By Adam Pagnucco.
This may not be the most polite thing to say in the wake of the MoCo Democrats’ Kiss and Make Up Party, but it’s the truth: MoCo Dems are badly divided. Consider the following.
The photo finish in the Executive race between Marc Elrich and David Blair is exacerbated by the fact that many Democratic activists are part of Anybody But Elrich or Anybody But Blair factions. No matter who wins, that person will have 29% of the primary vote, far lower than any prior MoCo Executive.
That’s not the only divide in the Executive race. The three incumbent Council Members received a combined 52% of the vote. The three outsiders received 48%. That suggests an even split between those who want more of what they have seen from the council and those who want something different.
Gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous won MoCo with roughly 36% of the vote, four points ahead of Rushern Baker and 22 points ahead of MoCo State Senator Rich Madaleno. No one wants to talk about this publicly, but there are quite a few county Dems out there who will consider voting for Governor Larry Hogan.
Now Nancy Floreen has filed a declaration of intent to run for County Executive as an independent. This is sure to attract the attention of some Dems who are upset that the nine-member County Council will include just one woman. Floreen is one of the most prominent female Democrats in the county’s history. No woman has been elected countywide more times than Floreen since charter government was established in 1970. If she does indeed get on the ballot, a not-insignificant number of Dems – especially women – could vote for her.
All of this adds to county Democrats’ pre-existing divide about land use, the Upcounty vs Downcounty split, long-standing tensions between progressives and moderates and the Hillary vs Bernie disputes of two years ago (and the Hillary vs Obama disputes before that). Throw that in with the fact that a majority of Democrats voted for term limits and there’s a lot of bubbling in the cauldron right now.
The county’s two most popular Democrats are U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Jamie Raskin. Neither is known for intervening in and settling local disputes. County Executive Ike Leggett is widely respected but is leaving office. The Governor is a Republican who is happy to see Dems fight Dems.
As for the Republicans, they must be kicking themselves that they couldn’t find anyone else to run for Executive other than Robin Ficker.