Category Archives: Anne Kaiser

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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Campaign Finance Reports: Districts 14 and 15, January 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

Today kicks off a series of reports on fundraising in MoCo’s state legislative districts.  Incumbents are marked in red.

District 14

This is by far the easiest MoCo state legislative race to figure out.  All four incumbents – Senator Craig Zucker and Delegates Anne Kaiser, Eric Luedtke and Pam Queen – are going to be reelected.  The end.

District 15

Senator Brian Feldman has achieved every politician’s dream: a complete deterrence of credible competition.  Since he first won a House seat in 2002, he has never been at risk of losing an election.  Meanwhile, four of his MoCo Senate colleagues (Cheryl Kagan, Rich Madaleno, Roger Manno and Nancy King) have endured tough races in recent years to gain or hold their seats.  Will any serious candidate ever run against him?  Of course, your author would be the first to sing Feldman’s praises as a public official and any challenger stupid enough to run would lose, but – dang it – Feldman is not doing his part to keep political bloggers busy!

Incumbent Delegates Kathleen Dumais and David Fraser-Hidalgo will be reelected despite their somewhat anemic fundraising.  Of the candidates seeking to succeed Delegate Aruna Miller, who is running for Congress, Montgomery County Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Lily Qi looks like the strongest contender.  Your author worked with Qi during his time in county government and found her to be smart, competent and forward-thinking.  She was one of the uncommon people who could deal with the day-to-day tribulations of working for the county while also possessing the capacity to assume a perspective from 30,000 feet.  Qi has done well at raising money, and with her standing in the local Chinese-American community, her admirers in the business community and the support of her boss, County Executive Ike Leggett, she has had a good start.

Kevin Mack, who is Congressman John Delaney’s constituent service lead, is well regarded by those who have interacted with him and is the principal alternative to Qi.  But it’s not helpful that he trailed political consultant Andy VanWye in fundraising.  Hamza Khan, who switched from the District 39 House race, has not yet filed his campaign finance report and is being fined by the Board of Elections.  Republicans were once competitive in this district and held a Delegate seat here as recently as 2006, but they will not win any seats in the age of Trump.

The Big Question: will the incumbents slate with Qi as they slated with Miller, then a new candidate, in 2010?  If they do, this race will probably be over.

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The Next Chair of Ways and Means

At least one prominent District 20 activist disagrees with my assessment that longtime incumbent Del. Sheila Hixson is a safe bet for reelection. So, apparently, does the Gazette. I still think she’s a lock but I’ve been wrong in the past. So after asking around Annapolis, here’s the shortlist:

  • Anne Kaiser
  • Kumar Barve
  • Bill Frick

If they hadn’t left the House, Brian Feldman and Justin Ross would both be on the list too. Geographic balance suggests that the chair would have to be from Montgomery County–Maryland’s largest jurisdiction and particularly large Democratic delegation can’t be chair-less.

Promoting gender balance in the leadership would favor a woman for the spot. Otherwise, there would be a very non-PC 1-5 gender split and Democrats tend to be especially obsessed with such things. Both of these would favor the smart, hard charging Education Subcommittee Chair Anne Kaiser.

On the other hand,  Revenues Subcommittee Chair Bill Frick is one of the brightest intellects that the House of Delegates has seen in some time. He is also well-liked in Annapolis, although rumor has it his aborted AG Campaign may have rankled some in leadership as well as his District 16 colleagues. Regardless, Frick is an immensely talented politician. If he became Chair, he would become a strong candidate to become Speaker (whenever Mike Busch moves on).

Majority Leader Kumar Barve, who would be first AAPI Committee Chair. However, it would be a somewhat lateral move, as he would have to surrender his spot as Majority Leader. Frick or Kaiser would each have an excellent shot at becoming Majority Leader if Barve took the helm at Ways and Means. But so would John Bohanon or Talmadge Branch.

Am I completely off base? Send questions, comments and complaints to johnga.ems@gmail.com.

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Pro-Gun Challenger in D14 Going Nowhere

District 14

In District 14, Sen. Karen Montgomery is currently unopposed for a second term. Sen. Montgomery served two terms in the House of Delegates before knocking out incumbent Sen. Rona Kramer in one of 2010’s top-tier Democratic primaries.

On the House side, Dels. Eric Luedtke and Craig Zucker are also seeking second terms, while senior delegation member Del. Anne Kaiser is running for a fourth term. The four incumbents in the General Assembly are hanging together and have formed a slate that will campaign and do coordinated mailings.

The House incumbents face one challenger, John Paul Evans of Gaithersburg, a 24 year old graduate of Damascus High School . He explained why he was running in a Gazette profile:

The issues that most concern him are civil rights and government transparency.

“I don’t think we have enough transparency in the slightest,” he said.

Evans said he is reluctant to single out one civil right to focus on.

“We’ve had the gun issue, with assault weapons, and we’ve had issues with the [National Security Agency],” he said.

Evans said gun laws should be based on guns’ functionality, not whether they look like assault weapons.

Those topics have been “a driving force” behind his decision to announce his candidacy, he said.

Evans’ oblique campaign announcement further refers to pro-gun and anti-NSA surveillance stance:

I think our government is not treating our civil rights with the respect they deserve. It’s time someone “stands his ground” to solemnly defend our civil rights. I want to do my part to protect our inalienable rights. I want to be there on the ground floor to say, “No, we cannot violate the people like that”, before a bill ever becomes a law. I want to be the first line of defense and give our community a strong and active voice.

“Stands his ground” sounds more like George Zimmerman than John Lewis. In the Sentinel, Evans made more explicit his opposition to Maryland’s new gun laws on Second Amendment grounds. A member of the Snowden generation, it will be interesting to hear more about how Evans plans to rein in the NSA from Annapolis.

The delegates are comparatively well positioned financially if not incredibly flush based on their last pre-session bank balances with Del. Kaiser at $36K, Del. Luedtke at $26K, Del. Zucker at $42K. Sen. Montgomery has $43K (error corrected from previous version).

Free Citizens for John Evans filed an affidavit attesting the he “does not intend to receive contributions or make expenditures in the cumulative  amount of $1000 or more.” (Information gathered from the most recent 2014 reports in the Maryland Campaign Finance Database.)

All four incumbents are solid liberals and I’d be shocked if they did not collect the usual round of endorsements from unions and progressive groups. Evans seems most likely to gain support from Free State DINOs, a group encouraging Republicans to register to vote in Democratic primaries to unseat incumbents like Montgomery, Kaiser, Luedtke, and Zucker for supporting the gun laws adopted by Maryland in the wake of Newtown shootings.

John Paul Evans is a frequent flyer in the Maryland Judicial Database due to traffic offenses but none contributed to an accident. He drove on a suspended license in 2009 at the age of 19. The prosecutors declined to prosecute and did the same when Evans repeated the offense in 2011. In 2012, he plead guilty to driving without proper vehicle plates. Just last year, Evans plead guilty to failure to display his license when demanded by a police officer and still lacking the proper plates. The latter appeared related to continued problems with a suspended license.

These problems strike me as not life disqualifying from public service but it would be nice if  they were further in the rear view mirror. Regardless, the easy choice for Democrats is to go with the incumbents. They should win easily in any case but face a more vigorous challenge in the general election. Though District 14 has more Republicans than most Montgomery districts, effective campaigns should assure victory in that race too.

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