Category Archives: Duchy Trachtenberg

Random Bits, October 2017

By Adam Pagnucco.

Chris Wilhelm is Winning the Sign Wars

MCPS teacher and progressive at-large council candidate Chris Wilhelm has covered parts of Georgia Avenue and University Boulevard with his campaign signs.  (It helps to speak Spanish!)  Yes, we know signs don’t vote.  But it shows that Wilhelm is working and that’s good for perceptions of his campaign.

Who Has Momentum in Council District 1?

Council District 1, which covers Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac, Poolesville and a large part of Kensington, has more regularly voting Democrats and more political contributors than any other council district by far.  It’s a prime seat.  Right now, there are nine candidates in the race and there might be more on the way.  Many good candidates in this district, like Bill Conway, Gabe Albornoz, Emily Shetty, Samir Paul and Sara Love, are instead running for council at-large or the General Assembly.  There are lots of openings to choose from these days!

So who has the momentum right now?  You could say Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, who is the only sitting elected official who is running.  Or Reggie Oldak, who has qualified for matching funds in public financing.  Former Planning Board Member Meredith Wellington should appeal to land use voters oriented towards Marc Elrich.  Former Kensington Mayor Pete Fosselman was just endorsed by former Governor Martin O’Malley.

But we’re going with Andrew Friedson, who just had his kickoff boasting endorsements from his former employer, Comptroller Peter Franchot, along with Senators Brian Feldman (D-15) and Craig Zucker (D-14) and former long-time DNC member Susan Turnbull.  Feldman is an old hand in the Potomac portion of the district and has not been seriously challenged in 15 years.  Turnbull doesn’t usually play in local races but she has a national network in both the Democratic Party and the Jewish community.  If she is all in for Friedson, that’s a big deal.  Friedson, who is killing the field in social media, is feeling pumped up right now with good reason.

Where’s Duchy?

It’s unusual to see a large field of MoCo candidates without Duchy Trachtenberg among them.  She has a long electoral history, losing a District 1 County Council race in 2002 by a hair, winning an at-large council seat in 2006, losing reelection in 2010, briefly running for Congressional District 6 in 2012 and getting annihilated in a challenge to District 1 council incumbent Roger Berliner in 2014.  Now she has a full table of races to pick from, including council at-large, council District 1 and the District 16 General Assembly seats.  Say what you will about Duchy – and we’ve said plenty – but she can raise money, she has a network and she has campaign experience.  Is she done or is she just waiting to file at the last minute, as she has done before?

Can Greenberger’s Strategy Work?

Former County Council spokesman Neil Greenberger is torching his old bosses, saying they treat voters like ATMs and guaranteeing that if he is elected, there will be no property tax hikes.  This is a new strategy for a Democratic council candidate made possible by the 2008 passage of the Ficker amendment, which requires votes from all nine Council Members to go over the property tax charter limit.  Furthermore, it’s an unusual strategy from a historical perspective.  Most council candidates over the last few decades have emphasized schools, transportation, development (pro or con) and a handful of other left-leaning issues but have not been explicitly anti-tax.  That sentiment has mostly come from Republicans.

But two things have changed in Greenberger’s favor.  First, the passage of term limits was rooted partly in opposition to last year’s 9% property tax hike.  But it wasn’t just the increase alone that annoyed residents.  Unlike the 2010 energy tax hike, last year’s property tax increase was not driven by the catastrophic effects of a recession, but was a policy choice by the council that could easily have been much lower.  Voters didn’t see the tax hike as truly necessary, which increased their frustration with it.

Second, the number of votes needed to win an at-large seat could be much lower in this cycle than in the past.  Over the last four cycles, at-large candidates have needed around 40,000 votes to have a shot at victory.  (Incumbent Blair Ewing far exceeded that total in 2002 and still lost.)

That number may no longer hold.  No one knows what the turnout will be next year; informed observers disagree about that.  But the candidate field will be two to three times larger than in any other recent cycle and only one incumbent is running.  That could mean a very fractured electorate yielding a low win threshold and tight margins.  That favors candidates with medium-sized but intense bases, whether geographic, demographic or ideological.  In Greenberger’s case, if 100,000 Democrats vote, and 30,000 of them are sick of tax hikes, and Greenberger can actually communicate with them, he could win.  And so could anyone else who can put together 30,000 votes.

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More on Duchy, Roger, DFA and Ten Mile Creek

First off, I am informed by Alan Hyman that Duchy Trachtenberg was endorsed by DFA on May 8th. No idea if Alan is associated with Duchy’s campaign but it really doesn’t matter because he’s correct. DFA has also changed its website today and Duchy is now listed as an endorsed candidate in Maryland. Of course, this still leaves unanswered where DFA got its inaccurate information on Ten Mile Creek or why they are investing in the race.

I received an email from local activist Molly Hauck who was strongly offended by DFA’s email blast. Below is her email to other people in Kensington as well as her letter to DFA.

This email is offensive and you can see my response below. If anyone else is a member of DFA or knows members of DFA, please contact them with your response. . . .

Roger said that Duchy worked for Howard Dean and her campaign manager, Joe Trippi, worked for Howard Dean, so they are paying her back. What a way to do it! They should have someone do some fact checking before sending out something like this.

Dear Franco Caliz,

I live in Kensington, part of Montgomery County, and I follow what is going on in the Montgomery County Council. This is an unfair and dangerous attack on Roger Berliner. Whoever wrote this hasn’t followed what is going on in the Montg. Co. Council and doesn’t understand the facts. Roger Berliner was one of the three people on the Montgomery County Council who worked hard to protect Ten Mile Creek. He is an environmental lawyer who loves to do trout fishing. He successfully fought the development project that was proposed near Ten Mile Creek. Water has to be clean for trout to live in it. So he worked with two other Council members, Marc Elrich and Phil Andrews, to protect Ten Mile Creek. Environmentalists were happy with the results and just celebrated last week at the Audubon Society. He has also introduced and passed a lot of environmental legislation in the Montg. Co. Council. Your email describes him as a developer. This is totally inaccurate.Duchy had nothing to do with fighting the developers who wanted to ruin Ten Mile Creek. She isn’t on the Montg. Co. Council, so how could she “push back?”

After reading this, I am afraid of Duchy’s judgment and that of the people running her campaign. I don’t understand why Democracy for America  would perpetrate such lies. This will definitely impel me to work to reelect Roger Berliner. It also makes me wonder if I want to contribute to Democracy for America in the future.

Democracy for America should apologize to Roger Berliner and send an email retracting this to all the people who just received it.

Molly Hauck

I am told by someone in the know that Hans Riemer was also active in the effort to preserve Ten Mile Creek.

 

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Duchy Trachtenberg, Joe Trippi and DFA

Democracy for America (DFA), a PAC founded by Howard Dean to advance progressive causes, has sent out an email attacking Roger Berliner and trying to raise funds for Duchy Trachtenberg. The email is reproduced at the end of this post.

So why did DFA send out the email?

Though DFA endorses at virtually all levels of office, it has not endorsed Duchy Trachtenberg as of May 20th based on my search of their online list of endorsed candidates. Indeed, they have endorsed no one in the State of Maryland.

The answer could be Joe Trippi. Duchy hired Trippi as her consultant according to her January campaign finance report:

DuchyFinance

Duchy January 2014 Campaign Finance Filing

Trippi received national attention for his success as Campaign Manager at catapulting Howard Dean to the front of the Democratic pack for awhile in 2004. That campaign was the first to grasp the importance of social media. DFA started out as Dean for America and pioneered attracting small donors via social media.

The email was funded by DFA as an independent expenditure rather than by Duchy’s campaign. So it would be illegal for Trippi to contact DFA to ask them to spend money on Duchy’s behalf. Since he works for Duchy, coordination between Trippi and DFA would turn this legally from an independent expenditure into a contribution that should appear under Duchy’s own authority line. But if Trippi didn’t contact DFA and get them to do this for Duchy, who did?

Inaccurate, Bizarre Attack

The attack on Roger in the email for promoting development at Ten Mile Creek is particularly strange as Roger helped protect it. Moreover, Duchy has received strong support from the developer who is angry with Roger over his efforts.

Ironically, the email starts to wrap up with “When politicians focus on their own political gains and corporate interests, everyone else suffers.”

Indeed.

 

Democracy for American Email:

We don’t need to tell you: Roger Berliner is bad news. He’s consistently undermined the needs of working families in Montgomery County, despite the fact that he calls himself a Democrat. How’s that for a betrayal?

Berliner has voted to strip bargaining rights from county employees, to remove indexing from any minimum wage bills, and to approve a construction project right by Ten Mile Creek. After hearing Ten Mile Creek — one of the last clean creeks in the area — would be polluted by storm runoff from his construction project, a progressive voice pushed back.

Duchy Trachtenberg won’t stand for this failed leadership and that’s why she’s running for Mongtomery County Council in District 1.

Montgomery County needs a bold progressive leader. Click here to help elect Duchy Trachtenberg to office!

As a former at-large councilmember and a longtime resident of Montgomery County, Duchy understands the needs and priorities of its residents. As a councilmember, she oversaw the creation of the Family Justice Center, which brings coordinated and effective services to domestic violence victims. She passed a landmark civil rights measure extending protection in employment and housing for transgender persons, and worked to protect pay equity for women.

Her background in grassroots organizing for women’s equity, mental health concerns and public health issues shows her ability to put people-powered policies first. Going forward, Duchy will fight for public employees’ job security and collective bargaining rights, affordable housing for families, and fully funded youth service programs.

Sign up to help Duchy Trachtenberg ensure that progressive voices are heard in Rockville!

When politicians focus on their own political gains and corporate interests, everyone else suffers. Let’s make sure that instead, we have forward-looking, compassionate leadership.

Thank you for all that you do,

– Franco

Franco Caliz, Electoral Campaigns Manager
Democracy for America

Paid for by Democracy for America, http://www.democracyforamerica.com/?t=3&akid=4786.2643726.fr7nXK and not authorized by any candidate. Contributions to Democracy for America are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

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It’s On

Montgomery County Council District 1
Democratic Primary
DEBATE
Berliner v. Trachtenberg
Wednesday, April 30th at 7PM

Town of Chevy Chase
Town Hall
4301 Willow Lane

I recall the debate four years ago between incumbent Roger Berliner and challenger Ilya Hopkins as being unusually combative. As this contest is even more heated, I only expect this year’s Democratic primary debate to be more so.

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Duchy Fundraiser Attacks Sierra Club

Developer Jim Soltesz is decrying Roger Berliner’s embrace of the “vicious” Sierra Club’s endorsement as part of his effort to raise money for Duchy Trachtenberg. (h/t Washington Post). The email is practically an ad for Roger Berliner. Truly unhelpful in this very pro-environment district.

Duchy needs to repudiate this email and cancel this fundraiser if she wants to salvage the situation. I look forward to hearing her response to this attack.

Soltesz

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Duchy Flip Flops on Labor

BethesdaNow’s Aaron Kraut wrote a fascinating story about Duchy Trachtenberg’s kickoff event.

Duchy apologized for her previously poor relations with labor:

“Guess what guys, your employees deserve competitive pay and benefits for the excellent job that they do each and every day,” Trachtenberg said in a message addressed at the police, firefighter and county employee union representatives in the audience. “I pledged my support for this and I sincerely regret the breakdown of our working relationship a few years back. It should never have happened, given my union roots, and I really feel badly that it did.”

Nothing like receiving an apology four years later when someone wants your support because they’re running again. Apparently, Duchy not only wants mend fences but also to be the tribune for labor on the Council:

“That should have never happened and it didn’t happen when I was on the Council,” Trachtenberg said. “It’s going to be the first thing that I do and it’s the right thing to do because effects bargaining, binding arbitration and adequate pay and workers’ benefits are all essential workers’ rights.”

Two years ago, County residents voted by 58% to uphold the County Council’s decision on effects bargaining. Labor has many good arguments to make centered around pay and benefits but reviving this one is just tactically misguided. Fighting over the police chief’s control over the police places the unions on much weaker grounds than in almost any other debate.

Duchy is also trying to perform Ten Mile Creek jujitsu–claiming credit for having laid the groundwork to protect the area while simultaneously attacking her opponent for efforts to protect it:

Trachtenberg mentioned Berliner only once, and not by name, while discussing her environmental protection credentials. She recently got support from a group of developers unhappy with Berliner’s support of a move to limit development near Ten Mile Creek in Clarksburg.

Trachtenberg claimed she had plenty of support among environmental activists, and said a water quality work group she started with former Councilmember Mike Knapp laid the groundwork for the Ten Mile Creek debate today.

And Duchy is very effective:

“Despite being accused of being bossy, and that happens often, or that I’m too quick to cut to the chase, I do get things done,” Trachtenberg said. “I’m very effective and I know I am. I’m not bragging. I know it.”

I don’t know many effective people who feel it necessary to go around and pronounce themselves effective quite so emphatically. They just get things done.

I guess her arguments were effective in at least one sense. I plan to vote to reelect Roger Berliner.

 

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Surprise Roger! Duchy Files.

DuchyfilesFormer At-Large Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg has now filed to run against incumbent Roger Berliner in the Democratic Primary for the Montgomery County  District 1 seat, which ranges from Chevy Chase to Whites Ferry. Roger will be seeking his third term while Duchy will be seeking to return after losing reelection for an at-large seat four years ago. My previous post on Duchy here and great analysis by Adam Pagnucco of why she lost four years ago here.

My immediate guess is this race will be ugly. Neither minds throwing a rhetorical punch or arguing their case. Duchy will probably try to paint herself as the true progressive woman as opposed to insider lawyer Berliner.

Roger has $52K in his campaign kitty while Duchy has $123K. Both will raise more. Each has their set of fans but also have developed some enemies in the district. It will be interesting to see if any of Duchy’s former colleagues endorse her over Roger, their current colleague.

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Duchy Trachtenberg For?

In this pre-filing period, some are still making up their mind whether to jump in the political pool and in which race to take the plunge. Former one-term at-large County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg is not just the object of speculation but clearly thinking about it.

Duchy has a long history of running for office in Montgomery County. In 2002, Duchy lost the general election for Council District 1 to Republican Howie Denis by 1.8% of the vote–Howie was the last Republican to serve on the County Council and had significant Democratic support. (Sidenote: GOPers would call Denis a RINO as they stand perplexed wondering at why they cannot win in MoCo.) Running at-large in 2006, Duchy came in third and secured one of the four Democratic nominations, easily won the general, and joined the County Council.

But in 2010, Duchy fell to fifth place in the Democratic primary and lost the nomination and her seat. Not only did newcomer Hans Riemer leap over her to take second place, Becky Wagner in sixth came much closer to beating Duchy than Duchy did to slipping past incumbent George Leventhal in fourth. Duchy launched a campaign for the Sixth Congressional District that lasted only a few months when she ended her “underdog” campaign on January 4, 2012 due to a recurrence of breast cancer.

Duchy is thinking again about running for something in 2014. She wrote top-drawer campaign consultant Joe Trippi a check for $9250 in December 2013 out of her state political account. I’m assuming it was not a Chanukah or Christmas gift. Duchy’s last congressional report from April 2013 similarly showed a $12,000 payment to Trippi.

Her past interest in Congress suggests she–along with the rest of MoCo pols–may be waiting to see if Rep. John Delaney decides to enter the gubernatorial race. On the other hand, her last federal campaign finance report showed just $644 cash left while her state campaign account has a more impressive $122,575 so perhaps another county council race is in Duchy’s future.

As John Gallagher reminded me after my last post, she cannot transfer more than $1000 from the state to the federal account. And the state report indicates no loans that would allow her to repay herself and then donate the money to her congressional account. If she ran for Congress, Duchy would need to tap into her own resources and her network, though her past problems with Maryland NOW may impede her efforts despite her long connection.
 

Duchy may have ambitions but she’d have to make many changes to her campaign and personal approach to win. As Adam Pagnucco outlined in his must-read dissection of her previous loss, she has a lot of fences to mend:

First, she alienated most of her supporters in 2006 – and not just in the unions – through her conduct as a Council Member. Second, she was unable to build a new base because of her ineffective staffing, failure to build relationships and non-existent constituent service. And third, she made very bad resource decisions during the campaign.

Adam’s post is the number two Google hit for “Duchy Trachtenberg” on Google–another problem that Duchy will need to address if she runs.

UPDATE: Adam Pagnucco’s post on why Duchy lost her reelection bid is now the #1 Google hit for “Duchy Trachtenberg” — beating out the Maryland Manual.

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