It has been a busy weekend in Legislative District 18, where Del. Al Carr’s surprise last minute decision not to seek reelection has left open a vacant nomination.
Maryland Matters reported the drama as two candidates tried unsuccessfully to register for the vacancy at the last minute. Ardy Kamali, the Legislative Director for Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher’s office, arrived in time to file but lacked the required Treasurer. Town of Chevy Chase Councilmember Joel Rubin, also a Waldstreicher supporter, arrived moments too late.
No one else interested in the seat heard about the vacancy in time. Waldstreicher would certainly benefit if an ally rather than a potential challenger took the seat. MM Editor-in-Chief Danielle Gaines captured an incredible photo of Kamali fruitlessly trying to register as Rubin stood just outside of the locked door.
If Kamali or Rubin want to run in what is effectively the oddest race for a full delegate term being held this year, they’ll now have to apply to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC), which can fill the vacant nomination. MCDCC has to make the appointment on Tuesday night.
The District 18 Democratic Caucus has organized a candidate forum for Monday night that will be moderated by Danielle Gaines. You can register to watch by going to bit.ly/d18-04-18. Kudos to the Caucus for organizing the forum.
So who is running? Or rumored to be running? Candidates have until 11:59pm on Monday to submit a cover letter and resume to MCDCC, so we won’t even necessarily know all the candidates in advance of the forum. But here are some of the names being floated:
Shruti Bhatnagar. She is an appointed member of MCDCC and a member of the Maryland Democratic Party Executive Committee. Bhatnagar ran for an at-large county council seat in 2018 and came in fifteenth in the Democratic primary with 2.1% of the vote (equivalent to 8.4% if you assume that everyone voted for four candidates). She is a past chair of the Montgomery County Group of the Sierra Club and the D18 Democratic Caucus.
Aaron Kaufman was elected to MCDCC in 2018 and chairs its Issues Committee. He is a Senior Legislative Associate at the Jewish Federations of North America. Long active in District 18, he is best known as an advocate for disability rights and inclusion. Way back in 2007, when this blog was called Maryland Politics Watch, I published his testimony on a bill on health insurance before the General Assembly. Then Sen. Richard Madaleno said “you could have heard a pin drop while he spoke” and that “he really had an impact.”
Michael Tardif was appointed relatively recently to MCDCC but has been organizing and greatly improving their communications over the past two years. An architect, Tardif is the managing partner of Building Informatics Group. Tardif was named Democrat of the Year at the Montgomery County Democratic Party Gala in 2021. He has served on the Host Committee of a fundraiser for Max Socol, Waldstreicher’s challenger. Active in the LGBTQ Caucus, he joined Socol in calling for stronger police reforms.
Leslie Milano ran for the House of Delegates four years ago and came in fourth in the Democratic primary with 14.2% of the vote, 1,557 behind now Del. Jared Solomon. Currently, she is President of the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club. She is the Chief Executive Officer at APIC Consulting Services, which specializes in “infection prevention and control solutions.”
Joel Rubin is a Town of Chevy Chase councilmember, an office he won unopposed three times. He ran for the House of Delegates in 2018 and placed fifth with 11.2% or 2,011 votes out of the money. In 2016, he ran for the open Eighth CD and won only 1.1% or 1,426 votes. A former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and frequent media commentator, Rubin has also worked at J-Street, as Bernie Sanders’s Jewish liaison in 2020, and is now Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress.
Other people mentioned include Max Socol and Natali Fani-Gonzalez, though I expect both candidates to stick with their current races.