Category Archives: District 16

UPDATE on Sample Ballot Snafu

This post is an update of my post from last night on major problems with the Democratic sample ballot produced by MCDCC (Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee)

Bad News on Delivery

I am receiving reports that many people who live in Districts 15 and 39 did not receive their sample ballots today. It’s unclear what share of voters in these districts or elsewhere have not received their sample ballot. But, let’s face it, a sample ballot received Wednesday is about as useful as an airline seat from last week.

Good News on Signs

Brown, Frosh, and Leggett plan to make sure that their campaigns deliver tons of signs to polling places in Montgomery. That’s why there were no signs for them at the bag pick-up.

Republicans and Greens Unhappy

Republicans are complaining that it is a conspiracy that Republican Rose Li, a candidate for the House of Delegates, was left off the Democratic sample ballot for District 16. Similarly, the Green Party delegate candidate was left out in District 20. While I imagine it would have been better to get it right, it seems an odd series of complaints. It is the Democratic sample ballot.

It takes chutzpah for the party that created sample ballots for Republican candidates that falsely linked the names of popular Democrats with Republicans to complain about a minor slip up that clearly results from incompetence rather than foul play. After all, the Democrats messed up the bio for one of their own candidates in the same district.

More on the D16 Poll

After my post about the poll testing Jordan Cooper’s name came out, a highly placed spy close to the District 16 Race alerted me that Hrant Jamgochian also has a poll in the field. The pollster of record is PPP (Public Policy Polling).

PPP only does robopolls and are therefore prohibited from including cell phones in their surveys, which skews their samples a bit. Nonetheless, they are a top tier, reputable pollster. The survey was in the field a few weeks ago. It tested descriptions of Marc Korman, Hrant Jamgochian, Bill Frick, Ariana Kelly and Jordan Cooper. It also tested issues.

District 16 Delegate Poll

District 16

A few days ago,  a one of three Democratic primary voter reached out to me to with some mildly interesting news: they had received a live telephone survey testing positive and negative messages regarding Jordan Cooper’s candidacy in the District 16 delegate race.

My educated guess would be that the poll is from Jordan Cooper’s campaign since any other candidate polling would not have focused on him, or at least also asked questions about Marc Korman, Hrant Jamgochian, Ariana Kelly and Bill Frick.

Except that Jordan Cooper says he did not do the poll. At any rate, it should make him feel good that someone is taking him very seriously. I guess we’ll see when the next campaign finance reports come out.

Upended D16 Race Now a Tough Fight

District 16

How things have changed since David profiled this race.

Until filing day, it appeared that Marc Korman and Hrant Jamgochian would coast to victory in District 16. However, Bill Frick’s surprising decision to forgo the AG Race in favor of reelection has transformed it into what promises to be a hard fought, tough primary battle.

Marc Korman is an Attorney at the storied firm of Sidley Austin and a former Capitol Hill Staffer. He also serves on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and is well respected and well liked throughout the County. Previously, Korman turned down several opportunities to take strong shots at this seat–twice for appointments and once in the 2010 primary.

He has hired Sean Sinclair of Sinclair Strategies–a well respected if small Boston based shop–as his general consultant. Korman’s fundraising has been exceptionally strong with $120,000 on hand in January. His campaign manager was the operations director on U.S. Rep. Rush Holt’s 2013 Senate bid in New Jersey.

Hrant Jamgochian is also an Attorney and internationally known health policy expert. He ran a strong campaign for this same seat in 2010. This year, he has retained the services of Bob Creamer to lead his consulting team. Creamer has been a national powerhouse for decades. He is also a convicted felon (check cashing fraud) which could be a line of attack in this well heeled district should the campaign turn negative. Jamgochian’s Campaign Manager was the Field Director on Nevada State Assembly Speaker John Oceagura’s congressional campaign. His campaign funds are roughly comparable to those of Korman.

Both can be expected to run strong, professional, and very well funded campaigns. Both are exceptionally well qualified to serve in the House of Delegates. Sadly, only one will be able to have the privilege of representing their neighbors in Annapolis, as the other two seats are held by two strong incumbents–Frick and Del. Ariana Kelly.

Several other candidates are also running in D16.

Gareth Murray is a minister, lobbyist and former state legislator. Although well pedigreed, he has failed to put together the requisite infrastructure to be successful in the modern era of campaigns. (Disclosure: Gareth Murray is a former client in my professional life.)

Jordan Cooper‘s campaign shows exceptional hustle. However, he has only raised $22K and his well-meaning effort nonetheless sometimes strikes people as too hard charging. Still, Cooper is working very hard and is really committed to this campaign.

Rating: Frick and Kelly have a straightforward path to reelection. Toss Up between Korman and Jamgochian for the open seat.

Frick Upends D16 Race

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In a surprise just before the filing deadline, Del. Bill Frick (D 16) changed his plans and abandoned his bid for attorney general:

Today I will withdraw my candidacy for the Democratic Nomination for State Attorney General and file for re-election to the Maryland House of Delegates.

My two terms in the House have been exceptional.  I’ve been a part of a team that has enacted marriage equality for all Maryland couples, repealed the death penalty, protected consumers from abuses, and begun the task of reforming our tax code.

While I know that I could have been a valuable asset to the State as Attorney General, there is still much to be done as a member of the House representing District 16.

Bill was always a long shot for AG. His withdrawal from that race can’t help but aid Sen. Brian Frosh from the same legislative district in his bid to beat Del. Jon Cardin and Del. Aisha Braveboy for the Democratic nomination for AG.

Rumor had it that Bill might retire from politics if he didn’t win election to AG, so the switch to the delegate race is a bit of a double surprise–at least to your gentle correspondent. In this case, a politician staying in office is good news.

Bill is a terrific delegate: smart, effective, and well-liked by his colleagues. He is a shoo-in for reelection to the House of Delegates and I assume he will slate with incumbent Sen. Susan Lee and Del. Ariana Kelly.

In possibly the understatement of the year, Marc Korman, Hrant Jamgochian and Jordan Cooper have to be mighty unhappy tonight. In my recent preview of the D16 race, I gave Marc and Hrant a strong edge to win (though left Jordan in the hunt) and hinted that Susan and Ariana might slate with them.

Bill’s reentry changes that. Only one delegate seat is now open, though all three are up for reelection. Choosing between Marc and Hrant for a slate is not an easy call. We’ll see if the incumbents make a choice or just leave it up to the voters.

If I had to bet, I’d say they do the latter. In Montgomery County, incumbents don’t often slate with non-incumbents, though there are signs that this tradition is falling by the wayside. Neither Marc nor Hrant has such a clear edge that it makes it easy for the incumbents to opt for one over the other.

The D16 race for the third slot just got much more competitive and interesting.

D16 Not so Competitive After All

District 16

District 16 is centered on Bethesda. In redistricting, it lost a small amount of territory around Garrett Park and White Flint. It gained more area in Potomac to compensate. The overall net change is small. The district has a high number of Reform Jewish voters. Asian Americans compose 11% of the voting-age population.

It almost seems like a cliché that this chock full o’lawyers district has produced not one but two candidates for attorney general. Sen. Brian Frosh and Del. Bill Frick are both seeking the office. Brian heads the Judicial Proceedings Committee in the Senate. Bill surprised by winning the delegate appointment and is one of the most talented delegates in Montgomery. (Note: This district is very near to mine and it just feels too weird to call all those people I know or have met by their surnames.)

Their candidacies have produced rare open seats in D16. Well-liked Del. Susan Lee is gliding towards the Senate without opposition despite rumors of everyone from Duchy Trachtenberg to Kyle Lierman entering the race. None has filed and no one is expected to do so. Susan will almost certainly become the first Asian American senator in Montgomery County (in Maryland?)–and not from one of the districts with an especially high Asian populations.

The action is in the delegate race. Del. Ariana Kelly probably never thought she would be the senior delegate when she joined the House in 2011 after having beat Kyle Lierman by 356 votes in the Democratic primary. Read: the election. D16 used to elect liberal Republicans like Sen. Howard Denis and Del. Connie Morella but that era just seems over.

This is probably the wealthiest district in the State and the campaign account balances of the candidates reflect it. Ariana has $120K in her campaign account and is returning to the House of Delegates. She seems most likely to be joined by Marc Korman and Hrant Jamgochian.

Attorney (go figure) Marc Korman has served on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. He is passionate about transit, including an independent funding sources for Metro, the Purple Line, and redecorating the Bethesda Metro station. Marc has $121K in his campaign account. (Note: Marc is a friend and used to write for this blog on occasion. He will likely win a seat despite these flaws.)

Hrant Jamgochian (yep, another attorney) ran in 2010 and made a very good impression. He won the Washington Post endorsement and came in a respectable fifth. Crucially, he carried himself well even after he lost–this does not always happen. Hrant has $116K in his campaign account.

Jordan Cooper is working very, very hard but has only $27K in his campaign account. He is 27 (correction: he’s 28) but looks even younger–an advantage in almost every aspect of life except politics and getting senior citizen discounts. Jordan seems a dark horse in this race but his effort impresses and, at the least, has a political future.

Gareth Murray won election from District 20 in 2002. He won the third slot in the Democratic primary when incumbent Del. Dana Dembrow imploded after being arrested for domestic violence. In 2006, he came in seventh in a field of seven, an unusually poor showing for an incumbent.

He has moved to Potomac but retains ties to Silver Spring as the assistant pastor of a church. No money in his campaign account means a similarly poor finish on primary day but he is a welcome addition to the contest.

Karen Kuker-Kihl is a frequent candidate. In 1998, she came tantalizing close to beating Republican Betty-Ann Krahnke in District 1 (Bethesda-Potomac) with 47%. In 2002, she performed abysmally in the District 16 Democratic primary. She hasn’t filed yet this year but is expected to run.

Peter Dennis has not filed a campaign finance report (unless it is just not coming up on the website). He won only 419 votes in the 2010 Democratic primary and will turn in a repeat performance.

In short, District 16 is less competitive than the number of candidates indicates. Only one question remains: will Susan Lee and Ariana Kelly slate with Hrant Jamgochian or Marc Korman? It’s unusual for incumbents to slate with non-incumbents but hardly in the news of the weird column.

UPDATE: Major egg on my face for forgetting Kevin Walling. An openly gay candidate, Kevin moved to the district to run. While he has $30K in the bank and is a very personable guy who will be good on the campaign trail, I rate Kevin’s chances a below those of Jordan’s, who has a more impressive campaign operation.