Former Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin is already canvassing support for the expected vacancy in the State Senate when Eighth Congressional District Democratic Nominee Jamie Raskin wins election to the U.S. House.
Ervin represented District 5 on the County Council from 2006 until she stepped down in 2014. She served on the Board of Education for two years prior to winning her Council seat. After leaving public office, Ervin served as the Director of the Center for Working Families and then the National Participatory Democracy Project.
Though Ervin worked most recently for progressive causes, she had excellent ties with the business community during her time on the Council. Earlier this year, she briefly sought the Democratic nomination for the Eighth Congressional District but abandoned the race due to fundraising difficulties.
Despite this setback, Ervin will be a formidable candidate. In the Washington Post, Ervin expressed her frustration at Donna Edwards’s defeat and her strong belief that the party needs more diverse candidates. Ironically, for the Maryland Senate, this may not be the best comparison as black men are much more underrepresented than black women.
Six of the nine of African-American senators are women, so black women are 12.7% of the Senate membership, as compared to 15.8% of the population – a gap of 3.1%. In contrast, black men comprise 6.4% of the Senate, less than one-half their share of Maryland’s population.
A more advantageous comparison for Ervin is within Montgomery County, which has no African-American senators, though blacks are 18.8% of the population. Three of Montgomery’s eight senators are women – a decline of one from after the election due to the replacement of Karen Montgomery by Craig Zucker.
Regardless, as likely the most experienced politician by far to seek the vacancy, Ervin would bring much more to the race than her race or gender, though both would be assets to a Democratic Party seeking more diversity in its legislative delegation.
In the wake of Edwards’s defeat, Ervin has been hesitant to support Democratic U.S. Senate Nominee Chris Van Hollen. This may just be an election night reaction after a tough loss but she’d do herself a lot of good with the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, which will fill any vacancy, if she’d endorse him quickly.