Category Archives: District 18

Evaluating the Negative Mail in the Senate Race

The negative mail has been flying fast and furious in District 18. How accurate is it?

Where’s Waldstreicher?

Let’s start with Dana Beyer’s attacks on Del. Jeff Waldstreicher. She opened with a clever mail piece playing on Where’s Waldo? entitled Where’s Waldstreicher? that went after Jeff’s attendance record. Specifically, it pointed out that Jeff has missed far more county delegation votes than any other delegate and also missed a lot of committee votes in 2015. Additionally, Jeff has convened the special committee on drug and alcohol abuse only once since 2011.

More recently, I received this piece that additionally attacks Jeff for hiding from his constituents. (Note: two of the quotes come from previous Seventh State reporting.)

Are these claims by Dana Beyer about Jeff Waldstreicher accurate? Yes. The quotes are not taken out of context and Jeff has indeed cancelled several campaign appearances on short notice for a variety of reasons.

This is a very effective negative advertisement. Going after an incumbent for missing a lot of important votes and being afraid to meet his constituents is utterly legitimate. It directly undermines Jeff’s claim to be a progressive champion since he misses important votes and seems to be doing his best to avoid answering questions from constituents on issues in public settings.

Jeff has not responded publicly. However, he has paid for neighbor letters to go out claiming that the attack on his attendance record is false. Similarly, he has told constituents one-on-one that it’s not true. However, the letter cherry picks his committee attendance in a different year and doesn’t even discuss his frequent absences from delegation meetings. So Jeff’s claims that Dana’s criticisms are false are deceptive and untrue.

Jeff Returns Fire

What about Jeff’s attack on Dana? After issuing statements in the past saying “when they go low, we go high” and paying for neighbor letters than attack Dana’s campaign as negative, Jeff has decided to close out his campaign with a very negative mail piece that castigates Dana for criticizing President Barack Obama.

How accurate are Jeff’s negative attacks on Dana? Completely. They are accurate quotes that detail Dana’s sharp criticism from the left of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Some might point out that the quotes that Jeff uses are very old. Indeed, they are from 2009 and 2012. But that doesn’t render them untrue.

Moreover, as in the case of Dana’s attack on Jeff, he seems to have captured something important here. While Dana supporters would likely portray her statements as a trenchant progressive critique, they come across as almost limitless in arrogance.

Dana blithely sets aside political realities that limited the nature of the health care reform bill and seemingly negates that Obama achieved a long-time Democratic dream. It communicates the sense that she really understands these issues better and clearly would have handled this challenge better than the President.

The piece captures the utter certitude that can be useful to a surgeon handling a crisis in the operating room but less appealing in a junior politician who needs to work with colleagues who will not have patience for lectures of this sort. This same tone can also come across as talking down rather than listening to constituents.

Conclusion

I have heard some local residents decrying the negative tone of one or the other campaign. However, these are reasonable lines of attack. They are not made up or spurious allegations and neither distorts the other’s record. You’re free not to like it but the claims all seem reasonable enough to me.

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Mila Johns: End the Monopoly

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 18 House candidate Mila Johns has sent out a mailer calling for an end to MoCo’s liquor monopoly.  The mailer contains an endorsement from Comptroller Peter Franchot, a hero to monopoly opponents who has been calling for its end for years.  This is the first mailer we can recall seeing on this subject and we appreciate Johns’s courage in calling this question so publicly.

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On the District 18 House Race

By David Lublin and Adam Pagnucco.

Folks, this is an unusual joint post from the two of us.  David and Adam both live in District 18 and we’ve seen a lot of action here over the last few cycles, so we decided to write this one together.  Each of our remarks are labeled so you know who is saying what.  We begin by printing the June financial summary and the endorsements below.  We include the Senate candidates in that data but today’s post is on the House race.

Update: The original totals we reported for Emily Shetty were incorrrect.  The correct ones are below.

David

District 18 is blessed with eight (count ‘em!) candidates for the three delegate seats. How is the race shaping up as we head into Election Day?

Helga Luest created one of the real moments of the campaign when she attacked Del. Jeff Waldstreicher, a candidate for Senate, as sexist for trying to recruit her into the Senate race. Her “low carb” campaign is catchy but makes me think about the Atkins Diet rather than carbon emissions and the environment.

Regardless, Helga is not likely to come in the money because she just hasn’t raised enough of it to engage in sufficient voter contact. Ron Franks has run an earnest campaign and made a positive impression on voters who have met or seen him but faces the same fundamental problem. Like Helga, Ron has raised less than $15K, which is just not enough to win.

That leaves six other candidates, including incumbent Del. Al Carr. (Disclosure: I am supporting Al.) Maryland Matters sees Al as highly vulnerable, pointing to his past victories as part of a slate and that he has raised less money than several other aggressive, hungry candidates.

I see it differently. Though he has less money, he has raised just a hair under $100K, plenty of money for a delegate race and well over the threshold needed for sufficient voter contact. A former municipal official, Al has cultivated a network of support among local municipal, civic and environmental activists.

This is Al’s fourth time on the ballot with two previous victories under his belt, so he has greater name recognition. I also note that Al has managed to do just fine even when opposed by the Washington Post and the Post isn’t making endorsements this year. Finally, he has far more endorsements than the other candidates. In a crowded race, he has consistent support.

Adam

I agree with David that Helga Luest and Ron Franks don’t have the resources to compete.  I think Al Carr will probably win but I am less confident of that than David.  In 2010 and 2014, Al ran as part of a united slate of incumbents headed by Senator Rich Madaleno.  (I was the slate Treasurer from 2008 through 2012.)  In the one race that he ran by himself – 2006 – he finished seventh of eight.  Times are different now because Al is the only incumbent running for one of three seats.  That’s a huge advantage.  But the Delegate field is very strong this year with several well-financed and hungry new candidates.  I think Al will win but if he doesn’t I won’t be shocked.

David

Emily Shetty came in a strong fourth in 2014 and worked very hard to maintain visibility since the last election. She was a leader in the D18 Democratic Caucus and now on MCDCC as a gender-balance appointee. She has raised more than last time, though less than anyone besides Luest or Franks, and doesn’t face a slate of incumbents. Emily has tried to position herself as left wing and a new mom, succeeding better at the latter.

Word on the street is that Emily has been working very hard at the doors and run a good, focused campaign. Though she missed out on the Apple Ballot, Emily has secured a number of nice endorsements, partly because organizations perceive her as a likely winner. The one major downside: she was endorsed by the Washington Post last time and used the endorsement well to close strong. She won’t have that advantage this time.

By all rights, Leslie Milano ought to be out of the mix. She entered the race late, has fewer endorsements and has raised less money than all but Shetty, Franks and Luest. Nevertheless, Leslie has managed to make herself a strong contender. Though still relatively young, she is a bit older than several candidates and has made a consistent impression as someone with a real edge in terms of experience and maturity. Combined with authenticity, she strikes many voters as trustworthy and with the potential to be a strong delegate. At least in my area, she has sent out unusually strong neighbor letters with grassroots support. Still, she is making up ground.

Adam

I like Emily and Leslie very much.  Emily should be a model for politicians who lose their first race.  The temptation is to say, “Never again!” and go back to a sane life.  That’s totally understandable!  But Emily decided to stay involved, joining the Central Committee and working with both Action Committee for Transit and the Wheaton Hills Civic Association.  She has many more relationships now than when she first ran and is a stronger candidate.  I think she will win.

Leslie is one of my favorite new candidates in the entire county.  She is a very smart, charismatic and experienced person who is also a hard worker and a good listener.  Most of my friends in the D18 activist community love her to death.  She’s also versatile.  If you’re a progressive, you will love her work to pressure sweatshops to clean up their acts earlier in her career.  If you’re more of a moderate, you will love her emphasis on jobs and the economy.  But as David noted, she got in late and that hurt her ability to garner institutional endorsements.  If Leslie doesn’t win this time, I would like to see her come back and try again.

David

Jared Solomon is a young teacher and I hear repeated whispers from many that he’s extremely nice and seems on track to win one of the delegate seats. While his fundraising is lower than some at $93K, it is certainly well above the threshold for a strong campaign and Jared has run a very hard, engaging campaign. Among the non-incumbents, only Emily can go toe-to-toe in endorsements and he is on the Apple Ballot.

If this election were about signs and money, Joel Rubin would win a walk. In the Town of Chevy Chase, where he won election to the Town Council in 2017, I see about twenty of his signs as I walk into Bethesda. At $152K, he has also raised more money than anyone else in the field. As my mailbox indicates, he is closing with a lot of mail. A former political appointee in the State Department, Joel has real communication skills and a lot of foreign policy experience.

Joel sought the Democratic nomination for Congress in 2016. In terms of votes, it didn’t go well but he acquitted himself well and it turns out his donors were still ready to help fund his state legislative campaign just two years later. This previous campaign expanded his name recognition but his emphasis on national politics, including in some campaign videos, and running for offices at different levels of government, may not play well with all voters. On the other hand, his videos about his family are among the best and a great, authentic American story. He’s on the Apple Ballot but has few other endorsements from groups.

Mila Johns has made a real presence on social media. She speaks her mind both on Facebook and in forums, coming across as an opinionated, honest, straight shooter – welcome characteristics in an age where people are tired of canned politicians. At the same time, though social media is important, nothing beats meeting voters and our Facebook circles are often tighter loops than we realize.

Mila is also just a bit behind Joel in terms of having raised money and started sending mail out earlier than other candidates (i.e. before we started getting ten pieces a day). Like Leslie, she could use a few more endorsements but has accomplished the difficult feat of standing out in a crowded field in a very busy election year.

Adam

Jared is one of the strongest candidates in the race.  He has done everything right – he’s on more doors than an encyclopedia salesman, he makes a great impression, he has raised decent money and he has a bunch of endorsements.  He is also the only candidate who has ever mailed me a personal, handwritten thank you letter after a round of drinks.  I love old school manners like that!  Mila and Joel are good candidates who have enough money and support to be in the mix too.

Overall, this field is outstanding and is a result of the electoral spigot finally opening after three straight terms of the same four incumbents.  I wouldn’t trade our House candidates with any other district in the state.  I expect Emily, Jared and Al to win with Leslie having a chance to break through and Mila and Joel also getting big shares of votes.

David

This is a great field of candidates and District 18 is guaranteed to have turnover in at least one-half of its state legislative delegation. The newbies may be in office a long time, so make your choices thoughtfully.

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Dr. Dana Beyer Keeps Running

Today, I take a look at Dana Beyer, candidate for Senate in District 18. She’s moved from being a very successful eye surgeon to a persistent, albeit less successful, candidate. Will her fourth election seeking legislative office in District 18 prove the charm?

Medical Career

In all of her campaigns, Dr. Dana Beyer has heavily emphasized her history as a retired physician. Her campaign literature further details good works she did as a physician, including volunteer work in Kenya and Nepal before settling into her practice as an eye surgeon in “small-town Mississippi” where she “provided quality care to underserved populations, and was one of the only doctors to accept Medicaid patients.”

Beyer’s work as a physician was some time ago. She received her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978 before spending four more years training to become an eye surgeon. She then practiced from 1982 until she became disabled in 1990 due to the long-term impact of childhood traumas related to her transition. (Note: Dana has spoken about this publicly on many occasions, so I don’t feel I am speaking out of school.)

In that short time, Dana had developed an extremely successful practice. According to court documents, she earned $1.65 million in her final year. That’s the equivalent of at least $3.18 million in 2018 dollars. If just one year’s income had been invested in the S&P 500 in January 1991, that would now be worth over $2 million, and over $22 million if dividends had been reinvested.

Leaving Medicine

Dana explained to me that it was not feasible to return to medicine because skills atrophy and her medical subspecialty had moved along by the time she had completed her gender transition. Due to her success in what was clearly a brilliant, short career as an eye surgeon, she was also in the unusual and enviable position of not needing to work.

The only full-time emplyment that Dana has held since leaving medicine was as Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg’s aide when Duchy served one term on the Council from 2006 until she was defeated for reelection in 2010. During that time, Dana took a prominent role in moving forward the County’s law against discrimination based on gender identity. Otherwise, Dana says she has focused on social justice activism, particularly for transgender rights.

Running for Office

Dana has also relentlessly pursued state legislative office in District 18. She came in fifth in the delegate primary in 2006, receiving 5128 votes or 1217 less than Jeff Waldstreicher, her current opponent. In 2010, she tried again and came in fourth with 5450 votes, 1306 fewer than Al Carr who won an appointment that Dana also sought in 2007.

Running an aggressive campaign against incumbent Sen. Rich Madaleno in 2014, she took 5238 votes, or 2082 fewer than the incumbent. Now, she and Jeff Waldstreicher are facing off for the Senate vacancy caused by Madaleno’s entry into the gubernatorial race. It’s on track to be the most expensive race this year thanks to Waldstreicher’s fundraising prowess and Beyer’s willingness and ability to heavily self-finance.

Beyer has spent over $900,000 pursuing her legislative dream. Based on her past spending pattern, she is set to exceed $1 million by the time this race is over. She has spent more and more with each new election cycle with the total amount rising from $116K in 2006 to $147K in 2010, and $333K in 2014. She has already spent $308K on her current bid.

At this point, Beyer has now spent longer running for office than she did as practicing eye surgeon. This record juxtaposes somewhat uneasily against her heavy emphasis on her knowledge as a physician and, more specifically, a mail piece that advertises work she did as a physician decades ago.

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Waldstreicher Fibs His Way Out of Facing His Constituents

Bethesda Beat reported that Del. Jeff Waldstreicher, who hopes to win the Democratic nomination for the District 18 Senate seat, had to miss the District 18 Democratic forum on May 30th “due to what sponsors said was a commitment in Annapolis related to his legislative duties.”

Except that there was nothing official going on at that the General Assembly that day, as these screenshots of its calendar reveal:

Jeff isn’t the only one in the General Assembly campaigning for reelection, so it’s mighty odd that he had to miss a forum. I sent an inquiry to Jeff as to what was so important related to his legislative duties but have not received a response.

Jeff worked hard to avoid commenting on any controversial issue, or even speaking much at all, at an earlier forum, and skipping out on this forum would fit this pattern. Moreover, Jeff’s attendance at delegation meetings during the legislative session has been lousy, so his need to miss the forum for reasons of state seems odd.

Liquor control was one of the hot issues at the debate. Jeff didn’t comment on it at the first debate, and obviously didn’t at the one he missed. he might be keeping a low profile because he is against decontrol, as evidenced by his support from MCGEO, but not from public statements.

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Waldstreicher Misleads on Endorsements. Again.

Del. Jeff Walstreicher, running for the open D18 Senate seat, has a graphic at the top of his campaign’s Facebook page with quotes from the Washington Post calling him is “a reformist voice” who “deserves reelection.”

Unfortunately, these quotes are from the Post’s endorsement of Waldstreicher for reelection as delegate four years ago. I suppose one could argue that the word “reelection” indicates that it’s old, as Jeff is not running for reelection but the Senate. But it’s easy to miss that clue and fail to make the connection.

Waldstreicher and frequent state legislative candidate Dana Beyer, his main opponent for the Senate seat, both ran for the House of Delegates in 2006 and 2010. The Post endorsed neither in the 2006 primary. In the more recent 2010 primary, they endorsed Beyer but not Waldstreicher even though he was the incumbent.

Jeff has also posted the following to his Facebook page:

While Jeff is a certified gun sense candidate, he has not been endorsed by Moms Demand Action. Indeed, MDA sends out the following in their notification email:

[B]eing a Gun Sense Candidate should not be considered a formal endorsement from Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and multiple candidates running in the same race may receive the Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate distinction.

Like all certified gun sense candidates, including Dana Beyer, he is free to use the logo but not to claim an endorsement. However, Jeff’s campaign intentionally modified the logo to turn the Moms Demand Action imprimatur into an endorsement. If you want to see an example of how to properly use the logo, check out Mila Johns’ delegate campaign webpage.

This isn’t the first time that Jeff has misled regarding endorsements. Previously, I noted that he made it easy for voters, including me, to think that he had been endorsed by Rep. Jamie Raskin even though that was not the case.

I don’t know why the frontrunner who collected a nice passel of genuine endorsements needs to give the false impression that he has endorsements that he doesn’t. It just feeds an impression of someone who is less than wholly trustworthy.

I should mention that I learned about Jeff’s Facebook page from an anonymous tip. I asked Dana Beyer directly and she replied that “I did not” send it, though did not respond to a follow-up asking if someone from her campaign had sent it. Similarly, I asked Jeff for comment as well as a copy of his endorsement letter from Moms Demand Action and have not yet heard from him. You do the math.

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Glendening Endorses Milano

Former Governor Parris Glendening has endorsed District 18 House candidate Leslie Milano.  We reprint her press release below.

*****

Former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening Endorses Leslie Milano, D18 Delegate Candidate

For Immediate Release Contact: Janiene Bohannon, Communications Director

janiene@milanofordelegate.com

(Silver Spring, Md., April 14, 2018) – Former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening endorsed Leslie Milano for the House of Delegates, District 18 today.

Milano—a respected public health executive, human rights advocate, and mother of two—is running on a platform of socially-responsible economic growth, expanding the renewable energy sector, and addressing school overcrowding for Marylanders. Glendening served as the Governor of Maryland from 1995-2003, and was previously the County Executive of Prince George’s County from 1982-1994.

“For the last 15 years I have worked with advocates and elected officials around the country and the world on efforts to protect our environment,” said Glendening. “Leslie’s focus on transit, walkable, sustainable communities and solar energy will make her a leader in efforts to protect our environment and our planet. She understands good environmental policy is good for the economy. She knows Maryland can be a leader in making alternate energy an important part of our economy. That is why I am enthusiastically supporting Leslie Milano for election to the Maryland House of Delegates.”

Glendening added, “I’ve been involved in Maryland politics for four decades, and as governor, I worked closely with the Maryland House of Delegates to help working families. Leslie Milano brings strong Democratic values, business experience and an innovative approach that isn’t typical in today’s politics.” He continued, “In our current political climate, we need strong women at every level of government, and Leslie Milano is a bright, savvy emerging leader for Maryland.”

At the age of 25, Milano co-founded a nonprofit labor rights organization dedicated to improving conditions for factory workers abroad. She gave lectures on 300 college campuses and business schools focused on corporate social responsibility, and helped to end certain labor abuses affecting hundreds of thousands of women workers. For the past six years, Milano has been the executive director of a public health consulting organization dedicated to patient safety. She has negotiated multi-million-dollar contracts with state and federal agencies to successfully reduce healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals and nursing homes.

“For District 18 and beyond—whether it be education, gun violence prevention, healthcare or workforce development—we can be the progressive leader that builds coalitions with other progressive states to move our country in the right direction,” said Milano. “An endorsement from Gov. Glendening is very meaningful given his long, successful career in public service for Maryland at the highest level of our state government.”

Milano has also received the candidate distinction from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a leading gun violence prevention organization. Milano holds two master’s degrees in Theology/Ethics from Union Theological Seminary and International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University, as well as a certificate of leadership from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. For more information about Leslie Milano, visit www.milanofordelegate.com.

Currently eight Democratic candidates are running for three seats. The primary is June 26, and early voting starts June 14.

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Luest Asks D18 Candidates to Sign Anti-Waldstreicher Statement

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 18 Delegate candidate Helga Luest, who has accused Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher of asking her to switch races to benefit his Senate candidacy, has circulated a statement against him to other candidates in the district requesting that they sign it.  The deadline she set passed and after the statement leaked to the press, the effort collapsed.

Luest has previously accused Waldstreicher of asking her to run in the Senate race to reduce the chances of rival Dana Beyer of winning.  Waldstreicher replied in Bethesda Magazine, “These claims are false, defamatory, and born of actual malice… When they go low, I go high—standing up for our community’s progressive values, leading the fight for $15 minimum wage, investing in our schools and resisting the Trump administration at every turn.”

Luest then circulated the statement below to the other candidates for Senate and House in District 18, including the two running against Waldstreicher, and asked them to sign it.  We reprint Luest’s proposed statement and her transmittal email below (with the private email addresses of recipients redacted).

Fellow House candidate Joel Rubin pushed back, writing this email to Luest and the other candidates.

Dear Helga – After careful consideration, I’ve decided to neither provide edits to nor sign on to this letter.

I have spent my entire life as a son, brother, grandson, husband, father, nephew, and son-in-law to powerful, smart, amazing women. Professionally, I have dedicated years of my public sector service to programs that advance women’s rights as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Latin America and to women’s economic advancement in the Middle East as a State Department officer. And politically, I have supported women candidates for office both financially and with advice and support. In fact, I was recently endorsed for State Delegate by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky – the co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues.

This is why I’m not signing the letter. Because what I have learned from all these women in my life – not to be bullied – empowers me to say no. Yet that is precisely how you are approaching this letter.

This letter is about an issue that you have with another candidate. You have made your concerns about his behavior clear publicly. And you have gotten significant press coverage about this issue. It is not hidden from public scrutiny. In addition, I have privately spoken with you to express my admiration for your willingness to stand up for yourself on an issue that you find of ethical importance.

Yet instead of making this your own fight, you’re now attempting to re-frame this issue as one about women versus men. And you made it clear in your outreach to me that if I didn’t sign the letter, I would be portrayed as anti-woman. This type of approach undermines your claims of principled behavior. Not only are you using bullying tactics, but you are also engaging in guilt by association and the potential smearing of my reputation because I may not support your personal position expressed in this letter.

I think it’s wrong that someone whom I barely know and met just a couple of months ago on the campaign trail believes that they have the right to define for me what it means to be a supporter of women. My personal and professional track record speaks for itself and runs counter to these claims.

It therefore seems that this letter is more about politics than about principle. It appears to be an attempt to leverage the #MeToo movement for personal political benefit. And that is a real shame.

I prefer to stick to principle when it comes to advancing women’s rights. It is time to build alliances between women and the men who are already on their side.

All the best,

Joel

After Rubin’s email was sent, the statement leaked to the press and Luest’s deadline on Wednesday at 5 PM passed with no consensus.  Then the discussion ended.

We make no judgment on whether Luest’s account or Waldstreicher’s is closer to the truth.  But we understand why Luest’s statement failed to get traction.  In District 18, the House and Senate contests are fundamentally different.  The House race is a popularity contest.  Whichever three candidates have the most appeal for voters will win.  Controversy does not facilitate victory.  The Senate race is going to be a war.  At some point, Beyer and Waldstreicher – neither of whom are the other’s devoted fan – will start launching live fire.  Only the strongest will survive.  Why would the House candidates want to be in the middle of that?

Here is a prediction: this is not the last time we will hear of this.  As Waldstreicher is a three-term House incumbent, he has the advantages of name recognition, constituent service, community relationships and endorsements over Beyer.  Since the two have virtually identical positions on issues, Beyer will seek an edge to make the case that she is a better choice than Waldstreicher despite his twelve years of service.  Luest’s story will therefore live on – in Dana Beyer’s mail.

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Unelected Beyer Over Claims, Saying She “Passed” Legislation.


Dana Beyer, candidate for the open District 18 Senate seat, is not the first in this election season to claim that they “passed” legislation despite not serving in the legislature. People who don’t serve in legislative bodies do not pass bills. Heck, even individual legislators don’t pass bills.

No doubt she is referring at least partly to the anti-transgender discrimination bills passed by Montgomery County and the General Assembly. During the former, she was a legislative aide to Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg. In these situations, the well-understand rule is that credit accrues to the legislator–not the aide. It would fine if Beyer would simply claim that she was proud to have worked on the bill instead of over claiming that she “passed” it.

Beyer was the Executive Director of Gender Rights Maryland during the battle for the state anti-discrimination bill but incumbent Sen. Rich Madaleno was the chief sponsor of the state anti-discrimination legislation and indefatigably fought for it for many years. U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, then a state senator, was also strongly supportive in the General Assembly.

While Beyer lobbied for the bill, she also stormed out of a hearing because she was not on the first panel to testify. Gender Rights Maryland also chose not participate in the broad coalition organized by Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans, who also spent many years working hard on the bill.

In short, non-legislators don’t pass bills and these fights are invariably team efforts. There are ways for candidates to advertise their past public service efforts and even gild the lily a wee bit without claiming you “passed” bills when not in elective office.

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