Category Archives: Tom Hucker

Hucker: MoCo Will Expand its EITC

By Adam Pagnucco.

Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker has responded to our post from yesterday asking whether the county will match the state’s expansion of its earned income tax credit (EITC). The short version of Hucker’s response: hell yeah!

Yesterday, Hucker wrote on Facebook:

“Will MoCo Match the State’s Earned Income Tax Credit?” The answer is Yes, I believe Montgomery County will expand the County EITC to provide additional, targeted relief to our suffering working families.

I’ve asked CE Marc Elrich to add these matching county funds to the FY22 budget. And I believe my colleagues will agree. This follows the good news that the MD House Democrats improved the State relief package that our MDReliefNow.com coalition had advocated for by expanding the MD EITC.

The EITC is one of the most effective, targeted anti-poverty programs available to us, and expanding it during this historic recession is highly appropriate & urgent.

Hucker has a point on this: if the county executive puts the funding to expand the EITC in his recommended budget (due next month), it’s inconceivable that the council would cut it. And Elrich was both a co-sponsor and an unwavering supporter of restoring the EITC when the council passed legislation to do that in 2013.

Thanks to Tom Hucker for his advocacy on this issue and his work for broader relief for recession-impacted Marylanders.

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Don’t Mess With the Real Deal

By Adam Pagnucco.

In January 2014, District 1 County Council Member Roger Berliner posted a cash balance of $52,369 in his campaign finance report. Over the prior year, he had raised just $200. Berliner was a battle-tested politician as he had defeated an incumbent to get elected in 2006 and then beat a capable challenger in 2010. But he had clearly taken 2013 off, at least from a political perspective.

That caught the attention of former At-Large Council Member Duchy Trachtenberg, who had been ousted in 2010 and was looking for a way to get back into politics. Trachtenberg filed to run against Berliner hours before the filing deadline and was sitting on a cash balance of $122,575 from the last election. She looked like a threat as she was a former incumbent, had money and brought union support and some business support into the race.

Berliner went into overdrive, raising money hand over fist and locking down his district. He wound up thrashing Trachtenberg by 57 points. But if he had shown a large cash balance, Trachtenberg might not have run against him in the first place.

Berliner’s successor, Council Member Andrew “Real Deal” Friedson, is no doubt aware of this history.

The table below shows campaign finance data for the incumbent county executive and county council members. My presentation differs from other sources in two ways. First, I show money raised and spent for the entire cycle, not just the last year. Second, I calculate burn rate, which is the percentage of money raised that has already been spent. Burn rate is important because candidates need to keep it low in the beginning to save up for large expenditures like mail at the end.

Friedson’s numbers are the obvious headline. He raised $264,870 for the cycle and has a cash balance of $284,476. His burn rate was a rock bottom 5%, meaning he spent very little compared to what he raised. We’ll get into just how astounding Friedson’s cash balance is below.

District 5 County Council Member Tom Hucker also did well, raising $100,083 and finishing with a cash balance of $175,196. Hucker was aided by the facts that he had marginal opposition in the last election and he has been raising money for a potential run for comptroller. If he runs for his current seat, his cash balance is excellent. But in a race for comptroller, he trails actual and potential candidates Delegate Brooke Lierman ($588,292 on hand), Senator Brian Feldman ($346,320), Bowie Mayor Tim Adams ($253,130) and Senator Jim Rosapepe ($207,181).

At-Large Council Member Will Jawando was the top fundraiser among county council candidates in public financing last time. But after entering traditional financing, he reported a cash balance of just $23,063. Jawando is a talented candidate and he has time to fix this, but at this moment, he doesn’t look as strong as he should.

Most of the other incumbents were in public financing last time and either have no money or have closed and not reopened public financing accounts. They don’t need to have an active public account right now as they are not eligible for county matching funds until a year before the next primary (which will be held on June 28, 2022). But they should open public accounts soon.

At-Large Council Member Hans Riemer, District 2 Council Member Craig Rice and District 4 Council Member Nancy Navarro are term limited. They can’t run for council in the next election but they could run for other offices.

Let’s return to Friedson’s huge cash balance, which was posted a year and a half before the next primary. The table below shows cash balances reported by council incumbents in traditional financing a year and a half before the next primary over the last four cycles (2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022). There are a lot of good fundraisers in here, especially the at-large incumbents who often raised more than $250,000 for their reelections. Friedson’s number smokes them all and so does Hucker’s.

If Hucker runs for reelection to his current seat, it’s hard to see him having a problem. He has represented the core of his district since he was first elected as a District 20 Delegate in 2006 and his political roots there go back much farther than that. The recipe for running in that area is to go as far left as possible and it’s difficult to get to the left of Hucker.

Friedson is a different story. Some on the left dislike his alliance with the business community (which is reflected in his fundraising) and his fiscal conservatism (at least in highly relative MoCo terms). They note that he won his first primary with 28% of the vote in an 8-candidate race. Rumors of a primary challenge have circulated for months. Friedson’s opponents should be mindful of the district’s 30-year history of electing Republicans and Democrats with moderate tendencies as well as Friedson’s status as a hometown boy.

In any event, Friedson is sending a message to critics and potential opponents with his huge war chest. It goes something like this.

You can’t outraise me. You can’t outwork me. I am going to dominate every meaningful measure of political power in District 1. Save your time and your money and focus on other races because I am going to win.

That’s the message from the Real Deal. Will it be heard?

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MoCo’s Most Influential, Part Two

By Adam Pagnucco.

Part One of this series laid out the rules and methodology for how we determined MoCo’s most influential people. Before you complain about it, just remember – these lists are not my lists. They were developed by adding together the nominations of 85 people who are themselves extremely knowledgeable and influential. If you have a problem with that, take it up with them!

And now let’s get started. Today, we will begin listing the most influential elected officials on MoCo’s state and county politics. The criteria include elected officials who appear on our ballots even if they don’t live here. Quotes attributed to sources are not mine and come from our voters.

15. Delegate Kumar Barve (D-17) – 12 votes

Source: Leading voice on Beltway/270 proposal in Annapolis and calls the shots on many environmental initiatives.

Source: Stops a lot of stupid sh*t in the county delegation.

AP: The sources really got this one wrong as Kumar deserves a higher rank. He chairs the House Environment and Transportation Committee and is a former House Majority Leader. He has been in the house since some of today’s delegates were in elementary school. Kumar is brilliant, hilarious and knows the General Assembly as well as anyone. Other delegates need to learn from him as long as he remains in Annapolis.

13 (tied). Council Member Tom Hucker (D-5) – 18 votes

Source: One example, look at 495/270: press conferences, meetings, petition, relationships with SHA, Governor (which he finessed) — got results. He has a deep understanding of relationships and communication partnerships. Knows how to whip up/work with constituents to get things done.

AP: Tom Hucker’s secret for political success is that he knows who he is as a politician. You don’t see him hemming and hawing in public, flip-flopping or trying to figure out where the political winds are blowing. He just pushes ahead with his brand of practical, meat-and-potatoes progressivism and never strays too far from his base. That and his expertise in the outside ground game make him one of the most focused and effective elected officials in MoCo. Bonus points: his Chief of Staff, Dave Kunes, is one of the best.

13 (tied). Council Member Nancy Navarro (D-4) – 18 votes

Source: Nancy has become the moral leader of county government. She boldly spearheaded plans to re-shape how county government leaders understand structural racism, view our community, and even perceive themselves. She’s also helped create a platform for the County Council to engage on economic development issues. She’s done both of these things while overseeing a Council Presidency that saw a new administration, four new Councilmembers, and many new faces on central staff.

Source: Navarro has stepped up on every major issue and gathered the “council troops” to take the reins of county government at a time when the County Executive’s leadership is sorely lacking. She has exquisite timing and strategically lays out a vision for getting things accomplished in this leadership vacuum.

AP: No one wants to take on Nancy directly. She makes people who cross her pay a price! That’s why she usually gets her way, especially in directing money towards her district. Also, the fact that she is the only council member left from the 2010 budget crisis will amplify her influence in the coming weeks.

12. Governor Larry Hogan – 19 votes

Source: Completely driving the transportation priorities for the county. Officials deride but residents adore his proposals to expand highways even if the county proposal is utterly more sensible.

Source: Strong, capable and bold. Leading on the coronavirus when counties were still contemplating how to respond. He inspires trust and I can’t tell you how many people say, “I love Hogan.” A true leader at a difficult time.

AP: Governor Hogan deserves to be ranked higher. He doesn’t live here, but how many state initiatives have had a bigger impact on county politics than his I-270/Beltway proposal? It’s a short list.

10 (tied). Delegate Anne Kaiser (D-14) – 20 votes

Source: Quietly behind the scenes, she has become MoCo’s most influential state legislator by a mile, writing legislation that pushes progressive priorities in a practical way. Others get more press. She gets it done.

Source: One of the most prominent Kirwan and education voices, and a mentor to lots of (especially female) electeds.

AP: If I were going to advise a young delegate on how to get ahead in Annapolis, I would tell that person to watch Anne Kaiser. She is not flashy or fancy. She doesn’t seek out press attention. She just does her job, works hard, listens to others, plays on the team and picks her spots to move the team forward. Now she has the ways and means committee chair that once belonged to the legendary Sheila Hixson and she is not done. Don’t be surprised if you are calling her Speaker Kaiser in a few years.

10 (tied). Delegate Eric Luedtke (D-14) – 20 votes

Source: Decent amount of helium in Annapolis, arrow will probably continue to point skyward within the House.

Source: Put together the arrangement that made Adrienne Jones speaker. Influential enough to float tax proposals that can mobilize widespread opposition.

Source: Kaiser would be more obvious choice here given the gavel but no one made more of an impact for good or ill with service tax proposal this session, dominating the conversation.

AP: Smart, outspoken, intellectually honest and ready for combat with right-wingers, Eric has become one of the go-to guys for taking point in House leadership. Underneath all that, he is still the person I first met a long time ago: a socially progressive teacher out to push for the common good. Who knows how his career will progress, but I guarantee it won’t be boring!

More to come in Part Three!

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Hucker, Elrich Stop Takeout Tickets

By Adam Pagnucco.

Within minutes of seeing our post on parking tickets being issued for restaurant takeout pickups, Council Member Tom Hucker asked county officials to stop the practice. When Hucker announced this on Facebook, County Executive Marc Elrich replied, “I just told DOT to stop enforcement until they have put in place pick-up zones around all the restaurants. We don’t want cars parking and not moving, at least as long as some things are open, but you can’t be ticketing people trying to pick up food after having encouraged restaurants to maintain as much service as they can through carry-out and delivery.”

All of this happened in less than an hour.

Elrich and Hucker deserve praise for acting with such speed.

Hucker’s Facebook post, along with Elrich’s comment, is reprinted below.

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