A guest blog by Adam Pagnucco.
Congressional District 8 has three strong Democratic candidates with a chance to win. One of them is former WJLA anchor and Marriott executive Kathleen Matthews.
Matthews is an attractive, polished female candidate – an advantage in any Democratic primary dominated by women. She has been a great fundraiser, excels on television and has run an intelligent campaign based on her strengths. She has been endorsed by the Washington Post, as was John Delaney in 2012. Emily’s List has basically taken over her mail program, enabling her to shift more money to her home medium of TV. And she has not made any significant mistakes during the campaign.
Matthews started out with no history in local politics, even though she was once well-known as a local journalist. That caused skepticism from local Democratic Party activists, most of whom quickly lined up behind Senator Jamie Raskin. Her history of running Marriott’s PAC, which donated to Republicans as well as Democrats, is an issue for some. Comptroller Peter Franchot, Delegate Bill Frick and former County Executive Doug Duncan are among her few local endorsements. She has raised far more money out of state than in state. And her campaign, while professional, has emphasized more standard national Democratic issues than local issues. Still, Matthews’s strengths outweigh her weaknesses and she has a very good chance to win.
What Our Sources Say
Source: “Matthews started slow – she was so poorly informed and unfamiliar with the people and issues in the district that she bordered on offensive in early appearance and meetings with activists and other potential supporters – but she has become much more comfortable and has performed reasonably well in later candidate forums and debates. The conventional wisdom – and I suspect it is correct – is that Trone takes a bigger chunk of support from Matthews than from Raskin, because Raskin is presumably strongest among the most intensively engaged Democratic base voters, while Trone and Matthews are competing for voters who are less ideological and are less likely to know much about his legislative record.”
Source: “Among insiders, there’s a sense that Kathleen is running a very generic campaign. Campaign-in-a-box kinda thing. But insiders are usually wrong, and she obviously has gender on her side (and isn’t afraid to use it).”
Source: “With all due respect to Kathleen who seems like a perfectly nice and intelligent woman, female voters in this District are far too smart to be pandered to the way she has this election cycle. To talk about her time at Marriott in the context of creating jobs and being a business person is like saying her husband – who was Tip O’Neill’s press secretary – served as Speaker of the House.”
Source: “Strong candidate and strong campaign. If it weren’t for a completely unprecedented amount of self-funding by another outsider candidate, she would have the race sealed.”
How She Could Win
Matthews and her chief ally, Emily’s List, are running an all-female, all-the-time kind of campaign. And they are smart to do so since women account for roughly 60% of Montgomery County’s Democratic voters, no matter how you cut the electorate. If Matthews gets a majority of women, she could start with 35 points. If she adds just five more points from men, she has 40, and that’s probably good enough to win.