Category Archives: County Executive

Floreen Certified for Ballot

By Adam Pagnucco.

County Executive candidate Nancy Floreen has announced that she has been certified for the ballot by the county’s Board of Elections.  Following is her press release.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 22, 2018

Contact: Sarah Van DeWeert

Sarah@NancyFloreen.com

MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS CERTIFIES FLOREEN’S CANDIDACY

Board Validates Over 13,000 Signatures in Councilwoman’s Bid to Get on the November Ballot

GARRETT PARK, MD – Today, the Montgomery County Board of Elections confirmed that Nancy Floreen exceeded the threshold of 7,255 valid signatures needed for her name to appear on the November 6 ballot as an unaffiliated candidate. The Board validated more than 13,000 of the signatures that were submitted earlier this month. With the help of canvassers and volunteers, Floreen collected over 20,000 signatures in just 25 days in her bid to be listed on the ballot.

“I want to thank the Board of Elections for being thorough and patient throughout the process. This petition drive was historic. The demand for a more inclusive choice was fueled by more than 20,000 people in less than a month. We’ve unleashed widespread community support. There’s an obvious and clear desire for balanced, non-partisan leadership for the County,” Floreen said.

The County Board of Elections July 2018 statistical report showed 652,346 registered voters, 143,420 of which are unaffiliated. With nearly 130,000 votes cast, Marc Elrich won the Democratic primary for County Executive by 77 votes over second-place finisher David Blair.

After receiving the news from the Board, and with 75 days until the general election, Floreen turned to focus on the campaign saying, “This is about creating a better future for all of us. We need to optimize people, process, and technology for a better Montgomery County moving forward. As County Executive, I plan to grow jobs and skills-based training, provide regional solutions to address transit challenges, greater access to mental health services, and significantly increase school construction.”

Floreen officially launches her campaign today and will open a campaign office in Rockville. For more information, contact Sarah Van De Weert or visit www.nancyfloreen.com.

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Floreen Claims More Than 20,000 Signatures

By Adam Pagnucco.

Council Member Nancy Floreen is claiming that she has obtained 20,343 signatures in her effort to get on the ballot as an independent candidate for Executive.  That count far exceeds the 7,255 signatures required for ballot access but the county’s Board of Elections will now go through its verification process.  That could take a little while.  On August 8, 2016, Robin Ficker submitted roughly 18,000 signatures to get his term limits charter amendment on the ballot.  On August 23, the Board of Elections verified 12,573 of them, enough to qualify.  So this is not over yet.

We reprint Floreen’s statement below.

*****

MONTGOMERY COUNTY FOR NANCY FLOREEN

www.NancyFloreen.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 6, 2018

Contact: Sarah Van De Weert

Sarah@NancyFloreen.com

FLOREEN SUBMITS 20,343 SIGNATURES TO MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS

Councilmember Will Offer Voters a Unifying Choice for County Executive in November

GARRETT PARK, MD – Montgomery County At-Large Councilmember Nancy Floreen submitted signatures to the Montgomery County Board of Elections today to appear on the ballot in November as a County Executive candidate. She issued the following statement:

“I am pleased to announce that, in the past 25 days, we have collected 20,343 petition signatures and are submitting them today to the Montgomery County Board of Elections for verification. This should give us a comfortable margin above the 7,255 verified signatures we need to qualify to appear on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate for County Executive in this year’s general election on November 6th.

Hundreds of people from all over the County volunteered to help in this effort, and I am deeply humbled by the outpouring of support we’ve seen. Despite the incredible amount of rain we’ve had over the past couple of weeks, we still prevailed with the help of our dedicated volunteers and canvassers. I really can’t thank them enough. It shows there’s a real desire among voters, one that cuts across all party lines, for a unifying choice for County Executive this fall. People are tired of the extreme partisanship and polarization we see nationally. The last thing we want is more of that at the local level. Voters are looking for a broader, more inclusive vision for this County’s future, and for leaders who can unify us around practical solutions, so everyone can feel like they are being represented. That’s the kind of leadership I can offer.

We will now await the Board’s determination as to whether or not we have met the requirements to qualify as a candidate, and we will have a lot more to say then. Thank you again.”

About Nancy

Nancy Floreen is completing her fourth term as an At-large Member of the Montgomery Council, where she has served as Council President, chaired the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee, and helped lead successful County initiatives on economic revitalization, school funding, environmental protection, transportation, affordable housing and smart-growth re-development, among other things. Previously, she served two terms as a member of the Montgomery County Planning Board, in the Civil Division of the US Department of Justice, worked for US Senator Barbara Mikulski, and is a former Mayor of Garrett Park.

Nancy has been married to writer/attorney David O. Stewart for 44 years and has three children and two grandchildren. Nancy is a breast cancer survivor and an avid bicyclist having biked through nearly every county in Maryland. Her full bio can be found here.

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Authorized by: Montgomery County for Nancy Floreen | Joyce Fuhrmann, Treasurer

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Floreen to Deliver Petition Signatures Today

By Adam Pagnucco.

Council Member Nancy Floreen, who is trying to get on the ballot as an independent candidate for County Executive, will be delivering her petition signatures to the Montgomery County Board of Elections today.  Following is her press release.

*****

MONTGOMERY COUNTY FOR NANCY FLOREEN

www.NancyFloreen.com

MEDIA ADVISORY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 6, 2018

Contact: Sarah Van De Weert

Sarah@NancyFloreen.com

Nancy Floreen to Deliver Signatures to Montgomery County Board of Elections

GARRETT PARK, MD – Later today, Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Floreen will deliver signatures collected over the past 27 days to the Montgomery County Board of Elections, as required by law, to be listed on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate for County Executive in this year’s general election.

Who: Nancy Floreen, At-large Member of the Montgomery County Council

When: Monday, August 6, 2018 at 1:00pm (for approximately 30 minutes)

Where: Montgomery County Board of Elections

18753 N. Frederick Ave, Suite 210, Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Why: At least 7,255 valid signatures must be submitted to the Board of Elections by 5:00pm on Monday, August 6, in order to quality to be listed on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate. Nancy Floreen would like to run for the office of County Executive to offer voters a unifying choice this November.

For more information visit www.NancyFloreen.com

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David Blair’s Concession Email

Dear Friends –

Yesterday afternoon the Board of Elections concluded their recount of the Primary Election.  The outcome did not change.  While we ran a dynamic campaign that pushed the status quo . . . at the end we came up 77 votes short.

Last night I congratulated Marc Elrich on winning the Democratic nomination for County Executive.  I encouraged Marc and offered my support to enhance critical programs such as early childhood education, affordable housing and access to healthcare, as well as pursuing initiatives to foster business growth. Our message clearly resonated with residents all across the County and I will remain engaged to ensure our voices are heard.

I also want to thank you again for your support and commitment over the past year. Together we ran an incredible campaign and we generated many innovative ideas to make Montgomery County an even better place to call home. I am proud and humbled by all the support I received and truly grateful for the many new friendships made along the way.

While no doubt we are disappointed in the outcome of the election, I suggest to you that this is not the end, but rather just the beginning of our journey together.  Looking forward, let’s continue to drive the conversation on the issues that matter most and support Democratic nominees across the state.

Again, a heartfelt thank you.

Best wishes,

David Blair

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Blair Cites Voter “Disenfranchisement” in Asking for Recount

By Adam Pagnucco.

County Executive candidate David Blair is citing voter “disenfranchisement” as a reason for his asking for a partial recount.  Blair is specifically referring to the MVA voter registration change issue which affected 5,381 MoCo Democrats and, in your author’s opinion, certainly could have impacted the 79-vote margin race.  We reprint Blair’s blast email below.

Dear Friends –

Yesterday afternoon our campaign filed a formal petition with the Board of Elections for a recount of the June 2018 Primary Election results. Over the last several weeks, we have analyzed the election results by precinct, reviewed the treatment of thousands of provisional ballots, and spoken with hundreds of individual voters who experienced difficulties registering to vote or casting their ballots, and while it is certainly unclear whether a recount will affect the outcome, we believe the narrow margin coupled with the numerous issues impacting the election make a recount appropriate.

This year’s Primary Election was impacted by a variety of unusual circumstances. Most notably, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) technical errors that affected thousands of Montgomery County residents. The MVA issues caused delays and, in some cases, lost or failed voter registrations and resulted in a significant increase of provisional ballots cast over prior elections. The MVA issues also had a deterrent effect that caused an untold number of legally registered voters to leave polling places without casting ballots, and it resulted in the rejection of valid provisional ballots. Of the 3,616 provisional ballots cast in this year’s Primary Election, 955 or 26.4 % were rejected in the County Executive race.

Our chief concern centers on the 955 provisional ballots that were rejected by the Board of Elections in the County Executive Race as these rejected ballots disproportionately impact our supporters. We have spoken to many supporters whose votes fall into this category, but unfortunately, the recount process does not provide a legal avenue for the campaign to get these votes counted. We join our supporters and the voters of Montgomery County in being frustrated with the breakdown in process that led to their disenfranchisement and we pledge to continue to work with the appropriate officials to fix this error.

During the official canvass, members of the Montgomery County Board of Elections expressed their own concerns that poor data tied their hands and forced them to reject provisional ballots cast by individuals who swore to their longstanding status as registered Montgomery County voters. We hope that the State of Maryland will work in cooperation with the Montgomery County Board of Elections to reach out to voters whose ballots may have been erroneously rejected to ensure the MVA database accurately reflects their most current voter registration and that every vote is counted. In addition, we encourage individual voters whose ballots remain incorrectly rejected to seek administrative relief to rehabilitate their votes and to use our campaign as a resource should they need any help in this process.

The formal petition submitted yesterday calls for a partial recount of the election results to include provisional and absentee ballots as well as a select number of precincts. We expect that this process will take several days. We are grateful for your continuous show of support and we will keep you updated throughout the recount process.

Best wishes,

David Blair

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Did the MVA Voter Issue Change Any Maryland Primary Results?

By Adam Pagnucco.

The failure of the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to transfer data on some voters who changed their registration information to the State Board of Elections (SBE) has attracted lots of attention from the press and members of the General Assembly.  Here is a key question: did it actually change the outcomes of any elections?  New data allows us to examine this issue.

Recently, SBE sent the General Assembly the number of voters affected by the MVA registration change issue by party, precinct, state legislative district and Congressional district.  We show the total number of voters affected by state legislative district below.  (Note:  The data does not include all potentially impacted voters because SBE cannot map all addresses on file with MVA to addresses in the voter registration list.)

Now what happened to these voters?  These are folks who tried to change their voter registration address or party affiliation at MVA and, unfortunately, the changes were not passed on to SBE.  One of five events would have happened to these voters.

Possibility 1: 5,163 affected voters voted normally because they changed addresses within the same area.  We don’t have their distribution by legislative district.

Possibility 2: They could have voted through a provisional ballot which was subsequently accepted.

Possibility 3: They could have voted through a provisional ballot which was subsequently rejected.

Possibility 4: They could have been told at the polling place that they must cast a provisional ballot and then left without voting.

Possibility 5: They may not have tried to vote at all.

Right now, we don’t know the distribution in each one of the above five event categories.  We do know that the number of affected voters who voted provisionally was 3,538 but we don’t know how many of those ballots were rejected.  Possibility 4 – leaving the polling location without voting – is the most unknowable of all and also the most disturbing.  It’s also a very real possibility as illustrated by Maryland Matters’ report of this exchange at a General Assembly hearing between SBE Administrator Linda Lamone and two state legislators.

Del. Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery) seemed concerned that while the estimated overall turnout statewide was about 25 percent, among the affected voters – roughly 8,700 affected voters who used either provisional or regular ballots – the turnout was less than 10 percent.

“Is it reasonable to say that this may have had a deterrent effect on voters, or are you concerned that it could have had a deterrent effect on voters?” Luedtke asked.

“Yes,” Lamone replied.

“That’s a key issue for us,” Luedtke said.

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), vice chairman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, asked Lamone if she knew of any studies that showed the use of a provisional ballot was “dissuasive.”

“I have seen some discussion of that, senator,” she said. “I haven’t seen the numbers, but I have seen some discussion that people believe that it’s less than a vote – it’s not a real ballot.”

Under further questioning by Pinsky, Lamone agreed that voters could have been put off by the prospect of using a provisional ballot.

“There could be some number of voters out there who didn’t vote because of this error?” Pinsky asked.

“That’s correct,” Lamone replied.

Did any primary election results change because of this mistake?  We will never be able to answer that question, but we can identify some elections that were close enough so that an impact was possible.  Below are eight races across the state in which the number of voters affected by the MVA issue was at least five times the winning margin held by the victor.

This does not include the Baltimore County Executive race (a seventeen-vote margin after recount) or the Howard County Council District 1 race (a six-vote margin after recount) because their boundaries do not match state legislative district data, but obviously, they could have been affected.  Other than those two races, the ones in which the MVA mistake had the greatest probability of affecting the election were the contests for Montgomery County Executive and House District 16.  In the MoCo Executive race, Marc Elrich led by 492 votes in early and election day voting and David Blair led by 73 votes in provisional voting.  That compares to a total of 5,381 MoCo Democrats affected by the MVA issue.

Going forward, there are two areas of concern.  First, there must not be a recurrence of this issue in the general election.  And second, now that the state has passed automatic voter registration, a law that mandates the passing of voter information between numerous state agencies and SBE, the potential for the kinds of problems seen at MVA is now greatly magnified.  Imagine the chaos that would result from MANY thousands of voters showing up to the polls thinking they had registered but then finding out that SBE did not have their information.  It would make the MVA issue look tiny and would have the potential to affect a whole lot more elections.

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Floreen Launches County Executive Website

By Adam Pagnucco.

Council Member Nancy Floreen, who is trying to get on the ballot as an independent candidate for Executive, has launched a new website for her run.  The site is short on details right now but many candidates launch starter sites early and expand them later.  Also, Floreen opened a new campaign finance account on July 3.  Its chair is Sally Sternbach, a former Executive Director of Rockville Economic Development Inc. and a former Acting Director of the county’s Department of Economic Development.  Its treasurer is Joyce Fuhrmann, who was once Council Member Mike Knapp’s Chief of Staff and is a former Vice President at the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation.

Below are three screenshots from Floreen’s new site.

Brautkleider, Brautjungfernkleider, Ballkleider, Brautmutterkleider

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Blair Comments on Recount

By Adam Pagnucco.

County Executive candidate David Blair, who is trailing by 79 votes in the certified result of the Democratic primary, has sent out a blast email commenting on a possible recount.  In the email, Blair says, “We have concerns with the tabulated results after hearing from voters who experienced difficulties during Early Vote and on Election Day coupled with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s voter registration technical errors, which resulted in thousands more provisional ballots than in previous elections… Accordingly, we anticipate that in the next few days we will request the Board of Elections to perform a full recount.”

We reprint the entire email below.

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Could Ficker Win a Three-Way Race for Executive?

By Adam Pagnucco.

There is much condemnation of Council Member Nancy Floreen among Democratic activists for leaving the party and launching an independent run for Executive.  Some of the outrage is related to party loyalty.  Some of it is related to support for the apparent Democratic primary winner, Marc Elrich.  And some of it is related to Floreen’s record in office and historic support by the business community.  Those are all value judgments best left to the readers.  But one concern can actually be evaluated with data – the notion that a Floreen candidacy could enable GOP candidate Robin Ficker to come up the middle and squeak out a victory.  Could that actually happen?

Ficker, who has a long and infamous history in the county, has been running for office since the 1970s.  He was actually elected to a District 15 House of Delegates seat in 1978, a decision reversed by the voters four years later.  Since then, he has run for offices of all kinds and placed numerous charter amendments on the ballot.  Two of his charter amendments – a property tax limitation measure in 2008 and a term limits measure in 2016 – were passed by county voters.

Robin Ficker’s official House of Delegates picture from 1978.  Forty years later, could he be headed to elected office again?

First, let’s look at Ficker’s electoral history since the 1990s.  He has run ten times and lost on every occasion.  In every race, he has been a Republican except for 2006, when he ran as an independent for County Executive.  (Twelve years later, that’s what Nancy Floreen is doing.)

Besides all the losing, the thing that stands out here is Ficker’s unpopularity in the Republican Party.  He has entered six contested GOP primaries since 1994 and lost five of them.  The only time he had opposition and won was when he ran in the 2009 County Council District 4 special election and defeated two no-name Republicans who barely campaigned.  The lesson here is that when Republicans have an alternative to Ficker who is not a Democrat, they tend to vote for someone else.

Even Republicans are reluctant to buy what Ficker is selling.  Photo credit: Getty Images, John W. McDonough.

Cathedral wedding Veil

When he did make it to general elections, Ficker earned vote percentages ranging from 34% to 41%.  But most of those elections occurred in Upcounty districts where Republicans are a much larger percentage of the electorate than the county as a whole.

Now let’s look at the performances of GOP candidates for County Executive over the last five general elections.

One of the untold stories in MoCo elections is the recent decline in electoral performance by Democratic nominees in MoCo Executive general elections.  From 1998 through 2006, the Republican nominee did not crack 30%.  In the last two elections, the Republican got 34% of the vote.  For the most part, these were protest votes as the Republican candidates had no money, did not campaign and were not expected by anyone to win.  Another thing to note is that the only one of these elections that had an independent candidate was 2006, when Ficker ran against Ike Leggett and GOP nominee Chuck Floyd.  Ficker got just 9% of the vote, another sign of his unpopularity with both Republicans and independents.

Finally, let’s consider turnout by party in MoCo mid-term general elections.

Over the years, Democratic turnout percentage has edged up gradually, independent turnout has increased and Republican turnout has collapsed.  At some point, it’s reasonable to expect that independent turnout might exceed the GOP.

For Ficker to win, he would need to hold onto all the GOP votes, win more than 70% of independents and have Floreen and Elrich split everyone else exactly down the middle.  That would result in Ficker getting 34% of the vote and Floreen and Elrich each getting 33%.  That’s extremely unlikely for two reasons.  First, as detailed above, Ficker is weak among GOP voters and Republicans and independents would have a viable alternative in Floreen.  Second, for this scenario to work, almost half of all Democrats would have to vote against their own party’s nominee to keep Elrich at 33%.  It’s easier to see a path to victory for Floreen, who could win by getting half the Republicans, all the independents and roughly 28% of the Democrats.

Just to be clear, we are skeptical that anyone can defeat a Democratic nominee in a MoCo countywide election.  But whatever the ramifications of a possible Floreen independent run, we’re pretty sure that one of them will not be a victory by Robin Ficker.

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Is Ficker Using Public Financing to Promote His Law Practice?

By Adam Pagnucco.

County Executive candidate Robin Ficker is enrolled in the county’s public financing program and has announced that he has qualified for $231,185 in public matching funds.  Those funds are supposed to be used to finance his campaign for office.  But his Facebook ads raise the question of whether he is also using them to promote his law practice.

Ficker has run at least three political Facebook ads from his Robin Ficker Law Offices page.

The content of the ads is unquestionably political.  But the Facebook page is a mixed bag.  It advertises his services as a criminal defense lawyer and has his business phone number.  It also offers a combination of political content and promotion of Ficker’s legal work.

prom dress online

To be fair, Ficker’s ads do not advertise the legal posts.   But whenever a voter sees one of his political ads, they see “Robin Ficker Law Offices” at the top.

Maryland COMAR 33.13.10.03 prohibits the use of campaign funds for “the personal use or the personal benefit of a candidate.”  Montgomery County COMCOR 16.21.01.05 prohibits the use of public financing funds for “personal use.”  Whether Ficker is running afoul of these regulations is a matter for the authorities.  But if he wants to avoid this issue entirely, Ficker should establish a political Facebook page that is separate from his business.  That’s what other candidates do and Ficker should do the same.

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