Category Archives: Prince George’s

Uly Currie’s Un-Resignation

curriesSen. Ulysses Currie and Rev. Shirley Gravely-Currie

On November 4, Sen. Uly Currie (D-Prince George’s) sent his resignation effective December 1 to Senate President Mike Miller:

It is my deep love for my constituents and the Maryland Senate, combined with a recognition that I can no longer serve with the strength and energy you all deserve, that I have decided the time has come to turn the mantle over to a successor. . .

Now, he has decided to rescind his resignation, as the Central Committee is unwilling to appoint his wife to his seat:

I was proud and supportive when Rev. Shirley Gravely-Currie courageously put herself forward to fulfill this role as no other person came forward without the intention of using the appointment to gain an election advantage over others.

Since my announcement, it has been nothing but petty political jockeying and deal making, with only the 2018 election in mind.

Claiming to be shocked at the role that politics plays in politics and at the loss of civility his departure from the Senate would mean, Currie made a political move. As his resignation was not yet effective, I imagine he will make it stick.

While Currie certainly is a courtly individual, the Senate voted to strip him of his leadership position as Chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee in 2010 for ethics violations. Even Currie voted for the motion, which took place in the wake of his being found not guilty on bribery charges.

Having announced his departure, Currie should go. His behavior makes him easily characterized as a member of a crony driven pay-to-play Annapolis elite. Reversing his resignation for health reasons because his wife couldn’t win the appointment only serves to increase political cynicism.

I know little of his potential replacements but it would be good for the Democrats and for Prince George’s for someone new to be given a chance to represent the district.

CD4: Where are the Voters?

CD4

The overwhelmingly Democratic Fourth Congressional District will be open in 2016 since incumbent Rep. Donna Edwards is making a bid for the U.S. Senate rather than seeking reelection. So where do the Democrats who will vote in the primary live?

Registered Democrats by Legislative District

The Fourth CD is split between Anne Arundel and Prince George’s but 86% of registered Democrats live in Prince George’s. Former Prince George’s State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey was on the ballot repeatedly, though he has not been on the ballots since 2006.

The following table shows the number of registered Democrats as well as the number who voted in each of the four past Democratic primaries within the portion of each state legislative district included in the Fourth Congressional District.

cd4 vr1

Newly elected Del. Erek Barron (D-24) is rumored to be interested in running for the Fourth. At 21.0%, D24 has the highest share of registered voters. Though Democratic primary turnout is slightly sub par, voters in this legislative district nonetheless consistently provided over one-fifth of all voters.

District 25 does not lag far behind District 24’s voting power with 18.7% of the CD 4’s registered Democrats. This is Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s former legislative district. Talented Del. Dereck Davis (D-25), the powerful Chair of the Economic Matters Committee, is also said to be musing about running for the seat.

Del. Jay Walker (D-26) is openly exploring a bid. Sen. Anthony Muse (D-26) from the same district is also rumored to be thinking about it. D26 has the third highest share of registered Democrats but lags notably behind either D24 or D25 with 14.4% of CD 4’s Democrats. Moreover, turnout is often mediocre–it fell as low as 13.4% of the Fourth’s total though it reached 14.9% on the one occasion in which the share of voters exceeded registrants.

Former Del. Jolene Ivey represented District 47 under different boundaries before redistricting. The current version of D47 holds 13.4% of CD 4’s registered Democrats but turnout consistently lags. In the past four Democratic primaries, voters from D47 never comprised more than 11.9% of the voters in CD 4.

Nevertheless, Jolene Ivey, a successful and highly talented politician in her own right who ran for Lt. Governor last year, will undoubtedly be an asset to her husband Glenn Ivey’s campaign. When she last ran for the House in 2010, she came in first by a mile in a crowded primary with eight candidates.

Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-21) is planning a run. Currently, she represents just 8.1% of registered Democratic in CD 4. A small base on which to build.

Registered Democrats by Legislative and County Council Districts

The second table shows the share of registered Democrats broken down by state legislative and county council district. None of the Anne Arundel Councilmembers represent more than 5% of registered Democrats in CD 4.

cd4 vr2

Prince George’s Council Vice Chair Derrick Davis (D-6)–not to be confused with the state legislator with the very similar name–represents 20.3% of registered Democrats but 64% also live in Legislative District 25. As this is declared candidate Anthony Brown’s former district and Del. Dereck Davis’s current district, competition for these voters could be fierce.

Councilwoman Karen Toles (D-7) represents 17.4% of CD 4’s registered Democrats. This district has significant overlap with Del. Erek Barron’s legislative district, as well as those of Brown/Davis and Walker/Muse. 15.5% of CD 4’s registered Dems also live in  Council District 5, held by Andrea Harrison. This district has a lot of overlap with D24 (Barron) and D47A (Jolene Ivey).

Former Council Chair Ingrid Turner has expressed interest in running for the Fourth. But she represented Council District 4. In its current incarnation, it falls almost entirely into CD 5. Just 0.8% of CD 4’s registered Dems live in District 4.

Likely Voters by State Legislative and County Council Districts

The final table breaks down the share of Democrats who voted in at least two of the past four primaries by state legislative district and county council district:

cd4 to2

This table indicates even more cleanly that Council District 6 is the heartland of CD 4’s Democratic voters. While it has less than a 3% advantage over Council District 7 in registered Dems, it has a 10.6% lead over the same district in two-time primary voters–23.8% versus 13.2%. No wonder Dereck Davis is thinking about running. (Notice also that Council District 5 leapfrogs ahead of Council District 7 in this table.)

Among state legislative districts, the biggest drop is in D47, which has 2.2% fewer two-time primary voters than registered Dems. Legislative Districts 24 and 25 have a slightly higher share of two-time primary voters than registered Democrats. But the statistics change less dramatic; the increase is 0.7% for D24 and 0.2% for D25. In contrast, the share of two-time primary voters is lower the registered Dems by 0.6% in D26.

Based on this table, the most desirable pieces of real estate to have represented before in terms of Democratic primary turnout are:

1. Maryland (Brown)
2. Prince George’s County (Ivey)
3. Prince George’s County Council District 6 (Derrick Davis)
4. State Legislative District 24 (Barron)
5. State Legislative District 25 (Dereck Davis/Brown)
6. Anne Arundel County
7. Prince George’s County Council District 5
8. State Legislative District 26 (Walker/Muse)
9. Prince George’s County Council District 7
10. Prince George’s County Council District 8
11. State Senate District 47
12. State Legislative District 33
13. State House District 47A
14. Prince George’s County Council District 1
15. State Legislative District 21 (Peña-Melnyk)

MD-04 Battle Looms Large

Jolene Ivey, Doug Gansler

Former State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey at the Announcement of
Del. Jolene Ivey’s bid for Lieutenant Governor

Rep. Donna Edwards is announcing her Senate bid today, which means a slew of people are thinking of running for the open Fourth.

Maryland’s Fourth Congressional District, which stretches from Anne Arundel County and around the border of the District of Columbia to take in most of inside the beltway Prince George’s County, is the wealthiest, most highly educated African American majority district in the country. We can expect a lively, crowded primary for this heavily Democratic seat.

The Hon. Rev. Bishop Senator C. Anthony Muse
Perhaps the most flamboyantly colorful member of the Maryland Legislature (Delegate Oaks of Baltimore City is more sartorially extroverted but he lacks Muse’s flair for the dramatic in other regards) brings a large base of south County voters and will have support among the large community of African-American Evangelical voters in the 4th.

How he expands his base is an open question, as his fundraising. He can’t be counted out, though his noted conservative positions, particularly on social issues, will attract a rush of progressive money to any other candidate if it looks like he stands a chance.

Former State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey or Former Del. Jolene Ivey
Glenn Ivey is a very dynamic, well connected former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney with a wealth of downtown DC connections to lean on. It’s rumored that his wife, former Delegate Jolene Ivey is making calls soliciting support for a potential bid on his behalf.

While he was an immensely popular State’s Attorney, he’s in a less strong position than if this primary were happening closer to when he last held office. On the other hand, former Del. Jolene Ivey, his wife, just ran for Lt. Governor, and only continued to build upon on her already positive image. She too would be an excellent candidate. In short, both are terrific political assets to the other.

Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk
Joseline Peña-Melnyk looks potentially like the only Latino candidate in the race as it appears that State Senator Victor Ramirez will take a pass. However, there are fewer than 20,000 registered Latinos in district so this community only provides so large a base. Peña-Melnyk is Dominican, while most of the Latinos in the district are Salvadorian (as is Ramirez). Furthermore, much of District 21, which she represents, is in the Fifth District.

Mary Lehman
Mary Lehman is a term-limited Prince George’s County Councilwoman representing much of the Laurel area. She previously served as Chief of Staff to the last person to hold her current seat–Tom Dernoga. While well liked and respected by many in the community, she lacks to rolodex to raise the millions needed for a competitive campaign.

She would likely be perceived by many as the white candidate, although in a crowded field in a black-majority district that isn’t necessarily a bad place to be. Especially when even though the majority of residents are African American, a slight majority of registered voters are white.

Del. Erek Barron
He is a freshmen Delegate from Prince George’s County with a long resume that includes stints working for Joe Biden and as a high level prosecutor. Barron has deep ties into the legal community in Baltimore and the District of Colombia, as well as on Capitol Hill. He could likely raise more money than all other candidates except either of the Iveys. He has already impressed many in his brief time in the legislature and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Former Lt. Governor Anthony Brown
Mere months ago the idea that today Anthony Brown would be a heavy underdog candidate in a potential comeback for an open congressional seat would be so fundamentally bizarre and incongruous that it belied even a hint of plausibility. But, lo, how the mighty hath fallen

While Brown is currently largely persona non grata throughout Maryland, he is a very talented, fairly charismatic pol  with a sterling resume who did carry his home county very strongly. Far stranger things have happened (See: Sanford, Mark).  Don’t count him out.

Progressive Democrats Turned Bad

casa logo
The following is a guest post by Kim Propeack, Director, CASA in Action:

In preparing these thoughts, I think it is important to set out from the top that the 47th District in Prince George’s County has always been politically contentious and I have been a big supporter of the emerging Latino talent in that area. That being said, for a long time I was also a Doyle Niemann supporter. I supported him even though he was first elected on a slate that he put together that placed a notorious anti-immigrant in the House of Delegates for one term. I thought he was, as he proclaimed, a progressive.

Across his twelve years in the House of Delegates, my perception changed. As we worked to expand the paltry protections for tenants (Maryland being famous for having the code most favorable to landlords in the entire country), advocates were always negotiating against a stacked deck with Doyle. In recent years, as chairman of the House Housing and Real Property subcommittee, he negotiated reforms down to such a bare minimum that on many occasions we simply took a pass – what was acceptable to Doyle was simply not worth fighting for in our estimation. And the inside perspective in Annapolis was clear. Apartment owner lobbyists were explicit about the amendment deals they had worked out with him and his campaign finance records reveal a mutually supportive relationship.

When Doyle announced plans to run for County Council, I was very concerned that he may represent an area where affordable housing is perhaps the most critical crisis facing the community. After years of lobbying him, I knew he was not the person I trusted to protect low income residents. But Doyle’s campaign was beyond appalling.

In 2012, CASA de Maryland ran an extensive campaign to educate Latino voters to support marriage equality, including close monitoring of organizing efforts to anti-marriage votes in the community. Generally speaking, anti efforts were quiet. But in our area, one church put out anti-marriage posters in Spanish. That church was Tabernaculo de la Fe on Metzerott Road. When Doyle decided to recruit a Latina to run against Will Campos in the hopes that Will would be distracted from supporting Deni Taveras’ campaign, he recruited Natalie Cabrera. Cabrera works at Tabernaculo de la Fe; her father is the pastor. Purportedly she lived in the church. The day after she filed to run, Doyle late-filed a bond bill to provide funding for Tabernaculo de la Fe. Ultimately Cabrera was thrown off the ballot because she was actually a registered Republican. I remember the beautiful email Doyle sent out when marriage equality was approved so I hoped that his choice was no more sinister than simply not knowing anything about the Latino community in the district he had represented for years.

Amateur Film of Telemundo Commercial Against Deni Taveras
and Dels. Gutiérrez and Peña-Melnyk

But the campaign was not over. In the Post coverage of the election, Doyle acknowledges that his Latino outreach was largely conducted through faith leaders. He is referring to several Latino pastors, including the Pastor of Tabernaculo de la Fe, that have formed a small coalition. I believe it is that group that placed 30 second commercials, sans authority line, on Telemundo. The commercial, aired of course in Spanish, showed photos of Delegates Ana Sol Gutiérrez and Joseline Peña-Melnyk, Senator Victor Ramirez, and Candidate Deni Taveras with a huge cross-out across their pictures because of their support of SB212. The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, as most know, established anti-discrimination protections for the transgender community. The commercial went on to show adult men walking into a bathroom amid screaming semi-nude women. It said, Protect Your Family. And oppose these people who put your family in danger.

On Election Day itself, volunteers from the same group were at the polls in Doyle Niemann tees handing out Doyle Niemann literature. There have been complaints that some of those volunteers brought mini-IPads to show Latino voters copies of the video. Although I have not been able to confirm that myself, I know that Doyle’s morning volunteer at Langley-McCormick Elementary argued with the CASA in Action staffer working that poll that he was there because he has a small child and Deni supported pedophiles going into bathrooms.

Personally, I don’t think Doyle ever had an expectation that he would pick up those voters. I think the goal of these tactics was some misguided sense that Latino votes that would otherwise go to Deni would be suppressed; a big presumption on his part about the nature of the Latino electorate. Doyle, of course, voted for both marriage equality and the Fairness for All Marylanders Act. But that didn’t matter at election time. I was not born yesterday; campaigns get nasty and almost every candidate probably has a moment of shame. But there is a limit to what is acceptable. Destructive tactics during campaigns have long-term consequences for communities. When Tom Perriello voted for the ACA, he said that should he end up a one-term congressman, it was a worthy price to pay for reforming the US healthcare system – an unusually moral stand for a legislator. No one should run unless they are willing to behave with similar dignity.

Taveras Bests Niemann by Six Votes

TaverasDistrict 2 Democratic Nominee Deni Taveras

In Prince George’s County Council District 2, the final tallies reveal that Deni Taveras defeated incumbent Doyle Niemann by six votes–a reversal of the earlier outcome. SEIU supported Taveras and sent out an email celebrating her nomination.

Taveras has served as Sen. Victor Ramirez’s Chief of Staff and also worked at EPA and taught at the University of Maryland, College Park. She holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Barnard and Columbia, a M.A. from the University of Utah, and a M.A. in Public Affairs and Regional Planning from Princeton.

D47A Delegate Race Rating

D47

This dual member district is home to what’s shaping up to be a bloody primary in this district home to several Prince George’s municipalities, including Bladensburg, Brentwood, Cheverly, Colmar Manor and Mt. Rainier. Mt. Rainier City Councilman and Communications Workers of America (CWA) national bigwig Jimmy Tarlau faces 2010 Candidate Diana Fennell. Fennell, an African American, has demographics on her side.

Jimmy Tarlau combines a national profile in the labor community with local roots. He’s out raised Fennell by a wide margin as well. I suspect CWA will play in this race with independent expenditures. Fennell is on incumbent Sen. Victor Ramirez’s ticket, but I think Tarlau can pull it off. Michael Summers, although a weak fundraiser, is safe.

Rating: Safe Summers, Lean Tarlau

Young Guns of Prince George’s

1. Ed Burroughs – Not only is Ed the youngest member of Prince George’s School Board, he’s established himself as a national thought leader on education reform. Although he passed on what would have been an easy open seat race for Delegate in D26, a promotion is surely in his near future. He’ll certainly be the favorite to succeed Obie Patterson on the County Council . . . if he wants it. Close with the Iveys, he could also end up as a bigwig in a potential Gansler administration.

2. Dave Murray – Nobody out hustles Dave Murray. He came within a razor’s edge of capturing a seat on the Prince George’s Board of Ed in 2010 and 2012. While he won the primary with an overwhelming majority, the demographics of a General Election universe of voters are challenging for him. When term-limited Mary Lehman leaves the council in 2018, you can count on Dave to replace her.

3. Raaheela Ahmed – Raaheela came gut wrenchingly close to beating the Chair of the Prince George’s Board of Education last cycle. While her father Shukoor is a bit of a perennial candidate, Raaheela will be in Annapolis before the next round of redistricting.

4. Larry Stafford – Deputy Field Director on Heather Mizeur’s gubernatorial campaign, Larry also revitalized the Prince George’s Young Dems. He’s sure to continue to rise behind the scenes regardless of how Heather’s bank shot bid turns out.

5. Dinora Hernandez – She grew up in Lewisdale, went to Michigan Law, and has recently worked for County Executive Rushern Baker’s lobby shop. She has pressed for greater recognition of Prince George’s growing diversity. In her current School Board campaign, she has argued hard for more parent liaison resources in areas with high concentrations of limited-English proficient students. Already a leader with the skills to move forward and to offer.

6. Walakewon Blegay – Walakewon is an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board. Previously, she worked in U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s District Office, as a Legislative Aide to Ben Barnes, and as a staffer on the campaigns of Tom Perez (for Attorney General) and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (for Baltimore City Council President). Of Nigerian and Liberian descent, she is also a leader in Maryland’s growing continental African Community. Definitely one to watch.

7. Jazz Lewis – Jazz is an extremely talented Prince George’s based organizer. He’s worked for everyone from SEIU to Del. Michael Summers to U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. Currently a grad student at UMD, he is sure to continue and rise in politics.

 

7S in the Baltimore Sun

Luke Broadwater of the Baltimore Sun has written a piece analyzing the Currie-Griffith Senate race in Prince George’s. St Mary’s Prof. Todd Eberly and I agree that Currie’s censure won’t prevent him from winning another term:

[Del. Melony] Griffith “has a chance, because of what has happened with Currie over the past few years,” says Todd Eberly, an assistant professor of political science at St. Mary’s College. “But I suspect in the end, it isn’t enough for his constituents to say to him, ‘It’s time to pack it in.’ He’s known as someone with tremendous seniority who has delivered for the district.”

[American University Professor of Government David] Lublin says the accusations against Currie weren’t as attention-grabbing as those leveled against former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson and his wife, Leslie.

“What Currie did is hazier than stuffing thousands in your bra,” Lublin says.” Censuring is a term that goes over most people’s heads.”

You can read my analysis of the race here.

Ramirez Heavily Favored in D47

D47

Most of Prince George’s District 47

District 47 is a majority black district in Northeast Prince George’s County with an exploding Latino population. As of the 2010 Census, the voting-age population of the district was 50% African American and 37% Latino. Subdistrict 47A (two delegates) was 62% black while subdistrict 47B (one delegate) was 61% Latino.

Two-term Del. Victor Ramirez ousted corrupt African-American Sen. David Harrington to become Maryland’s first Latino State Senator in 2010. Now, Ramirez faces long-time Bladensburg Mayor Walter Lee James. Ramirez has money ($122K while James hasn’t filed a financial report) and the power of incumbency.

James has a strong base in Bladensburg that he’ll need to turn out in large numbers to overcome what are sure to be extraordinarily high percentages for Ramirez in Langley Park. But even that seems unlikely to be enough as Bladensburg composes just 7% of D47. James would need to somehow unify and rally African-American voters behind him to defeat Ramirez– very difficult without money against an active and energetic senator like Ramirez.

Rating: Safe Ramirez

Prince George’s County Council Run Down (1-3)

District 1

Incumbent Mary Lehman is has no opponent in the primary or general election. She has already won.

Rating: Safe Lehman

District 2

Doyle Nieman chose to avoid a tough member vs member fight brought on by redistricting by dropping down to run for the council seat left open by term limited Council member Will Campos (who is running for a legislative seat district 47).  Neimman had roughly $27,000 in his campaign account as of the last filing.

Doyle faces off with suicide prevention advocate Deni Taveras, who is slated with Senator Victor Ramirez.  Taveras has roughly $16,000 in her account as of January.

Nieman brings a powerhouse of resume and history to the contest. Taveras will benefit from the rapidly changing demographics in the district. The average Council race in Prince George’s runs $80,000-$100,000 so both have a lot of call time to do in the next few months.

Rating: Toss Up

District 3

Eric Olsen is term limited. His Chief of Staff, Dannielle Glaros is running for the open seat. She faces mental health counselor Terence Collins and former New Carrolton City Councilman Jim Wildoner (who ran for this seat as a Republican in 2006). Glaros had $28,000 in the kitty as of January and should be a lock.

Outlook: Safe Glaros

Check back soon for profiles on races 4-9.