Category Archives: US House

Ervin Attacks Role of Money Along with Gender and Racial Bias As She Withdraws from CD8 Race

valerieervinglogo

The following is Valerie Ervin’s email announcing her withdrawal from the congressional race for the Eighth Congressional District

I wanted you to be among the first to hear that I’ve decided not to continue my run for Congress in 2016.

It was a hard decision that kept me up many nights. Like many women of all backgrounds across our district who worry about how to pay the bills, send their kids to college, or take care of an ailing parent, my sleepless nights were motivated by money—or more accurately, the lack of it.

You see, I’m not wealthy. I grew up working class and thanks to good union jobs, I’ve been able to work hard and achieve the middle class dream. I’ve been able to buy a home, take care of my needs, and to put away a little for a rainy day and retirement. But like many of you, I need to work to keep up. Unfortunately, our current political system doesn’t make much room for everyday Americans like me—especially women, people of color, and the non-wealthy—to compete on a level playing field.

In politics today, fundraising is the sign of a campaign’s viability. Not your ideas about how to serve your constituents, not your track record of service, not even the groundswell of grassroots support—but your ability to raise money. And unfortunately, I just haven’t been able to raise enough.

It’s no surprise that 50% of members of Congress are millionaires.  A Center for Responsive Politics study found that it takes 18 American households to equal the value of a member of Congress’ household.

Right now in Maryland, we see male candidates for office routinely raising more money than the women in those races. We can and must continue to recruit and train more women and people of color to run for office. It’s the only way we can create an inclusive democracy that speaks to the needs of all citizens.

I’m pulling back the curtain on our political system because we all need to consider what role we’re willing to play to improve it. I decided to run because I believe that more people like me need to be the decision-makers. We need more elected officials who put our interests, concerns and needs on par with the wealthy.

During my brief campaign, I’ve been able to meet hundreds of working people who are struggling to provide for their families and meet their financial obligations. My message of the need to create economic stability for Maryland’s families resonated with many communities who are facing greater financial pressure while trying to stretch a shrinking paycheck. I’m as committed as ever to ensuring that the voices of everyone shapes the direction of District 8, the state of Maryland and our nation. And doing so means we’ve got to build better pathways to an inclusive democracy where everyone has a shot at winning political campaigns, despite their access to wealth.

I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement and support of my campaign. I ran for Congress for all of us. Know that my future endeavors will continue to create more room for all of us to prosper and have a say in the political decisions that affect our lives. Stay tuned!

Valerie

Explaining Leadership Loyalty Among U.S. House Democrats v. Republicans

As long as I’m focusing on U.S. politics today. . .

Charlie Cook has a set of very interesting analyses of loyalty to leadership among Democrats and Republicans. While Democrats who live in safe districts are more likely to vote with Pelosi than Democrats from marginal districts, the opposite is true among Republicans. Marginal district Republicans are much more likely to vote with Boehner than Republicans from safe districts.

This pattern is likely explained by primaries and the unusual disjuncture between the hardcore Republican base and the House leadership. Members from safe districts in both parties have a huge incentive to pay more attention to their primary rather than general election electorate. While moderation is rewarded in the general election, it’s all about the base in a party primary.

As a result, Democrats from safe districts have no problem casting solid left votes. Notice that the major Democratic defection from President Obama was on trade, where he lost Pelosi’s support and was at odds with the Democratic union and left-wing base.

The Republican conservative base is hostile to efforts by Boehner and McConnell to concede ideological points in order to govern. Ted Cruz’s attack on Mitch McConnell was an applause line at last night’s debate! So Republicans from safe districts are more likely to rebel against their party’s leadership. In contrast, marginal district Republicans want their party to look reasonable and able to make the government function so they vote with Boehner.

Ariana Kelly for Congress?

arianakellyDelegate Ariana Kelly (D-16)

Del. Ariana Kelly (D-16) is exploring a bid for Congress. Ariana has represented this district, centered on Bethesda, since 2011.

Career

Del. Kelly grew up in the area, attending Walter Johnson High School. Her political involvement long predated her successful bid for the House. She was the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and the Environmental Health Campaign Director for MomsRising.org. Her past work as the producer for a PBS news program further adds to her communication experience.

In 2010, Ariana won the Democratic nomination for an open seat in the House of Delegates. Her closest competitor was Kyle Lierman, who was by far the best funded candidate in the race. In that race, Kelly benefited from being the only woman in the race. She performed well in a field with many strong candidates, garnering key support from Democratic interest groups.

As an incumbent in 2014, Kelly won the most votes of any House candidate not just in D16 but Montgomery County. This feat is all the more impressive because she was not unopposed for renomination. On the contrary, several strong candidates with good campaigns hoped to win an open seat.

Starting her second full House term, Del. Kelly was elected Chair of the Montgomery County House Democratic Caucus.

Policy

Ariana advocates strongly on women’s issues in the legislature. “Advocate” can sometimes sound like code for “someone who takes liberal positions but doesn’t really know or do a heck of a lot.” The opposite would be true in Ariana’s case.

People who speak with Ariana will quickly get a sense of her strong commitment to these issues backed by an intricate knowledge of how government does–and sometimes doesn’t–work. In short, Ariana often focuses on issues that are less eye-catching but make  a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

Last year, HB 1026 mandated six weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave for employees in small businesses. HB 963, also passed during last year’s session, requires hospitals to develop procedures to do rape kits–surprisingly many are not equipped to do this–so victims of sexual assault don’t have to be shuttled to another hospital.

Parents of kids with autism are no doubt very grateful that 2012 HB 1055 required autism therapy to be covered by insurance, saving many parents from financial ruin on top of having the extra responsibility of a child with special needs.

Opportunity and Overlap with Other Candidates

Ariana would be a likely candidate to gain support from NARAL since she has worked for their state affiliate and can claim a level of commitment greater than other pro-choice candidates. She would need the backing of EMILY’s List to gain access to the broader national fundraising network that could help provide the funds critical to what will be an expensive House race.

Both Nancy Floreen, and to a certain extent Kathleen Matthews, show the most potential for overlap with Ariana’s candidacy. While they have distinct profiles locally among people who follow politics, each has the potential to appeal especially to women, who will compose well over 50% (probably close to or around 60%) of Democratic primary voters. Ariana would likely try to set herself apart as more progressive but these distinctions can be very hard to get into the minds of primary voters.

Though Ariana has only been elected twice, she represents the legislative district with the most Democratic primary voters in the Eighth District. Moreover, voters in this affluent district with a large Jewish population vote at a high rate.

Backing from her state legislative colleagues would aid Del. Kelly’s campaign, particularly in the early stages as it would help convince big funders like EMILY’s List to give her campaign a serious look. In short, as with other campaigns, not just experience but having supporters who can validate it would help her gain traction should she take the plunge, and enter, rather than explore a bid.

Kumar Barve Announces for the Eighth

Delegate-Kumar-Barve

Here is Del. Kumar Barve’s announcement of his bid for the Eighth Congressional District:

My family, like so many others, came to America for freedom and opportunity. As they left India and traveled across the Atlantic they knew they would face hardships but they were hopeful that they would succeed.

Now, that dream is in jeopardy for millions of American families. There is no longer confidence that working hard and playing by the rules means being able to provide for your family.

I am announcing today that I’m running for the open 8th congressional district of Maryland to help rebuild our middle class, restore hope in the American Dream, and grow our economy so that everyone has an opportunity to thrive and the freedom to live as they wish.

I made history in 1990 at the age of thirty-two when I was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates and became first Indian-American ever to serve in a state legislature.

For 25 years as a legislator, I have worked to earn your trust. As Majority Leader in the Maryland House of Delegates, I helped lead the effort to build the best public school system in America.  I worked to foster economic growth through investments in biotechnology and information technology.  I also fought to raise the minimum wage, expand health care to working families and keep college tuitions low.

Today, as Chairman of the Environment and Transportation Committee, I’m battling the Republican agenda to roll back environmental protections that make our families and communities safe.

In the private sector, I’m an accountant and the Chief Financial Officer of a local environmental and hazardous waste remediation company.  I know how to create jobs, promote the private sector and still protect the environment.

I am ready to take my experience working for economic growth and fighting for our middle class to the federal level. I will build on the legacy of my friend, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who is seeking the open Senate seat.

When my dad crossed the Atlantic in 1958, wondering what America held for him and his family, he probably never imagined his son would ever get the opportunity to run for Congress. This isn’t going to be easy. Offering bold and innovative proposals to rebuild our middle class and grow our economy never is.

But with your help, we can do this together and make our country great again for everyone.

Sincerely

Kumar P. Barve

Jamie Raskin for Congress?

Jamieraskin

Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20) is widely considered a lock to enter the race for Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District.

Getting Elected in District 20

Jamie Raskin was first elected to the Senate in 2006 in an impressive defeat of longtime incumbent, Sen. Ida Ruben. Though Raskin was a first-time candidate, he beat Ruben by 2-1 thanks to a strong campaign and grassroots organization.

It also didn’t hurt that Chris Van Hollen notably did not endorse Sen. Ida Ruben, who had not supported him in his original congressional bid in 2002. Since the 2006 Democratic primary, Raskin has been untouchable in this district.

Two of Raskin’s previous campaign managers, David Moon and Will Smith, have now joined him on the House side. Raskin remains very popular and a solid fit for this district, correctly perceived as the most progressive in Maryland.

In the Senate

Jamie made the transition from law professor at American University to politician in the Maryland Senate more smoothly than some likely expected. He worked well with his colleagues and  became a leader on the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Currently, Sen. Raskin heads the Executive Nominations Committee. He is also serves as Majority Whip and is a past Chair of the Montgomery County Senate Delegation.

His work has unsurprisingly focused more on issues related to his committee. Sen. Raskin was a robust supporter of marriage equality. In this session, he is focusing much of his efforts on campaign finance trying to make the system more transparent in the wake of the disastrous Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates of soft money into American politics.

One of the more loquacious members of the Senate, he is excellent at arguing for his point of view and parrying his opponents. Jamie’s passionate progressive views have also not prevented him in working with others to move forward even if the product is less than ideal from his perspective.

All of these issues and skills would transfer well to Congress, even if he would likely have to get used to operating as part of the minority instead of the majority. There is a reason that lawyers are not lacking in Congress or Washington even if Washingtonians can tell lawyer jokes with the best of them.

Campaign and Competition

Jamie cannot self finance but he is well-positioned to raise a lot of money. His profile extends beyond the local level–and not just because his spouse, Sarah Bloom Raskin, has served on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and is now Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.

Moreover, many of Jamie’s originals supporters are still very active in politics and eager to support his congressional bid. As he showed in 2006, he is quite capable of putting together an organized grassroots campaign.

District 20 has one of the richest pockets of Democratic voters in the State, though fewer than District 16 and similar in number to neighboring District 18. Raskin’s district would serve as a fine base for a congressional run.

Overlap with Other Candidates

Jamie Raskin will be a top-tier candidate. He shares a similar political profile with Rich Madaleno. Both are white males and strong progressives based in neighboring southern Montgomery County districts. They’ve worked closely together in the Senate on many issues. Either would benefit if the other does not run.

Madaleno or Matthews for Congress?

madalenovic

Madaleno on the Night Maryland Became
the First State to Vote Yes on Marriage
Equality

Sen. Richard Madaleno, Jr.

Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-18) has been flagged by Bill Turque in The Washington Post as a potential contender for the Eighth District seat:

Madaleno, 49, a onetime aide to former Montgomery County executive Doug Duncan, is vice chairman of the Maryland Senate’s budget and taxation committee and the body’s only openly gay member. He was a key player in passage of the state’s same-sex marriage and transgender rights laws.

If Rich runs, his campaign would likely gain very serious support from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which has backed his past state legislative campaigns. Madaleno first ran for the House in 2002, becoming the first openly gay man ever elected to that body.

When Rich ran for the Senate in 2006, he was unopposed in the Democratic primary and the general election. While he is better publicly known for his work on LGBT rights, Madaleno is recognized around Annapolis as one of the top budget experts, serving as the floor leader on virtually every major revenue initiative. Additionally, he played a central role in the passage of the Dream Act.

Rich has been consulting family and friends this weekend about whether he should jump in the race. His state legislative district is entirely located within the Eighth District. Moreover, along with neighboring D20, represented by almost certain candidate Sen. Jamie Raskin, D18 holds more Democratic primary voters than any other located within this congressional district. (Note: D16 has even more, though a snippet of D16 is outside the Eighth.)

Kathleen Matthews

Kathleen Matthews has expressed strong interest in the race and seems set on a bid though she has not spoken directly to the press. Though Matthews does not hold political office, she’s not a stranger to politics or the community:

Matthews, who lives in Chevy Chase, left WJLA in 2006 after 24 years. At Marriott, she became a rare high-level Democrat in a corporation where executive chairman Bill Marriott and family members are major GOP contributors. Matthews is credited with making the company more active on social media. She has served on the boards of several charitable organizations.

Her job at Marriott was very high level–Chief of Global Communications and Public Affairs. Moreover, her job likely provides her with a network of potential donors in the business community unmatched by other potential candidates, including GOP donors who would be unlikely to give to other Democrats.

The substantive nature of her work at Marriott would allow her to talk about how she was able to promote liberal goals even in a conservative corporation–not a bad skill for someone to have in today’s House of Representatives:

Matthews, who has long talked about running for office, advocated Marriott’s move toward more progressive policies, including sustainability and LGBT friendliness. She pushed the company to open a hotel in Haiti after the earthquake — Bill Clinton attended the opening last month.

She would be an interesting candidate in a field otherwise likely to be dominated by elected officials. On the other hand, this district is replete with people who work in government-related jobs. Rather than focus primarily on her business experience, I suspect she’ll use it to tout issue positions. She certainly will not lack the communication skills, though it will be a change for the former reporter to have to answer the questions.

Del. Kumar Barve to Announce for the Eighth

Kumar

Delegate Kumar Barve (D-17) intends to announce very soon that he will run for the Eighth Congressional District made vacant by Chris Van Hollen’s senatorial bid.

Career

Though born in New York, Barve went to Paint Branch High School. Barve was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1990, so he is now in his seventh state (pun unintended) legislative term. Currently, he chairs the Environment and Transportation Committee. Barve has also served previously as Majority Leader.

Pioneer

While it may seem ordinary now, it was a big deal when Del. Barve was first elected in 1990, as he was the first Indian American to win election to any state legislature in the country. At the time, he was also the only nonwhite member of the Montgomery delegation.

Kumar has supported efforts of other South Asians to win election, including Del. Aruna Miller (D-15) and former Del. Sam Arora (D-19). Miller and Barve have remained close. But no one was more peeved when Arora reneged on his commitment to back marriage equality–a bill that Barve sponsored and supported strongly.

Barve has the potential to receive substantial ethnic backing from Indian Americans not just locally but nationally. Currently, Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) is the sole South Asian American in Congress. Barve provides a strong opportunity to increase their number. He would also be the first Hindu Indian American in Congress and only its second Hindu member.

Territory

The 17th Legislative District includes all of the Cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg. The bad news for Barve is that the Eighth Congressional District includes Rockville but not Gaithersburg so about one-half of his legislative district is outside the congressional district that he seeks to represent.

The good news for him is that Rockville voters participate in primaries at a much a higher rate than in Gaithersburg, so he is hemorrhaging much less support due to district boundaries than appears at first glance. Until 2014, Kumar also represented much smaller Garrett Park, which is also in the Eighth.

Nonetheless, District 17 casts fewer Democratic primary votes than in either District 18 or District 20. Assuming that either or both Sens. Rich Madaleno (D-18) or Jamie Raskin (D-20) run, they each start out already representing at least 50% more primary voters. It will take more effort–and more money–for Barve to introduce himself to new voters.

Overlap and Challenges

I don’t see real overlap between Del. Barve and other candidates. He’ll probably start out with more experience in office than any of them. But they will all essentially share rather similar principles and struggle to accentuate differences.

Kumar’s real challenges are to raise money and to run a disciplined campaign. As for all candidates, he will need to spend far more time raising money than any sane person desires. And he will have to make sure it is spent very wisely.

Another key question is whether he can attract volunteers on the same scale and organize them as well as candidates who made their first bid for office more recently, and thus may have more of their original core supporters around to help them.

It will be interesting to see how much traction Del. Barve gains in the race. But I don’t think he will get lost in the shuffle. He is outspoken and certainly as ambitious as anyone seeking this seat.

Final Question

Will Del. Barve be tempted to switch to the Sixth District if Rep. Delaney jumps into the Senate race? After all, he lives in the Sixth even if his legislative district falls equally in the Eighth.

Mizeur Already Looks In for Senate

MizeurforSen

From Facebook

Former Del. Heather Mizeur could just be toying with the idea. But the smart money is on that she will enter the race for Senate.

Heather is a skilled campaigner and enjoys it. Her first campaign for delegate in 2006 was the best I saw that year. Beyond being media savvy, Heather knew exactly what she had to do to win–and did it. Despite losing her long-shot bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2014, she raised her profile and established herself in the eyes of many voters as a progressive leader.

The clear niche that Heather would try to fill is that she is the new Barbara Mikulski–the progressive woman we want in the Senate. Voters liked Mikulski so that’s not a bad place to be in a race in which voters with many ideologically similar candidates.

Insider/Outsider

In the gubernatorial primary, Heather did a good job of positioning herself as a different sort of politician who didn’t want to bicker and simultaneously represented the progressive, left-wing of the Democratic Party. In short, she ran as an outsider running against the establishment candidates. The chance for Heather to be the first LGBT governor only enhanced that profile.

However, Heather is in many ways a consummate political insider. First, she served on the Democratic National Committee. The DNC is about an insider as it gets. Second, she was a two-term member of the House of Delegates. Third, she worked as Sen. John Kerry’s Director of Domestic Policy and Rep. Joseph Kennedy’s Legislative Director. Finally, her professional life is as a federal lobbyist.

Not exactly an outsider resume and I don’t think her opponents will let her get away easily as casting herself as such. At the same time, Mizeur’s benefits from insider status will go only so far. Exactly one of her colleagues in the General Assembly endorsed her gubernatorial bid–and none from her own district. She ticked off royally many influential players with her opinion piece in the Sun just before the general election.

Fundraising

Interestingly, former Del. Heather Mizeur’s last full state campaign finance report showed around $194,000 in the account even though she lagged far behind Doug Gansler and Anthony Brown in spending. The only subsequent report was an affidavit attesting that she neither raised nor spent more than $1000. That leaves her with much more money than, say, Rep. Donna Edwards.

While her bank balance is a nice start, it is well below that of other candidates already or likely to enter the race. (UPDATE: Several readers have explained to me that she cannot use the money in her state account for the federal race, so she starts with nothing.) She would not be able to match the fundraising of people like Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. John Delaney. Nonetheless, she might gain significant backing from LGBT money and the Victory Fund.

While I am sure Heather greatly expanded her network in her 2014 run, it may be hard to get some people to open their wallets so quickly again. Heather beat expectations in 2014 but still ended up in third place with 22% of the vote. She would need to prove me wrong on fundraising to be competitive.

Expanding Her Support

Sitting here in front of my computer, I’m having trouble seeing how Mizeur expands her support base. Would voters who cast ballots for Brown or Gansler who would turn to Mizeur in a Senate race? Do even white voters who supported Brown partly due to O’Malley’s support jump to Heather? Or do they go to someone else?

Additionally, the Democratic primary electorate in 2016 may be somewhat less progressive than in 2014. The lower the participation, the more left-wing the voters usually are in a Democratic primary. Fewer people usually participate in off-year rather than presidential elections.

An even bigger problem for Mizeur will be that other candidates will lay claim to the progressive mantle. In particular, Rep. Donna Edwards may gain their affection, as she won election to the U.S. House as a progressive outsider. Progressives may also be comfortable with a variety of other candidates.

Conclusion

Heather is an excellent campaigner so I thought she would do better than expected in 2014. I am less confident that would be true in the 2016 Senate race. Still, she is adroit and knows how to skillfully take advantage of opportunities. While I see her more as an underdog than top-tier candidate, Heather Mizeur will have her fervent supporters and could surprise.

MD-08 Tea Leaves

Chris Van Hollen probably ain’t going nowhere. He has a lot to lose and very little to gain by running for US Senate. In the House, he’s got a solid shot at the Speakership (if Team Blue ever regains control of the chamber). Even if he falls short, he’ll likely advance into some lower tier of leadership–and being Majority Leader or Caucus Chairman ain’t bad. Perhaps he ends up in some lofty post in a theoretically Biden Administration (the Vice President is very close to CVH). But hey, many a down county pol dreams of the day this seat will open up . . . so let’s speculate.

Here are some politicians, who without having asked them, I’d wager would seriously consider it:

State Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20): Jamie represents about 20% of MD-08 and would carry with him a rabid base of progressive activists. I believe he would be able to tap into a substantial network of national “net roots” small donors as MD-04 Congresswoman Donna Edwards was able to in 2006 and 2008. He’d also be able to raise money from national progressive donors. I think he could raise betwixt $1,000,000 and $1,600,000 for this bid.

State Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18): Rich would likely attract substantial backing from a large community of national LGBT donors. He also represents 1/5th of MD-08 currently and presents a more practical blend of progressivism than Senator Raskin. I believe he could raise between $700,000 and and a million dollars.

Delegate Bill Frick (D-16): I discussed Delegate Frick’s congressional fortunes in my post on MD-06. He represents a much larger portion of MD-08 than MD-06 so he might have a stronger showing here.

County Council Member At Large Hans Riemer: Hans has the distinct advantage that he represents the vast majority of Democratic Primary voters in this district. He’d also be a nice Obama spin off Congressional Candidate. Perhaps by the time MD-08 is open the President will be ready to stump for the alumni of his historic campaigns. I think Hans could put together $500,000-$650,000. He also has the opportunity to a great deal of constituency building due to his county wide position.

District 5 County Council Member Tom Hucker: It is my opinion that Tom Hucker espouses a slightly different brand of progressive rhetoric than Jamie Raskin. Jamie is the liberal law professor while Hucker is a fiery labor organizer. I believe Hucker would be labor’s choice and could come up with between $350,000 and $600,000.

Former Delegate Heather Mizeur (District 20): This is the seat Heather was born to run for. Unfortunately, I think Raskin would cut her electoral base out from under her. This is very different than her donor base and I believe she could rake in between two and three million dollars for her bid. Weirdly, I hear her mentioned more frequently for MD-01 (where she owns a vacation home, in Kent County).

My Analysis
In a field likely to be chock full of dynamic progressive elected officials (think Raskin, Hucker and Mizeur) vying to be the farthest of the far left a slightly more pragmatic liberal (think Madaleno, Frick or Riemer) could break through. It even opens the door for a real moderate (!) self funding businessman to flood the race with money and cruise to victory.

Outlook: Toss Up

Did I miss someone? Am I off base? Shoot me an email at johnga.ems@gmail.com.