Category Archives: Eighth Congressional District

Jawando Facing Renewed Scrutiny for Unreturned Turing Pharma Donations

Will Jawando is running to be the Democratic nominee for the open Eighth Congressional District. Earlier in the campaign, he faced scrutiny for his acceptance of large donations from infamous Turing Pharamceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli. Jawando had promised to refund these donations or to give them to charity but the Center for Responsive Politics reports that Jawando still has half the money:

About 8 percent of [Jawando’s] money — $28,300 — was given by either Martin Shkreli or employees of his former company, Turing Pharmaceuticals. After Shkreli became the infamous “pharma bro” — a superlative he earned when Turing hiked the price of a lifesaving drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill last year — Jawando did not give all of Shkreli’s money to charity, as he said he would. Rather, he kept half of it, or $2,700 the campaign had earmarked for the general election.

Jawando’s campaign told OpenSecrets Blog in an email that it would donate the rest of the money after Jawando wins the primary.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Jawando misled the Washington Blade about having already donated the entire sum:

In an email to the Washington Blade in early January, the campaign said it had already donated the money. Federal Election Committee records tell a different story. The day after the Baltimore Sun article ran, on the day Shkreli resigned as Turing’s CEO, Jawando’s campaign donated half of what Shkreli had contributed.

“Our compliance attorneys told us that that other half is earmarked for the general election,” a representative of the campaign told OpenSecrets Blog; he said the rest of the money would be donated to the Boys and Girls Club if Jawando wins the primary. If he loses, the campaign will have to refund that money to Shkreli.

Moreover, Jawando has not returned donations from other employees of Turing Pharaceuticals:

But what about the $22,900 from six other Turing employees? The campaign is keeping that. “They didn’t do anything illegal,” said Aubrey Sylvester, Jawando’s campaign manager. “They weren’t indicted for anything.” Asked whether the fact that such a significant portion of the campaign’s total contributions has come from employees of a single company — one that’s currently being investigated for pharmaceutical price gouging — would affect Jawando’s policies, Sylvester said no.

Jawando is the only candidate that five of the six other Turing contributors have supported with contributions.

Has Jawando done anything illegal? Absolutely not. Indeed, I imagine he would say that it will all end up refunded or donated, so what’s the difference?

The problem is strictly political. Failure to get rid of the donations despite reports that this was planned and even occurred will not enhance views of Jawando among voters and keeps continued focus on a negative story. Instead, it would have been better to act decisively and return these problematic donations or just be up front and say he’s going to keep them but retains the same stands he’s always had on these issues.

Not a permanently disabling move by this promising young Democrat who performed very respectably in the 2014 Democratic primary for delegate even if he didn’t win a seat. But also not good news for his underdog congressional campaign.


UNITE Endorses Barve


Del. Kumar Barve

The following is from the press release issued by Kumar Barve’s campaign:

Rockville – UNITE HERE International Union today endorsed State Delegate Kumar Barve for Congress in the race to replace Chris Van Hollen in Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District. UNITE HERE represents 275,000 hard-working men and women in the hospitality industry across the United States and Canada, including approximately 15,000 who work in Maryland and Washington’s hotels, casinos, cafeterias, and airports.

“Our union is made up of a majority of immigrants, women and people of color,” said Roxie Herbekian, International Vice President of UNITE HERE International Union and President of UNITE HERE Local 7, one of three UNITE HERE Locals with members in Maryland. “As the first Indian American elected to a state legislature in American history, Kumar Barve is an inspiration to our members.”

UNITE HERE members hail from all corners of the planet. The union, in conjunction with the AFL-CIO and thousands of immigrant rights activists, is pushing for comprehensive, worker-centered, and commonsense immigration reform and an end to criminalizing enforcement strategies.

Kumar Barve is a fighter for working people and has stood with labor throughout his career. Delegate Barve supports the “Fight for 15”, expanded collective bargaining rights, and paid sick leave for all American workers.

“Kumar Barve has been a progressive leader in Maryland and is responsible for moving Maryland forward.  He has fought to increase the minimum wage, maintain the prevailing wage and expand workers’ rights.  We need a leader in Congress like Barve who will bring people to get things done for the working families of the 8th Congressional District,” said Bert Bayou, Chapter President of UNITE HERE Local 23.  “It is an inspiration to immigrant workers in our community that Kumar  has used the story of his immigrant grandfather’s fight against the U.S. Government to retain his citizenship as the centerpiece of his campaign to provide dignity and opportunity for every American,” said Bayou, an Ethiopian immigrant now living in Silver Spring.

“I am proud to receive the endorsement of the working men and women of UNITE HERE,” said Delegate Barve, Chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee.  “In Congress I will continue to oppose union-busting and fight to raise wages and improve the living standard for working families,” said Barve.


Three Strategies for Winning CD8

Today, I am pleased to present a guest post from Adam Pagnucco:

With roughly ten weeks until early voting begins in the 2016 primary, candidates for Congress in District 8 are entering the home stretch. Three candidates are leading the field, and each of them has a different strategy for winning. Whichever one of these strategies is best suited for the race will play a major role in determining the winner.

And these strategies are:


Roll Call recently reported that Total Wine co-owner David Trone made a $900,000 ten-day TV and radio ad buy in early February. Bethesda Magazine’s Lou Peck wrote, “The Trone campaign is making what is known in TV ad lingo as a 600-point buy: The aim is to ensure that 80 percent of adult viewers see an ad seven times or more.” And since Trone has nearly limitless resources and has vowed to spend “whatever it takes” to win, we should expect to see more of this.

Let’s put Trone’s opening bid in context. First, in ten days, he spent more than Senator Jamie Raskin’s entire cash on hand ($869,000) and almost as much as Kathleen Matthews’ entire cash on hand ($1.1 million). Second, this one expenditure is almost equal to Chris Van Hollen’s total spending in the 2002 primary ($1.1 million). Third, it’s more than half of what Congressional District 6 candidate John Delaney paid SKD Knickerbocker for media production and ad buys ($1.7 million) in the entire 2012 primary. And there’s still three months to go.

Trone must find Delaney’s success encouraging. And he certainly has a success story to share. But this year’s CD8 race is different in many respects from the CD6 race in 2012.

  1. CD8 is jam-packed with liberal Democrats in Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington and Wheaton, while half of CD6 is located in considerably less liberal Western Maryland. The latter district is indisputably more hospitable to self-made businessmen like Trone and Delaney.
  1. Delaney’s principal rival, then-State Senator Rob Garagiola, did not have an aggressive grassroots operation as does Senator Jamie Raskin.
  1. The 2012 campaign did not feature a prominent female candidate like Kathleen Matthews.
  1. Delaney was endorsed by Bill Clinton and the Washington Post. Trone has no obvious connection to the Clintons and we will see what the Post chooses to do.

Trone definitely has the attention of the other candidates, with Delegate Kumar Barve sending out an email titled “Fighting Big Bullies” and Raskin stating, “Public office is something you earn, not something you buy.” Trone seems likely to break local race spending records. The big question is how CD8 Democratic primary voters will respond.


Jamie Raskin has built what is probably the biggest grassroots organizing operation in the county since Van Hollen’s 2002 race. Unlike most candidates who hide their internal campaign measures, Raskin puts them out for all to see. He has adeptly grown from his Takoma Park/Silver Spring base and tapped into activist networks all over the district, aided by his legions of local elected endorsers. He has responded to Kathleen Matthews by assembling a voluminous “Women for Jamie” group. And there is little question that a huge majority of the precinct-level liberal activists are with him.

The big question about Raskin is whether the time he is spending in Annapolis will impede his campaign’s ability to grow. Raskin is a superb one-on-one and small group campaigner. No one is better in a backyard full of progressives. Unlike many people with his level of intellect, Raskin comes across as both smart AND likable – a great talent for a politician. But with Raskin tied up in the Mike Miller Senate Office Building through early April, those assets are not as deployable and they don’t transfer quite as well to television or mail.

Another question about Raskin’s network is how far it penetrates into the community. He definitely has the activist liberals who are critical for winning State Senate and Delegate races. But what about PTA officers and volunteers, civic association leaders, faith leaders and small business people? Raskin is going to be outspent by both Trone and Matthews and his network must be big enough to offset that. If it is, Raskin can corral the progressive vote and win.

Stand Out

Three, maybe four, candidates will have the resources to compete. All of them will have a progressive message. All of them will talk about standard Democratic issues that are also being raised in the presidential campaign. But only one of them is a woman and only one of them has 25 years of experience on television. That’s Kathleen Matthews.

Let’s understand that nearly 60% of Montgomery County’s electorate is female no matter how you cut the data. The Matthews campaign certainly gets that. Below is the cover of the eight-page foldout lit piece that is currently being distributed by their field operation. You don’t need to see the rest of it; the cover says it all.

Matthews Door Cover

Here’s the reaction of the regular female voter who received that piece. “It’s a nice brochure. I haven’t thought about the race. But she is certainly hitting all the right marks for me as a female Dem. I have to admit that the thought of getting another woman in Congress, particularly someone with her knowledge and high profile, is tempting.”

That’s music to the ears of the Matthews campaign.

Matthews has a quiet, but growing field operation that is now roaming the district. Unlike Raskin, the campaign does not advertise its statistics. Her real strength is going to be on television. Trone can run all the ads he wants, but none of these candidates can match Matthews’ abilities on camera. Her campaign’s weakness is that it has not had much of a local dimension to this point. But one TV ad on a hot local issue like Metro could go a long way towards remedying that. No one is better equipped than Matthews to do a film shot at a Metro station with frustrated riders, and then pivot to the camera declaring, “Metro riders deserve better. When I am elected to Congress, I’ll fight to fix Metro!” Then the riders will shout, “We’re Metro riders and we approve this message!

Folks, these are all competent campaigns and this race is turning into one for the ages. It’s going to be a great three months until the end. Enjoy the ride!


Trone’s Very Bad First Day as a Candidate

GregAbbottDavid Trone spent his first day as a candidate explain his donations to Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott among others.

I imagine that David Trone hoped his first day on the campaign trail would focus more on his biography as a self-made businessman, generous philanthropist, and family man. His first day, however, was spent explaining the large donations he made to Republicans that I detailed here yesterday.

In his first press release, David Trone stated:

The way I campaign will show 8th District Democrats the kind of Representative I’ll be. First, I will not take any contributions from corporations, lobbyists, or political action committees and will limit individual contributions to $10. Voters will know I mean it when I say I won’t be beholden to anyone but them.

Like many wealthy politicians before him, Trone understands that he can use his wealth to avoid having to appeal to other wealthy men and promote an appearance of independence to the average voter. It helps that Americans generally don’t dislike the wealthy but admire and want to be them.

Except that he spent the first day undermining this message by explaining his donations to Republicans with statements in the Washington Post like:

I sign my checks to buy access.

I’ve passed more laws than most politicians.

Bill Turque reports that he corrected the second statement to explain that he had “lobbied to pass numerous laws.”


Trone says that his financial independence will prevent him from being beholden to others. But donating very large sums puts Trone on the other end of precisely the same transactions. Put another way, if his refusal to accept large donations leaves Trone unbought, should voters regard his own donations as buying politicians?

Trone’s statement on his view of the Republicans to whom he gave major donations will only serve to increase cynicism:

We disagree categorically with their political positions on everything social and economic.

That wouldn’t seem to leave much left. Does he like the foreign policy of the many state Republicans he has supported?

Indeed, Trone disagrees strongly with Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, a recipient of over $8000 of his largess, on guns. Here is David Trone’s position:

I support comprehensive gun control reform that limits access to assault weapons and expands safety regulations. We need to bring back the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, expand background checks, tighten regulation of the gun dealers, and require safe firearm storage in homes. We need to close loopholes from private sales, including gun shows. Sensible gun laws work in countries that use them.

In contrast, Abbott signed laws to allow the concealed carrying of handguns on campus and open carrying of guns in the State. Trone may have donated for his own business purposes but he also helped promote gun laws that he opposes.

When Abbott was Attorney General, he described his job as “I go into the office in the morning. I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home.” Abbott opposes the DREAM Act. Not exactly someone with whom a Democratic candidate normally wants ties.

Abbott’s relationships with donors have come under heavy scrutiny:

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) was supposed to provide funding for cancer research. But soon after its implementation, the multi-billion dollar entity was awarding grants to donors of Rick Perry and Greg Abbott without the proper review. Scientists resigned in protest, and an investigation into the activities of the fund has since resulted in a felony indictment.

Trone’s strong statement of disagreement with Abbott and other Republicans on major issues just reinforces his statement that he was buying access to lots of officials. And some may rightly or wrongly make the leap to something more, particularly in light of Trone’s braggadocio about having passed legislation.

David Trone is a real star in the wine business. He has revolutionized that industry and built a great company. His opening campaign statements do not demonstrate the same acumen.


Confused Candidate Alert: Vogt Attacks Raskin–Who is Running in a Different District

Sixth District Republican Candidate David Vogt appears to think he is running against Eighth District Democratic Candidate Jamie Raskin. Yesterday, he issued a press release attacking Raskin for “dangerous political correctness”:

“Senator Raskin’s letter is evident of how dangerous and disturbing political correctness can be,” Vogt commented.  “As representatives, we owe it to our constituents to place their safety and security above all else.  Senator Raskin’s irresponsible approach would instead make Maryland a more dangerous place.”

“Until we have an effective and secure vetting process, Maryland should close its borders to anyone with potential terrorist ties.  That’s the only way we can be sure that we are keeping Marylanders safe,” Vogt concluded.

Vogt attacked Raskin for this letter, which Raskin authored and many Maryland legislators signed, to express support for Syrian refugees in the face of the fear incited by Gov. Larry Hogan and many other Republicans:

It’s easy to pick on Syrian refugees. They’re Arab. Most are Muslim. Understandably, many Americans fear terrorism and turmoil originating in that part of the world.

As Vogt likes to remind us–it’s mentioned twice at the beginning and twice again at the end of this short press release–he was a decorated marine who served this country well in Afghanistan. That honorable service and risking of life in our country’s defense deserves to be honored.

But it also takes guts to stand up in support of an unpopular and highly vulnerable group. Raskin isn’t being politically correct here. He’s standing up in support of the very ideals that we’re grateful to Vogt for defending even as I disagree with his stance here.

I’m no fan of political correctness–it’s often overbearing and tiresome. Moreover, it makes it easier for bigots like Donald Trump to brand Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals in the name of fighting political correctness.

Real leadership, however, is often not about whipping up fear but promoting calm. As John Oliver has pointed out, this country has an extensive vetting process for Syrian refugees–a fact that somehow never seems to get mentioned in these calls to keep them out.

Whatever you think of Raskin’s stance, it’s a principled one. It’s easy for leaders to go along with the majority but we should also admire when they’re willing to defend passionately and cogently a minority view. It shows a lot more political courage than Vogt’s press release.



David Trone is a Major Republican Donor

David Trone is jumping into the race for the Democratic nomination for the Eighth Congressional District. He calls himself a “strong Democrat” but will have to explain quickly his major heavy donations to Republican candidates.

Trone Donated Far More to Republicans Than Democrats in State Elections

Trone has donated far more to Republicans than Democrats in state contests. According to, he gave $161,016 to Republican candidates since 2000 (see below). That compares to just $94,113, or 29%, to Democrats and $37,850 to unidentified candidates. Interestingly, all $26,500 of his donations in Maryland were to Democrats.

Trone has donated to right-wing conservatives, including:

  • $8,941 to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
  • $15,000 to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
  • $2,500 to Thom Tillis, North Carolina U.S. Senator and former Speaker of the North Carolina House.
  • $8,000 to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.
  • $4,500 to Henry McMaster, South Carolina Lt. Governor and former Attorney General and State Senator.

More Democratic in Federal and Other Donations

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that the direction of Trone’s federal donations has been quite different–lopsidedly in favor of Democrats. Since 1990, Trone has given $55,050 to Democratic candidates, including the maximum legal donation of $2,700 to Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign. He also donated $1,000 to Republican William Gormley’s in support of his unsuccessful  2000 U.S. Senate bid in New Jersey.

Trone’s has also made thousands of dollars in donations to state parties, legislative caucuses, and PACs. Like his federal donations, these have listed more in the Democratic direction, though he donated $2,975 to the Senate Republican Caucuses in South Carolina and Virginia.

Bottom Line

David Trone has given a lot of money to a variety of staunch conservatives. While self-funding his own campaign, he has also funded many Republican campaigns. Kathleen Matthews can argue her $2,600 donation to conservative Republican Sen. Roy Blunt was a one off. But this record shows a pattern of giving large sums to Republicans over many years.

Trone Has Donated to These Republicans

Trone R Donations1 Trone R Donations2 Trone R Donations3 Trone R Donations4 Trone R Donations5 Trone R Donations6


David Trone Jumps into Eighth Congressional District Race

Bethesda Beat has the story:

Saying that he had been thinking about running for Congress since he was in his 20s, David Trone, the 60-year old co-owner of Bethesda-based Total Wine & More, is jumping into the race for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Congressional District—and is planning to use his considerable wealth to self-fund his campaign.

We’ll have more on Trone in the morning.


How a Trone Race Could Help Matthews

The following is a guest post by Adam Pagnucco:

As first reported by David Lublin and followed by Bethesda Magazine and the Washington Post, Total Wine Co-Founder David Trone is considering a run in the Eighth Congressional District. The conventional wisdom seems to be that a Trone candidacy would hurt Kathleen Matthews. Bethesda Magazine’s Lou Peck writes:

At first blush, it would appear that a Trone candidacy could be a political blow to Matthews, who—despite a lack of prior political involvement in the 8th District—has become a top-tier candidate thanks to a fundraising base that has drawn big-name contributors from Washington well as from several other major cities across the country. (Among the recent donors to Matthews: Robert Trone, also a Potomac resident, who gave her the maximum $2,700 contribution last June.)

While Matthews has sought to emphasize her prior background as a local TV news reporter and anchor, her tenure at Marriott over the past decade has given her a base of business backing that Trone could cut into. And Trone’s ability to self-fund a campaign could neutralize Matthews’ large campaign warchest, accumulated since last summer thanks to her network of contacts and those of her husband, MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews.

The Post’s Bill Turque writes:

Should Trone decide to run, it would not be good news for Matthews, who is courting the kind of business community support that Trone could also claim. Trone would also likely diminish Matthews’s fundraising advantage (more than $1 million through Sept. 30), which she has accumulated through the network of corporate and political contacts developed in tandem with her husband Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball.”

Lou Peck and Bill Turque are both great reporters, but I disagree with the opinions of their sources. If Trone gets in, it could actually help Matthews win the race. Here’s why.

1. The business community has money, but they don’t have a lot of loyal voters – especially in Montgomery County Democratic primaries. My hunch is that Matthews already has raised enough money to put on a competitive campaign. We will find out in a few days when the end-of-year finance reports come in. And her nationwide Democratic fundraising network, bolstered by her famous and well-connected husband, goes far outside the business community. As for Trone, he doesn’t need to compete with Matthews for money because he can self-finance.

2. If Trone gets in, that means Matthews would be the only woman running a competitive campaign against three men–Trone, Sen. Jamie Raskin and Del. Kumar Barve. Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez has so far not raised enough money to be a top-tier contender.  (I am sorry for saying that, Ana!)  There are many examples in recent MoCo political history of female candidates doing well against men, either one-on-one or facing groups of men. They include:

Cheryl Kagan, 2014: Kagan, a former Delegate, was significantly outspent by incumbent Delegate Lou Simmons in the open seat primary for the District 17 Senate seat.  Kagan won by ten points.

Ariana Kelly, 2010: Kelly was the only female challenger in a jam-packed primary for an open District 16 Delegate seat.  Fellow challenger Kyle Lierman spent almost twice as much as Kelly, but she picked up the Apple Ballot and won a tight contest.

Ariana Kelly, 2014: Challengers Marc Korman and Hrant Jamgochian each spent significantly more than Kelly as they battled it out for an open seat.  Kelly was the only woman who ran a viable campaign and she finished first in the primary by nearly a thousand votes.

Sheila Hixson, 2014: The long-time incumbent faced a scrum of challengers for two open Delegate seats, one of whom self-financed over $400,000.  But Hixson, the only female candidate, smoked everyone and had a margin of more than 2,000 votes over the second-place finisher.

Nancy Floreen, 2010 and 2014: In 2010, Floreen competed with two other top-tier female candidates, fellow incumbent Duchy Trachtenberg and Becky Wagner, and finished third in the council at-large primary.  In 2014, Floreen was the only female at-large incumbent and had just one viable female challenger, Beth Daly.  This time Floreen finished second, her best result ever.

Yes, there are mitigating circumstances in all of the above races and women don’t always win.  In 2014, female challengers took on popular male incumbents in Council District 1 and Senate District 18 and lost badly. But there is definitely a pattern here for open seats and multiple seat races, because:

3. Women are majorities of Democratic voters, no matter how you slice the data. Below are extracts from Montgomery County’s voter registration file as of January 2015. First, let’s look at MoCo Democratic voters in gubernatorial elections.

Gender GubernatorialNext, let’s look at MoCo Democratic voters in presidential elections.

Gender PresidentialWomen are majorities in every single category of MoCo Democrats.  When just one woman is running a competitive campaign against two or three competitive men, that matters.  It also matters that Hillary Clinton is on the ballot and the possible departure of Donna Edwards from Congress could create an all-male federal delegation from Maryland.

All of these things bode well for Kathleen Matthews.  If I were in her camp, I would say, “Mister Trone, welcome to the race.”


Will David Trone Take the Plunge?

Washington Post Reporter Bill Turque has confirmed that David Trone is “mulling” a bid for Congress. The news that Trone had a poll in the field testing messages about himself and two opponents was “first reported” here at the Seventh State.

Turque’s report concurs with my assessment that a Trone run “might cut more” into Kathleen Matthews’ support:

Should Trone decide to run, it would not be good news for Matthews, who is courting the kind of business community support that Trone could also claim. Trone would also likely diminish Matthews’ fundraising advantage (more than $1 million through Sept. 30), which she has accumulated through the network of corporate and political contacts developed in tandem with her husband Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball.”

Indeed, several think Trone is considering the plunge precisely because of concerns regarding Matthews:

 Some District 8 political insiders speculate that Trone is weighing the race because private sector leaders are not confident that Matthews, also a political novice, can beat Raskin, a popular incumbent state lawmaker from Takoma Park[.]

Trone is wealthier than Matthews, so he would be able to spend even more money on his own campaign. Other than that, I don’t know why Trone would be a better candidate than Matthews, who brings oodles of media and public relations experience to her campaign.

Women compose a disproportionate share of the Democratic primary electorate, so Matthews might have the advantage there as well. Matthews is one of two women in the race along with Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez (D-18).

No doubt Trone’s poll may provide some private illumination to help him assess his chances. The filing deadline is February 3rd, so we’ll know if Trone is in or out within eight days.