Category Archives: Prince George’s

Progressive Democrats Turned Bad

casa logo
The following is a guest post by Kim Propeack, Director, CASA in Action:

In preparing these thoughts, I think it is important to set out from the top that the 47th District in Prince George’s County has always been politically contentious and I have been a big supporter of the emerging Latino talent in that area. That being said, for a long time I was also a Doyle Niemann supporter. I supported him even though he was first elected on a slate that he put together that placed a notorious anti-immigrant in the House of Delegates for one term. I thought he was, as he proclaimed, a progressive.

Across his twelve years in the House of Delegates, my perception changed. As we worked to expand the paltry protections for tenants (Maryland being famous for having the code most favorable to landlords in the entire country), advocates were always negotiating against a stacked deck with Doyle. In recent years, as chairman of the House Housing and Real Property subcommittee, he negotiated reforms down to such a bare minimum that on many occasions we simply took a pass – what was acceptable to Doyle was simply not worth fighting for in our estimation. And the inside perspective in Annapolis was clear. Apartment owner lobbyists were explicit about the amendment deals they had worked out with him and his campaign finance records reveal a mutually supportive relationship.

When Doyle announced plans to run for County Council, I was very concerned that he may represent an area where affordable housing is perhaps the most critical crisis facing the community. After years of lobbying him, I knew he was not the person I trusted to protect low income residents. But Doyle’s campaign was beyond appalling.

In 2012, CASA de Maryland ran an extensive campaign to educate Latino voters to support marriage equality, including close monitoring of organizing efforts to anti-marriage votes in the community. Generally speaking, anti efforts were quiet. But in our area, one church put out anti-marriage posters in Spanish. That church was Tabernaculo de la Fe on Metzerott Road. When Doyle decided to recruit a Latina to run against Will Campos in the hopes that Will would be distracted from supporting Deni Taveras’ campaign, he recruited Natalie Cabrera. Cabrera works at Tabernaculo de la Fe; her father is the pastor. Purportedly she lived in the church. The day after she filed to run, Doyle late-filed a bond bill to provide funding for Tabernaculo de la Fe. Ultimately Cabrera was thrown off the ballot because she was actually a registered Republican. I remember the beautiful email Doyle sent out when marriage equality was approved so I hoped that his choice was no more sinister than simply not knowing anything about the Latino community in the district he had represented for years.

Amateur Film of Telemundo Commercial Against Deni Taveras
and Dels. Gutiérrez and Peña-Melnyk

But the campaign was not over. In the Post coverage of the election, Doyle acknowledges that his Latino outreach was largely conducted through faith leaders. He is referring to several Latino pastors, including the Pastor of Tabernaculo de la Fe, that have formed a small coalition. I believe it is that group that placed 30 second commercials, sans authority line, on Telemundo. The commercial, aired of course in Spanish, showed photos of Delegates Ana Sol Gutiérrez and Joseline Peña-Melnyk, Senator Victor Ramirez, and Candidate Deni Taveras with a huge cross-out across their pictures because of their support of SB212. The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, as most know, established anti-discrimination protections for the transgender community. The commercial went on to show adult men walking into a bathroom amid screaming semi-nude women. It said, Protect Your Family. And oppose these people who put your family in danger.

On Election Day itself, volunteers from the same group were at the polls in Doyle Niemann tees handing out Doyle Niemann literature. There have been complaints that some of those volunteers brought mini-IPads to show Latino voters copies of the video. Although I have not been able to confirm that myself, I know that Doyle’s morning volunteer at Langley-McCormick Elementary argued with the CASA in Action staffer working that poll that he was there because he has a small child and Deni supported pedophiles going into bathrooms.

Personally, I don’t think Doyle ever had an expectation that he would pick up those voters. I think the goal of these tactics was some misguided sense that Latino votes that would otherwise go to Deni would be suppressed; a big presumption on his part about the nature of the Latino electorate. Doyle, of course, voted for both marriage equality and the Fairness for All Marylanders Act. But that didn’t matter at election time. I was not born yesterday; campaigns get nasty and almost every candidate probably has a moment of shame. But there is a limit to what is acceptable. Destructive tactics during campaigns have long-term consequences for communities. When Tom Perriello voted for the ACA, he said that should he end up a one-term congressman, it was a worthy price to pay for reforming the US healthcare system – an unusually moral stand for a legislator. No one should run unless they are willing to behave with similar dignity.


Taveras Bests Niemann by Six Votes

TaverasDistrict 2 Democratic Nominee Deni Taveras

In Prince George’s County Council District 2, the final tallies reveal that Deni Taveras defeated incumbent Doyle Niemann by six votes–a reversal of the earlier outcome. SEIU supported Taveras and sent out an email celebrating her nomination.

Taveras has served as Sen. Victor Ramirez’s Chief of Staff and also worked at EPA and taught at the University of Maryland, College Park. She holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Barnard and Columbia, a M.A. from the University of Utah, and a M.A. in Public Affairs and Regional Planning from Princeton.


D47A Delegate Race Rating


This dual member district is home to what’s shaping up to be a bloody primary in this district home to several Prince George’s municipalities, including Bladensburg, Brentwood, Cheverly, Colmar Manor and Mt. Rainier. Mt. Rainier City Councilman and Communications Workers of America (CWA) national bigwig Jimmy Tarlau faces 2010 Candidate Diana Fennell. Fennell, an African American, has demographics on her side.

Jimmy Tarlau combines a national profile in the labor community with local roots. He’s out raised Fennell by a wide margin as well. I suspect CWA will play in this race with independent expenditures. Fennell is on incumbent Sen. Victor Ramirez’s ticket, but I think Tarlau can pull it off. Michael Summers, although a weak fundraiser, is safe.

Rating: Safe Summers, Lean Tarlau


Young Guns of Prince George’s

1. Ed Burroughs – Not only is Ed the youngest member of Prince George’s School Board, he’s established himself as a national thought leader on education reform. Although he passed on what would have been an easy open seat race for Delegate in D26, a promotion is surely in his near future. He’ll certainly be the favorite to succeed Obie Patterson on the County Council . . . if he wants it. Close with the Iveys, he could also end up as a bigwig in a potential Gansler administration.

2. Dave Murray – Nobody out hustles Dave Murray. He came within a razor’s edge of capturing a seat on the Prince George’s Board of Ed in 2010 and 2012. While he won the primary with an overwhelming majority, the demographics of a General Election universe of voters are challenging for him. When term-limited Mary Lehman leaves the council in 2018, you can count on Dave to replace her.

3. Raaheela Ahmed – Raaheela came gut wrenchingly close to beating the Chair of the Prince George’s Board of Education last cycle. While her father Shukoor is a bit of a perennial candidate, Raaheela will be in Annapolis before the next round of redistricting.

4. Larry Stafford – Deputy Field Director on Heather Mizeur’s gubernatorial campaign, Larry also revitalized the Prince George’s Young Dems. He’s sure to continue to rise behind the scenes regardless of how Heather’s bank shot bid turns out.

5. Dinora Hernandez – She grew up in Lewisdale, went to Michigan Law, and has recently worked for County Executive Rushern Baker’s lobby shop. She has pressed for greater recognition of Prince George’s growing diversity. In her current School Board campaign, she has argued hard for more parent liaison resources in areas with high concentrations of limited-English proficient students. Already a leader with the skills to move forward and to offer.

6. Walakewon Blegay – Walakewon is an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board. Previously, she worked in U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s District Office, as a Legislative Aide to Ben Barnes, and as a staffer on the campaigns of Tom Perez (for Attorney General) and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (for Baltimore City Council President). Of Nigerian and Liberian descent, she is also a leader in Maryland’s growing continental African Community. Definitely one to watch.

7. Jazz Lewis – Jazz is an extremely talented Prince George’s based organizer. He’s worked for everyone from SEIU to Del. Michael Summers to U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. Currently a grad student at UMD, he is sure to continue and rise in politics.



7S in the Baltimore Sun

Luke Broadwater of the Baltimore Sun has written a piece analyzing the Currie-Griffith Senate race in Prince George’s. St Mary’s Prof. Todd Eberly and I agree that Currie’s censure won’t prevent him from winning another term:

[Del. Melony] Griffith “has a chance, because of what has happened with Currie over the past few years,” says Todd Eberly, an assistant professor of political science at St. Mary’s College. “But I suspect in the end, it isn’t enough for his constituents to say to him, ‘It’s time to pack it in.’ He’s known as someone with tremendous seniority who has delivered for the district.”

[American University Professor of Government David] Lublin says the accusations against Currie weren’t as attention-grabbing as those leveled against former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson and his wife, Leslie.

“What Currie did is hazier than stuffing thousands in your bra,” Lublin says.” Censuring is a term that goes over most people’s heads.”

You can read my analysis of the race here.


Ramirez Heavily Favored in D47


Most of Prince George’s District 47

District 47 is a majority black district in Northeast Prince George’s County with an exploding Latino population. As of the 2010 Census, the voting-age population of the district was 50% African American and 37% Latino. Subdistrict 47A (two delegates) was 62% black while subdistrict 47B (one delegate) was 61% Latino.

Two-term Del. Victor Ramirez ousted corrupt African-American Sen. David Harrington to become Maryland’s first Latino State Senator in 2010. Now, Ramirez faces long-time Bladensburg Mayor Walter Lee James. Ramirez has money ($122K while James hasn’t filed a financial report) and the power of incumbency.

James has a strong base in Bladensburg that he’ll need to turn out in large numbers to overcome what are sure to be extraordinarily high percentages for Ramirez in Langley Park. But even that seems unlikely to be enough as Bladensburg composes just 7% of D47. James would need to somehow unify and rally African-American voters behind him to defeat Ramirez– very difficult without money against an active and energetic senator like Ramirez.

Rating: Safe Ramirez


Prince George’s County Council Run Down (1-3)

District 1

Incumbent Mary Lehman is has no opponent in the primary or general election. She has already won.

Rating: Safe Lehman

District 2

Doyle Nieman chose to avoid a tough member vs member fight brought on by redistricting by dropping down to run for the council seat left open by term limited Council member Will Campos (who is running for a legislative seat district 47).  Neimman had roughly $27,000 in his campaign account as of the last filing.

Doyle faces off with suicide prevention advocate Deni Taveras, who is slated with Senator Victor Ramirez.  Taveras has roughly $16,000 in her account as of January.

Nieman brings a powerhouse of resume and history to the contest. Taveras will benefit from the rapidly changing demographics in the district. The average Council race in Prince George’s runs $80,000-$100,000 so both have a lot of call time to do in the next few months.

Rating: Toss Up

District 3

Eric Olsen is term limited. His Chief of Staff, Dannielle Glaros is running for the open seat. She faces mental health counselor Terence Collins and former New Carrolton City Councilman Jim Wildoner (who ran for this seat as a Republican in 2006). Glaros had $28,000 in the kitty as of January and should be a lock.

Outlook: Safe Glaros

Check back soon for profiles on races 4-9.



Despite Many Rivals, Barron Has D24 Edge

D24Prince George’s District 24

Of all of the numerous delegate contests in Prince George’s, the one in District 24 is perhaps the most interesting. This is the seat that the once extremely promising Tiffany Alston lost to indictment. After Gov. O’Malley shot down the appointment of reformed ex con Greg Hall, former Del. Darren Swain was selected to fill the vacancy, although Swain would soon become embroiled in his own scandal.

Swain is running for reelection but is challenged by Alston and Hall. A third challenger, Attorney Erek Barron, is perhaps more formidable than any of them.

Swain’s vulnerabilities spring from one night shortly after he was appointed where he allegedly picked up a group of teenagers, took them to an abandoned house and was then robbed by the same teenagers.

Alston is not regarded as a serious candidate by anyone with whom I’ve spoken. Alston filed an affidavit saying she had raised less than $1,000 on January 1st.

Hall is in many ways an appealing candidate–a drug dealer who served time in prison for his role in a shooting who then cleaned up his act and is now a prosperous small business owner. Furthermore, many feel he is owed the seat because the PGCDCC nominated him for the appointment and he was the runner up to Alston in the 2010 primary. Still, his past makes many, including the Gov, uneasy. Like Alston, Hall filed an affidavit saying he had raised less than $1,000 on January 1st.

Finally, there is Barron. He has served as a prosecutor in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City and with the Department of Justice. He was also an Attorney for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, acting as Lead Counsel to now Vice President Joe Biden. He is also tied in locally, having played football at UMD and served as a PGCDCC member. He currently practices law with a prominent Maryland firm, Whiteford, Taylor and Preston. Barron had $29,000 on hand on January 1st.

Carolyn Howard and Michael Vaughn are both well respected in Annapolis and have been reasonably strong fundraisers. Howard reported $32,000 on hand in her January report, which is a solid number for an incumbent legislator in Prince George’s County. Vaughn had $75,000 on hand– an unusually strong number for a Prince George’s delegate. 

Marva Jo Camp, a Annapolis Lobbyist and Attorney has also filed to run. She failed to file a campaign finance report in January, suggesting a certain lack of organization. I’ve been unable to find any substantive information on Durand Ford, although he raised a paltry $613 in 2013. A google search turned up nothing on Delano Miller. There isn’t any campaign finance data available for Phillip Raines and his websites doesn’t list any biographical data other than that he graduated from Bowie State.

These candidates have yet prove their credibility.

Swain, Alston and Hall are all deeply flawed candidates. Barron is running a well organized campaign and has a sterling resume. The chatter is that he is the favorite.

Rating: Lean Barron

Full Disclosure: I pitched Erek Barron on Direct Mail services on behalf of a previous employer in November 2013. 


Turner-Valderrama-Sloan Form D26 Unity Slate

D26SlateDel. Kris Valderrama, Candidate David Sloan and Del. Veronica Turner

Del. Veronica Turner’s bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Anthony Muse just got a major shot in the arm. Together with Del. Kris Valderrama and David Sloan, Turner has formed the District 26 Unity Slate.

As I explained in my profile of the D26 Senate race, the alliance with Sloan had been rumored for awhile. Valderrama’s participation also does not shock. In 2010, Muse did not endorse Valderrama and then accused her of disseminating misleading information about him.

Like Turner, Valderrama is perceived as more progressive than Muse. Both Turner and Valderrama backed marriage equality despite Muse’s fierce opposition and criticism. Del. Jay Walker joined Muse in speaking at a tea-party organized rally against it.

Walker is supporting Tony Knotts for delegate so this seems a tacit rival to the formally announced D26 Unity Slate, as only three people can win election as delegate. I don’t know if Walker or Knotts are running with Muse. Though this would seemingly be the logical next step, the presence of five other candidates besides Valderrama and Sloan may complicate matters.

The District 26 Unity Slate held their first event on Monday at Mrs. Philippines Home and will hold their office opening on April 12th. The ticket works to the advantage of all the candidates as they benefit from mutual support and can multiply the impact of money and canvassing by working together. Of course, they also lend each other credibility in their campaigns.


Turner Takes on Muse in Prince George’s D26

D26Prince George’s District 26

District 26 in southwestern Prince George’s County is 78 percent black in voting-age population. These days, it’s perhaps best known for Prince George’s showcase National Harbor development, soon to be home to Maryland’s MGM Casino.

Sen. Anthony Muse is facing a tough fight for a third Senate term. Muse first won a term in the House of Delegates in 1994 and then narrowly lost a challenge to Sen. Gloria Lawlah, the first African-American elected to the Senate from this district, in 1998.

Muse ran for County Executive in 2002 but came in third with just 19% of the vote. He beat Del. Obie Patterson in 2006 with 55% to win the Democratic nomination for Senate. (Patterson now represents County Council District 8.) In 2010, Muse faced no significant opposition. Muse ran a quixotic campaign against U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin in 2012, taking just 16% of the vote and failing to carry his home county.

In 2014, Muse faces a tough challenge from Del. Veronica Turner, first elected in 2002. Two other candidates have also jumped into the race, Jerry Mathis and Brian Woolfolk.

Mathis, a former member of Prince George’s Community College Board of Trustees, won only 13% in his unsuccessful bid for the 2010 Democratic nomination for the District 8 Council seat. He seems unlikely to be a factor, especially since he has no campaign account (or at least I cannot find it in the database). However, he probably holds a grudge against Muse for filing a bill designed to stop him from running for the County Council in 2010.

Brian Woolfolk is an attorney who previously worked for Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), who is viewed as a smart and highly competent Member of Congress, and as Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee. Woolfolk has $50K in his campaign account with $45K of the $65K raised in the form of a loan to his campaign. In contrast, Muse has $52K in his campaign account while Turner has $25K.

As the leader of a 2000-member church in his district and an incumbent who has appeared on the ballot many times, Muse would seemingly go into this race with a strong advantage. His wife, popular NBC4 Anchor Pat Lawson Muse, is also a major asset to his campaign.

Except that his church has now had to file bankruptcy. Muse blamed the problems on the struggles of the church’s middle-class members during the recession. But Muse’s previous church also filed for bankruptcy in the 1990s at the height of the economic boom after getting mired in $6 million of debt. Among the current church’s major debts are $610,000 owed to Muse and his wife, which includes loans they made to the church.

One can imagine Turner recruiting support from the many people Muse has tangled with over the years, such as Gov. O’Malley, Sen. Cardin and Councilmember Patterson, who might not sorry to see him lose. Muse is also one of the more conservative members of the Senate. He opposed Gov. O’Malley’s wind power initiative and marriage equality, so Turner may attract support from progressives.

An additional boost for Turner is that she is rumored to be quietly forming a slate with David Sloan, tipped as the most promising of the non-incumbents running for delegate.

Support from the other incumbent delegates–incumbent Del. Kris Valderrama and Del. Jay Walker are both running– could also help either Muse or Turner. I have no information here; as always, please post on Facebook if you do. Of course, they could also choose to join neither ticket. Valderrama and Muse have not always had a strong relationship, so I don’t see her as a lock to slate with Muse. Alliances often change over time though, so who knows?

The number of candidates could prove a barrier for Turner in unifying the anti-Muse vote. Woolfolk is a new candidate but can bring money to bear on the race and has a solid credentials. Mathis should not be a factor but may grab a few votes.

At the same time, Turner has been on the ballot several times, so she undoubtedly has her own network of positive supporters who will rally to her. In other words, her campaign is not merely centered on unifying those tired of Muse. Moreover, women will make up a heavily disproportionate share of the electorate.

Interestingly, Turner is listed as one of Brown’s endorsers while Muse is not. Her support for Brown could work to her advantage if Brown does well in this district on primary day.

I need more information to get a more informed sense if this one leans one way or another yet. I tend to think it is between Muse and Turner, and that either could win, but it will be interesting to see if Woolfolk gains traction. Rating: Toss Up.