Category Archives: 2022 Democratic Primary

Del. Al Carr Jumps in Council Race, Leaves Vacancy

Even as Tom Hucker (D-5) was abandoning his quixotic county executive bid, Del. Al Carr (D-18) jumped from a safe, unopposed re-election to one of the three delegate seats in his district to the District 4 Council race.

He joins Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart and Friends of White Flint Executive Director Amy Ginsburg among others in that contest for this seat extending from White Flint through Kensington to Takoma Park. Carr is a former Kensington Town Councilmember.

Does this mean District 18 will have a Republican delegate? One Republican did file. However, party central committees can fill vacant nominations. Unhappily, this means that the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee will choose D18’s next delegate.

The big winners from this are Dels. Jared Solomon and Emily Shetty, who will not face a contested primary. The big losers are other potential candidates and the voters. Instead of an open contest with many candidates who would likely try to fill a vacancy, D18 voters will see MCDCC members from all over the county choose their next delegate.

Among others, Max Socol, Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher’s challenger could seek the seat. I doubt that will happen for several reasons. While Sen. Waldstreicher would likely love to dispense with a tough challenger, he’s hardly likely to set him up to dog him in the General Assembly for four years and would oppose it from behind the scenes. Socol also seems very focused on unseating Waldstreicher, though an easy seat in the House of Delegates is appealing.

Finally, the extremely identity conscious MCDCC is likely to think hard before replacing an African American delegate with a white male. Natali Fani-Gonzalez, who served on the Planning Board and ran a respectable race for delegate four years ago would be a strong candidate. But she seems all in on her own race for County Council in District 6.

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Hucker Withdraws from Exec Race, Files for Council

Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-5) has withdrawn from the county executive race. It’s a sensible decision as it would’ve almost certainly been a losing battle. He’s filed for the county council. But not for his old seat. Instead, as I speculated this morning, he has filed for an at-large seat.

The next question is whether or how soon MCEA, the influential teachers’ union, will flip its endorsement from Brandy Brooks’s flailing campaign to Hucker—or possibly to Council President Gabe Albornoz, who seems a lock for reelection.

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In Lane 4: Decision Time for Tom Hucker

County Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-5) has filed to run for county executive. Today he has to decide whether to stick with that chancy race or file for reelection. Positioning himself as a strong progressive, Hucker was first elected to the Council in 2014 after narrowly defeating now-at large Councilmember Evan Glass in the Democratic primary.

The campaign’s January campaign finance report showed that he had $252,533.09 in bank. To my surprise, googling “Tom Hucker County Executive” did not produce a campaign website, so here is his twitter account. (Thanks to a reader; it’s tomhucker.com.) On the plus side, he represents the one-fifth of the county with the most Democratic primary voters.

Hucker’s run for county executive has nevertheless always struck me as quixotic because I don’t really see a lane for him. His core argument is essentially that he’d be a more effective leader than Elrich, which is unclear and exactly what the other candidates claim.

Two candidates are competing for the same base. The major policy difference I see is that Hucker is ardently pro-Thrive, the proposed general plan for the next 30 years, which alienates a good section of Elrich’s supporters. I imagine Hucker would contend that this makes him more progressive while others would say it aligns him with big business against ordinary residents of the county.

Elrich’s supporters may also not appreciate his efforts to set himself up for the run by taking potshots on the administration while serving for a year as Council President. Meanwhile, Hans Riemer seems to have the ardent urbanist vote, such as it is, nailed down. Hucker doesn’t have pots of money like David Blair and is not going to win business support.

Hucker also lacks the identity constituency around which so many Democrats align. While not a bad politician, he also doesn’t have the sort of charisma that is getting Wes Moore a lot of positive attention in the gubernatorial race.

Unlike Councilmember Riemer, Hucker can still run for one more term on the county council before he runs up against term limits. At that point, the county executive’s race would be open. It’d still be a tough race but at least he’d have more of an open lane. Labor is sticking with Elrich, who has already been endorsed by MCEA and three SEIU locals. Progressive Maryland and Progressive Neighbors have too.

Several candidates have filed for Hucker’s redrawn district, including Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart Porter and Friends of White Flint Executive Director Amy Ginsburg. Hucker would still be the strong favorite. On the other hand, Hucker could also file for one of the at-large seats. Brandy Brooks’s campaign is tanking, so there is a real opening for a progressive candidate for the open seat.

Hucker has until 9:00pm to decide.

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Metro DC DSA Condemns Brooks, Will Vote on Revoking Endorsement

Metro DC DSA issued a statement after meeting with embattled at-large Montgomery County Council Candidate Brandy Brooks. Their claims are damning: “At no point did she deny the allegations against her” and “we’re disappointed to see her twist the language of abolition and restorative justice to try to deflect from her actions.”

The DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) are a left-wing organization that has been closely aligned with and highly supportive of Brooks. Here is their complete statement:

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Fallout Continues from Brooks Campaign

Yesterday, at-large County Council Candidate Brandy Brooks announced that she is “taking a period of two weeks to care for myself and reflecting” in the wake of a “report of a hostile workplace environment caused by me.” Brooks says that “a mediated agreement was developed and the terms of that agreement executed.”

While stating that she seeks “to be as transparent as possible” and decrying “increasingly inaccurate and malicious reports,” Brooks’s campaign has not disclosed more information about the matter.

Campaign Manager Michelle Whittaker let me know via email that she disagreed with my post stating that Brooks “has suspended her campaign.”

I guess Whittaker can say that taking two weeks off is “taking a brief break” rather than “suspending her campaign.” In Dave, a comedy from back in 1993, the White House claimed that the president had “suffered what doctors describe as a minor circulatory problem of the head” after a major stroke. But engaging in self-care and reflecting doesn’t sound like an active campaign. It’s hard to imagine others will be working hard on it when the candidate and campaign manager aren’t.

When asked about the hostile work environment claim, Whittaker explained that: “I cannot add further comment about that at this time. If you have a question about the campaign operations, I may be able to provide more information.”

Funding Problems

The campaign has been plagued by rumors regarding its high burn rate—campaign argot for spending money fast—and that it doesn’t have enough left for printing and sending campaign mailers and other forms of voter contact as the primary approaches.

Brooks’s most recent campaign finance filing, filed on February 15, reported $55,227.76 in the bank—significantly below what is normally needed for a viable countywide campaign. Nothing in the media, printing or postage sections of either the January or February filings indicate that the Brooks campaign has prepaid for mailers or much other media. She reported spending a total of $1,803.21 on Facebook ads.

According to these two most recent filings, 61% of $47,178.07 in expenditures were on salaries and other compensation. Payments to MCW Creative, Michelle Whittaker’s company accounted for $7,550.00, or 16%, of the total spent on salaries and other compensation. Besides being Brooks’s campaign manager and a communications professional, Whittaker is also her sister.

Here are the screenshots from the reports:

Whittaker did not respond last night to questions on the total amount paid to her or the cash-on-hand available to the campaign.

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Brandy Brooks Suspends Campaign

In shocking news, at-large Democratic candidate Brandy Brooks has suspended her campaign due to an internal claim that she has created “a hostile workplace environment.” Here is a copy of Brooks’s post explaining why from her Twitter feed:

Jews United for Justice has already suspended its support in response:

I imagine that Brooks suspended rather than ended her campaign for the same reason as presidential campaigns: money. If she ends her campaign, it has implications for the public funds that she has received or will receive under Montgomery County’s public financing law.

Brooks could reenter the campaign after her “two weeks to care for myself and reflect” but political campaigns aren’t monasteries that provide time for introspective contemplation. Taking two hours off is a luxury. Announcing that there was a an accusation, let alone an executed “mediated agreement”, means it is very serious.

Supporters will go elsewhere.

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