Last night, the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee considered several rules changes, including provisions involving conflicts of interest and the “Cooper amendment,” designed to prohibit candidates from running for office and MCDCC simultaneously. Today, I am pleased to present this response by Jordan Cooper.
On Tuesday February 13, 2018 the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) voted to prohibit candidates from seeking election to the MCDCC, a partisan political body, while seeking elected office in government. The practice of simultaneously holding a seat in the Maryland General Assembly while sitting as a member of a Democratic Party Central Committee is long established in Maryland and is currently the practice with numerous members of the state legislature from other jurisdictions outside of Montgomery County. The vote of the three dozen individuals who sit on the MCDCC drowned out the voices of the one million people who populate Montgomery County.
It is worthwhile noting that the MCDCC subsequently voted to prohibit its own members from seeking other elected offices but that this provision would not apply to the current election cycle, unlike the first decision that is effective immediately, thus annulling the candidacies of all persons running for both public and partisan office simultaneously. The MCDCC elected to inequitably apply the implementation of the new rules so as to benefit those among them who are currently seeking a seat in the Maryland General Assembly.
More than half of the MCDCC’s current membership has been appointed to the body including all of its officers. None of these individuals have been elected into their current office and yet they are responsible for having effectively appointed one in three members of the Montgomery Delegation to either the Maryland House of Delegates or the State Senate. That’s right; individuals who were appointed to the MCDCC in turn appoint themselves to the state legislature. The MCDCC has effectively become a de-facto channel for bypassing popular election into the Maryland General Assembly.
One would be excused from concluding that the MCDCC is a self-serving body of individuals that seeks to control our government by eluding the direct election of our representatives. Their aforementioned votes indicate their contempt for Democratic voters in Montgomery County who are now being denied the opportunity to determine who, among the willing candidates, will represent them in their local Democratic Party.
This perversion of democracy is indicative of a deeply corrupt Democratic Party that undermines popular participation in our elections. This is the same Democratic Party that created some of the most gerrymandered congressional districts in the nation based upon the presumption that having more Democrats elected to Congress is more important than providing Marylanders with free and fair elections.
One can only conclude that it has been in the interests of the MCDCC and of the incumbents in the Maryland General Assembly to depress voter turnout so as to ensure that those favored by the Democratic Establishment prevail on Election Day. Incumbents in Montgomery County are re-elected at a nearly absolute rate and they are elected in off-year gubernatorial Democratic Primary Elections in which only 1 out of every 6 registered Democrats participates, in which participation is closed to all voters who are not registered Democrats, and which are scheduled in the middle of the summer while families are away on vacation. During the last election cycle in 2014 less than ten percent of the population of District 16, where I ran and where I am once again a candidate, elected the Democratic Party nominees who inevitably went on to win the General Election.
Low voter participation favors incumbents who have name recognition among “super voters” and candidates tend to target these individuals on the campaign trail, effectively relegating the remainder of the population to electoral oblivion. As an Area Coordinator for the past few years I organized phone banks and canvasses with elected officials that specifically targeted Democrats who had not participated in every election for the past few cycles. The MCDCC had pledged support but that support never materialized.
I stood up at the MCDCC event to articulate my interest in reaching out to disengaged and disenchanted Democrats while also seeking to drive down healthcare premiums and to reduce the teacher to student ratio as a means of addressing overcrowding in our schools. I explained my steadfast support of the Democratic Party and its candidates in Maryland since I first worked for the Maryland House of Delegates in 2003. And the MCDCC voted to prevent my name from appearing on the ballot this June in a manner that has been permissible for decades.
The only rational conclusion that one can draw from the behavior of the Democratic Party in Maryland is that it is corrupt and that it is in need of a desperate overhaul of its leadership, its objectives, and its platform. The Democratic Party should be one of inclusion that facilitates participation in our democracy. It has shown itself to be decidedly against popular participation in our electoral process and has consistently demonstrated its interest in anti-democratic and collusive measures that undermine our democracy.
Jordan Cooper is a Democratic Candidate for Delegate in District 16 and up until this vote was a Democratic Candidate for the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee in District 16