ever-polarizing Robin Ficker, whose son is now running for delegate, seems an excellent way to assure that Democrats open to voting for some Republicans don’t give Ed a hearing.

Fourth, Ed is a complete newbie to campaigning. He plans to spend around $40,000, mostly his own money, and likely an insufficient amount for a  serious delegate challenge in Montgomery County. Moreover, I don’t think he knows how to spend the money wisely as he is buying newspaper advertisements and sending no direct mail.

Still, it’s always up to the voters.

Share

Fraser-Hidalgo Looking Good in D15

 D15Montgomery County District 15

The Central Committee appointed then Del. Brian Feldman to the Senate when Sen. Rob Garagiola resigned the seat. There was some controversy over the appointment but it seemed inevitable to many as Brian is a well-regarded legislator who had the strong backing of his colleagues in the district.

Sen. Feldman is unopposed in the Democratic primary but faces perennial candidate Robin Ficker in the general. While he won one term as a delegate in 1978, he is better known for his antics at Bullets games back in the 1990s. Ficker will provide lots of fun spectacle but Feldman is a lock.

In the delegate races, Dels. Kathleen Dumais and Aruna Miller should also be sure shots for reelection. Both are perceived as serious legislators. Del. Dumais is currently Vice Chair of Judiciary and would be a logical choice to replace current Chairman Joe Vallario when he goes or gets pushed out.

In the meantime, she faces the unenviable job of navigating the tricky waters between her conservative chair and more liberal caucus. If she gets too close to Vallario, she risks demands that a stronger progressive will get the appointment. However, I’d be surprised if that happens because Dumais is respected, smart, and deserves the position in the eyes of many.

David Fraser-Hidalgo won the delegate appointment to replace the vacancy caused by Brian Feldman’s move to the Senate. Labor was not thrilled with this selection, compounding their frustration with MCDCC over other issues.

Consequently, newly minted Del. Fraser-Hidalgo has faced a harder fight to consolidate his hold on the seat than many appointees. However, despite the brevity of his tenure, he has already started to impress as intelligent and earnest, particularly through his hard work on the legislation decriminalizing marijjuana.

And his hold on the seat is starting to look stronger. He has won the endorsements of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and CASA. Most crucially, he has earned the support of his colleagues, who are including him now on a slate of all of the incumbents.

The other remaining Democrat in the race is Bennett Rushkoff. MCEA decided belatedly to endorse him after they completed their other legislative endorsements. Some were surprised as Fraser-Hidalgo voted with MCEA during the session. Regardless, the apple is a great endorsement to receive and should energize Rushkoff’s campaign.

Both Fraser-Hidalgo and Rushkoff will run campaigns with sufficient funds. Rushkoff likely has the jump on Fraser-Hidalgo because the latter could not raise funds during the legislative session. Rushkoff also loaned his campaign $50K before the January filing.

Nonetheless, this is the unusual case in which I don’t think MCEA has placed a good bet. Even without their endorsement, Fraser-Hidalgo is building a good reputation and his linkage with the other three incumbents will make him difficult to beat. Other factors, such as the Post endorsement or Rushkoff’s greater access to funds, could alter the equation but Fraser-Hidalgo has shown a steady ability to move the line in his direction.

On the Republican side,  Flynn Ficker is running for the House alongside his father, Robin. Indeed, they have a joint website, so I guess they have identical positions. Interestingly, they oppose construction at Ten Mile Creek, which flies in the face of their more general opposition to government regulation. Their more general platform appears to be the unhappy, classic Republican combination of don’t tax but spend.

The other Republican, Ed Edmundson will likely garner much less attention than the ever colorful Fickers. However, he is actually more politically interesting. Edmundson is the only Republican in the State to have received NARAL’s endorsement. In some ways, he seems like a Democratic stereotype. How many Republicans advertise their belief in the importance of fair trade and that they run HempSisters.com and EarthDivas.com?

Though undoubtedly more conservative than the Democrats, Edmundson appears to have a similar socially liberal, economically moderate profile to the sort of Republicans who used to regularly win elections in Montgomery County. Unfortunately for him, they just don’t anymore. Changing demographics and the toxicity of the national Republican brand render it hard for candidates like Edmundson.

Fortunately for District 15, Feldman, Dumais, Miller, and Fraser-Hidalgo compose a very strong delegation in Annapolis. No weak links in this team.

Senate Rating: Safe Feldman.

House Ratings: Safe Dumais, Safe Miller, Lean Fraser-Hidalgo in the primary. Safe Fraser-Hidalgo or Rushkoff in the general.

Share