Category Archives: County Executive

Post Editorial Board Goes After Elrich… Again

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Washington Post has published an editorial branding Council Member Marc Elrich, who is currently leading in the Democratic primary for Executive, as “an outlier who proudly positioned himself on the ideological extreme left” and “the most insistently anti-business and anti-development member of the Montgomery County Council for more than a decade.”  Those who are interested in the Post’s opinion can read it here.

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Blair Reaching Out to Absentee and Provisional Voters

By Adam Pagnucco.

As Council Member Nancy Floreen plans an independent run for Executive, the Democratic primary is not quite over.  Democratic Executive candidate David Blair, who trails Marc Elrich by eighty votes, is reaching out to absentee and provisional voters whose ballots were rejected to ensure that their votes are counted.  We reprint Blair’s email blast below.

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Nancy Floreen is Running for Executive

By Adam Pagnucco.

Council Member Nancy Floreen has announced that she is gathering petition signatures for an independent run for County Executive.  We reprint her statement below.

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Montgomery County for Nancy Floreen

For Immediate Release

Contact: Sarah Van De Weert

s.vandeweert@gmail.com

Statement by Nancy Floreen

Montgomery County Councilmember

July 11, 2018

On July 2, I filed my intent to seek the office of Montgomery County Executive in the November general election as an independent. On July 9, I officially changed my party affiliation to “unaffiliated.”

Although the unofficial returns of the Democratic primary for County Executive are in, those results have not yet been certified by the Board of Elections. Given the tiny margin in unofficial returns, I am also aware that a recount of the ballots is likely.

Notwithstanding all this, I am today announcing that I will be circulating nominating petitions for the office of County Executive for the November general election beginning today.

I have been part of local government in Montgomery County for most of my career – as a member of the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission, as mayor of Garrett Park, and then as a member of the County Council for 16 years. In this county, local government has always been about listening to people’s problems and figuring out the most effective and most efficient ways to help them. It has never been a partisan process, and it has built a great county.

I am a candidate for County Executive – unexpectedly, I admit – because it would be a terrible loss for this county to fall into the sort of polarized posturing that has poisoned our national politics. That’s not my way. I want to get things done for all of us. We need to attract good jobs for our people, provide housing for everyone, and reinforce our tax base so we can continue to provide the services people need. That’s what I want to do. I hope the voters will help me work to do the things we need to do and leave the posturing to others.

The critical interests of Montgomery County families are ill-served when any candidate can prevail with barely 29 percent of the one-third of Democrats who turned out, the Republicans had no choice at all, and the county’s 150,000 independent voters were prevented by law from voting in either contest. There is no mandate here. Most county voters have yet to be heard from.

That is why I am determined to give Montgomery County a third, independent choice come November. I am heartened by the positive response this effort has already won. I call upon all Democrats, independents, and Republicans to say “no” to both flawed extremes, to think for themselves, and to put principle and pragmatism above purely party politics.

Montgomery County deserves no less.

For more information, contact Sarah Van De Weert at s.vandeweert@gmail.com.

Montgomery County for Nancy Floreen

P.O. Box 183

Garrett Park, MD 20896

By Authority: Joyce Fuhrmann, Treasurer

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Floreen Faces an Uphill Climb to Get on the Ballot

By Adam Pagnucco.

As has been previously written both here and in Bethesda Magazine, Council Member Nancy Floreen faces two hurdles in getting on the ballot as an independent candidate for Executive.  First, there is the question of whether she can change her registration from Democratic to unaffiliated in time to access the ballot as a non-Democrat.  That issue is playing out now.  Second, she faces a petition signature requirement.  That’s going to be tough.

State law requires that an independent candidate seeking to get on the ballot for a general election must gather a number of voter signatures equal to the lesser of 10,000 or 1% of registered voters by the first Monday in August (which is August 6th this year).  In Floreen’s case, the relevant number is around 6,500.  That might seem doable EXCEPT that state law is very exacting on how petition signatures are evaluated by boards of election.  Among the requirements are the following.

Petition circulators do not have to be registered voters or even residents of Maryland, but they must be at least age 18.

Circulators may be paid but petition signers may not be paid.

Circulators must sign an affidavit on each petition signature page attesting to the following:

All identifying information given by the circulator is true and correct;

Signatures were placed on the petition in the circulator’s presence; and

Based on the circulator’s best knowledge and belief, each signature on the page is genuine and each signer is a registered voter in Maryland.

The circulator must sign and date the affidavit.  Any signature on the page that is dated after the circulator’s affidavit is invalid.

Smudged and/or illegible signatures are rejected so signing in pencil is discouraged.

A voter may not sign a petition more than once.

Voters may not sign on behalf of their spouses.

Signers must provide the full month, day and year of signing.  The circulator should not fill in that information unless the signer asks for help.  Ditto marks are prohibited.

The signer’s current permanent residence address must be provided.  Business addresses are not permitted.  Post office boxes are permitted only if there is no street and house number designation for the voter’s residence and only if the post office box address is on record with the election office.

There are very specific requirements on how the signer’s name should appear.  According to the state’s FAQ document:

The name either has to match the registration list or include all parts of the name required in the statute. Section 6-203 of the Election Law Article states “To sign a petition, an individual shall: (1) sign the individual’s name as it appears on the statewide voter registration list or the individual’s surname of registration and at least one full given name and the initials of any other names.”

For example, if a voter is registered as Margaret Hall Smith, it is permissible for her to sign as Margaret H. Smith or M. Hall Smith. But M.H. Smith or Margaret Smith is not permissible and will be invalidated. Additionally, the use of her nickname, Peggy Smith or her married name Mrs. John Smith will be invalidated. If a voters’ registered name has a suffix (i.e. Jr., Sr., III, etc.) the signature will not be invalidated if the signer fails to include it on the petition.

The State Board of Elections’ procedures manual for petitions provides further discussion of this.

If this seems daunting, well, it is.  Consider the recent experience of MoCo’s greatest petition circulator of all time, Robin Ficker, who has gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures over the last four-plus decades.  It took Ficker more than a year to gather over 18,000 signatures for his 2016 term limits petition, of which 12,573 were ultimately verified by the county’s Board of Elections.  Yes, others besides Ficker gathered some of the signatures, but Ficker supervised the effort.  If the greatest of all time has an error rate of approximately one third, what would the error rate be for any new or paid circulators retained by Floreen?  She is going to need a LOT more than 6,500 signatures to survive scrutiny by the board of elections and, possibly, the courts to make it on the ballot.  Plus the fact that the petition is due on August 6 – less than a month away – puts immense pressure on the whole process.

Nancy Floreen needs a great election lawyer.  Now.  She needs a significant number of circulators who are trained in the State of Maryland’s petition requirements.  Now.  They need to be on the streets gathering signatures.  Now.  And she needs many thousands of dollars to pay for all this.  Now.

Or else she won’t be on the ballot.

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Nancy Floreen Files Intent to Run for County Executive as an Independent

By Adam Pagnucco.

Bethesda Magazine just reported that Council Member Nancy Floreen has filed her intent to run for County Executive as an independent.  But getting on the ballot is not as simple as filing.

The magazine noted that Floreen is still a Democrat and that could present a legal difficulty.  But there is more.  According to § 5-703 of the state’s election law, Floreen has until the first Monday in August to submit petition signatures sufficient to place her on the ballot.  The law states:

A candidate who seeks nomination by petition may not have the candidate’s name placed on the general election ballot unless the candidate files with the appropriate board petitions signed by the lesser of 10,000 registered voters or 1% of the total number of registered voters who are eligible to vote for the office for which the nomination by petition is sought, except that the petitions shall be signed by at least 250 registered voters who are eligible to vote for the office…

The number of registered voters required to satisfy the requirements of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be determined as of January 1 of the year of the primary election for which the nomination is sought.

The state’s voter registration report for January indicates that there were 644,179 registered voters in Montgomery County at that time.  So Floreen’s absolute minimum threshold would be 6,442 MoCo voters.  To be safe, she probably needs at least 10,000 signatures to account for inevitable disqualifications.

She has until August 6 to get them.

Following is Floreen’s statement.

Today I filed an Intent to Declare Candidacy with the Maryland Board of Elections to run for County Executive in the November general election.

Let me be clear: I would like to have waited for the final count of ballots in the County Executive race. However, State law sets July 2 as the deadline for declaring an independent candidacy.

I did not support either David Blair or Marc Elrich. Whichever candidate prevails in the count will do so with less than 30 percent of the third of Democrats who voted — a fraction of a fraction. That’s less than 40,000 votes in a County of more than a million.

I believe ALL Democrats, Republicans, and independents would benefit from a third, independent choice.

I will announce my final decision on candidacy once all the primary votes for County Executive have been tabulated and certified.

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Does Blair Have a Chance?

By Adam Pagnucco.

With early votes and election day votes counted, Marc Elrich leads David Blair by 452 votes to win the Democratic County Executive nomination.  This would be a close margin in a House of Delegates race but it’s incredibly close for a county-wide race.  The final outcome will now be decided by absentee and provisional ballots.  Does Blair have a chance or will Elrich hold on to win?

According to Bethesda Magazine, the county’s Board of Elections received 4,900 Democratic absentee ballots as of Monday.  In addition, 3,614 provisional ballots were cast but that total includes all parties.  For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that 2,500 of those provisional ballots came from Democrats.  If there are only 5,000 Democratic absentee ballots received, that is 7,500 outstanding votes.  A higher end assumption would be that 7,500 Democratic absentee ballots come in, resulting in 10,000 outstanding votes.

Let’s do a math exercise on the final outcome of the absentee and provisional votes.  In the first scenario, let’s assume that the percentages of three categories – Blair’s percentage, Elrich’s percentage and the percentage of all the other candidates – exactly match the shares recorded during early and election day voting.  In this scenario, Elrich picks up between 30 and 40 votes more than Blair and he would win.

Now let’s do a scenario in which Blair wins.  Since Blair and Elrich are the top two and no one else is even close, it’s the margin between them that will determine the victor.  In this second scenario, we will hold the percentage of all the other candidates constant and merely adjust the totals for Blair and Elrich.  Adding 3.3 points to Blair and subtracting 3.3 points from Elrich produces a net gain for Blair of 465 votes in a 7,500 vote universe, enough to win.  That margin would go up to 620 votes in a 10,000 vote universe.  But note that this scenario requires Blair to lead Elrich by 6.2 points among these groups, a very different result than Elrich’s 0.4 point lead in early and election day votes.

We adjusted the percentage for the other candidates up and down and didn’t find much change in the margin Blair needs, which is more than six points over Elrich.  Again, this is a departure from the cumulative early vote and election day totals.

Will it happen?  Readers, you tell us!

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Why I Support David Blair

By Lawrence N. Rosenblum, CPA.

As Ike Leggett’s Treasurer and long-time friend, I had great concerns two years ago about whether the next Montgomery County Executive would preserve his legacy and build on his great accomplishments. Much to my dismay, I had strong doubts that the people rumored to be running would do that.

Last summer, I met David Blair and my half-hour introductory meeting lasted almost two hours. I instantly realized that he was the Obi-Wan who would ultimately be our only hope. Since then, I’ve become convinced that not only will he protect and improve upon Ike’s successes, but he will be an outstanding County Executive in his own right.

Here’s why: he really cares about the future of Montgomery County; he has demonstrated superior executive ability by growing a small business from a one room office into a $6,000,000,000 Fortune 500 Company; he’s smart and knows how to create jobs; and he is one of the best listeners I have ever met (which is rare for a politician).

The fact that he has invested his hard-earned money into this campaign shows us that he puts his money where his mouth is. Because he knew he was not well known, and that it would take a tremendous amount to become competitive, he was reluctant to ask others to contribute to what may have been a futile effort. He took great risk and I applaud that.

It’s time for fresh ideas and new approaches. The same old, same old won’t work anymore as we face unprecedented challenges locally. We must find ways to do more with less. We must embrace and leverage new technology and initiate innovative solutions. I’m convinced that David can and will do just that.

Since he sold his company, David has traveled the county and met with thousands of Montgomery County residents researching best practices and further understanding the issues we face. Not having vast political experience is a plus in my book because he has the knowledge, fresh ideas and discipline to lead.

It’s a shame that David’s competition has resorted to such vile, negative campaigning. Spreading ridiculous lies doesn’t hoodwink our smart voters. The backlash from these attacks is only fueling David’s supporters to work even harder to help get him elected. It takes great courage and restraint not to lower oneself and fight back. I’m so proud of David for not playing in the mud with them. I should remind those who attack David for being a Republican while he was in his 20’s raising a family and building a business (and not enmeshed in politics) that beloved progressive Bernie Sanders has only been a Democrat for one of the last 25 years and he isn’t one today.

Lastly, students of history will remember that there was only one time since the adoption of our charter form of government (1970) that a sitting County Council Member was elected to the position of County Executive. That exception turned out to be a disaster for the county. They call this position County Executive for a reason. And here’s why: legislators are usually not good executives. Executives make good County Executives.

I’m so proud of the non-traditional, positive, innovative and uplifting campaign David Blair has run. I support him 100% and you should too.

Larry Rosenblum has been Ike Leggett’s Treasurer since 2005.

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Marc Elrich’s 80-Hour Appeal

By Adam Pagnucco.

Marc Elrich’s blast email below summarizes his message and rallies his troops for the final hours of the campaign.

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Your help in the next 80 hours will be critical

Friends,

I’m running for County Executive because we have an important choice in this election. On one side are developers and their allies, who have long had too much influence in county government (I’m the only County Councilmember, and only County Executive candidate, to never take their campaign money). They’re spreading misinformation and opposing my candidacy because they know I’ll make them pay their fair share for schools, transit, and green space.

On the other side are teachers, nurses, firefighters, environmentalists, labor unions, progressives, and twenty other organizations who have endorsed me because they know I’ll always stand with you. I would be honored to have your support as well.

With a little less than three days left before polls open on election day, my campaign is working around the clock and could use your help with the items below. Whether you can give money or time, anything you can do could be the difference between a win and a loss. Here’s what we need:

1) Donations. $2,945 in small donations this weekend is what we need to finish this election strong. If you haven’t given the $150 individual maximum yet, please contribute now. If you have already given the $150 maximum, please ask a family member or friend to contribute.

2) Volunteers. If you can door knock, phone bank, staff a polling location, or drive materials to people who need it, please let us know.

3) An Appeal. Your neighbors and colleagues trust you more than anyone – please send them an email or put out a message on social media letting them know why you’re voting for me and asking them to do so, too.

I also hope you’ll join me at the Barking Dog to watch the election results come in on Tuesday night. With your help, I think we’ll have a lot to celebrate.

Thanks,

Marc

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