By Adam Pagnucco.
One of 2018’s most talented county council candidates is back: Brandy Brooks. Her announcement that she is running again for an at-large county council seat effectively kicks off the 2022 council campaign season and will have a big impact on MoCo politics.
First, about Brandy Brooks. When she ran for an at-large council seat in 2018, she was a new resident, having moved here from Massachusetts. Most political players didn’t know her and didn’t know what to expect. What they found was an eloquent, passionate progressive who was equally adept in the spoken and written word. Brooks was arguably the best speaker in every room she entered, inspiring a loyalty in her supporters that is unusual in MoCo politics. One of her rivals told me, “I just hated following her in candidate forums!”
Brandy Brooks is back.
Progressive politics is not new in MoCo but Brooks proved to be a superior organizer. She joined forces with MCPS teacher Chris Wilhelm to form “Team Progressive” and the two fanned out across the county. Both of them picked up numerous endorsements, with Brooks supported by MCEA, Casa in Action, SEIU Local 32-BJ, MCGEO, UFCW Local 400, the Democratic Socialists, Progressive Maryland, and the AFL-CIO among others.
Brooks and Wilhelm ask whether corporate welfare for Amazon is worth it.
In the end, Brooks finished 7th in the four-seat race, right behind Wilhelm. The table below shows her performance by geography. She was particularly strong in Montgomery Village, Burtonsville, Silver Spring East County and Takoma Park. (See here for my methodology.) If the election were decided solely by upcounty residents, she would have won.
The table below shows her performance by demographics. Brooks did not do well in heavily white and Asian precincts, such as many located in Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac, but she finished in the top four in Black and Latino precincts.
Many first-time candidates who don’t win disappear and never run again. Not Brooks. She has remained active in county politics, running for planning board, joining the board of the MoCo Renters Alliance and commenting frequently on county issues. By all appearances, she has retained most if not all of her 2018 loyalists. Among the advantages she brings to her second run for office are her experience from the first race, her understanding of raising money in public financing, her proven electoral performance in many parts of the county and her possession of relationships that she did not have as a brand-new candidate. She should be an even stronger candidate this time around.
Brooks’s announcement will have two consequences. First, other potential candidates fancying the open at-large seat created by term limits (incumbent Hans Riemer is termed out) will have to decide what they want to do. Brooks is raising money and campaigning at the very moment I write this. Some folks will rush out of the gate. Others will decide to run in other races or perhaps not run at all. Expect other prospects to announce their intentions soon.
Second, Brooks is no mealy-mouthed wallflower; she is a loud, proud progressive. The current county council has numerous issues before it of importance to progressives, including rent stabilization, police reform and (soon) a budget with a potential tax hike in it. You can bet that Brooks will have something to say about all of those things and more. That’s going to affect the incumbents, especially the ones who will be in her race. Because the council will be looking over their shoulders at Brooks’s big blue cheering section, her very presence in the race could wind up moving the council slightly – or maybe not so slightly – to the left. If that happens, expect progressives to give Brooks the credit for it.
It’s too early to pick favorites, especially since we don’t know which other candidates will be running for council at-large. (Those seats tend to attract crowds.) But for now, I will just say this.
Don’t underestimate Brandy Brooks.