Category Archives: 2018 Governor’s Race

Who Voted – and who Didn’t – in Maryland?

The participation of the seven Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Maryland elections varies widely. The table at the top of the post reveals not just whether but also how each voted since 1994, a period that includes 12 primary and general elections apiece with the number also evenly split between presidential and gubernatorial election years.

Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno

The three officials who currently hold elective office – Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno – have voted in every one of the 24 elections.

Krish Vignarajah

Despite registering to vote in Maryland in 2006, Krish Vignarajah has voted just once in Maryland. In 2016, she voted in the general after skipping the primary. She registered to vote in D.C. in 2010 and participated in four elections there from 2010 through 2014.

In order to remain eligible to run for governor, Vignarajah claims incredibly that she remained a legally registered voter in Maryland. Even as she cast ballots elsewhere and claimed a D.C. address on her voter registration application, she was never purged from the rolls in Maryland.

This presents a series of real problems for Vignarajah. To put it bluntly, if she really lived in Maryland all the time and her D.C. apartment was just a “crash pad” as she now says, why did she fraudulently claim that she lived in D.C. on her 2010 voter application? Alternatively, if she was honest on her application, how can she claim that she has always maintained her Maryland residency?

Additionally, if she was always a Maryland resident, why didn’t she just vote here? She says voting in D.C. was just a matter of convenience because she was so busy at her job working for Michelle Obama. But many other busy people manage to apply for absentee ballots and they’re not all Marshall Scholars who made law review at Yale. Why couldn’t she do the same? It doesn’t exactly exude commitment to the State.

Moreover, how can one be legally registered to vote in two places at the same time? Just because she wasn’t purged from the rolls, as she should have been after she registered in D.C., doesn’t mean that she remained someone who could legally cast a ballot here.

I’ve had personal experience with this issue. When I moved back to Maryland twenty years ago after four years teaching in South Carolina, I discovered I was still on the rolls. I had registered and voted in South Carolina but, until I moved back to Maryland, I didn’t have illusions that I could vote here or was still a resident despite frequent visits.

Vignarajah could advance her residency claim if she would release her tax returns. She already refused to answer where she filed when Tom Sherwood asked on WAMU. As he pointed out, that really answers it anyway. One imagines that Vignarajah would have said that she had filed in Maryland if she had done so.

We’ll get a chance to know for sure when Vignarajah releases her tax returns. Her campaign told the Baltimore Sun that she’d release her returns “if others do.” Jealous, Ross, Shea have said they will, and Madaleno has already done so,. Hopefully, we will know soon if she filed in the District or Maryland or both, assuming that this is not a Trump promise, which is an oxymoron.

Ben Jealous

Unlike Vignarah, Ben Jealous is unquestionably eligible to run. However, he has only voted four times in Maryland since 1994, which surprised me as his online bio certainly gives the appearance that he spent most of his life in Maryland.

His voter participation record suggests otherwise. Jealous first registered to vote in Maryland in 2012. Though he has participated in all general elections, he skipped both the 2012 and 2014 Democratic primaries. When Jealous casts his ballot in 2018, presumably for himself, it will be the first time that he has ever voted in a Maryland gubernatorial primary – something he has in common with Vignarajah!

Either Jealous has been voting elsewhere or not at all.

Jim Shea and Alec Ross

Jim Shea voted in all general elections but missed 5 of the 12 primaries, with four of the five that he missed occurring in presidential election years. None of these four primaries had a hotly contested presidential or senatorial primary.

Alec Ross did not vote in 7 of the 24 elections. Ross took a pass on his first opportunity to vote in 1994, but he would have just moved to Baltimore in the summer before the primary. However, he also missed both the primary and general in his second statewide elections. More recently, Ross skipped the 2010 and 2012 primaries.

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On Prancing, Broad Shoulders and Alec Ross

Prancing

Alec Ross has received a lot of press attention over his accusing openly gay Sen. Rich Madaleno of “prancing around around Annapolis.” Ross’ initial reaction was to ignore. Then, he said he would not apologize in a meeting with the Howard County Young Democrats.

His running mate, openly lesbian Julie Verrati, a co-owner of Denizens, got outraged in a tweetstorm. Beyond arguing that Ross is not homophobic, Verrati pointed out that she has been regularly subjected to demeaning remarks, which is an odd defense of her running mate doing the same on television.

Verrati also argued that she shouldn’t have to address this issue. I agree. Ross should have just addressed it quickly and directly instead. Finally, I have heard that Ross made a form of the political non-apology apology over his poor choice of words that he should have done immediately to dispense with the issue.

Broad Shoulders

Ignored amid the kerfuffle is that Ross’ remarks are not the first time that he has trafficked in strange stereotypes.

Ross has repeatedly and weirdly referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees as “broad shouldered” as part of his effort to gain attention for his staunch support of immigrant rights and desire to protect them against deportation. He did it at the debate in Chevy Chase Takoma Park that I attended and here is he doing it on the radio in Baltimore:

Though I laud the pro-immigrant sentiment, why is it necessary to stereotype federal employees? While ICE undoubtedly has its bad apples, as do groups that Democrats tend to like such as teachers and union leaders, the people who work for it are federal employees, like many people in the vote rich Washington region.

Of course, even more concerning, is his repeated statement that he would send in Maryland State Troopers to confront ICE. While a nice piece of braggadocio, this would not end well.

Alec Ross

All of this raises the questions about Alec Ross’ candidacy. These sorts of inappropriate and untempered comments are hardly an advertisement for good judgement or an understanding that language and word choice matters when you’re running for office.

As I have mentioned previously on this blog, I am a supporter of Rich Madaleno.

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Is Vignarajah Eligible? She Finally Filed and Has a Running Mate, So We’re About to Find Out

Krish Vignarajah at Sunday’s Debate (Photo: Ed Kimmel)

Krish Vignarajah filed the papers to run for governor with only hours to spare. The Baltimore Sun reported earlier today that she is running with Sharon Blake, the former president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, in “the first ever all-women of color ticket.” Though now public knowledge, I cannot seem to find any mention – or nice photo of the ticket to put above this post – on Vignarajah’s website, Twitter, or Facebook.

Vignarajah has made a positive impression at gubernatorial debates and forums based on before and after straw polls, as her Twitter feed understandably reports. My own impression is that she is clearly very sharp and got off the best line at Sunday’s debate, but I would like to see evidence of more in-depth knowledge of state public policy.

Nevertheless, Vignarajah may have had trouble attracting a running mate due to serious questions about whether she is qualified for the ballot. The Maryland Constitution requires that gubernatorial candidates have resided and been registered to vote in Maryland for five years.

Vignarajah has a real problem here, as Bethesda Beat first reported:

Vignarajah, 37, an attorney, first registered to vote in Maryland in 2006 at an address in Catonsville. However, she didn’t vote in the state until the 2016 general election. . .

While her Maryland registration remained active, she registered to vote in D.C. on Sept. 14, 2010, then voted in the city’s primary the same day, according to her D.C. voting history, also obtained by Bethesda Beat.

She listed her address at the time at an apartment building at 1701 16th St. NW in the District.

Her D.C. voting record shows that she also voted in the April 26, 2011, special election, as well as the 2012 and 2014 general elections in the city.

Though she was never purged from being registered in Maryland, Viganarajah was registered and voted in the District in 2014. Two years later, she voted in Maryland for the general but skipped the primary.

This issue has plagued Vignarajah’s campaign from the start, punctuated by her disastrous exchange with Tom Sherwood on “The Maryland Politics Hour” (starts at 4:25) in which her only explanation for why she registered and voted in DC if she was a Maryland resident was convenience, and she also refused to say if she paid income taxes in Maryland.

Vignarajah referred to her D.C. apartment as a “crash pad” and said she “did not live there” after Kojo Nnamdi described the building as “the coolest” in the city, raising the obvious question of how she registered to vote in D.C. if she didn’t have a D.C. residence.

Despite asserting that “I am absolutely eligible to run” and that she made legally certain of it before entering the race, Vignarajah filed a lawsuit demanding that the State Board of Elections confirm her eligibility. Attorney General Brian Frosh opposed the suit. Since she had not yet filed, the issue was not really ripe for consideration – courts don’t do hypotheticals – and she then withdrew the suit.

I imagine some potential running mates would be put off by the excellent prospect of being thrown off the ballot with Viganrajah, thus turning a long shot at the number two slot into the latest joke and a very short campaign.

I imagine we will find out shortly.

Note: As we have pointed out previously, Adam Pagnucco and I are both supporters of Rich Madaleno’s campaign. Nevertheless, as is always the case, our posts remain our own.

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Madaleno-Hettleman to Sponsor $15 Minimum Wage Legislation

Here is the press release from the Madaleno campaign:

ECHOING THE WORDS OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, MADALENO TO INTRODUCE $15 MINIMUM WAGE LEGISLATION

To quote Dr. King, ‘Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.’”

Annapolis, MD – Advocates, faith, labor and community leaders, social justice organizers, and elected officials gathered in Annapolis Monday in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth and spirit of social and economic justice by calling for enactment of legislation to increase the minimum wage in Maryland to $15 an hour.  Senator Richard S. Madaleno, Jr. (D-18), who is also a Democratic candidate for governor, is the lead sponsor in the Maryland Senate.  Delegate Shelly Hettleman (D-11) is the lead sponsor in the Maryland House.

“Today we not only honor the spirit and legacy of Dr. King, but we heed his words by taking action to benefit those who perform the work that so few of us would choose to do, yet do the work that is indispensible to a functioning society,” said Senator Madaleno.  “Whether it be cleaning offices, serving food, or taking care of those who need assistance, there is dignity in all work, and we need to recognize and honor that dignity.”

The Madaleno-Hettleman legislation phases in a minimum wage to $15 per hour by July 1, 2023.  Once the minimum wage hits $15, the minimum wage may increase further since it is indexed to inflation.  Other important provisions in the bill include a phase-out of the “tipped credit”, an issue Sen. Madaleno has been working on for many years.  Eliminating the tipped credit is a significant step toward addressing the wage gap between men and women, particularly in the restaurant industry, an industry dominated by women.

Madaleno concluded, “In Dr. King’s acceptance speech upon being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he said, ‘Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.’”  Today surrounded by so many whom are living the words of Dr. King through their deeds, we ask that the General Assembly and Governor Hogan join us in supporting, passing and enacting a $15 minimum wage.  Because, to quote another Dr. King phrase, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’”

Rich Madaleno has served Montgomery County for 15 years in the Maryland General Assembly.  Rich has the distinction of being the first openly gay person elected to the Maryland House of Delegates and the first openly gay person elected to the Maryland State Senate. He is an expert on budget issues, serving as Vice-Chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee.  Additionally, Rich has been a leader in passing legislation on key progressive issues like marriage equality, ensuring funding for Planned Parenthood, investing in education, gender identity anti-discrimination, and protecting the environment.

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BY AUTHORITY: Marylanders for Rich Madaleno. Linda Eisenstadt, Treasurer.

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Not Exactly the Ideal Rollout for Turnbull

Gubernatorial Candidate Ben Jealous Introduces Susan Turnbull as his Running Mate for Lieutenant Governor

Sometimes, it’s worth doing a third take.

Apparently, a car accident outside interrupted Ben Jealous’s effort to do his introduction of Susie Turnbull as his running mate for Lieutenant Governor. After investigating, they came back and did this second take.

It contains some real clunkers. Ben Jealous speaks of removing Gov. Larry Hogan “from the White House.” This Freudian slip only reinforces the perception that Jealous is a lot more knowledgeable and comfortable speaking about national issues and his real interests lie outside the State.

Incredibly, Turnbull then makes the same gaffe by referring to when she “moved to Washington” even though she quickly realizes her mistake and attempts to correct mid-course. She ends up saying:

For the last 40 years, I’ve been engaged in politics. Since I moved to Wash <pause> to Washington and Maryland, especially to Maryland, in the last . . . years ago, what I have done is build coalitions and work in my community.

Leading with her political chops without also highlighting any specific accomplishments doesn’t help sell the message. The takeaway for many may not be their message of “change” and “doing big things” but that Jealous has chosen yet another longtime well-off political insider, much of whose work in her community consists of serving in elite party positions.

Many in the DC area think of themselves as Washingtonians and identify heavily with the metro area. Saying you’re from more well-known Washington rather than Bethesda is natural for Turnbull. Yet Washington insider is not normally the image cultivated by a Sanders candidate. Describing herself as being from “Washington” will surely play poorly elsewhere in the State.

The jiggling camera puts a Maryland spin on it by reminding people of The Wire. I suppose the low production values can be sold as a form of authenticity but I would’ve thought a campaign intending to do a roll out would’ve been prepared to film it.

Jealous has gained a running mate who will reassure the political establishment and may help him raise money – two excellent reasons for Turnbull’s selection. Many people think highly of her and we’ll have future opportunities to hear from them. But this video utterly fails to sell why the broader public should think that she is a great choice for Lieutenant Governor.

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Susan Turnbull is Running for Office. Is it Lt. Gov. with Ben Jealous?

Former national DNC member and Maryland Democratic Party Chair Susan Turnbull established a state-level campaign committee on November 22.  Her committee filing does not list the office for which she is running.  Her campaign chair is former Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee Chair Karen Britto and her treasurer is federal lobbyist Matthew R. Schneider.

It may not be a coincidence that gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous just sent out a blast email stating that he will announce his pick for Lieutenant Governor tomorrow. Indeed, private reports indicate that Turnbull has agreed to be Jealous’s running mate.

We have asked Turnbull about the office for which she is running.  When (if?) she replies, we will update this post.

If nominated, Jealous-Turnbull would be the first Democratic ticket with no white male on it. I imagine Jealous is hoping that Turnbull will help in Montgomery County, Turnbull’s home. She also has a lot of connections as a former state party chair that could prove useful in raising money and building support around the state.

At the same time, Turnbull’s status as a party insider cuts against Jealous’s effort to campaign as an outside challenger to the establishment. In that sense, opponents can easily cast Turnbull as the ultimate insider despite her lack of experience in public office.

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Committee for Montgomery Breakfast to Feature Candidates for Governor

Following is the press release from Committee for Montgomery.

Politics for Breakfast

Maryland Candidates for Governor to Serve Up Buffet of Answers

Media Contacts:
Adam Pagnucco
acp1629@hotmail.com
Jim Neustadt
neustadtjim@gmail.com

Bethesda – November 16, 2017 – It’s time for the Maryland 2018 Governor’s race to start cooking. On December 14th, 2017 the state’s candidates for Governor will dine and then digest many of the controversial issues of the day at the Committee for Montgomery’s (CfM) Annual Legislative Breakfast at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center.

Who:  Candidates for Governor
What: One-Hour Panel Discussion
When: December 14, 2017, 7am-10am
Where: Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Rd, North Bethesda, MD 20852

Moderator: Josh Kurtz, Founder and Editor of Maryland Matters

Confirmed Participants:

  • Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County Executive
  • Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Founder, Global Policy Solutions
  • Ben Jealous, Former President/CEO, NAACP
  • Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive
  • Rich Madaleno, State Senator, Montgomery County (District 18)
  • Alec Ross, Former Senior Adviser, U.S. State Department
  • Jim Shea, Former Chair, Venable LLP
  • Krishanti Vignarajah, Former Policy Director, First Lady Michelle Obama

Invited Participant:

  • Larry Hogan, Governor

With a board made up of leaders from business, non-profit, labor, education and civic organizations, Committee for Montgomery formed more than twenty five years ago to encourage recognition that all residents of the County share common interests and needs that can be met through sound public policy. CfM works with elected officials at the State level of government to enact those policies. “This forum provides an early look at the candidates as the election is now just seven months away,” says CfM’s Chair, Marilyn Balcombe.  “This is a great opportunity to see all of the candidates in one setting.”

Josh Kurtz, the Founder and Editor of the fast growing political website, Maryland Matters, is the moderator. “The Committee for Montgomery Annual Legislative Breakfast is a powerhouse event, so it’s not surprising that the candidates for Governor want to be there, says Kurtz.  “It’s early in the campaign and they’re refining their messages, so it ought to be illuminating and fun.”

Members of the media are invited. Details regarding credentials, parking, access to candidates and other logistics will be relayed to you in the week prior to the event.

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Van Hollen to Endorse Baker for Governor

Sen. Chris Van Hollen is set to endorse Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker for governor tomorrow.

During the 2016 Democratic primary, Baker took heat from some corners for endorsing Van Hollen over then-Rep. Donna Edwards in the hotly contested Senate race. Like Baker, Edwards is African American and from Prince George’s. Baker’s bet has now paid off handsomely with Van Hollen returning the favor and endorsing him early for governor in a large field.

This is a big endorsement for Baker, as it gives him an entry to new areas of the state. Critical to making use of any endorsement, however, is an ability to take advantage of it by communicating it to voters along with other reasons to vote Baker. Putting that together will require money and a good campaign team.

They seem off on the wrong foot. I don’t know why they’ve chosen to go big with this major endorsement on the Friday before the Virginia elections. Still, Baker will have plenty of time to tout Van Hollen’s support, which will be more valuable if Van Hollen is game to introduce him publicly, cut commercials, or connect him with major donors to political campaigns.

Here is the Baker campaign’s press release:

TOMORROW: U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen to Endorse Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III to be Governor of Maryland

Upper Marlboro, MD –  Tomorrow, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen will announce his endorsement and support of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III for Governor of the State of Maryland at 11:00 a.m. during a media event at the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center, 8001 Sheriff Road, in Landover, MD.  During this endorsement event, Senator Van Hollen and County Executive Baker will also address the impact and consequences of Republican attacks on and changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“I am proud and honored to have the endorsement of Senator Van Hollen for my candidacy as Governor,” said Baker.  “I have known and worked with Chris for nearly 30 years and am proud to call him not only a colleague but a friend.  Chris’ sterling reputation as a budget and policy wonk is only matched by his compassion and dedication to his constituents in Maryland.  Chris was an incredible Maryland State Delegate, Maryland State Senator,  Congressional Representative, and, now, as our U.S. Senator, he is fighting every day on Capitol Hill for the issues and concerns of every Marylander.  I thank him for his endorsement and am confident that as Governor of Maryland, we will accomplish so much for the residents of this great state.”

WHAT:
U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen Endorses Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III to be Governor of Maryland

WHEN:
Friday, November 3, 2017, 11:00 a.m.

WHERE:
Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center
8001 Sheriff Road
Landover, MD

Note: I have mentioned it previously but wanted to remind readers that I am supporting Rich Madaleno for governor.

 

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