Category Archives: District 18

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.

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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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When They Go Low

District 18 Delegate Candidate Helga Luest’s statement that Del. Jeff Waldstreicher tried to lure her into the Senate race in order to aid his own move from the House of Delegates to the Senate has become quite the contretemps in District 18.

Jeff Waldstreicher’s Denial

After evading questions from me and refusing to comment on the record, Jeff finally issued this statement to Andrew Metcalf over at Bethesda Beat:

These claims are false, defamatory, and born of actual malice,” Waldstreicher, who has served as a delegate since 2007, said in the statement. “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.

Jeff ought to be a near lock for this seat. He’s a three-term delegate and has consistently garnered more votes than his opponent, regular state legislative candidate Dana Beyer, as Adam Pagnucco has pointed out. He hasn’t strongly alienated any constituencies, which should make it hard for her to gain traction.

But he seems to be doing his level best to turn this into a competitive race. Even leaving aside Helga’s claims, his public statement sounds like what Melania would say if she was a red-headed attorney.

Rather than issuing a standard denial or explaining the situation, it looks like Jeff is thinking like an attorney who has managed to turn Michelle Obama’s inspiring words into political pablum. Moreover, when an attorney uses legalistic words like “defamatory” and “actual malice,” it look like he’s hinting at a lawsuit in an effort to get Helga to stop talking.

That’s not going to happen.

It never looks good when the optics are of a politician trying to silence someone. In the current climate, a male candidate trying to get a female candidate to stop talking looks even worse. Of course, if he did file a lawsuit that would really torch his political ambition.

Jeff’s evasiveness and efforts to kill the story also haven’t helped. Jeff’s silence and avoidance of comment on any remotely controversial issue at last Sunday’s debate–he literally did not speak for the first 75 minutes–also reinforce the perception of an overly political approach.

#metoo?

Dana Bayer felt “it was demeaning” that Jeff suggested she run on a slate with him for delegate instead of competing for the Senate seat. That, however, seems like normal politics and a good offer.

On the other hand, an effort by Jeff to get Helga to run for the Senate to help him out, would appear much more manipulative and skeezy. Voters might well judge it less kindly, though I’m not sure if they will know or care.

Dana Beyer tried to push the narrative, which is also how Helga sees it, of criticizing Jeff’s alleged behavior in light of #metoo:

I trust her and believe the story.

I find it disturbing that Jeff would so crassly ask anyone to sacrifice themselves for his sake, let alone a woman. As if her commitment to public service was inconsequential, and beneath his concern.

She made a similar statement to Bethesda Beat:

“I have every reason to believe Helga’s story,” Beyer said. “The underlying principle is, I trust women.”

Except this is not sexual harassment but political manipulation. Dana would also gain more if she stayed in the background rather than appearing all too eager to garner political advantage. The idea that one always trusts women over men is also problematic.

I have never seen nor heard any stories of Jeff behaving remotely sexually inappropriately. Frankly, it would surprise me greatly. I should also emphasize that this is not what Helga says happened, though she sees his actions through the broader lens of misogyny faced by women.

Notwithstanding the bad optics of Jeff declaring Helga’s post as “defamatory” and “born of actual malice,” I see this situation more as maladroit machinations. Helga’s allegations could be completely true but not so much about gender as the political maneuvering referenced in the Bethesda Beat headline.

To the extent that Jeff is willing to engage in these too-clever-by-half political games, I think he’d just as easily ask a man if he thought that was the good play. If he’s guilty of anything here, it’s political malpractice and a self-inflicted wound, as all of this seems rather unnecessary for him to win.

At the same time, Jeff’s “totally false” statement had at least one glaring weakness and Helga has not hesitated to point it out. Specifically, they clearly did meet, as Helga has highlighted in her reply to Jeff’s public statement.

Final Notes

Helga mentions accurately that she told me about the story before she published her Facebook. For a variety of reasons, I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it. She did not mention that I contacted her when I decided not to publish the story.

I’m glad Bethesda Beat’s Andrew Metcalf covered this story instead of me. Frankly, I’m not a professional reporter and he did a better job than me of getting straight up on the record accounts.

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Telling Them Apart

Last night, your scribe attended and live tweeted the District 18 state legislative debate sponsored by the District 18 Democratic Caucus. Though policy differences continue to be somewhat hard to find, voters could still glean much from what was said–and not said–as well as about the style and experience of the candidates.

State Senate Candidates

Dana Beyer possesses limitless self-confidence often associated with doctors. At one point, she tried to tell Moderator Charles Duffy how to conduct the debate. Highly intelligent, her most thoughtful response was about how the General Assembly’s first priority ought to be to undergird the healthcare system against federal attacks.

Towards the end of the debate, Dana declared that there is almost no policy diversity among the candidates, so voters need to elect someone who can bring the delegation together and lead. Unfortunately, she has a well-earned reputation of not working well with others.

While Dana gave voters a real opportunity to learn her views on a range of issues, Jeff Waldstreicher was reticent to the point of not speaking for the first 75 minutes. Loathe to say anything divisive, Jeff passed on opportunities to outline his views on issues such as liquor decontrol or single-payer healthcare.

Jeff finally spoke up to tout past and expected gun control legislation. A classic example of what political scientists call “credit claiming,” he steered clear of the more divisive issue of armed guards in schools. Complimenting Del. Al Carr’s work effusively, Jeff wooed his support. Jeff’s strategy is seemingly to avoid alienating any voters and run a focused “positive campaign” that ignores his challengers.

This was my first view of Michelle Carhart, the owner of a local chain of children’s gyms who jumped into the race at the last moment. Much less the pol than her two opponents, she came to the debate with the perspective of a local business owner who sees a need for both less bureaucracy and progressive change.

She complained about property taxes, and favors training over handouts as more useful and less demeaning. She argued that everyone should have to pay something for healthcare, so they’d have some skin in the game. Michelle has a lot to learn about public policy but could appeal to people looking for an ordinary citizen rather than a more practiced politician.

House of Delegates Candidates

Incumbent Del. Al Carr (who I support) demonstrated his comfortable policy knowledge on a number of issues and self-deprecatingly to laughter from the audience asked voters to send him as a “grizzled veteran” back to Annapolis after complimenting the strengths of the other candidates. He continues to emphasize the environment and climate change as a critical issue.

Since her respectable loss four-years ago in the primary, Emily Shetty has worked hard to position herself for this race by chairing the D18 Caucus and serving on the central committee. Among the most eloquent candidates, she advocated firmly for single-payer health care and is able to discuss the subject more fluently than many experienced legislators.

One of my favorite moments was when Ron Franks argued against the prevailing wisdom on police officers in schools. Making the case for people with diverse experiences by applying his own, he made a good argument that police officers serve as valuable role models and revealed a willingness to dissent thoughtfully.

Mila Johns stood out as someone unafraid to say what she thinks. In particular, when other candidates held back initially, she stated that the county should gradually get out of the liquor business because it’s killing off restaurants. She also advocated for making it easier for seniors to age in their own homes and death with dignity.

Joel Rubin highlighted his experience as an elected local official and seasoned policy advocate who has the communication skills and knowledge to fight for progressive ideals. Living with his mother-in-law (lovely woman, I’ve met her), he argued for incentives for multi-generational housing as one component to addressing senior living.

Helga Luest did not reprise her accusations against Jeff Waldstreicher at the debate. Speaking as the survivor of a murder attempt, she argued passionately for a trauma-centered approach and greater community connectivity to help address issues from kids prone to gun violence to isolated seniors. She believes a delegate should engage on leadership at the community level as well as outside the general assembly.

Jared Solomon’s answers gave the impression of someone who has studied the issues hard and would listen well but advocate forcefully. Labor should appreciate his advocacy of labor agreements as part of business incentive packages. He said education was his #1 priority. I hope higher pay for college professors is included!

Among the more knowledgeable candidates, Leslie Milano stood out as someone who would consistently advocate for economic growth. She referred to Amazon and Marriott tax incentives as normal business practices, which struck me less as politics as usual than someone who was being honest about the way the world works.

Issue Differences!

General similarities notwithstanding—everyone is anti-gun, pro-choice and wants to fight climate change—there was daylight between the candidates on a number of questions. While Leslie Milano expressed support for incentives to attract Amazon, Al Carr advocated investing in education and infrastructure that benefit all businesses. Emily Shetty wanted transparent negotiations, which was very popular, albeit wholly unrealistic. Dana Beyer said attracting Amazon is more important than keeping Marriott. Jeff Waldstreicher expressed no opinion.

Mila Johns, Ron Franks, Dana Beyer and Leslie Milano expressed support for getting the county out of the liquor business. I’d also like to know the opinion of other candidates.

In the most depressing part of the debate, Joel Rubin said he was okay with armed security guards if schools need them. Helga Luest highlighted the need for risk and threat assessment. Mila Johns and Leslie Milano opposed them with Leslie mentioning their impact on the culture of schools and suggesting bulletproof pods as an alternative.

Winner of the Debate

Adam Pagnucco. Hands down.

Candidates and the moderator referred to his posts here on Seventh State repeatedly with admiration.

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A Quick Note on Candidates

By Adam Pagnucco.

A few interesting things popped up in candidate filings today.

Krish Vignarajah has still not filed for Governor.  Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has filed, but his announced running mate, former Montgomery County Council Member Valerie Ervin, is not listed on his filing.

Grace Rivera-Oven, who was the Political Director of David Trone’s campaign for Congress, filed to run for Council At-Large on February 26.  She has started a traditional campaign finance account.

Jarrett Smith, who is a current member of the Takoma Park City Council, filed to run for Council At-Large on February 23.  Smith was reelected to the City Council in November and will not have to leave his seat to campaign for county office.  Smith has started a traditional financing account.

Kenge Malikidogo-Fludd has filed for County Council District 5.  Bethesda Magazine previously reported that Kevin Harris is running against incumbent Tom Hucker.  Malikidogo-Fludd is using public financing, as is Harris, while Hucker has not yet opened a public financing account.  However, Malikidogo-Fludd’s listed address is in Germantown, which is not in District 5.

Jaye Espy, who was running for Delegate in District 15, withdrew from the race on February 21.

Michelle Carhart of Rockville filed for District 18 Senate on February 22.  Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher and Dana Beyer, who has run for Senate and House unsuccessfully in the past, are also running.  Carhart’s website is inactive at this writing.

Filing closes at 9 PM tomorrow night.  There may be more news in store by then!

Note: an earlier version of this post reported that Jarrett Smith had not yet established a campaign account.  We apologize for the error.

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