Category Archives: District 18

When They Go Low

District 18 Delegate Candidate Helga Luest’s statement that Del. Jeff Waldstreicher tried to lure her into the Senate race in order to aid his own move from the House of Delegates to the Senate has become quite the contretemps in District 18.

Jeff Waldstreicher’s Denial

After evading questions from me and refusing to comment on the record, Jeff finally issued this statement to Andrew Metcalf over at Bethesda Beat:

These claims are false, defamatory, and born of actual malice,” Waldstreicher, who has served as a delegate since 2007, said in the statement. “When they go low, I go high—standing up for our community’s progressive values, leading the fight for $15 minimum wage, investing in our schools and resisting the Trump administration at every turn.

Jeff ought to be a near lock for this seat. He’s a three-term delegate and has consistently garnered more votes than his opponent, regular state legislative candidate Dana Beyer, as Adam Pagnucco has pointed out. He hasn’t strongly alienated any constituencies, which should make it hard for her to gain traction.

But he seems to be doing his level best to turn this into a competitive race. Even leaving aside Helga’s claims, his public statement sounds like what Melania would say if she was a red-headed attorney.

Rather than issuing a standard denial or explaining the situation, it looks like Jeff is thinking like an attorney who has managed to turn Michelle Obama’s inspiring words into political pablum. Moreover, when an attorney uses legalistic words like “defamatory” and “actual malice,” it look like he’s hinting at a lawsuit in an effort to get Helga to stop talking.

That’s not going to happen.

It never looks good when the optics are of a politician trying to silence someone. In the current climate, a male candidate trying to get a female candidate to stop talking looks even worse. Of course, if he did file a lawsuit that would really torch his political ambition.

Jeff’s evasiveness and efforts to kill the story also haven’t helped. Jeff’s silence and avoidance of comment on any remotely controversial issue at last Sunday’s debate–he literally did not speak for the first 75 minutes–also reinforce the perception of an overly political approach.

#metoo?

Dana Bayer felt “it was demeaning” that Jeff suggested she run on a slate with him for delegate instead of competing for the Senate seat. That, however, seems like normal politics and a good offer.

On the other hand, an effort by Jeff to get Helga to run for the Senate to help him out, would appear much more manipulative and skeezy. Voters might well judge it less kindly, though I’m not sure if they will know or care.

Dana Beyer tried to push the narrative, which is also how Helga sees it, of criticizing Jeff’s alleged behavior in light of #metoo:

I trust her and believe the story.

I find it disturbing that Jeff would so crassly ask anyone to sacrifice themselves for his sake, let alone a woman. As if her commitment to public service was inconsequential, and beneath his concern.

She made a similar statement to Bethesda Beat:

“I have every reason to believe Helga’s story,” Beyer said. “The underlying principle is, I trust women.”

Except this is not sexual harassment but political manipulation. Dana would also gain more if she stayed in the background rather than appearing all too eager to garner political advantage. The idea that one always trusts women over men is also problematic.

I have never seen nor heard any stories of Jeff behaving remotely sexually inappropriately. Frankly, it would surprise me greatly. I should also emphasize that this is not what Helga says happened, though she sees his actions through the broader lens of misogyny faced by women.

Notwithstanding the bad optics of Jeff declaring Helga’s post as “defamatory” and “born of actual malice,” I see this situation more as maladroit machinations. Helga’s allegations could be completely true but not so much about gender as the political maneuvering referenced in the Bethesda Beat headline.

To the extent that Jeff is willing to engage in these too-clever-by-half political games, I think he’d just as easily ask a man if he thought that was the good play. If he’s guilty of anything here, it’s political malpractice and a self-inflicted wound, as all of this seems rather unnecessary for him to win.

At the same time, Jeff’s “totally false” statement had at least one glaring weakness and Helga has not hesitated to point it out. Specifically, they clearly did meet, as Helga has highlighted in her reply to Jeff’s public statement.

Final Notes

Helga mentions accurately that she told me about the story before she published her Facebook. For a variety of reasons, I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it. She did not mention that I contacted her when I decided not to publish the story.

I’m glad Bethesda Beat’s Andrew Metcalf covered this story instead of me. Frankly, I’m not a professional reporter and he did a better job than me of getting straight up on the record accounts.

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Telling Them Apart

Last night, your scribe attended and live tweeted the District 18 state legislative debate sponsored by the District 18 Democratic Caucus. Though policy differences continue to be somewhat hard to find, voters could still glean much from what was said–and not said–as well as about the style and experience of the candidates.

State Senate Candidates

Dana Beyer possesses limitless self-confidence often associated with doctors. At one point, she tried to tell Moderator Charles Duffy how to conduct the debate. Highly intelligent, her most thoughtful response was about how the General Assembly’s first priority ought to be to undergird the healthcare system against federal attacks.

Towards the end of the debate, Dana declared that there is almost no policy diversity among the candidates, so voters need to elect someone who can bring the delegation together and lead. Unfortunately, she has a well-earned reputation of not working well with others.

While Dana gave voters a real opportunity to learn her views on a range of issues, Jeff Waldstreicher was reticent to the point of not speaking for the first 75 minutes. Loathe to say anything divisive, Jeff passed on opportunities to outline his views on issues such as liquor decontrol or single-payer healthcare.

Jeff finally spoke up to tout past and expected gun control legislation. A classic example of what political scientists call “credit claiming,” he steered clear of the more divisive issue of armed guards in schools. Complimenting Del. Al Carr’s work effusively, Jeff wooed his support. Jeff’s strategy is seemingly to avoid alienating any voters and run a focused “positive campaign” that ignores his challengers.

This was my first view of Michelle Carhart, the owner of a local chain of children’s gyms who jumped into the race at the last moment. Much less the pol than her two opponents, she came to the debate with the perspective of a local business owner who sees a need for both less bureaucracy and progressive change.

She complained about property taxes, and favors training over handouts as more useful and less demeaning. She argued that everyone should have to pay something for healthcare, so they’d have some skin in the game. Michelle has a lot to learn about public policy but could appeal to people looking for an ordinary citizen rather than a more practiced politician.

House of Delegates Candidates

Incumbent Del. Al Carr (who I support) demonstrated his comfortable policy knowledge on a number of issues and self-deprecatingly to laughter from the audience asked voters to send him as a “grizzled veteran” back to Annapolis after complimenting the strengths of the other candidates. He continues to emphasize the environment and climate change as a critical issue.

Since her respectable loss four-years ago in the primary, Emily Shetty has worked hard to position herself for this race by chairing the D18 Caucus and serving on the central committee. Among the most eloquent candidates, she advocated firmly for single-payer health care and is able to discuss the subject more fluently than many experienced legislators.

One of my favorite moments was when Ron Franks argued against the prevailing wisdom on police officers in schools. Making the case for people with diverse experiences by applying his own, he made a good argument that police officers serve as valuable role models and revealed a willingness to dissent thoughtfully.

Mila Johns stood out as someone unafraid to say what she thinks. In particular, when other candidates held back initially, she stated that the county should gradually get out of the liquor business because it’s killing off restaurants. She also advocated for making it easier for seniors to age in their own homes and death with dignity.

Joel Rubin highlighted his experience as an elected local official and seasoned policy advocate who has the communication skills and knowledge to fight for progressive ideals. Living with his mother-in-law (lovely woman, I’ve met her), he argued for incentives for multi-generational housing as one component to addressing senior living.

Helga Luest did not reprise her accusations against Jeff Waldstreicher at the debate. Speaking as the survivor of a murder attempt, she argued passionately for a trauma-centered approach and greater community connectivity to help address issues from kids prone to gun violence to isolated seniors. She believes a delegate should engage on leadership at the community level as well as outside the general assembly.

Jared Solomon’s answers gave the impression of someone who has studied the issues hard and would listen well but advocate forcefully. Labor should appreciate his advocacy of labor agreements as part of business incentive packages. He said education was his #1 priority. I hope higher pay for college professors is included!

Among the more knowledgeable candidates, Leslie Milano stood out as someone who would consistently advocate for economic growth. She referred to Amazon and Marriott tax incentives as normal business practices, which struck me less as politics as usual than someone who was being honest about the way the world works.

Issue Differences!

General similarities notwithstanding—everyone is anti-gun, pro-choice and wants to fight climate change—there was daylight between the candidates on a number of questions. While Leslie Milano expressed support for incentives to attract Amazon, Al Carr advocated investing in education and infrastructure that benefit all businesses. Emily Shetty wanted transparent negotiations, which was very popular, albeit wholly unrealistic. Dana Beyer said attracting Amazon is more important than keeping Marriott. Jeff Waldstreicher expressed no opinion.

Mila Johns, Ron Franks, Dana Beyer and Leslie Milano expressed support for getting the county out of the liquor business. I’d also like to know the opinion of other candidates.

In the most depressing part of the debate, Joel Rubin said he was okay with armed security guards if schools need them. Helga Luest highlighted the need for risk and threat assessment. Mila Johns and Leslie Milano opposed them with Leslie mentioning their impact on the culture of schools and suggesting bulletproof pods as an alternative.

Winner of the Debate

Adam Pagnucco. Hands down.

Candidates and the moderator referred to his posts here on Seventh State repeatedly with admiration.

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A Quick Note on Candidates

By Adam Pagnucco.

A few interesting things popped up in candidate filings today.

Krish Vignarajah has still not filed for Governor.  Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has filed, but his announced running mate, former Montgomery County Council Member Valerie Ervin, is not listed on his filing.

Grace Rivera-Oven, who was the Political Director of David Trone’s campaign for Congress, filed to run for Council At-Large on February 26.  She has started a traditional campaign finance account.

Jarrett Smith, who is a current member of the Takoma Park City Council, filed to run for Council At-Large on February 23.  Smith was reelected to the City Council in November and will not have to leave his seat to campaign for county office.  Smith has started a traditional financing account.

Kenge Malikidogo-Fludd has filed for County Council District 5.  Bethesda Magazine previously reported that Kevin Harris is running against incumbent Tom Hucker.  Malikidogo-Fludd is using public financing, as is Harris, while Hucker has not yet opened a public financing account.  However, Malikidogo-Fludd’s listed address is in Germantown, which is not in District 5.

Jaye Espy, who was running for Delegate in District 15, withdrew from the race on February 21.

Michelle Carhart of Rockville filed for District 18 Senate on February 22.  Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher and Dana Beyer, who has run for Senate and House unsuccessfully in the past, are also running.  Carhart’s website is inactive at this writing.

Filing closes at 9 PM tomorrow night.  There may be more news in store by then!

Note: an earlier version of this post reported that Jarrett Smith had not yet established a campaign account.  We apologize for the error.

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Joel Rubin Launches Campaign for Delegate

Town of Chevy Chase Councilmember is launching his campaign for the Democratic nomination for delegate in District 18 this Sunday. Recently, he sent out the following postcard:


A former assistant secretary at the State Department who frequently comments on national security issues for national news networks, Rubin’s campaign issued the following press release on Russian interference in Maryland elections:

Maryland District 18 Delegate Candidate Joel Rubin Calls on Maryland Officials to Protect the Integrity of 2018 Midterm Elections.

For Immediate Release:

Joel Rubin, Candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates (District 18) and a former senior national security official in the Obama Administration, today calls on Governor Hogan, the State Board of Elections, and the Maryland Attorney General to take immediate steps to ensure the integrity of the 2018 elections, beginning with the June 26th primary. Now that Governor Hogan has made Russian meddling in Maryland’s elections a partisan issue, it’s incumbent upon Maryland’s Democrats to make it clear that he must protect the integrity of our elections, rather than blindly follow the position of President Trump, who is laying us bare to continued Russian attack.

“As we learned from this week’s U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, despite the unanimous view of our intelligence chiefs that Russia is planning to attack our 2018 elections, President Trump is not ordering countermeasures to ensure that our most basic right as Americans – the right to vote – will be protected this year. This is a national security crisis. With Russian influence operations continuing unabated, the responsibility to protect our democracy now falls squarely to the states in a manner that goes beyond the traditional state responsibilities of guaranteeing proper voting rights, procedures and election integrity.”

“This means that the states are now responsible for rebutting cyber attacks by a hostile foreign power, a role traditionally assumed by the federal government. Therefore, I am calling on Governor Hogan, State Election Board Chair David McManus, and Attorney General Brian Frosh to immediately take the steps necessary for ensuring the integrity of our vote. They should also inform the legislature of any additional authority or funding needed to get the job done, and the legislature should immediately approve it.”

“Election security and justice require several steps. It is past time that they are taken. For instance, it is worth recalling that professors at the University of Maryland demonstrated that machines that were in use in Maryland just a few years ago were easily hacked. I urge our state’s leaders to consult the University and other authorities, such as cybersecurity experts, civil rights organizations, and others who have provided poll watchers and legal assistance in recent years, regarding the steps they would recommend be taken to strengthen our election security. This is an existential fight for both our state and our nation.”

Rubin, a Council Member in the Town of Chevy Chase, has worked for nearly two decades in national security, including as a senior official in the Obama Administration’s State Department and in the U.S. Congress. He believes that when our country is under attack, and our federal government fails to live up to its responsibilities, that it is incumbent upon the state government to fill the gap in order to protect its citizens.

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We Can’t Tell Them Apart

By Adam Pagnucco.

On Saturday, your author attended a forum for the two Senate candidates and eight House candidates running in District 18.  (These are the sad things we do after football season is over!)  What did we learn?

Not a whole lot.

You see, while MoCo has plenty of demographic, cultural and economic diversity, it has little political diversity – at least among those who run for office.  Take the candidates on stage.  Yes, there are demographic differences – two are African American men and five are women.  Yes, there are differences in life and professional experience.  They include a former teacher, a former doctor, a non-profit executive, two incumbent Delegates, a Town Council Member and more.  But on issues?

Let’s see.  They all support public education.  They all want more transportation options, especially those involving transit, walking and biking.  They all want more abundant and affordable health care coverage.  They are all pro-environment.  They are all pro-immigrant.  They all oppose Trumpism.  They all pledged to run positive campaigns.  (Can you imagine if any of them did not??)  They all… well, you get the idea.

There is more political diversity in every barroom, every Thanksgiving dinner and every long line at the grocery store than at a MoCo candidate forum!

The District 18 forum at Newport Mill Middle School.  Photo by Council At-Large candidate Evan Glass.

Let’s be restrained in our expectations: no one “wins” these forums.  The candidates’ objectives are to show that they are informed and competent, that they are in line with the values of folks in the room, and that they are not banana cakes.  Upon demonstrating minimum suitability, they then meet some activists who bring up micro-issues they have never heard of while they smile pleasantly and try to avoid checking their phones.

How do candidates stand out?  There are dozens and dozens of them on the ballot – thirty in the Council At-Large race alone.  The volume of mail about to descend on the county could clear a tropical rain forest.  Is bio and life experience enough?  Will anyone ace all the endorsements (aside from the incumbents)?  Will anyone be able to outspend the others?  That may be unlikely for a race dominated by public financing, as the Council At-Large race is, in which many candidates will be raising similar amounts.  Will any candidate dare to be different when political conformity is expected and few wish to deviate from the norm?

As for issues, here are a few questions that will draw out differences between candidates.  Moderators should keep them in mind for forums so that attendees will win the struggle to stay awake.

Do you support rent control?

Should the county and/or state governments require project labor agreements on construction projects providing for union representation of all craft workers?

Should the private sector be permitted to compete with the county’s liquor monopoly?

Should master plans require infrastructure to be built as a condition of allowing new development?

Do you support tuition-free public college for everyone?

Should the county build M-83, the Upcounty highway from Montgomery Village to Clarksburg?

Should existing traffic lanes be set aside as dedicated lanes for bus rapid transit?

Should a non-partisan commission draw Congressional and legislative district lines even if it means giving more seats to Republicans?  (Just watch the incumbent state legislators squirm on this one!)

Under what circumstances should taxes be raised?

How did you serve the community before you started running for office?

Please moderators – puh-leeeeeeeze – try to draw out some differences between our candidates.  Because heaven help us, for so many of them, we can’t tell them apart.

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Ana Sol Gutiérrez for Senate?

In his analysis of the Montgomery County Council District 1 race, Adam Pagnucco pointed out correctly that Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez (D-18) is completely outclassed on the fundraising front. She is unknown in much of D1, as the great majority of it is outside of District 18. Moreover, the portion of D18 that is Ana’s strongest base, though not her Chevy Chase home, lies outside D1.

Adam speculated that Ana might drop back to the delegate race. I suspect not. At this point, I imagine that she might prefer to retire or at least to go out in a long-shot race that gives her a better platform for her issues, especially on immigration and progressive policies designed to help poor and working Montgomeryites.

District 1 Race is a Bad Fit for Ana

Even taking this into account, the D1 Council race is a poor choice. This is a crowded contest with several highly qualified, well-funded candidates, so candidate debates may end up being more like those in a delegate contest. Additionally, even some of her usual supporters within D18 have decided to support other candidates rather than Ana’s surprising bid.

It’s also just a bad fit. Over the years, Ana has made little bones about her lack of interest in the local concerns of D1 residents. D1 residents are very pro-immigrant but there are a lot of local issues on which Ana has visibly little passion. The rationale for electing a councilmember who emphasizes immigration, as a glance as Ana’s twitter feed reveals, is not high because Nancy Navarro has occupied that niche and this is simply not a contested issue on the strongly pro-immigrant county council.

The barrier is not that Ana is Latina in a predominantly white district. African-American Craig Rice represents the whitest district in county and has no problem being simultaneously a proud African American and a strong local advocate. The idea that elected officials must match the predominant race or ethnicity in a district is grotesque.

Nevertheless, as in her quixotic congressional bid two years ago, Ana is destined to come towards the back of the pack in this group of candidates. She lacks the resources, the name recognition, or the strong rationale that would propel her candidacy forward.

District 18 Senate Race is Far More Intriguing

If Ana wants a platform, she’d be better off taking a flyer on the D18 Senate contest for a number of reasons.

Unlike on the Montgomery County Council, there is a real niche to fill in the Maryland Senate. Sen. Victor Ramirez is leaving the Senate to run for State’s Attorney in Prince George’s. The Senate will lose one of its strongest advocates on immigration and sole Latino voice. Though Maryland voted strongly for the Dream Act, immigration is contentious at the state level with Gov. Hogan more willing to make Trump-like noises on this issue than others.

Ana has already represented all of D18 for years and done well in delegate primaries. Though Jeff Waldstreicher spent far more money and campaigned far harder in 2014, he received only 122 votes more than Gutiérrez. In 2010, Ana beat Jeff by 483 votes to come in an easy first place.

Ana and Jeff ran on a slate together in these elections, so it is hard to gauge their individual support. Jeff campaigns much harder but Ana has a real following. She does well especially in the Wheaton and Silver Spring portions of the district but also gathers many votes near her Chevy Chase home.

If Ana ran, there would still only be three candidates in the race, which would prevent her voice from being crowded out. A conviction politician unafraid to stand up for what she believes, she will stand out. Moreover, her entry would completely scramble efforts by Jeff Waldstreicher and Dana Beyer fight to claim the progressive mantle.

Entering this race wouldn’t destroy any relationships. It is well known that Gutiérrez is no fan of her colleague, Del. Waldstreicher. I don’t know how she feels about Beyer but she supported Rich Madaleno steadfastly when Beyer challenged him four years ago.

Waldstreicher and Beyer will both run expensive, hungry campaigns. However, that leaves Gutiérrez able to position herself as more grassroots candidate who can’t dump thousands of her own money on a campaign like Beyer and is not beholden to the donors who Jeff has pursued with vigor. However, she’d need to cultivate local support, especially since Jeff positions himself as a good constituency service politician.

While most endorsers will overlook Gutiérrez for the D1 Council race, she would have to receive serious consideration in D18. Despite being way behind in the fundraising, she would have a shot based on name recognition alone. Endorsers would also have to explain why they are overlooking the more senior female delegate to endorse the younger Waldstreicher.

A Note on the Purple Line

Unlike in past D18 races, the Purple Line should not be an issue. In previous elections, there was no “right” position on the Purple Line in D18, as supporters and opponents both have prospered. (I was a strong opponent but now hope it goes well since we’re about to spend billions on it.)  Ana gained friends as a steadfast supporter.

Jeff and Dana’s positions are both more complex. Jeff positioned himself as an opponent but my conversations with people on both sides of the issue reveal that he bent over backward to curry their support without altering his public position. Pro-transit groups accused Dana of being opposed to the PL despite her statements of support. As a result, neither Jeff nor Dana gained allies from either supporters or opponents.

Regardless, to the extent it matters, it feeds the narrative of Ana as an authentic, conviction politician among both voters and, more importantly, among candidate validators and endorsers.

The Bottom Line

My guess is Ana sticks with the D1 race. I haven’t asked and she certainly doesn’t look to me for advice.

But if she switches horses, it would be far more interesting if she ran for Senate than sought another term in a crowded contest for the House with no incumbent slate. Though it would be a tough race and both Waldstreicher and Beyer possess real strengths in terms of money and drive, there is a path in D18 for Gutiérrez that just doesn’t exist in the D1 Council race.

Note: At various times, I have supported and given donations to Beyer, Gutiérrez and Waldstreicher. I have not donated or supported any of their campaigns this year.

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Campaign Finance Reports: Districts 18 and 19, January 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 18

Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher has posted a strong financial performance in his run to succeed Senator Rich Madaleno.  He has raised more money over the cycle and has more cash on hand than any other state legislator in the county.  But Dana Beyer has spent nearly a half million dollars of her own money in her three prior races and could spend a whole lot more.  Beyer told Bethesda Magazine “she does not plan to self-finance this year’s Senate bid” but still gave her campaign $109,100.  While Waldstreicher’s cash on hand advantage is substantial, Beyer could erase it with one check.

The recent endorsement by SEIU Local 500 of Beyer may have a big impact on this race.  Prior to that, Waldstreicher could make the case to other progressive endorsing organizations that as a three-term incumbent running against someone who was for 0-3 in elections (two running against him) that he would have a big edge and was the safe pick.  But SEIU is a huge player and brings credibility to Beyer’s run.  Now the endorsing groups may be more likely to evaluate the two against each other on a level playing field and see Beyer as a true alternative.  Our prediction is that this will not be the last significant endorsement that Beyer receives.

The Delegate race is just as interesting.  Incumbent Al Carr had the most raised over the cycle but also has a huge burn rate (81%).  He trails Mila Johns and Jared Solomon in cash on hand.  Johns leads in cash position (boosted by her $100,000 loan to her campaign) while Solomon led the non-incumbents in fundraising from others ($42,011).  Emily Shetty has been a prominent local player since her fourth place finish last time, joining the county’s Democratic Central Committee and doing work with Action Committee for Transit and her former civic association.  But she doesn’t want to trail in money behind Carr, Johns and Solomon to the extent she is now.  Town of Chevy Chase Council Member Joel Rubin’s cash balance is deceptively low since he began campaigning in November and raised $269,845 in his 2016 run for Congress.  Leslie Milano created her campaign account too late to file a January report but says she plans to raise $150,000.  Helga Luest was also a late starter.  Normally, the only incumbent in a race like this – in this case, it’s Carr – would be favored for reelection.  But the challengers are a pack of hungry wolves and Carr is going to have to work to keep his seat.

The Big Question: will there be competing slates in this district?  Both Beyer and Waldstreicher have money, which is much needed by all the House candidates.  Our prediction is that any move to set up a slate by either Beyer or Waldstreicher will provoke the other side to unify too.  Competing slates aligned with contested Senate races were common in District 18 decades ago and another one could really scramble this election.

The Other Big Question: will Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez stay in the Council District 1 race, where she has not qualified for public matching funds and ranks a distant fifth in cash on hand, or will she return to the District 18 House race?

District 19

With the departure of Senator Roger Manno, who is running for Congress in District 6, Delegate Ben Kramer will become the next Senator and the dominant politician in the district.  Kramer, who was first elected to the House in 2006, is known for his work on senior issues and public safety, and has been a true hero in his efforts to crack down on drunk driving.  He has an absolute lockdown on Leisure World and Kemp Mill, two vital power centers in the district.  Kramer is not universally beloved, but he is well respected and no other politicians will mess with him.  In politics, that is enough!

The two incumbent Delegates, Bonnie Cullison and Marice Morales, will sweep virtually all the progressive endorsements and be reelected.  As for the seat being vacated by Kramer, the simple view is that former Raskin campaign aide Vaughn Stewart, who totally smoked the field (including the incumbents) in fundraising, will win it.  But the race may not be that simple.  MCDCC Member and labor attorney Marlin Jenkins did reasonably well in fundraising and should get a lot of labor support.  And attorney Charlotte Crutchfield, who barely lost to Morales for the open House seat in 2014, is running again.

Crutchfield is not a strong fundraiser, having collected just $11,960 from others last time while self-financing $44,149.  But she has a long history in the district and Kramer formed a slate with her in 2014.  Manno endorsed Morales, his former legislative aide, and Morales won by 382 votes.  Crutchfield filed an affidavit as her January report but her new campaign has just started.

The Big Question: will Kramer team up with Crutchfield again?  And if he does, will Cullison and Morales also join in?

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Polling the D18 Senate Race

The state senate primary is really heating up! A fellow District 18 resident reported to me that someone is out with a very lengthy poll for the state senate race. Dana Beyer mentioned to me just the other day that “I’m getting started this week, with my polling,” so I imagine it’s for her campaign.

The poll tested potential negatives that could be used against Beyer, including concerns about her being a millionaire and whether she is all about her own agenda while Jeff Waldstreicher has been getting the work done.

Neither candidate is impoverished and Jeff is a corporate attorney, so I’m not sure how or why Jeff would use Dana’s wealth against her. In any case, attacking your opponent based on their wealth seems ill-advised in a district dominated by affluent communities like Chevy Chase, Kensington and Silver Spring.

Similarly, though Jeff is a three-term incumbent and Dana has achieved name recognition through her past campaigns, I doubt the vast majority of primary voters have more than vague knowledge about the achievements or deficits of either. It’s not a knock against them but just the nature of Maryland state legislative races.

Testing the negatives might ironically give them more exposure than they would receive otherwise. The late Jonathan Shurberg, a good friend and political ally of Dana Beyer, made the same polling decision when he ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2014.

Dana Beyer’s willingness to drop a lot of money on a poll once again shows her serious determination to win this race. Having a good message is key to any race. At the same time, I believe that most campaigns would be well advised to focus more directly on voter contact. It’s even more critical and it doesn’t really take a poll to divine the major issues that concern Democrats these days.

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Beyer Rejects Waldstreicher Slate Offer

I’ve heard from multiple sources, and Dana Beyer confirmed, that Del. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18) offered to run on a slate with Dana if she would run for delegate instead of senate. Instead, Beyer is pressing ahead full-steam with her Senate campaign. When I mentioned the rumored offer in passing when I saw Jeff, he neither confirmed nor denied it.

Waldstreicher’s Offer

Jeff’s offer makes perfect sense from a political perspective. While Jeff is the favorite against Dana, why not get a candidate with a fair amount of name recognition from previous races and very deep pockets – Dana has self-funded to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars – out of the way?

It’s reminiscent of Jeff’s first run for delegate, as James Browning reported that an MCEA political operative tried to talk him out of running in 2006 as part of his effort to ease the path for Jeff, who had been endorsed by the teachers union. (Browning used pseudonyms in his write-up of the race.)

Jeff’s offer makes it somewhat more awkward for him to attack Dana in the Senate race. After all, if she is so awful, why was he willing to run on a ticket with her? It probably won’t stop Jeff’s campaign from sending out negative mailers attacking his opponent but should make people a bit more cynical about them.

Dana’s Rejection

While Jeff’s offer makes sense, Dana’s rejection is more perplexing. Having spent a fortune running thrice previously, she is clearly extremely intent on winning election to the General Assembly. Running on a ticket with an established incumbent with two open delegate seats would seemingly put her on a strong path towards that goal. So why joust with Jeff? Why not take yes for an answer?

First, Beyer has long been no fan of Waldstreicher. She ran against him not just in 2006 but also in 2010. Jeff strongly supported Rich Madaleno in 2014 when Dana challenged him. Beyond there being no love lost, Dana undoubtedly views herself as a stronger progressive leader with better credentials as both a doctor and an activist. Alliance building has never been her strong suit and she’d would have had to swallow hard to make the strategic decision to accept Jeff’s offer. In any case, Dana wants to conduct the orchestra – not play second violin to Jeff.

Second, my guess is that Dana thinks she can win. She was utterly convinced that she was going to win in 2006 and angry and flummoxed when she came in a strong fifth. In each new campaign, Dana has believed that she has identified the silver bullet– be it more professional polling or spending buckets more money – and come back again. Jeff may be an extremely focused campaigner but one cannot overstate Dana’s determination.

Finally, having run for the Senate last time, I suspect that Dana would view it a step down to run for the House. Running for Senate, moreover, gives Dana the opportunity to become the first transgender senator, as Danica Roem has stolen Dana’s thunder with her fairy-tale story of a David versus Goliath victory over an incredibly bigoted incumbent in Virginia, instead of the second delegate.

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