Category Archives: District 17

Campaign Finance Reports: Districts 16 and 17, January 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 16

First, the easy part: all three incumbents – Senator Susan Lee and Delegates Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman – are running as a team and are headed to reelection.  Lee has historically been one of the delegation’s best fundraisers (although Korman surpassed her by a little bit this cycle).  Kelly is beloved by advocates for families, women and children for her work on their issues and has emerged as a leader on ridding Annapolis of sexual harassment.  Korman is a rare bird: a lawyer who is good with numbers.  Metro riders everywhere should thank him for his tenacious work to improve WMATA.  Great things are predicted for Korman so long as he does not return to blogging.

Attorney Sara Love and MCPS teacher Samir Paul are the top non-incumbents vying for the seat being vacated by Delegate Bill Frick, who is running for County Executive.  Love and Paul would be great candidates in any part of the county, but unfortunately for them, they are running in the same district.  Love fits in well with the progressive female voters who dominate District 16 primaries.  Paul is a teacher who has been active in MCEA (which has endorsed him), but his message is much bigger than education as he draws links between all public institutions that confer benefits but require investment, especially WMATA.  Love and Paul had super fundraising performances and are essentially equal in cash on hand.  Those who have met them are impressed with both of them, but sadly, there is only one open seat.

The Big Question: will Frick, who filed a disappointing January report, drop back down to the House race?  We know Frick does not enjoy that question, but since he withdrew from the Attorney General’s race and refiled for Delegate at the last hour in 2014, this is on everybody’s mind.  Such a move by Frick would probably result in all four incumbents being reelected, wasting huge time and effort by Love and Paul.

District 17

This district is a mess.  The only certainty here is that Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Kumar Barve will be reelected, assuming that Kagan is not picked up by a gubernatorial candidate as a running mate.  As for everything else… well.

At the root of the mess is Delegate Jim Gilchrist.  By all accounts, he is a nice guy who never causes trouble.  His defenders describe him as a studious, intellectual workhorse who gets into the weeds and doesn’t claim credit for anything.  But he has little tangible to show for three terms in office.  He has passed no signature legislation.  His website is inactive.  His Facebook page has not been updated since 2014 as of this writing.  And his fundraising is weak.  Consider this: since 2006, Gilchrist has raised a total of $83,217 from others, an average of $27,739 per cycle.  (He has also self-financed $11,120 over that period.)  MoCo has a bunch of candidates who can raise $27,000 in a month.

The search result for Gilchrist’s website less than five months from election day.

So why does he keep winning office?  He has a guardian angel: Barve, who is his committee chair and likes him.  Barve slates with him regularly and appears in joint mailers with him.  Gilchrist would be a goner in most districts, but with Barve helping him, he survives.  And that has caused grumbling in some parts of District 17.

This time, Rockville City Council Member Julie Palakovich Carr decided to run for Delegate in July even when it appeared that all three incumbents (Barve, Gilchrist and Andrew Platt) were running for reelection.  Six months later, Platt dropped out and Barve and Gilchrist quickly decided to slate with Palakovich Carr.  That’s when simmering tensions erupted into the open.

Kagan, who is no fan of Gilchrist, announced that she was not endorsing the Delegate slate, at least not yet.  This is almost unheard of; in virtually all cases when incumbent Delegates form a slate and none of them are challenging the sitting Senator, the Senator participates.  And when Kagan posted her decision on Facebook, the Mayor of Gaithersburg and two Gaithersburg City Council Members voiced their displeasure with the slate.

Open dissatisfaction with the Delegate slate surfaces on Kagan’s Facebook page.

The nominal reason expressed by some for their unhappiness is that with the inclusion of Palakovich Carr, all three slate members are from Rockville and none are from Gaithersburg.  (The two cities are roughly equal in size.)  But lurking underneath is festering discontent with Gilchrist’s performance in office.  Some would prefer open competition in part because it might lead to Gilchrist’s defeat, but instead they got another slate designed to protect him.  Two Gaithersburg House candidates – school board member Rebecca Smondrowski and attorney Julian Haffner (who is married to a City Council Member) – have now entered the race.  Barve is the only Delegate candidate with any real money, so all the others have a lot of work to do.

The Big Questions: will the Gaithersburg grumblers step up and organize for one or more of the House candidates from their city?  Or will they cut their losses and make their peace with Barve and his slate-mates?  And what, if anything, will Kagan do?


Andrew Platt Won’t Seek Reelection

In a shocker, Del. Andrew Platt announced on Facebook that he does not plan to seek reelection to the House of Delegates.

Platt’s retirement after one term surprises me. When Platt ran for the House of Delegates four years ago, he put together among the most focused, organized and well-thought out campaigns. He has been a relatively young, active lawmaker who has seemed eager to play a strong role and continue to move up the political ladder.

If this had been a bit earlier in this election season, I might have speculated that Andrew was planning to seek another office, such as the nomination to the Sixth District or the County Council. While it’s not too late, at least for the latter, it would be unlike Andrew to allow so many opponents to get the jump on him.

My general impression has been of a passionate legislator and among the better new people we’ve sent to Annapolis is recent years. His departure after just one term is a loss to the delegation and the House more broadly.

Regardless, people have many good reasons for making a decision like this one. I wish Andrew well.


Rockville Councilmember Palakovich Carr Joins Delegate Race

Julie Palakovich Carr has won two terms on the Rockville City Council in 2013 and 2015. She came in second of the four winners in 2015 and first in 2013. Together, Rockville and Gaithersburg compose almost all of District 17, so Palakovich Carr should start out as a strong candidate. She will not need to give up her seat on the Council to run for delegate, as her term expires in 2019.

The announcement is interesting partly because it’s not clear that there will be a vacancy in the House. While it is well known that Del. Andrew Platt would like to run for Congress, Rep. John Delaney has not made his plans known yet. As far as I know, experienced Dels. Kumar Barve and Jim Gilchrist plan to seek new terms.

Here is Palakovich Carr’s announcement:

Rockville City Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr Announces Candidacy for Maryland State Delegate

July 6, 2017

Rockville, Maryland—Today, Rockville City Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr announced her candidacy for state delegate in District 17, which includes Gaithersburg and Rockville.  Palakovich Carr will run in the Democratic primary on June 26, 2018.

“Now more than ever, we need progressive leadership in Annapolis,” said Palakovich Carr.  “I’m going to fight for the values that people of Rockville and Gaithersburg hold dear: fairness, respect for diversity, and an open and honest government that helps people.”

“From safeguarding our children’s health from fracking and secondhand smoke to protecting law-abiding immigrants from deportation, I have a proven track record of working on behalf of the people in our communities to implement real progressive solutions.

Palakovich Carr was first elected to the Rockville City Council in 2013 and is currently serving her second term.  She is the author of the Fostering Community Trust Act, an ordinance enacted last month, which keeps local police focused on fighting crime rather than using city resources to enforce federal immigration laws.

Palakovich Carr also led successful initiatives to ensure smoke-free air in outdoor dining areas in Rockville, to protect local water quality, to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and to honor and celebrate the community’s diversity.

In 2016, Councilmember Palakovich Carr was recognized as a Leading Woman by the Annapolis Daily Record for her community involvement and professional accomplishments.

A scientist by training, Palakovich Carr has a Master’s degree in Biology from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Boston University.  She and her husband, Eric, have a son.

Prior to being elected to the City Council, Palakovich Carr served two terms on the city’s Environment Commission, chaired an advisory group on infrastructure and redevelopment, was vice chair of the City Services and Budget Working Group, and chaired the Watersheds Committee.


Simmons Running Write-In Campaign

Del. Lou Simmons lost the Democratic Primary for State Senate to Cheryl Kagan in District 17 this year but that apparently has not stopped him from running a quixotic write-in campaign for the seat in the general election with signs up in most precincts.

However, he has not filed a certificate of candidacy (see screenshot below from the State Board of Elections website today) as a write-in candidate, so I do not think that he would qualify even if he pulled off the upset of the decade. (If someone knows more about the appropriate law, please let me know.)



Kagan Endorsed by Van Hollen and O’Malley

Kagan CVH Mailer PNG

From the Kagan for State Senate press release:


Calls her the”clear choice” for progressive Democrats

Governor Martin O’Malley endorsed Cheryl Kagan for State Senate in Maryland’s 17th Legislative District. O’Malley is the latest addition to Kagan’s impressive list of supporters, which includes Congressman Chris Van Hollen and retiring Senator Jennie Forehand.

In a statement, Governor O’Malley said, “I am pleased to endorse Cheryl Kagan for the Maryland Senate. She is knowledgeable, passionate, and articulate. She will ensure that the voices of Rockville and Gaithersburg are heard loud and clear in the Senate. Cheryl Kagan is the clear choice for progressive Democrats in District 17.”

O’Malley cited Kagan’s focus on progressive values as the reason for his endorsement. “She has been a leader in our fight for tougher laws punishing domestic violence; she’s been out front, leading the charge for smart, sensible gun laws; and she has been a forceful voice for a higher minimum wage for Maryland’s working families.”

“I am grateful for Governor O’Malley’s endorsement,” Cheryl Kagan said. “He knows that we share the same progressive values that my opponent has sometimes undermined.”

Governor O’Malley joins The Washington Post, The Gazette Newspapers, and over a dozen progressive organizations in endorsing Cheryl Kagan for State Senate.


Simmons Ethics Complaint Documents

Gaithersburg Activist and 2010 State Legislative Candidate Dan Campos forwarded me these documents from the the ethics complaint filed against Lou Simmons (D-17, Rockville and Gaithersburg). While the Ethics Committee has decided not to pursue the matter further, it also said that his actions are “contrary” to previous opinions issued by the Committee.

It does certainly seem a tad sleazy. Simmons requested twenty cases (6000) of free Maryland maps. He sent many maps out in large mailings to his constituents. In contrast, Sen. Ben Cardin, who represents the whole state, requested one case (300).

Below is the letter to Dan Campos from the Ethics Committee, a spreadsheet of map requests to the State (only up to 2010), and copies of the letters from Simmons that came with the maps. Both were sent out on official House of Delegates stationary.

Simmons Ethics Letter

Excel Spreadsheet of Map Requests up to 2010
Simmons Large Map Mailing Letter from October 2013
Simmons Large Map Mailing Letter from July 2012