If you thought the Montgomery County executive race was tight with Marc Elrich leading David Blair by 269 votes and lots of ballots yet to be counted, just take a look at Baltimore County.
After counting the first set of absentee ballots, former Del. Johnny Oleszewski, Jr. leads Sen. Jim Brochin by 42 votes! The current totals are 27,270 for Oleszewski, 27,228 for Brochin with Councilmember Vicki Almond close behind with 26,211.
As in Montgomery, we’ll have to wait until after Independence Day when the rest of the absentee ballots and the numerous provisional ballots are counted. I don’t know how many of each are outstanding but it’s surely enough to leave the winner up in the air.
Baltimore County Executive candidate John Olszewski Jr. is running this TV ad on Baltimore area TV stations.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz naturally gathered up a lot of endorsements in his home base. His sudden passing has left open a lot of support that would’ve otherwise understandably gone to Kamenetz up for grabs.
Looks like Rich Madaleno, who I support, is gaining at least a share of that support with endorsements from the West Baltimore County Democratic Club and the Baltimore Progressive Democrats Club. The endorsements reported in the press release include support from Sen. Delores Kelley (D-10):
State Senator Delores Kelley, a key member of the West Baltimore County Democratic Club, stated, “If you want a Governor who is already up to speed on greater opportunities inherent in the State budget for all Maryland jurisdictions, a team committed to smart growth for every economic sector, to better resourcing of public education at all levels, and a Lieutenant-Governor with actual executive experience in Maryland State government, then join me in voting for Rich Madaleno and Luwanda Jenkins.”
Robert Benjamin, President of the Baltimore County Progressive Democrats Club, called Madaleno “the most progressive voice” among the primary candidates:
As a group, our club decided that Rich Madaleno is the most progressive voice in the pack of Democratic candidates vying to challenge Larry Hogan in November – and who is well-positioned to successfully do so. Baltimore County progressives need a candidate like him who can bring people together and speak to a wide segment of the population, because unity is what it will take to vote Hogan out.
Madaleno fell just short of also gaining the Central Baltimore County Democratic Club, beating Ben Jealous 57% to 19% but below the group’s 60% endorsement threshold.
Sure looks like it.
On the day of the filing deadline, Max Davidson launched a primary challenge against four-term Baltimore County Sen. Kathy Klausmeier (D-8). Davidson is head of a pro-medical marijuana lobbying group, the Marijuana Patient Rights Association.
Davidson has donated $970 to Del. Christian Miele, Klausmeier’s struggling opponent, as a look at Miele’s campaign finance reports reveals:
Not exactly the profile of a Democrat who is raring to take on Miele.
Indeed, Davidson’s donation profile leans heavily Republican. Besides Miele, he also gave $520 to Sen. Justin Ready (R-5), $150 to Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-7), $33 to Del. David Vogt (R-4), $20 to Del. Deb Rey (R-29B), and $20 to Del. Ric Metzger (R-6) for a total of $1713 in donations to Republicans.
In contrast, he gave just $392 to Democrats — $250 to Shane Pendergrass (D-13), $100 to Del. David Moon (D-20), and $42 to Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-46).
Rather than being eager to take on his favorite state legislator, Davidson’s candidacy smacks heavily of a Republican effort to weaken Klausmeier. Davidson presents no real threat to Klausmeier but Miele would sure love if he softened her up a bit and forced her to expend resources in the primary.
The notion that Davidson wants to take on his favorite Republican makes no sense. Did Davidson really not coordinate or discuss with Miele, his favorite Republican, before filing for his seat?
Any voter who was on the fence, or who just doesn’t like these tactics, now has an excellent reason to vote for Klausmeier. You should also remember this one the next time Hogan and the Republicans trot out the usual bromides and claim that they are political reformers.
By Adam Pagnucco.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of Maryland’s most powerful labor unions, has targeted District 44 Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam for defeat by running one of their own against her. Aletheia McCaskill, a rank-and-file leader in SEIU Local 500, is announcing her challenge to the incumbent on Saturday. Nathan-Pulliam has antagonized SEIU and several other progressive organizations by dragging her heels on last session’s sick leave bill, which she ultimately voted for.
Several things make this race interesting.
1. SEIU has a record of defeating Senate incumbents, including Nat Exum and David Harrington (Prince George’s County), Rona Kramer (Montgomery County) and George Della (Baltimore City). Their negative mail against Exum was particularly devastating.
One of at least seven anti-Exum mailers from SEIU.
2. Nathan-Pulliam has not had a truly competitive election in her entire career. She walked into her current Senate seat after the incumbent retired and had five straight cakewalk House races before that. She is also not a great fundraiser, raising $77,695 in the 2006 cycle, $72,363 in the 2010 cycle and $124,732 in the 2014 cycle. She reported $33,533 in the bank in January. Those are easy numbers for a big organization like SEIU to overcome.
3. Many labor organizations have supported Nathan-Pulliam over the years, including AFT Maryland, MSEA, the Fire Fighters, the Police, UFCW Local 400, several building trades local unions, the AFL-CIO and SEIU. Those unions have given her more than $30,000 over the last four cycles. How many of them will follow SEIU’s lead and dump the incumbent?
SEIU endorses Nathan-Pulliam in 2014.
4. Nathan-Pulliam has not represented many of her current constituents all that long. True, she has been in office since 1994. But her district has changed substantially since then. District 44 now includes a portion of the western part of Baltimore City along with Lochearn, Woodlawn, Catonsville and the areas around US-40 and I-70 in Baltimore County. Prior to that, Nathan-Pulliam represented District 10. During the 2000s, District 10 did not include any part of the City and during the 1990s, the City portions it did include are not part of today’s District 44. This somewhat erodes the advantage a decades-long incumbent would normally have.
5. At age 78, Nathan-Pulliam could decide not to fight SEIU and simply retire.
We reprint McCaskill’s kickoff announcement below.
Event: Working Families Democrat and SEIU Union Leader Aletheia McCaskill announces a Democratic primary challenge in Maryland’s 44th State Senatorial District
Date: September 9, 2017, 2:00-4:00
Where: Karate Family Center 1101 N. Rolling Road, Catonsville, MD 21228
Aletheia McCaskill is a wife, mother, activist and advocate who has owned her own small business providing early learning child care services to the residents of West Baltimore and Western Baltimore County for over 20 years. She got involved on issues of economic justice such as the fight for fair wages and earned sick leave legislation because of the reality she saw in the lives of the families whose children she provided care for. She has been the Statewide Political Member Leader for the largest Maryland local in the Service Employees International Union and has been a leader in the fight in Baltimore and Annapolis to pass the Women’s Economic Security Agenda- a package of bills aimed at providing some measure of economic stability for the working families of the 44th. Aletheia believes that the 44th District deserved a choice, she wants to be our voice in Annapolis fighting for stronger schools and for finally giving our Seniors the services and facilities WITHIN the 44th, that they deserve.
For Press or scheduling, please contact:
Mark Jason McLaurin, Political Director
SEIU Local 500
901 Russell Avenue, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20879
(301) 740-7100 – Voice
Part I discussed ratings for safe and toss-up seats in the Maryland Senate. Today, 7S focuses on the six Lean and Likely Democratic districts. All are currently held by incumbent Democrats.
District 3 (Frederick County). Sen. Ron Young had a real scare in 2014, winning just 50.8% of the vote after defeating incumbent Alex Mooney with 51.1% in 2010. Mooney has since fled to West Virginia where he is now a U.S. Representative.
This part of Frederick has been trending Democratic. Clinton carried D3 by 8. Hogan won by 15, a good margin but less impressive than in several districts held by Democrats in Anne Arundel and Baltimore. As this district has the best Democratic territory in Frederick, Young ought to be able to win a third term.
But Frederick has been hotly contested between the two parties of late and this former Frederick Mayor has sometimes been a controversial figure. My current expectations remain for the GOP to have another go at Young but fall short, though they will force Democrats to scramble to retain the seat.
See the map at the bottom of the post for the locations of the five Likely Democratic districts.
District 8 (Baltimore County). Sen. Kathy Klausmeier won an impressive victory in 2014. Though her district went for Hogan by 36 points, she not only won but took 61.2% of the vote. In 2016, Hogan’s impressive margin evaporated as Trump carried D8 by seven-tenths of one percent.
This is an interesting district because, though the incumbent has demonstrated popularity, it remains marginal turf. If Republicans want to make gains, they will have to look here, even if Klausmeier is clearly no easy mark. The district could become competitive with the right Republican candidate and favorable political winds.
District 11 (Baltimore County). Sen. Bobby Zirkin was unopposed for reelection last time around, so what is he doing on this list? Zirkin represents a cross-pressured district that supported Hogan by 14 points even as it then went for Clinton by 24 points.
Zirkin is an active legislator who champions several popular, easy-to-explain causes, such as stronger anti-domestic violence legislation. Nonetheless, if Maryland’s political climate turns against Democrats, this seat could be a surprise domino to fall. The district bears watching even if Zirkin should be in good shape.
District 12 (Howard and Baltimore Counties). Another cross-pressured district, D12 went for Hogan by 11 but Clinton by 17. Budget and Taxation Committee Chair Ed Kasemeyer won reelection with a convincing, albeit a tad lower than Klausmeier, margin of 58.6%.
Kasemeyer has an impressive electoral history (59% in 2014, 59% in 2010, 62% in 2006, 63% in 2002, 57% in 1998, 51% in 1994, 54% in 1986) that will make it difficult for Republicans to break through in increasingly Democratic Howard.
Howard has shown itself willing to vote for particular sorts of Republicans, including County Executive Allan Kittleman, who is liberal on social questions, and Gov. Larry Hogan, who relentlessly ignores them. Can the Republicans find one to challenge Kasemeyer or win the open seat should he choose to retire?
District 27 (Southern Maryland). Mike Miller entered the House of Delegates in 1971, the Senate in 1975 and became the Senate President in 1987, which makes him the longest serving legislative body leader in American history. Sen. Miller has led the Senate for so long that when I interviewed him over the telephone for my college senior thesis in the late 1980s, he was already Senate President.
The Senate President represents a politically diverse district that includes big chunks of Calvert and southeastern Prince George’s Counties as well as smaller bits of Charles and St. Mary’s. The Calvert portion of the district is much more Republican than the portions in Charles or Prince George’s.
Republicans would love to defeat this pillar of the Democratic Party. While he attracts complaints of being too conservative from the left, he fights very hard for members of his caucus, raising a lot of money and directing broader organizational efforts to retain a robust Democratic Senate majority.
This district is also far from totally hostile territory. While Clinton won it by 5 points in 2016, Hogan also carried it by 6 points in 2014. This divergence is a lot smaller than many Maryland legislative districts and is suggestive of tighter partisan loyalties, especially among its sizable African-American minority.
Republicans have not come close to defeating Miller. He won 63% in 2014, 75% in 2010, 70% in 2006, 72% in 2002, 69% in 1998, 68% in 1994, 84% in 1990, and 82% in 1986. (The State Board of Elections has not put the stone tablets with earlier election results online yet.) Despite receiving his lowest percentage since at least the 1980s in 2014, my guess is that Sen. Miller is not going to be beat. Still, the turf is marginal and remains Likely Democratic.
District 32 (Anne Arundel). Yet another cross-pressured district that bears a more than passing resemblance to its nearby counterparts in Baltimore and Howard Counties, this district went for Hogan by 17 but for Clinton by 12.
Moderate Sen. Ed DeGrange would seemingly be a good fit for this district. Except in these highly partisan times, some will argue that an outspoken liberal would do more to stir the troops. Like others listed here, he possesses real electoral experience, winning his seat by 59% in 2014, 60% in 2010, 61% in 2006, 59% in 2002, and 52% in 1998.
The remarkable consistency since his first reelection does not look like the record of someone about to lose his seat. Nevertheless, if Republicans are to make gains, they will look to Anne Arundel and to this district along with District 30.
Delegate Kathy Szeliga (R-7) laments that the legislators in the General Assembly legislate:
So far, there have been 1159 bills introduced in the House of Delegates and 821 in the Senate. Some of these are duplicate bills filed in each chamber – called cross filed bills.
Remember, every bill has the potential of becoming a law. Do you think we need an additional 2,000 laws every year?
Consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds, naturally the next thing she writes her constituents is:
I am the primary sponsor of 6 bills.
Later, she writes proudly:
I have cosponsored many other bills. If you’d like to see the whole list of bills I’ve sponsored and cosponsored CLICK HERE.
Wasting Taxes Doing Something about Nothing
Unintended irony appears to be Del. Szeliga’s strong suit because at least one of these bills is a complete make work project for the General Assembly:
HB 454 – will prohibit the State of Maryland from charging drivers a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax. This is a concept that has been considered in the past. It’s a terrible idea for lots of reasons.
Cutting through the anti-tax rhetoric, Del. Szeliga wants to ban a tax that we don’t have through a law that could be overturned by the General Assembly as easily as it is passed in the first place.
But having wasted taxpayers funds and the General Assembly’s time, she can engage in the time-honored Republican tradition of going home and talking about how she fought the good fight on taxes, even though she will have done nothing even if her bill passes.
So, as it turns out, Del. Szeliga is right. Legislators are sponsoring unneeded legislation. She just didn’t realize that she met the enemy when she looked in the mirror.
Gun-ho–But Only for Non-Marylanders
Unfortunately, some of her legislation that would actually have an impact is even worse:
HB 735 – will allow people traveling through our state to transport legally owned firearms via vehicle or boat. The unintended consequences of the restrictive gun bill that passed a couple of years ago is that it prohibits lawful firearm owners from driving or boating through our state with certain firearms that are now illegal to own in Maryland.
In other words, despite her claims to the contrary, the law is working as intended. Bizarrely, Del. Szeliga’s bill would give non-state residents a free pass to carry weapons that we don’t allow our own residents to possess.
Earmarks are A-OK
Other Szeliga bills look more promising–such as the one to raise penalties for human trafficking. Strikingly though, the Republican opposition to earmarks and to spending flies right out of Del. Szeliga’s window when it involves her own constituents:
HB 1147 – is a matching grant request for $200,000 for Angel Park in Perry Hall. This new park will be located on Honeygo Blvd and will be similar to Annie’s Playground in Harford County – a playground fully accessible to handicapped children. Angel Park has already raised about $1 million in private contributions and this will help with the playground equipment purchase. There are usually $7 million in grants for community projects approved by the House and $7 million by the Senate.
Don’t get me wrong; this sounds like a great idea. I worked with my colleagues on the Town Council and in the County to improve playgrounds in my own Town. It’s even better that the playground will be fully accessible. I like Del. Szeliga’s earmark so much that surely some must suspect that she is part of the liberal problem rather than the conservative solution.
Indeed, a true spendthrift conservative Republican should perceive this as an earmark by the State in an area of local responsibility that just makes it harder for Gov. Hogan to keep his tax cutting promises. Especially amusing is her not-so-subtle mention of this being part of $7 million in state grants. Read: it’s OK; all the kids are doing it.
1. Caitlyn Leiter-Mason – Originally from Frederick, Caitlyn has been a fixture in western Baltimore County since arriving at UMBC. She was the longtime President of the UMBC College Democrats and is currently managing rising star Baltimore County Councilman Tom Quirk’s reelection bid. She previously worked for Del. Anne Kaiser–a super star rising in the House leadership. There are certainly great things in Caitlyn’s future.
2. Zach Fang – In my opinion, Zach is now the top field director in the State of Maryland. With a DCCC Pedigree, Zach has returned to the Free State more dangerous than ever. Doug Gansler lucked out hiring this guy.
3. Ashley Harden – According to someone on Gansler’s senior staff, this Northwest Baltimore County field organizer is Doug’s best in the state. One Baltimore based Field Operative told me she’s probably the best seen in the Baltimore suburbs since at least 2006.
Anonymous: She’s way too good to stay in Baltimore County, but she just might anyway.
Anonymous: The next Ann Beegle.
4. Tommy Underwood – Tommy is a genuinely nice, decent guy–which is far too rare in politics. He’s done a great job so far managing O’Malley speechwriter Nick Stewart’s state house run and has a very bright future. This guy could be the Executive Director of the Democratic Caucus in 2018.
Anonymous: He’s not only a plugged-in guy with a very easy-going personality, but he’s also one of the hardest workers I’ve come across and sharp politically.
5. Jahantab Siddiqui – Jahantab (more frequently known as JTab) comes from the politically active Siddiqui clan of Howard County. With an extensive resume that extends statewide, I have no doubt that the next Muslim State Legislator in Maryland will be Jahantab. He may have taken a pass this cycle, but he has District 9 State Senator written all over him. He could be a credible candidate in MD-03 down the line, or statewide. Smart. Charismatic. Handsome. When he runs you can add unbeatable to that list.
Anonymous: Mt. Airy (on the HoCo side) statewide college coordinator with O’Malley ’06 campaign, Field Director of Ulman’s ’06 campaign, Mikulski Staffer, Ruppersberger’s ’12 campaign, and currently with MoCo govt.
6. Dylan Goldberg – I will admit that I was for a time skeptical of Dylan. How could someone always be this happy? This isn’t California, so it had to be an act. It isn’t. His incredible work ethic and that same infectiously happy personality are sure to carry him far. Howard County Executive by 2026 or Bust.
Anonymous: He’s a bit of a superstar in Howard County, having worked for the state delegation in Annapolis for a couple years after working some local and state races in 2010 (That year, he received the MD Democratic Party’s James W. Rouse Community Service Award). He’s now field director for Courtney Watson’s county executive campaign. He previously worked for Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty.
Anonymous: He stepped up to lead Watson’s campaign and has done a fantastic job (with a great but not very warm and fuzzy candidate).
7. Marc Szczepaniak – Harford County Young Dems President, UMBC Student and Rachael Rice protege has a terrific future ahead of him, whether in Annapolis or on the campaign trail. Limitless upside and lucky find in one of the tougher county for the Democrats.
8. Nick Stewart – Nick was a speechwriter for Martin O’Malley first as Mayor and later as Governor. He also worked in O’Malley’s press office. He is currently a litigation attorney with the prominent firm Saul Ewing LLP. His next move? Running for delegate in Howard/Baltimore County Based District 12. While the field is large, Stewart is a strong candidate. He would be one of the youngest members of the the General Assembly, but nowhere near the least experienced.
Anonymous: one of 10 Democrats vying for the three District 12 delegate nominations, Nick is a former O’Malley speechwriter/press assistant in City Hall and the State House. He now is a lawyer at Saul Ewing in Baltimore. Lives in Arbutus, raised in Timonium. He also clerked for Judge Glenn Harrell. Just this week named to the Daily Record’s 20 in Their Twenties list
9. Shayla Adams – For the last several years, Shayla has run a 501(c)3 called RemixEducation (whose influence extends from Maryland all the way to North Carolina. She’s also a former Teacher with degrees from Wellesley (Undergraduate) and Duke (M.A.T.). As education disparities between different jurisdictions in the state come into focus, her influence can only grow. Plus, she makes up one half of a Young Gun Power Couple (the other is Prince George’s Young Gun Larry Stafford).
Anonymous- Really active in the African American community of Howard. Runs a non profit program. She’s cool with Elijah Cummings and he’s speaking at her scholarship banquet.