Kurtz’s Take Down of the Democratic Field

Center Maryland Columnist Josh Kurtz has written must-read analysis on the race for the Democratic nomination in the Eighth District. Fearless in its criticism, I doubt any of the candidates will be rushing to put quotes from it on their brochures.

On Trone and Matthews:

In this primary, for starters, we have the mega-rich and the merely rich.

In the former role is David Trone, the Bethesda booze baron who entered the Democratic primary just two weeks ago and immediately dropped $900,000 on TV and web ads, which have already become unavoidable.

In the latter category is Kathleen Matthews, the former broadcaster and Marriott executive who is married to MSNBC yakker Chris Matthews. Kathleen and Chris are part of the D.C. elite. . . .

[Y]ou also get the feeling that Trone and Matthews don’t know a lot about the rest of us – and the communities they are presuming to serve. Do we really want someone with a sky’s-the-limit approach to campaign spending like Trone to represent us in Congress? Do we want someone like Matthews who seems to be accepting campaign contributions from every K Street lawyer, D.C. financier, media celebrity and bold-faced name?

On the trio of state legislators:

State Sen. Jamie Raskin is an accomplished legislator, a genuine progressive, a nice guy – and a legal scholar to boot. But he has said he wants to be “a transformational” member of Congress – when all he’ll be, for the foreseeable future, is a junior member of the minority party. Raskin is running a grass-roots campaign. . . . But this isn’t quite like Bernie Sanders . . . . Raskin has plenty of big donors, too – from the extensive list of D.C. lefty intelligentsia.

Del. Kumar Barve . . .  is also an accomplished lawmaker and a nice guy – and doesn’t take himself too seriously. But Barve has been perhaps a little too cautious in his political career. You can’t help feeling that somehow, his moment to ascend to Congress should have been a decade or two ago.

Del. Ana Sol Guttierez is also a committed progressive who was one of the first public figures . . . to acknowledge and craft policy that reflected the county’s demographic changes. But she has never really laid out a rationale for her congressional bid. Gutierrez would be a freshman member of Congress at the age of 75. She is not running a serious campaign.

On Jawando and Rubin:

Will Jawando and Joel Rubin are young guys who have worked for the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill. There are tens of thousands of people just like them rattling around the D.C. area. They are smart, attractive guys and dedicated public servants with political acumen . . . . But maybe they should have looked at running for a more humble office than Congress to launch their political careers.

Read the whole column.



Manufacturers Say Proposed Tax Cuts Hurt Manufacturing

RMIProponents of the manufacturing tax cut pushed by Governor Larry Hogan and many legislators in the General Assembly received major pushback from existing manufacturers. The Regional Manufacturing Institute (RMI) of Maryland has issued a letter with a detailed critique of a proposal for manufacturing tax cuts. Here is a copy of the complete letter from RMI.

Key aspects of the proposed tax cut include (1) a ten-year exemption from state taxes for new manufacturers, and (2) a ten-year exemption of workers in these companies from state taxes who earn up to $65,000. In the version of the bill referenced in the letter, the tax cuts would occur only in special zones designed to attract heavy manufacturing to Maryland.

RMI fears that the proposal would undermine existing manufacturers in the State:

A major unintended outcome will be that Maryland companies will lose workers who would seek positions with companies that qualify for 10 years of no income tax for workers. This would be a serious blow to smaller and medium sized companies that in some areas would put companies out of business. Engineers, machinists, line workers, technicians working in manufacturing would jump at the chance to work for a company and not pay state taxes for 10 years. Maryland has a serious shortage of workers and this would make it worse for existing companies. Companies who employ machinists would be hard hit if the new companies hire machinists.

Instead, RMI suggests an array of incentives to keep existing manufacturing in Maryland and to encourage these manufacturers to move subsidiaries here. Their suggestions include several designed to aid not just the firms but also workers, such as support for training and college tuition for workers and their families. Additionally, RMI supports drug rehab centers with manufacturing training and access to available manufacturers.


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.


NAACP Political Chair Accuses MCDCC of Bias Against Herman Taylor

Odessa Shannon, the Political Action Chair for the NAACP sent the following email to MCDCC. Deeply involved in Montgomery County for many years, Shannon has in the past been elected to the Board of Education, served as a Special Assistant to the County Executive, and was Director of the Office of Human Rights.

Shannon is backing former Del. Herman Taylor for the vacancy. Taylor is one of two African-American candidates for the seat along with Pam Queen, a professor at Morgan State University. In her email, Shannon says that MCDCC’s actions towards Taylor can “easily be argued as harassment based on race and possibly sex, a federal and local civil rights issue.”

Members of the MCDCC:

This is my third communication with you on this issue.

It has come to my attention that you are requesting information from Herman Taylor which  is not being asked of the other candidates.; copy of drivers license, when it was obtained, picture , proof of certain years of home ownership and other frequent and spontaneous requests.

From the information I have received, this action can easily be argued as harassment based on race and possibly sex., a federal and local civil rights issue.

It appears the MCDCC is trying to discredit a candidate for it’s own reasons. The process of selecting a candidate should be open and honest, whoever wins!!!

Before I send a copy of this e-mail to the County Executive, the Montgomery County Office of Human Rights , the head of the Md Democratic party and the Media, I would like immediate assurance that this kind of activity, so resonant of the 1960’s  and 70’s, will cease and desist immediately.

Odessa M. Shannon


D14 Legislators Solidly Back Queen

The District 14 delegation have made it crystal clear that they prefer that the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee select Pam Queen for the vacancy in their district. In particular, they highlight that Queen would be the first African-American women from Montgomery to vote in the House.

The subtext is also that failure to appoint Queen would reduce the number of women in the General Assembly from prior to Sen. Karen Montgomery’s retirement. Currently, three of eight senators from Montgomery County are women, as are 8 of 23 delegates.

Here is the letter from Sen. Zucker, Del. Kaiser, and Del. Luedtke:

Dear Chairman Anderson and members of the Central Committee:

We would again like to thank each of you for your service to the party and for taking so seriously the important task of choosing a new Delegate in District 14. A number of Central Committee members have asked for our rationale in choosing to support Pam Queen for the open Delegate seat, and we wanted to be sure to provide it prior to your upcoming meeting.

Our recommendation was based on a number of factors. First and foremost, we are confident that Pam shares our values as Democrats. She is and has always been pro-choice, and will stand with the Democratic Party in opposing Republican attacks on women’s reproductive rights in Annapolis. In this era where inequality is such an important topic, we know that Pam will work with us to pass our middle class agenda, including efforts to strengthen pay equity laws and address the growing student loan debt crisis. And we are confident that given her background in finance, she will be able to help us combat any attempts by the administration to undercut funding for urban jurisdictions in the state budget.

But our support is about more than issues. Those of us who serve in Annapolis face a tremendously complex task. As individuals in a legislature made up of nearly 200 people, the ability to work effectively with others and get along with others is an absolute necessity. Pam has that ability, and we believe she would be a good fit for our very tight-knit team. In addition, given the need for Democrats to unite against increased partisanship in Annapolis, we need legislators who are able to work effectively with Democrats who hail from other parts of the state. Pam has worked in Baltimore for a number of years, and has pre-existing relationships with a number of elected officials there. This includes the Vice Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, with whom she taught for a number of years until his retirement.

Finally, and importantly as well, we hope to retain the gender balance that has been a feature of our delegation since District 14 was first drawn as a Montgomery County district in 2002. And we hope to see Pam become the first African-American woman to ever cast a vote on behalf of Montgomery County in the state legislature (while Karen Britto was the first to serve, it was for a brief time and she was not able to cast a vote during it). While all of us work hard on behalf of women and work to address issues of race and racism that have been too easily ignored by too many in politics, it is undeniably important that Montgomery County’s delegation to Annapolis become more diverse in terms of both race and gender. Each of us has repeatedly used our influence to endorse diverse candidates in elections, and we do so again in endorsing Pam for this appointment.

An appointment like this is difficult, and we know you are burdened by the responsibility of choosing an effective leader on behalf of the 122,000 residents of District 14. We share that sense of responsibility every single day we represent our constituents in Annapolis. And we are certain that Pam Queen would be the best choice to stand beside us.


Senator Craig Zucker
Delegate Anne Kaiser
Delegate Eric Luedtke


Navarro Endorses Taylor

From Councilmember Nancy Navarro’s letter to the MCDCC:

I write in support of Mr. Herman Taylor, former District 14 Delegate, for the appointment to that office.

Mr. Taylor has an extensive record of service to the residents of District 14 and the County. He has fought to address the economic, social, and educational disparities affecting many County residents, and most recently he did an outstanding job chairing the “Montgomery County, Female, Disabled Procurement Task Force.”


I understand that you have a difficult choice to make due to the outstanding candidates seeking this appointment. Nonetheless, Mr. Taylor clearly is the one candidate who will be ready to serve on day one, given his experience and qualifications as a former District 14 Delegate.


Muslim Democratic Club Endorses Pam Queen

From the endorsement letter of the Muslim Democratic Club of Montgomery County for the delegate vacancy in District 14:

We are confident in supporting Mrs. Queen for reasons far too numerous to address in this letter. But, to start with, Mrs. Queen has a long and noteworthy relationship of engaging our community, particularly within District 14, where she has time and time again visited mosques within the district to conduct voter registration drives. Furthermore, Mrs. Queen aligned with us the closest out of all the candidates on policy, especially in regards to her commitment to education and expanding funding for STEM learning for minority students. Thirdly, in a district with such a high minority population, and a county delegation with so few women elected to serve in Annapolis, we felt it was morally necessary to send a message to the
countless young minority women who aspire to public office in Maryland. Mrs. Queen has fostered deep and long-­standing relationships with several Muslim community leaders who emotionally told us of her commitment to social justice, community service and the public good—all ethics our faith and community strongly subscribe to as whole. In light of these facts, as president of the Muslim Democratic Club it is my pleasure to inform you without hesitation that Pam Queen is our inalienable choice for endorsement to fill the District 14 Delegate vacancy.


Herman Taylor Defends Abortion Rights Record

Former Del. Herman Taylor, a candidate to fill the delegate vacancy caused by the move by Craig Zucker from the House to the Senate, has issued the following letter in response to questions regarding his record on abortion rights:

Dear MCDCC Members,

I am aware of the apparent concern being expressed about votes cast that relate to women’s reproductive rights during my tenure, many years ago, while serving in the Maryland House of Delegates.

I am and always have been a Democrat. I began at the age of 22 working as a vice chair of a precinct, working hard to get democrats elected. I have dedicated a substantial amount of time and effort in building this party which I love, and whose progressive principles I wholeheartedly embrace.

Although I, like many others, have at one time early in my career struggled with the difficult and painful issues associated with abortion, I do not believe, as a matter of public policy, that the government  should in any way dictate to women how they should cope with this most private of issues. Please be assured that If I have the opportunity to be appointed to fill the District 14 vacancy, my votes will reflect that I am a firm and staunch supporter of women’s reproductive rights.


Herman Taylor

The Montgomery County Democratic Clubs of Color sent a follow-up to their endorsement of Herman Taylor to address specifically this issue:

Dear Mr. Anderson and Members of the Central Committee:

The Clubs of Color Caucus strongly believe in the Democratic principles such as a woman’s right to choose and the importance of diverse representation at all levels of government. We measured each candidate against these principles and decided that Mr. Herman Taylor is best suited for the vacancy. Mr. Taylor assured us that he is 100% Pro-Choice and supports the interests of communities of color. Since his current values are not inconsistent with Democratic values, and given the fact that he is the most experienced, we have made the endorsement as indicated in our earlier endorsement letter.


Mayra Bayonet, President, Latino Democratic Club
Dr. Martin Ma, CAPAD-MD Co-chair
Chung Pak, CAPAD
Laurie Anne-Sayles, President AADCMC
Stan Tsai, CAPAD-MD Co-chair


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.


Clubs of Color Endorse Taylor for Delegate

Former Del. Herman Taylor has won the united endorsement of the African-American Democratic Club of Montgomery County, the Latino Democratic Club of Montgomery County, and the Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats of Maryland for the delegate vacancy in District 14:

Undoubtedly what most impresses us with Mr. Taylor is his demonstrated dedication to issues of economic development particularly as they relate to communities of color. We believe Mr. Taylor’s membership among the Montgomery County delegation ensures that there will be another strong voice in support of economic development particularly for the residents of East County.

Taylor and Central Committee Member Pam Queen are viewed as the top-two competitors for the seat. This endorsement gives Taylor a nice boost in advance of the Central Committee meeting.