Biden’s Billions

By Adam Pagnucco.

President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress passed a mammoth economic stimulus plan last week. The plan contains hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to states and local governments. How much of that is coming to Maryland?

According to U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, a LOT.

Cardin and Van Hollen estimate that Maryland and its local jurisdictions will receive a total of nearly $6.4 billion, with the state getting $3.9 billion, the counties getting $1.2 billion and municipalities getting $1.1 billion. The money can be used to respond to or mitigate the COVID-19 health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, nonprofits, and aid for tourism, travel, and hospitality; provide essential workers with premium pay; cover revenue loss as a result incurred as a result of the COVID-19 emergency; or to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure. The money cannot be used to support any pension fund or offset a tax cut.

The table below shows the estimated distribution of funds by county.

The table below shows the estimated distribution of funds for MoCo and its municipalities.

The plan also includes lots of additional money for education, transportation and more.

This doesn’t solve all of MoCo’s budget problems, especially the issues connected to the county’s long-term lack of competitiveness in the region. But it should help the county balance its budget without raiding reserves or retiree health care so long as it practices some spending restraint. One mistake that the county should not make is to use this one-time funding to initiate new indefinite, long-term spending. This federal money, while welcome, is temporary.

The executive’s recommended budget comes out later today.

Share

Most MoCo State Legislators Oppose Single Tracking the Purple Line

By Adam Pagnucco.

A majority of MoCo’s state legislators have written to the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) opposing County Executive Marc Elrich’s proposal to single track the Purple Line through a tunnel in Downtown Bethesda. In the letter, signed by 5 of MoCo’s 8 state senators and 15 of MoCo’s 24 delegates, the lawmakers “strongly urge” that MTA adhere to its “previously approved” plan to build two tracks in the Purple Line tunnel. The letter is reprinted below.

*****

March 9, 2021

Mr. Kevin B. Quinn, Jr.
Administrator
Maryland Transit Administration
6 Saint Paul Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202

Dear Administrator Quinn:

We are writing to strongly urge the Maryland Transit Administration’s continued commitment to the planned Bethesda Purple Line Station and operations in and out of that station as previously approved. It is important to our Montgomery County constituents that the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) be rebuilt beneath Wisconsin Avenue as promised and that the Purple Line’s operations are not adversely impacted.

The CCT Tunnel—previously known as the Air Rights Tunnel—is an important part of our region’s multi-modal transportation infrastructure. From 1998 until its closure for Purple Line construction, it was a major bicycle commuting route utilized by thousands of Marylanders each day. Local bicyclists and other trail users were repeatedly assured that the CCT would be rebuilt below ground to ensure this vital pathway remained safe and uninterrupted. Indeed, many bicyclists strongly advocated for the Purple Line because of the thoughtful, forward-looking plan that allowed both the transit line and a safer trail.

As for the Bethesda Station, the Purple Line has been under study since 1992 and project plans were approved long ago. Construction of this transformative project is, as you know, well underway. As such, we encourage MTA to uphold its commitments to our constituents by implementing the existing, two-track plan for the Bethesda Purple Line Station and accompanying operations. The two-track plan allows us to meet the full potential of the Purple Line: rapid travel times, short headways, and reliable boarding.

We recognize that Montgomery County has a significant role to play to fund and build the below ground CCT. And we appreciate the substantial commitment our County has already made in bringing the Purple Line and the replacement Capital Crescent Trail this far. But we also need MTA to reject major mid-construction changes to infrastructure and, ultimately, operations.

Such changes may lead to some short-term savings but they will only harm the Purple Line’s success in the long-run. To the extent, however, that the currently pending process of selecting a new design-build contractor for the project can be used to reduce the cost of the underground Capital Crescent Trail and the two-track plan in collaboration with the county, we welcome such efforts.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

Senator Brian J. Feldman
Senator Benjamin F. Kramer
Senator Susan C. Lee
Senator William C. Smith, Jr.
Senator Jeff Waldstreicher
Delegate Kumar P. Barve
Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield
Delegate Kathleen M. Dumais
Delegate Jim Gilchrist
Delegate Ariana B. Kelly
Delegate Marc Korman
Delegate Lesley J. Lopez
Delegate Sara Love
Delegate David Moon
Delegate Julie Palakovich Carr
Delegate Lily Qi
Delegate Kirill Reznik
Delegate Emily Shetty
Delegate Jared Solomon
Delegate Jheanelle K. Wilkins

cc: Matthew Pollack, Executive Director, Maryland Transit Administration

Share

Marylanders Strongly Support Legalizing Marijuana

By Adam Pagnucco.

Part Two of Goucher College’s latest poll of Marylanders is out and one of the questions it asks is this: “Do you [support or oppose] making marijuana legal for recreational use in Maryland?” Here are the results on this question from the poll’s crosstabs. The margin of error is 3.8% for all voters and is higher for subsamples.

All adults

Oppose: 28%
Support: 67%
Sample size: 725

Women

Oppose: 31%
Support: 63%
Sample size: 383

Men

Oppose: 26%
Support: 71%
Sample size: 340

Registered voters

Oppose: 29%
Support: 66%
Sample size: 654

Democrats

Oppose: 18%
Support: 77%
Sample size: 352

Republicans

Oppose: 47%
Support: 50%
Sample size: 171

Unaffiliated

Oppose: 34%
Support: 60%
Sample size: 115

Age 18-34

Oppose: 16%
Support: 79%
Sample size: 219

Age 35-54

Oppose: 25%
Support: 74%
Sample size: 249

Age 55+

Oppose: 42%
Support: 50%
Sample size: 257

Black

Oppose: 21%
Support: 74%
Sample size: 217

White

Oppose: 33%
Support: 63%
Sample size: 442

Other races

Oppose: 22%
Support: 68%
Sample size: 65

No college degree

Oppose: 25%
Support: 70%
Sample size: 443

College degree

Oppose: 33%
Support: 62%
Sample size: 283

Montgomery/Prince George’s

Oppose: 24%
Support: 73%
Sample size: 232

Central/Baltimore Metro

Oppose: 26%
Support: 67%
Sample size: 333

Outside urban corridor

Oppose: 40%
Support: 57%
Sample size: 160

Conservative

Oppose: 42%
Support: 54%
Sample size: 203

Moderate

Oppose: 30%
Support: 65%
Sample size: 315

Progressive

Oppose: 11%
Support: 84%
Sample size: 180

Children in household

Oppose: 23%
Support: 73%
Sample size: 259

No children in household

Oppose: 31%
Support: 63%
Sample size: 362

Share

House Subcommittee Kills Grocery Store Alcohol Sales Bill

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Daily Record has reported that a House of Delegates subcommittee has effectively killed Delegate Lily Qi’s bill allowing some grocery stores to sell beer and wine.

Passing this legislation was always going to be an uphill battle even though more than 70% of Marylanders support grocery store sales of beer and wine and the Maryland Retailers Association was making a big push for it. The Daily Record quoted Eastern Shore Republican Delegate Steven Arentz making the classic argument against the bill:

Most of our package stores are family-owned… We have three major grocery stores in Queen Anne’s County, and each one of them has a liquor store within 100 yards of them… this will put them out of business.

But Delegate Qi correctly noted that six MoCo grocery stores allowed to sell beer and wine had smaller beer and wine stores nearby, as we reported on Seventh State. The notion that grocery store alcohol sales will wipe out package stores is a myth and we proved it. But this myth is hard to kill because many people, including elected officials, repeat it endlessly despite evidence to the contrary.

The map above shows the Giant on New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring, which is allowed to sell beer and wine, and the White Oak Convenience Store, a beer and wine shop, directly behind it. Both appear in purple ovals.

The bill is still technically alive in the Senate as it was introduced there by Baltimore City Senator Cory McCray. But the vote by the Alcoholic Beverages Subcommittee of the House Economic Matters Committee against Qi’s version of the bill prompted her to say that she is withdrawing it.

Delegate Qi told me that she believes the vote in the Alcoholic Beverages Subcommittee against her bill was unanimous. The members of the subcommittee are:

Talmadge Branch, Chair (Democrat – Baltimore City)
Jay Walker, Vice Chair (Democrat – Prince George’s)
Steven Arentz (Republican – Eastern Shore)
Benjamin Brooks (Democrat – Baltimore County)
Ned Carey (Democrat – Anne Arundel)
Seth Howard (Republican – Anne Arundel)
Kriselda Valderrama (Democrat – Prince George’s)

Share

Crosstabs: Goucher College Poll on COVID

By Adam Pagnucco.

Part One of Goucher College’s latest poll of Marylanders is out and it asks several questions related to the COVID pandemic. The accompanying crosstabs spreadsheet is also available. Here are the results for all voters along with two crosstabs of interest to Seventh State readers: statewide Democrats and residents of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. (Because of the size and partisan nature of those two counties, there will be some overlap.) The margin of error is 3.8% for all voters and higher for subsamples.

Question: Do you [approve or disapprove] of how Governor Larry Hogan has handled the outbreak of the coronavirus in Maryland?

Answer from all voters

Disapprove: 21%
Approve: 77%
Sample size: 654

Answer from Democrats

Disapprove: 17%
Approve: 81%
Sample size: 351

Answer from MoCo/Prince George’s

Disapprove: 20%
Approve: 76%
Sample size: 232

Note: 32% of Republicans disapprove and 65% approve, so Hogan’s ratings on this question are better with Democrats than Republicans.

Question: Do you think Maryland is moving [too quickly or too slowly] to ease restrictions and reopen businesses, or has the pace been about right?

Answer from all voters

Too slowly: 25%
About right: 57%
Too quickly: 16%
Sample size: 654

Answer from Democrats

Too slowly: 13%
About right: 66%
Too quickly: 20%
Sample size: 351

Answer from MoCo/Prince George’s

Too slowly: 18%
About right: 64%
Too quickly: 16%
Sample size: 232

Question: Are public schools in your area moving [too quickly or too slowly] to reopen for in-person classroom instruction, or has the pace been about right?

Answer from all voters

Too slowly: 29%
About right: 36%
Too quickly: 31%
Sample size: 654

Answer from Democrats

Too slowly: 11%
About right: 41%
Too quickly: 43%
Sample size: 351

Answer from MoCo/Prince George’s

Too slowly: 19%
About right: 39%
Too quickly: 36%
Sample size: 232

Note: 65% of Republicans say the schools are reopening too slowly so there is a huge partisan difference on this question.

Question: Please tell me if you’ve experienced these feelings [more often, less often or about the same] as you did before the outbreak of the coronavirus last year… stressed.

Answer from all voters

Less often: 13%
About the same: 38%
More often: 49%
Sample size: 654

Answer from Democrats

Less often: 12%
About the same: 35%
More often: 53%
Sample size: 351

Answer from MoCo/Prince George’s

Less often: 15%
About the same: 30%
More often: 55%
Sample size: 232

Question: Please tell me if you’ve experienced these feelings [more often, less often or about the same] as you did before the outbreak of the coronavirus last year… frustrated.

Answer from all voters

Less often: 10%
About the same: 34%
More often: 55%
Sample size: 654

Answer from Democrats

Less often: 11%
About the same: 34%
More often: 55%
Sample size: 352

Answer from MoCo/Prince George’s

Less often: 10%
About the same: 34%
More often: 56%
Sample size: 233

Question: Please tell me if you’ve experienced these feelings [more often, less often or about the same] as you did before the outbreak of the coronavirus last year… angry.

Answer from all voters

Less often: 16%
About the same: 49%
More often: 34%
Sample size: 654

Answer from Democrats

Less often: 16%
About the same: 47%
More often: 36%
Sample size: 352

Answer from MoCo/Prince George’s

Less often: 15%
About the same: 49%
More often: 37%
Sample size: 232

Question: Please tell me if you’ve experienced these feelings [more often, less often or about the same] as you did before the outbreak of the coronavirus last year… sad.

Answer from all voters

Less often: 13%
About the same: 41%
More often: 45%
Sample size: 654

Answer from Democrats

Less often: 13%
About the same: 34%
More often: 53%
Sample size: 352

Answer from MoCo/Prince George’s

Less often: 13%
About the same: 36%
More often: 51%
Sample size: 233

Question: How concerned are you—[very, somewhat, a little, or not at all]—about yourself personally or a close family member getting the coronavirus?

Answer from all voters

Little/not at all: 28%
Very/somewhat: 71%
Sample size: 654

Answer from Democrats

Little/not at all: 17%
Very/somewhat: 82%
Sample size: 351

Answer from MoCo/Prince George’s

Little/not at all: 24%
Very/somewhat: 76%
Sample size: 232

Note: Among Republicans, 49% are a little or not at all concerned and 50% are very or somewhat concerned. Democrats are much more concerned about family members getting COVID than Republicans.

Question: When the Covid-19 vaccine is available to you, do you think you’ll get it as soon as you can, wait and see how it’s working before you get it, only get it if required, or are you definitely not going to get the Covid-19 vaccine?

Answer from all voters

Already received at least one dose / will get it as soon as they can: 67%
Wait and see how it’s working: 14%
Only get it if required / Will not get the vaccine: 18%
Sample size: 654

Answer from Democrats

Already received at least one dose / will get it as soon as they can: 71%
Wait and see how it’s working: 15%
Only get it if required / Will not get the vaccine: 13%
Sample size: 352

Answer from MoCo/Prince George’s

Already received at least one dose / will get it as soon as they can: 69%
Wait and see how it’s working: 18%
Only get it if required / Will not get the vaccine: 11%
Sample size: 232

Question: Overall, do you think the Maryland state government is doing a(n) [excellent, good, fair, or poor] job distributing the COVID-19 vaccine?

Answer from all voters

Poor / fair: 64%
Excellent / good: 33%
Sample size: 654

Answer from Democrats

Poor / fair: 62%
Excellent / good: 36%
Sample size: 351

Answer from MoCo/Prince George’s

Poor / fair: 72%
Excellent / good: 27%
Sample size: 232

Question: When do you think the country will get the outbreak under control and be able to return to normal: in the next month or two, by the summer, before the end of the year, later than this year, or never?

Answer from all voters

Next month or two / by the summer: 17%
Before the end of the year: 39%
Later than this year / never: 40%
Sample size: 654

Answer from Democrats

Next month or two / by the summer: 11%
Before the end of the year: 43%
Later than this year / never: 45%
Sample size: 351

Answer from MoCo/Prince George’s

Next month or two / by the summer: 11%
Before the end of the year: 44%
Later than this year / never: 43%
Sample size: 232

Share

New MoCo GOP Chair Throws Predecessors Under the Bus

By Adam Pagnucco.

Our post yesterday – MoCo Republicans in Freefall – has caught the attention of the county GOP. In an email sent to his colleagues shortly after our post went up, new MoCo Republican Central Committee Chairman Reardon Sullivan admitted that the party’s decline was real, blamed prior party leaders for their dilemma and listed a number of steps he and others are taking to turn things around.

That’s going to be tough. After all, the local party’s most famous figure is Robin Ficker, it has a long history of infighting and its top field guy (Brad Botwin) sends out regular blast emails attacking “illegal alien criminals/gang members.” Having Donald Trump and Bikini Chewbacca as the two national symbols of the GOP is also unhelpful in MoCo.

Here’s a guy who knows how to communicate.

Sullivan’s email is reprinted below. Grammar and spelling appear as in the email.

*****

Good Morning Central Committee and supporters

This morning’s emails gave us this post from the liberal blog “Seventh State” stating that the Republican Party is in freefall, and they are correct.

The past actors within our local party had failed to respond to changing demographics, utilize technology and support local candidates and initiatives resulting in a significant decline it the party during the past twelve years.

While our local party was asleep at the wheel, our conservative American values continue to be eroded by the liberals and progressives here in Montgomery County… I am dedicated to changing this trajectory but need your help…

We are building a new MCGOP, but this will not happen overnight. We are formally setting up subject matter committees, utilizing technology to reach current and prospective members, doing oppositional research and looking for new ways to lay the groundwork for a successful organization. We are looking for new ways to rebuild our presents in Montgomery County, reaching out to Republicans, independents with soft democrats with basic, clear simple, concise solutions give people reasons to want to be Republican and part of the solution.

In the past two months, we have:

1. Worked on strategies to increase our contact database using BOE data and lists compiled by others.
2. Reviewed our outreach strategies and are considering more tools than ever before.
3. Updated the MCGOP website to with an election tab to provide direction to people to register to vote and change parties. Thanks to Brad Botwin for the idea and Sharon Cohen for the updates.
4. Instituted orientation at MCGOP headquarters, led by Dan Cuda. We currently have double digit sign ups and growing.
5. Anne is working with the woman’s groups regarding legislative initiatives. Sandy is also working the legislative angle and Brad is testifying.
6. Ann is looking at candidate recruitment for both local municipal races as well as the county and state races.
7. Bill is working on Police and SRO issues.

Also critical to our comeback is fundraising as this effort takes money implement. I will personally donate $1000 today to the MCGOP and ask that each to you donate at least 10% or $100 this week.

I want to hear your ideas… feel free to e-mail me personally with “I will” action plans vs “we should” suggestions…

This will be a tough road, but I am confident that working together we can make a difference!!!!

Sully

Share

Barve Bashes the Council on Solar

By Adam Pagnucco.

Last month, Delegate Kumar Barve, chair of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, warned the county council not to pass a version of a zoning text amendment that effectively prevented most solar development in the agricultural reserve. Now that they have ignored his warning and passed it anyway, Barve has authored a blistering opinion piece in the Washington Post condemning the majority of the council for “sabotaging affordable clean energy.” Barve also wrote that the council’s action has spawned imitators, possibly leading to “a chain reaction of solar prohibitions.”

The state delegation and county electeds have long had ups and downs, sometimes cooperating and sometimes grumbling. Usually the grumbling does not appear in public, but there are exceptions like Delegate Eric Luedtke’s op-ed criticizing county officials for ignoring upcounty. Barve’s piece is harsher and, coming from one of the top environmental policy makers in the state, may ultimately be more consequential.

That said, the council has made its decision on solar in the agricultural reserve. What’s next? Obviously, an election is coming. The most important single change to the original zoning text amendment was one restricting placement of solar panels on certain soil types. That change passed on a 6-3 vote. Three council members are term limited: two who voted for the change (Council Members Craig Rice and Nancy Navarro) and one who voted against it (Hans Riemer). So assuming that all of the remaining incumbents return, the tally would be 4-2 in favor of the soil restriction.

The next council will have 11 members because of the passage of Question C last year. If 4 of the 5 new council members favor solar in the ag reserve, they could undo the soil restriction on a 6-5 vote. Could that happen? It’s possible but it becomes more likely if the Sierra Club – which supported the original zoning text amendment – conditions its endorsement in the next election on whether candidates favor liberalizing solar restrictions. If that occurs, solar proponents have a shot at getting their way. If not, MoCo’s restrictions have a greater chance of becoming permanent unless Barve and the General Assembly find a way to preempt them.

Share

Planning Board Chairman casey anderson calls county exec. Marc elrich’s idea “Dumb”

Though he doesn’t say his name, Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson disparaged County Executive Marc Elrich at the Board’s Thrive Montgomery meeting, saying it was a “dumb idea” for Elrich to suggest that the Purple Line be single tracked under Wisconsin Ave. to save money. Just to make it extra clear who he is thinking isn’t too bright, Anderson references an Elrich proposal from 2009.

Only the discussion doesn’t make clear that the idea now is simply to single track under Wisconsin Ave.–a distance of 900 feet–to save money rather than all the way from Bethesda to around Connecticut Ave. as in the idea from over a decade ago. [Note: The Purple Line was originally planned as entirely single track.]

No discussion of the merits of the idea occurs. Nor does the Planning Board Chairman suggest a means to fund this expensive project. Anderson’s comments would likely have been even worse if a planning board staffer had not cut him off in the midst of another negative comment.

When asked for comment, Chairman Anderson said:

Well, I said it, and if I had it to do over again I might say it’s a bad idea, or even a terrible idea, but whatever word is used to describe it the fact is that It was suggested in 2009 and rejected for reasons that were pretty obvious at the time and I don’t think it has improved with age.

Not exactly an apology. Even worse, it reiterates the false claim that this is the same as the 2009 proposal. It’s not. The 2009 proposal planned for single-tracking over a much longer distance, so I queried: “Except that Elrich’s proposal in 2009 had a single track to CT—not just under Wisconsin—so that’s not true, right?” Anderson texted back:

It’s pretty obvious that it creates the same problem – single tracking limits the ability to improve frequency of service because it limits the number of trains you can run. In places where it’s been tried the result has been to come back later and make expensive fixes to add back the second track.

Except that what’s more far obvious is that single-tracking over a very short distance at the end of the line could well have quite different effects than doing the same over a much longer distance. It’s a very strong, unsupported assumption in service to his preferences. More to the point, repeatedly stating that the two proposals are the same is not playing straight with the public.

Around the same time as I heard back from Anderson, I also received a comment from County Executive Elrich:

Not quite sure what Casey’s referring to but when it was first suggested, the single track went all the way to the country club. We’re talking about pulling into and out of the station on a single track. It’s nine hundred feet – a fraction of the distance to the country club. And the trains have to switch tracks over there any way because the train entering on the westbound track has to leave on the eastbound track.

At the headway’s the system uses, there’s no way that two trains would conflict and there would be no bottleneck or degradation in service. It would save $50 million that could be spent on other important things. And without a second track you get a nice wide path.

Of course, the state would have to study it, I can’t mandate it, so we’ll see if it works. And if it does, why would a sane person say no. In the meantime his policies of developer giveaways is wrecking our ability to build the capital projects we need. Which schools, libraries, or public facilities should we kill to spend $50 million on a 500 ft tunnel if you can solve the problem and get the project done faster for far less cost. I’m trying to get it done quickly, without damaging our budget.

I don’t think many would contest that the two-track tunnel would be better. The question that Elrich raises is whether it’s worth studying the alternative in light of other pressing needs demanding the county’s scarce capital dollars. He also points out, correctly, that we’d get a much better bike path and trail through the tunnel.

Bottom Line: The public contempt by the Planning Board Chairman for an idea proposed by the County Executive to deal with the decline in projected capital funds is irresponsible and inappropriate for an official chairing a public meeting. Indeed, it’s the sort of remark that the Council reacted to sharply when Elrich said something similarly tactless–and, unlike Elrich, Anderson knew he was being taped.

What’s even worse, however, is intentionally misleading the public into believing that Elrich’s current proposal for single tracking just under Wisconsin had been studied when he could have simply said that he didn’t think it is a good idea. The Planning Board Chair should not misrepresent facts. It undermines the public trust.

Share

Raskin, Trone Ask Hogan for Mass Vaccination Site in MoCo

By Adam Pagnucco.

Joining the Montgomery County Council and County Executive Marc Elrich, MoCo Congressmen Jamie Raskin and David Trone have asked Governor Larry Hogan to establish a mass vaccination site in the county. Elrich says the county can open one on its own right now, but there’s a problem: the county gets its vaccines from the state and Elrich doesn’t want vaccines for a mass site to count against the regular allotment the county health department receives. In the meantime, the state plans to open more mass vaccination sites in Southern Maryland, Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore while MoCo residents (at least the ones who drive) are flocking to the Six Flags site in Prince George’s County.

The mess seems unlikely to be meaningfully resolved until the overall supply of vaccines increases substantially.

The letter from Raskin and Trone appears below.

*****

Dear Governor Hogan and Acting Secretary Schrader:

We write to respectfully urge your support for locating a COVID-19 mass vaccination site in Montgomery County. As you know, Montgomery is the most populous county in our state and has experienced the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the state. Yet, despite Montgomery suffering the worst casualty rate in Maryland and despite having the second-highest number of cases in the state, it still has no mass vaccination site for its population of more than one million people. Of the six mass vaccination sites that will soon be operating across Maryland, not a single site is in Montgomery. Not surprisingly, Montgomery ranks 15th among all Maryland counties in percentage of its population vaccinated even though its County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has administered 87% of its allocated vaccines.

Beyond the sheer numbers of people involved, a mass vaccination site in Montgomery County would clearly promote your administration’s goal of ensuring equitable vaccine distribution to vulnerable communities. Montgomery has a majority-minority population and is the most diverse County in our state. Around 20% of residents are Hispanic, 19% are Black/African American, and 15% are Asian/Pacific Islander. Montgomery has a significant health care workforce and a substantial elderly population over the age of 75. These demographics present complex challenges for the local health department in vaccine distribution which could be successfully addressed with a local mass vaccine site.

Although you have emphasized that the mass vaccination sites in Baltimore and Prince George’s counties are open to Montgomery County residents, this offer seems like cold comfort when so many logistical hurdles face lower-income, working-class, immigrant, and senior residents in Montgomery who are unable to arrange transportation or get time off from work to travel to distant sites. These realities for tens of thousands of people make the suggestion of daytime travel to other parts of the state seem like wishful thinking. We urge you to work with Montgomery County officials and your team to provide a state-run mass vaccination site in Montgomery County.

If the Maryland Department of Health is unable to support another state-run mass vaccination site, we urge you to sufficiently increase the number of vaccines provided to the County to enable the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services to operate its own mass vaccination site. Moreover, as the state prepares to improve its equity framework in the coming weeks, we urge you to increase vaccine distribution efforts to better serve the diverse and vulnerable communities in Montgomery County. In Montgomery County, we know local leaders look forward to working with you to increase vaccine access and improve vaccine equity throughout the state. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this urgent and significant request. We are available to discuss it at your pleasure.

Very truly yours,

Congressman Jamie Raskin and Congressman David Trone

Share

MoCo Republicans in Free Fall

By Adam Pagnucco.

Montgomery County’s Republican Party is in free fall. Consider the following five facts, all derived from data provided by the State Board of Elections.

1. While the numbers of MoCo Democratic and unaffiliated registered voters have been growing, the number of registered Republicans is lower now than in 1988.

In the 1988 primary, there were 110,829 registered Republicans in MoCo. That number peaked at 136,269 in the 1996 general election. Since then, the number of registered Republicans fell to 105,561 in the 2020 general. From the 1988 primary through the 2020 general, growth in MoCo registered voters was 109% for Democrats, 241% for unaffiliated and third party voters and minus 5% for Republicans.

2. The share of registered MoCo voters who are Republicans has fallen by half in the last three decades.

In the 1992 primary, 33% of all registered MoCo voters were Republicans. In the 2020 general, the GOP share fell to 16%. The number of registered unaffiliated and third party voters (156,702 in the 2020 general) greatly exceeds the number of registered Republicans (105,561).

3. The ratio of registered MoCo Democrats to Republicans is at its highest level since at least 1988.

In the 1992 primary, there were 1.6 registered MoCo Democrats for every MoCo Republican. By the 2020 general, there were 3.9 registered MoCo Democrats for every Republican.

4. Among actual voters in MoCo, the share who are Republicans has fallen behind unaffiliated and third party voters while Democrats dominate.

Republicans compete directly with Democrats in general elections. In 1988 and the early 1990s, Republicans comprised 30% or more of actual voters in MoCo general elections, both presidential and gubernatorial. Their share of actual voters fell to 17% in 2018 and 15% in 2020. Unaffiliated and third party voters were 19% of actual voters in 2018 and 21% of actual voters in 2020. Democrats now exceed 60% of actual voters, up from the mid-to-high 50s in the 1990s.

5. MoCo Republican registrations and voting have taken big hits under Donald Trump.

The table below shows changes in MoCo registrations and actual voting by party under the past 5 U.S. presidents. For each president, the general election in which they were first elected is used as the starting point and the general election near the end of their tenure in office is used as the ending point.

Democrats saw surges in registrations under both Bush 43 and Obama and enjoyed a large increase in actual voting under Bush 43. Unaffiliated and third party voters saw significant increases in registrations and voting during most periods although registration growth was slow under Trump. Republican registrations and voting grew under Bush 41 but fell under the next four presidents. Voting decline under Trump was about the same as under Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama, but consider that Trump was the only one of them who served just one term. Republican registration decline was huge under Trump (13%), far exceeding declines under his predecessors.

The GOP was once a factor in MoCo politics. GOP Congresswoman Connie Morella served in Congressional District 8, which accounts for most MoCo voters, from 1987 through 2003. Jim Gleason, who was MoCo’s first county executive in 1970-78, was a Republican. The GOP held county council and state legislative seats in the western and northern parts of the county for years. In the 1994 election, one-quarter of MoCo’s partisan elected offices were won by Republicans. But the last MoCo Republican office holders, District 1 Council Member Howie Denis and District 15 Delegate Jean Cryor, were defeated in 2006 and the party has not come close to winning a seat since.

MoCo Republicans might still matter in two ways. First, they are the third-largest group of Republicans in the state behind Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County. That makes them relevant in statewide GOP primaries for whatever that’s worth. Second, they have money. Republicans from all over the state come to MoCo to raise money just as Democrats do. Republicans might even toss some money to centrist Democrats just to prevent progressives from winning.

Once upon a time, the case could be made that MoCo Republicans were relevant on ballot questions. They certainly played a part in passing term limits four years ago. But given the fact that they are now just 15% of actual voters and their partisan embrace of nine districts helped kill Question D, even that is in question.

Is there anything the local party can do to reverse this free fall? That’s a tough nut to crack. MoCo is a diversifying county that looks nothing like the national Republican base that supported Trump. Not all is politically settled here as there are differences even among county Democrats on taxes, school reopening, school boundaries, criminal justice, land use, housing, economic development and other issues which are likely to surface in Democratic primaries. But it’s hard for county Republicans to be regarded as credible on local issues when their national counterparts are ransacking the U.S. Capitol and defending a seditious former president. Without a national GOP that adopts a very different brand and political strategy from the one it has now, it’s hard to imagine a local GOP reversing the trends above.

Share

Maryland Politics Watch

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterCheck Our Feed