Category Archives: District 18

We Can’t Tell Them Apart

By Adam Pagnucco.

On Saturday, your author attended a forum for the two Senate candidates and eight House candidates running in District 18.  (These are the sad things we do after football season is over!)  What did we learn?

Not a whole lot.

You see, while MoCo has plenty of demographic, cultural and economic diversity, it has little political diversity – at least among those who run for office.  Take the candidates on stage.  Yes, there are demographic differences – two are African American men and five are women.  Yes, there are differences in life and professional experience.  They include a former teacher, a former doctor, a non-profit executive, two incumbent Delegates, a Town Council Member and more.  But on issues?

Let’s see.  They all support public education.  They all want more transportation options, especially those involving transit, walking and biking.  They all want more abundant and affordable health care coverage.  They are all pro-environment.  They are all pro-immigrant.  They all oppose Trumpism.  They all pledged to run positive campaigns.  (Can you imagine if any of them did not??)  They all… well, you get the idea.

There is more political diversity in every barroom, every Thanksgiving dinner and every long line at the grocery store than at a MoCo candidate forum!

The District 18 forum at Newport Mill Middle School.  Photo by Council At-Large candidate Evan Glass.

Let’s be restrained in our expectations: no one “wins” these forums.  The candidates’ objectives are to show that they are informed and competent, that they are in line with the values of folks in the room, and that they are not banana cakes.  Upon demonstrating minimum suitability, they then meet some activists who bring up micro-issues they have never heard of while they smile pleasantly and try to avoid checking their phones.

How do candidates stand out?  There are dozens and dozens of them on the ballot – thirty in the Council At-Large race alone.  The volume of mail about to descend on the county could clear a tropical rain forest.  Is bio and life experience enough?  Will anyone ace all the endorsements (aside from the incumbents)?  Will anyone be able to outspend the others?  That may be unlikely for a race dominated by public financing, as the Council At-Large race is, in which many candidates will be raising similar amounts.  Will any candidate dare to be different when political conformity is expected and few wish to deviate from the norm?

As for issues, here are a few questions that will draw out differences between candidates.  Moderators should keep them in mind for forums so that attendees will win the struggle to stay awake.

Do you support rent control?

Should the county and/or state governments require project labor agreements on construction projects providing for union representation of all craft workers?

Should the private sector be permitted to compete with the county’s liquor monopoly?

Should master plans require infrastructure to be built as a condition of allowing new development?

Do you support tuition-free public college for everyone?

Should the county build M-83, the Upcounty highway from Montgomery Village to Clarksburg?

Should existing traffic lanes be set aside as dedicated lanes for bus rapid transit?

Should a non-partisan commission draw Congressional and legislative district lines even if it means giving more seats to Republicans?  (Just watch the incumbent state legislators squirm on this one!)

Under what circumstances should taxes be raised?

How did you serve the community before you started running for office?

Please moderators – puh-leeeeeeeze – try to draw out some differences between our candidates.  Because heaven help us, for so many of them, we can’t tell them apart.

Share

Ana Sol Gutiérrez for Senate?

In his analysis of the Montgomery County Council District 1 race, Adam Pagnucco pointed out correctly that Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez (D-18) is completely outclassed on the fundraising front. She is unknown in much of D1, as the great majority of it is outside of District 18. Moreover, the portion of D18 that is Ana’s strongest base, though not her Chevy Chase home, lies outside D1.

Adam speculated that Ana might drop back to the delegate race. I suspect not. At this point, I imagine that she might prefer to retire or at least to go out in a long-shot race that gives her a better platform for her issues, especially on immigration and progressive policies designed to help poor and working Montgomeryites.

District 1 Race is a Bad Fit for Ana

Even taking this into account, the D1 Council race is a poor choice. This is a crowded contest with several highly qualified, well-funded candidates, so candidate debates may end up being more like those in a delegate contest. Additionally, even some of her usual supporters within D18 have decided to support other candidates rather than Ana’s surprising bid.

It’s also just a bad fit. Over the years, Ana has made little bones about her lack of interest in the local concerns of D1 residents. D1 residents are very pro-immigrant but there are a lot of local issues on which Ana has visibly little passion. The rationale for electing a councilmember who emphasizes immigration, as a glance as Ana’s twitter feed reveals, is not high because Nancy Navarro has occupied that niche and this is simply not a contested issue on the strongly pro-immigrant county council.

The barrier is not that Ana is Latina in a predominantly white district. African-American Craig Rice represents the whitest district in county and has no problem being simultaneously a proud African American and a strong local advocate. The idea that elected officials must match the predominant race or ethnicity in a district is grotesque.

Nevertheless, as in her quixotic congressional bid two years ago, Ana is destined to come towards the back of the pack in this group of candidates. She lacks the resources, the name recognition, or the strong rationale that would propel her candidacy forward.

District 18 Senate Race is Far More Intriguing

If Ana wants a platform, she’d be better off taking a flyer on the D18 Senate contest for a number of reasons.

Unlike on the Montgomery County Council, there is a real niche to fill in the Maryland Senate. Sen. Victor Ramirez is leaving the Senate to run for State’s Attorney in Prince George’s. The Senate will lose one of its strongest advocates on immigration and sole Latino voice. Though Maryland voted strongly for the Dream Act, immigration is contentious at the state level with Gov. Hogan more willing to make Trump-like noises on this issue than others.

Ana has already represented all of D18 for years and done well in delegate primaries. Though Jeff Waldstreicher spent far more money and campaigned far harder in 2014, he received only 122 votes more than Gutiérrez. In 2010, Ana beat Jeff by 483 votes to come in an easy first place.

Ana and Jeff ran on a slate together in these elections, so it is hard to gauge their individual support. Jeff campaigns much harder but Ana has a real following. She does well especially in the Wheaton and Silver Spring portions of the district but also gathers many votes near her Chevy Chase home.

If Ana ran, there would still only be three candidates in the race, which would prevent her voice from being crowded out. A conviction politician unafraid to stand up for what she believes, she will stand out. Moreover, her entry would completely scramble efforts by Jeff Waldstreicher and Dana Beyer fight to claim the progressive mantle.

Entering this race wouldn’t destroy any relationships. It is well known that Gutiérrez is no fan of her colleague, Del. Waldstreicher. I don’t know how she feels about Beyer but she supported Rich Madaleno steadfastly when Beyer challenged him four years ago.

Waldstreicher and Beyer will both run expensive, hungry campaigns. However, that leaves Gutiérrez able to position herself as more grassroots candidate who can’t dump thousands of her own money on a campaign like Beyer and is not beholden to the donors who Jeff has pursued with vigor. However, she’d need to cultivate local support, especially since Jeff positions himself as a good constituency service politician.

While most endorsers will overlook Gutiérrez for the D1 Council race, she would have to receive serious consideration in D18. Despite being way behind in the fundraising, she would have a shot based on name recognition alone. Endorsers would also have to explain why they are overlooking the more senior female delegate to endorse the younger Waldstreicher.

A Note on the Purple Line

Unlike in past D18 races, the Purple Line should not be an issue. In previous elections, there was no “right” position on the Purple Line in D18, as supporters and opponents both have prospered. (I was a strong opponent but now hope it goes well since we’re about to spend billions on it.)  Ana gained friends as a steadfast supporter.

Jeff and Dana’s positions are both more complex. Jeff positioned himself as an opponent but my conversations with people on both sides of the issue reveal that he bent over backward to curry their support without altering his public position. Pro-transit groups accused Dana of being opposed to the PL despite her statements of support. As a result, neither Jeff nor Dana gained allies from either supporters or opponents.

Regardless, to the extent it matters, it feeds the narrative of Ana as an authentic, conviction politician among both voters and, more importantly, among candidate validators and endorsers.

The Bottom Line

My guess is Ana sticks with the D1 race. I haven’t asked and she certainly doesn’t look to me for advice.

But if she switches horses, it would be far more interesting if she ran for Senate than sought another term in a crowded contest for the House with no incumbent slate. Though it would be a tough race and both Waldstreicher and Beyer possess real strengths in terms of money and drive, there is a path in D18 for Gutiérrez that just doesn’t exist in the D1 Council race.

Note: At various times, I have supported and given donations to Beyer, Gutiérrez and Waldstreicher. I have not donated or supported any of their campaigns this year.

Share

Campaign Finance Reports: Districts 18 and 19, January 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 18

Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher has posted a strong financial performance in his run to succeed Senator Rich Madaleno.  He has raised more money over the cycle and has more cash on hand than any other state legislator in the county.  But Dana Beyer has spent nearly a half million dollars of her own money in her three prior races and could spend a whole lot more.  Beyer told Bethesda Magazine “she does not plan to self-finance this year’s Senate bid” but still gave her campaign $109,100.  While Waldstreicher’s cash on hand advantage is substantial, Beyer could erase it with one check.

The recent endorsement by SEIU Local 500 of Beyer may have a big impact on this race.  Prior to that, Waldstreicher could make the case to other progressive endorsing organizations that as a three-term incumbent running against someone who was for 0-3 in elections (two running against him) that he would have a big edge and was the safe pick.  But SEIU is a huge player and brings credibility to Beyer’s run.  Now the endorsing groups may be more likely to evaluate the two against each other on a level playing field and see Beyer as a true alternative.  Our prediction is that this will not be the last significant endorsement that Beyer receives.

The Delegate race is just as interesting.  Incumbent Al Carr had the most raised over the cycle but also has a huge burn rate (81%).  He trails Mila Johns and Jared Solomon in cash on hand.  Johns leads in cash position (boosted by her $100,000 loan to her campaign) while Solomon led the non-incumbents in fundraising from others ($42,011).  Emily Shetty has been a prominent local player since her fourth place finish last time, joining the county’s Democratic Central Committee and doing work with Action Committee for Transit and her former civic association.  But she doesn’t want to trail in money behind Carr, Johns and Solomon to the extent she is now.  Town of Chevy Chase Council Member Joel Rubin’s cash balance is deceptively low since he began campaigning in November and raised $269,845 in his 2016 run for Congress.  Leslie Milano created her campaign account too late to file a January report but says she plans to raise $150,000.  Helga Luest was also a late starter.  Normally, the only incumbent in a race like this – in this case, it’s Carr – would be favored for reelection.  But the challengers are a pack of hungry wolves and Carr is going to have to work to keep his seat.

The Big Question: will there be competing slates in this district?  Both Beyer and Waldstreicher have money, which is much needed by all the House candidates.  Our prediction is that any move to set up a slate by either Beyer or Waldstreicher will provoke the other side to unify too.  Competing slates aligned with contested Senate races were common in District 18 decades ago and another one could really scramble this election.

The Other Big Question: will Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez stay in the Council District 1 race, where she has not qualified for public matching funds and ranks a distant fifth in cash on hand, or will she return to the District 18 House race?

District 19

With the departure of Senator Roger Manno, who is running for Congress in District 6, Delegate Ben Kramer will become the next Senator and the dominant politician in the district.  Kramer, who was first elected to the House in 2006, is known for his work on senior issues and public safety, and has been a true hero in his efforts to crack down on drunk driving.  He has an absolute lockdown on Leisure World and Kemp Mill, two vital power centers in the district.  Kramer is not universally beloved, but he is well respected and no other politicians will mess with him.  In politics, that is enough!

The two incumbent Delegates, Bonnie Cullison and Marice Morales, will sweep virtually all the progressive endorsements and be reelected.  As for the seat being vacated by Kramer, the simple view is that former Raskin campaign aide Vaughn Stewart, who totally smoked the field (including the incumbents) in fundraising, will win it.  But the race may not be that simple.  MCDCC Member and labor attorney Marlin Jenkins did reasonably well in fundraising and should get a lot of labor support.  And attorney Charlotte Crutchfield, who barely lost to Morales for the open House seat in 2014, is running again.

Crutchfield is not a strong fundraiser, having collected just $11,960 from others last time while self-financing $44,149.  But she has a long history in the district and Kramer formed a slate with her in 2014.  Manno endorsed Morales, his former legislative aide, and Morales won by 382 votes.  Crutchfield filed an affidavit as her January report but her new campaign has just started.

The Big Question: will Kramer team up with Crutchfield again?  And if he does, will Cullison and Morales also join in?

Share

Polling the D18 Senate Race

The state senate primary is really heating up! A fellow District 18 resident reported to me that someone is out with a very lengthy poll for the state senate race. Dana Beyer mentioned to me just the other day that “I’m getting started this week, with my polling,” so I imagine it’s for her campaign.

The poll tested potential negatives that could be used against Beyer, including concerns about her being a millionaire and whether she is all about her own agenda while Jeff Waldstreicher has been getting the work done.

Neither candidate is impoverished and Jeff is a corporate attorney, so I’m not sure how or why Jeff would use Dana’s wealth against her. In any case, attacking your opponent based on their wealth seems ill-advised in a district dominated by affluent communities like Chevy Chase, Kensington and Silver Spring.

Similarly, though Jeff is a three-term incumbent and Dana has achieved name recognition through her past campaigns, I doubt the vast majority of primary voters have more than vague knowledge about the achievements or deficits of either. It’s not a knock against them but just the nature of Maryland state legislative races.

Testing the negatives might ironically give them more exposure than they would receive otherwise. The late Jonathan Shurberg, a good friend and political ally of Dana Beyer, made the same polling decision when he ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2014.

Dana Beyer’s willingness to drop a lot of money on a poll once again shows her serious determination to win this race. Having a good message is key to any race. At the same time, I believe that most campaigns would be well advised to focus more directly on voter contact. It’s even more critical and it doesn’t really take a poll to divine the major issues that concern Democrats these days.

Share

Beyer Rejects Waldstreicher Slate Offer

I’ve heard from multiple sources, and Dana Beyer confirmed, that Del. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18) offered to run on a slate with Dana if she would run for delegate instead of senate. Instead, Beyer is pressing ahead full-steam with her Senate campaign. When I mentioned the rumored offer in passing when I saw Jeff, he neither confirmed nor denied it.

Waldstreicher’s Offer

Jeff’s offer makes perfect sense from a political perspective. While Jeff is the favorite against Dana, why not get a candidate with a fair amount of name recognition from previous races and very deep pockets – Dana has self-funded to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars – out of the way?

It’s reminiscent of Jeff’s first run for delegate, as James Browning reported that an MCEA political operative tried to talk him out of running in 2006 as part of his effort to ease the path for Jeff, who had been endorsed by the teachers union. (Browning used pseudonyms in his write-up of the race.)

Jeff’s offer makes it somewhat more awkward for him to attack Dana in the Senate race. After all, if she is so awful, why was he willing to run on a ticket with her? It probably won’t stop Jeff’s campaign from sending out negative mailers attacking his opponent but should make people a bit more cynical about them.

Dana’s Rejection

While Jeff’s offer makes sense, Dana’s rejection is more perplexing. Having spent a fortune running thrice previously, she is clearly extremely intent on winning election to the General Assembly. Running on a ticket with an established incumbent with two open delegate seats would seemingly put her on a strong path towards that goal. So why joust with Jeff? Why not take yes for an answer?

First, Beyer has long been no fan of Waldstreicher. She ran against him not just in 2006 but also in 2010. Jeff strongly supported Rich Madaleno in 2014 when Dana challenged him. Beyond there being no love lost, Dana undoubtedly views herself as a stronger progressive leader with better credentials as both a doctor and an activist. Alliance building has never been her strong suit and she’d would have had to swallow hard to make the strategic decision to accept Jeff’s offer. In any case, Dana wants to conduct the orchestra – not play second violin to Jeff.

Second, my guess is that Dana thinks she can win. She was utterly convinced that she was going to win in 2006 and angry and flummoxed when she came in a strong fifth. In each new campaign, Dana has believed that she has identified the silver bullet– be it more professional polling or spending buckets more money – and come back again. Jeff may be an extremely focused campaigner but one cannot overstate Dana’s determination.

Finally, having run for the Senate last time, I suspect that Dana would view it a step down to run for the House. Running for Senate, moreover, gives Dana the opportunity to become the first transgender senator, as Danica Roem has stolen Dana’s thunder with her fairy-tale story of a David versus Goliath victory over an incredibly bigoted incumbent in Virginia, instead of the second delegate.

Share

District 18 Senate Battle by the Numbers

By Adam Pagnucco.

Last week, David Lublin broke the news that former District 18 candidate Dana Beyer is planning to run for Senate against Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher.  Both Beyer and Waldstreicher have run three times in the district.  Let’s see how their past performances stack up.

Electoral Results  

Beyer and Waldstreicher first ran for office in 2006 when both ran for the House.  Waldstreicher, aided greatly by the Apple Ballot, won a close contest with attorney Dan Farrington to claim the open seat vacated by Rich Madaleno.  Beyer ran a credible campaign but finished fifth of eight candidates.  Waldstreicher would never be seriously threatened in his two reelection contests while Beyer lost another House race in 2010 and a Senate challenge to Madaleno in 2014.  One fact apparent in the electoral data is that Waldstreicher’s performance has improved over the years while Beyer has consistently received between 5,000 and 5,500 votes.

Fundraising

In 2006, both Waldstreicher and Beyer were primarily self-financed candidates.  Since then, Waldstreicher has successfully raised outside money while Beyer has continued to mostly self-fund.  Beyer’s loans to her 2014 campaign against Madaleno constituted one of the largest self-financing performances in the history of MoCo General Assembly elections.  Drawing on her own money, she is easily capable of matching Waldstreicher dollar for dollar.

Major Endorsements

Waldstreicher has been endorsed by virtually every major progressive group over the course of his career as well as by the Washington Post in 2014 and the Gazette in 2010 and 2014.  Beyer was endorsed by the Post, the Gazette and Equality Maryland in 2010 and by MCGEO in 2010 and 2014.

Beyer vs Madaleno for Senate

In 2014, Beyer ran against incumbent Rich Madaleno for Senate.  It was a steep uphill climb.  Madaleno is beloved by nearly all District 18 activists and is arguably the most prominent Senator in the district’s history other than the immortal Chris Van Hollen.  Despite all of that, Beyer lost by a 58-42% margin, coming closer to winning than many people believed she would.  She outraised the incumbent by more than 2-1 (if you count her epic self-financing), won the precincts in Rockville and Wheaton and was competitive in Silver Spring and Garrett Park.  Her loss was due to Madaleno running up margins of close to 30 points along Connecticut Avenue.  Still, this was a loss and not a disaster.

So what does all of this mean?  Your author agrees with David Lublin and sees Jeff Waldstreicher as the favorite in this race.  He owns most of the advantages that come with incumbency: fundraising capability in Annapolis (especially with those who have business before his powerful House Economic Matters committee), relationships in the district built through constituent service and relationships with many influential progressive groups who have endorsed him in the past.  He is also a hardworking, adept campaigner who has survived three straight competitive elections.

But Dana Beyer will present a real challenge.  She could wind up spending more than Waldstreicher due to her self-funding capacity.  She has shown some strength in the less wealthy parts of District 18.  And she is more than willing to get tough to win, burying Madaleno in waves of negative mail in 2014.  She is definitely going to bring it against Waldstreicher.

This is gonna be one hell of a race!

Share

BREAKING: Dana Beyer Running for Senate

Looks like Jeff Waldstreicher isn’t going to waltz into the Democratic nomination for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Rich Madaleno, who is running for governor. Dana Beyer let it be known last night that she’s running.

A former eye surgeon and aide to one-term Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg, Dana has sought election unsuccessfully before in District 18, twice for delegate and last time challenging Rich for Senate. She’s built name recognition, is independently wealthy and willing to spend it on a serious campaign. There is no love lost between Dana and Jeff, so expect this to be tough-fought contest at the very least.

Jeff will expect interest groups to go with him as the established incumbent legislator and work aggressively to persuade them that he will win so they should back him, Dana’s entry provides interesting opportunities for groups that feel Jeff has been insufficiently supportive or doesn’t have their back when push comes to shove and want to send a warning.

Dana has been working hard to organize a slate with candidates for delegate. It will be interesting to see if Jeff does the same and whether and how candidates for delegates choose to plump. I’m sure many will be watching Del. Al Carr, who has built a constituency the district’s municipalities–he was formerly a Kensington Councilman–as well as neighborhood associations and civil activists. There are dangers in joining either camp but also in remaining unaligned.

Fasten your seatbelts District 18, it’s going to be a wild ride!

Share

Correction: Raskin Did Not Endorse Waldstreicher

In an analysis earlier this week, I stated mistakenly that Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD 08) had endorsed Del. Jeff Waldstreicher in his effort to win the open District 18 Senate seat. Since then, I’ve learned that Rep. Raskin has told numerous candidates that he not endorsing, at least for now, in open seat races.

I contacted Jamie to confirm this. He explained that he had attended Del. Waldstreicher’s event, organized originally when Jeff was running for reelection to the House, and said some nice things about him but had not endorsed him or any other open-seat candidates at this time. I apologize to Rep. Raskin for the error.

The reason I thought Jeff had been endorsed was a multiplicity of Facebook posts and emails like this:

Del. Waldstricher did not contact me to correct the record after I posted that he had been endorsed by Rep. Raskin. Jeff is certainly not the first candidate to use quotations that make it easy for voters to infer stronger support than exists. But it does feed into criticisms of Jeff voiced by his General Assembly colleagues.

Share

Can Waldstreicher Nail Down the D18 Open Senate Seat?

Del. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18) has acted fast to lock down the open senate seat being vacated by Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-18), who is running for governor. Jeff is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination, and thus this very safe blue district, but openings nevertheless remain for the right candidate.

Advantages

Jeff has a solid advantage in name recognition. He has won three terms to the House. More voters begin to recognize state legislators, who often remain obscure to their constituents, after three campaigns and ballot appearances.

No one I know is more tenacious or focused when it comes to campaigns. Jeff won his first election in 2006 against a very tough field with just one open seat. Besides successful fundraising, Jeff won the endorsement of MCEA, in part by arguing convincingly that he was going to win and they should back him.

Jeff is also fortunate in having an extremely supportive family. In past races, they have had his back not only financially but also doing whatever they can to help out from cheering him on at debates to volunteering on the campaign.

Jeff possesses enviable fundraising skills. I have never met anyone more relentless in pursuing a campaign donation and the results show in his impressive bank account balance of $165,491 according to his last campaign finance report. This sort of war chest not only aids victory but deters potential opponents.

Jeff has already secured and vocally touted the valuable endorsement of Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8), a local progressive icon. No doubt he is also pursuing the endorsement of Sen. Chris Van Hollen, which he has received in the past for the House.

Interest groups are likely to back Jeff, if only because he is an incumbent with a record they can assess. They also tend to want to back the winner to avoid alienating a future senator and will naturally perceive him as the heavy favorite. Jeff will not be afraid to pressure any groups that may hesitate.

Potential Openings for Challengers

For all of these advantages, Jeff has vulnerabilities that could tempt a well-funded candidate.

Jeff does not have an especially strong political base in the district. While he has easily gained reelection as part of the D18 team, I have yet to identify groups within the district who passionately support him and see him as their champion.

The perception that Jeff is unwilling to take firm stands on controversial issues hinders his ability to win avid supporters. Politicians naturally desire to avoid offending voters, but taking stands in tough fights is precisely how many politicians gain supporters who stand by them through thick and thin.

The same problem plagues Jeff’s relationships within the General Assembly. Even in a business known for back-stabbing, inhabitants of Annapolis-land are astonishingly willing to volunteer privately their lack of trust, and even dislike. They see Jeff as very transactional and attentive to his own ambitions but not especially hardworking or responsive to his colleague’s needs.

These weaknesses, however, give opponents less of an opening than may appear. Challenging a legislator on the basis of his effectiveness, rather than issues, is a proven way to lose a campaign. Moreover, regardless of their opinion, viewing him as the probable winner, his colleagues will likely line up to offer support and give a friendly quote for the press.

Like all politicians, Jeff is good at touting his support for popular positions and claiming credit on having voted for broadly supported bills passed by the General Assembly from marriage equality to additional funding for school construction. Occasionally, however, he takes it a bit far. Jeff routinely boasts that he is “fiscally responsible” because he “voted for a balanced budget.” Jeff never had the opportunity to do otherwise because the Maryland Constitution mandates balanced budgets. While this sort of false piety grates, opponents will only be able to use to their advantage if they can find a way to use it to feed into a larger portrait of Jeff as yet another inauthentic long-term politician.

Moreover, as a three-term legislator, Jeff has a couple of substantive achievements under his belt. His website mentions that he was the lead sponsor on legislation making possession of child porn a felony, and a ban on texting while driving. Both are easily understood, popular positions, and thus highly amenable to quick, effective campaign communication.

I asked Jeff last week via email how he got interested in these issues and to detail the leadership he showed in passing these bills, or on other issues not mentioned on the website, but did not receive any written answers for quotation.

Though I don’t think campaign websites matter a heck of a lot, his current website could nevertheless punch up his message, as it now highlights banal boilerplate that is about as convincing as ersatz coffee such as “As a father, husband, and life-long resident of Montgomery County, I am committed to the safety of our neighborhoods. I will continue to be a strong advocate for our families.” – Jeff on Safety.

Potential Opponents

Dana Beyer is the obvious candidate. She is seriously considering entering the race and rumor has it that she is trying to put together a slate.

A former eye surgeon and aide to one term Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg, Dana has been hungry to win a seat in the General Assembly, seeking appointment twice and running three times. In 2014, Dana challenged Sen. Rich Madaleno and lost with 41.7% of the vote after spending in excess of $350,000 on her campaign.

Dana is one candidate who could easily bring to bear more money than Jeff. Like Jeff, she’s also smart, hardworking and extremely determined. While she has not won election, she has been on the ballot a number of times and built name recognition. She has gained valuable experience in running past campaigns.

On the other hand, though Dana has tried to build ties with left-wing progressives, she does not have a personal base of supporters in the district and has difficulty in recruiting or working with allies. She would also have a lot of fences to mend with Madaleno supporters. A decisive and opinionated person, she needs to articulate an authentic voice while at the same time remembering that voters want to be heard and not lectured—a skill that Jeff already possesses . In short, she’d have to figure out how to grow her support.

Of course, a candidate who is not currently on my radar could still emerge. The best bet for someone else to challenge Jeff is a candidate with very deep pockets who wants to run as a fresh, authentic face and argue that we need new ideas and new leadership in Annapolis. Even if it would likely remain an uphill battle to defeat Jeff, I could imagine such a candidate gaining traction and making him sweat to win the seat.

The bottom line is Jeff is well positioned to become District 18’s next senator. That doesn’t mean he won’t have to fight for it. However, if his luck continues, it may even occur with ease, as when Rich Madaleno won in 2006 without opposition.

Share