Tag Archives: endorsements

SEIU Endorses Council Candidates

SEIU Local 500 has released their endorsements for Montgomery County Council Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4:

1: Roger Berliner
2: Craig Rice
3: Ryan Spiegel
4: Nancy Navarro (unopposed)

The most interesting endorsements are in Districts 1 and 3.

In District 3 (Rockville-Gaithersburg), Ryan Spiegel now has the endorsement of two major school system unions: MCEA and SEIU. Two nice endorsements in a hotly contested race with several high-quality candidates for this open seat.

In District 1, Roger Berliner has to be relieved to have received SEIU’s endorsement in his tough contest against Duchy Trachtenberg. So far, MCEA has not endorsed in that race.

The District 1 race could be shaping up as a proxy fight between the school system and county government employee unions. The latter have been mighty unhappy with the current Council and believe that the former have done comparatively well.

Roger Berliner looks among the more vulnerable Council incumbents. Duchy Trachtenberg is not labor’s ideal vehicle given her history but she is the only option if the government employee unions want to take out Berliner and exercise some muscle. Recently, Trachtenberg hired Robert Stewart, the just retired executive director of MCGEO, as her campaign manager.

High-income District 1–it includes Potomac, Bethesda and Chevy Chase–seems an unlikely locale for a labor proxy fight but stranger things have happened. Their divisions could also provide opportunities for other groups to have more influence.

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Not So Progressive Neighbors

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Last Friday, I explained how Progressive Neighbors just isn’t attracting the love from incumbent Democrats. A majority of incumbent legislators didn’t even return their candidate questionnaire.

They aren’t the only ones.

Anthony Brown and Ken Ulman didn’t fill one out either. The MO of this campaign has been to seek aggressively virtually every endorsement around the State, so their decision to decline to seek that of Progressive Neighbors speaks volumes.

Surely, the lack of interest from the man who may be the State’s first African-American governor must have caused some navel gazing in this progressive organization even if the policies of Heather Mizeur and Delman Coates better fit their profile.

Brown-Ulman are not the only ones who appear to have made a calculated decision to give PN a pass. Is anyone really surprised that Council President Craig Rice did not bother to fill out the questionnaire when his 2010 opponent–a perfectly nice woman in my experience–sits on the Steering Committee that votes on endorsements?

One major reason for the antipathy expressed by many for Progressive Neighbors’ endorsement process is that 5 of the 19 members of their Steering Committee are running for either the state legislature or the county council. Boards often have a member seeking office but I’ve never heard of five at once.

Not only that but the PN endorsement questionnaires were unbelievably sent out by one of these candidates–even to her opponent. Progressive Neighbors views this as a minor hiccup that was corrected less than a week later after it was pointed out. But it is far more than an oopsy daisy.

Portions of the questionnaire attack corporate cronyism and call for public financing. How can people so concerned about inappropriate influence on politics think it was a good idea for a candidate to send a questionnaire to her opponent?

PN’s endorsement questionnaire goes on at great length about transparency:

Progress has been made in improving transparency in the General Assembly over the past four years, with greater access to online tools for the public, the posting online of committee votes, and increased audio and video coverage of legislative deliberations. Much still remains to be done, however, including posting of subcommittee votes, committee amendments and votes, and the institution of a system to allow constituents to sign up to testify online the day before a committee hearing so they don’t have to spend all day in Annapolis waiting to testify. Do you support these improvements, and do you have others you’d like to offer? Are you willing to support special elections to fill legislative vacancies? Do you support stripping the party central committees of the power of appointment, which ultimately lies with the Governor?

But the structure of the organization and its endorsement process is less open than might appear at first glance. The PN Steering Committee is elected by . . . the Steering Committee. The same committee–the one with five members running for office–also controls the endorsement process.

In this process, PN doesn’t model the open behavior it would like to see in the General Assembly:

The Steering Committee may choose to have a secret ballot on certain concerns and some meetings may be closed. Steering Committee members will be encouraged to keep individual Steering Committee members’ votes in confidence.

Surprisingly, the Steering Committee did not endorse two of their own members. In News of the Weird, Jonathan Shurberg and Will Smith were progressive enough to serve on the Steering Committee but not to be endorsed. I imagine that PN would argue that it somehow proves the integrity of their process but it is also just odd since both are credible, progressive candidates.

Other choices seem as bizarre. In District 18, Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez has long been a stalwart staunch progressive. How on earth can she, the first Latina elected to public office in Montgomery County who passionately favors left-wing policies to reduce economic inequality, not be progressive enough?

On the other hand, the organization endorsed both Steering Committee Member Terrill North and Del. Tom Hucker for the open District 5 County Council seat. Apparently, PN decided to give Hucker, generally viewed as a solid left winger, a pass on his recent vote against indexation of the minimum wage in the House (Gutiérrez along with Mizeur and Ivey voted yea) despite having pressed that the County adopt this stand.

Progressive Neighbors has a nice sounding name and provides another decal that endorsed candidates can stick on their literature. Beyond that, especially outside of District 20, they cannot provide anything meaningful with the endorsement. As one liberal legislator explained to me, “Nobody fills out their questionnaire because they demand extreme positions and offer nothing of value.”

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Assembly Electeds Dis Progressive Neighbors

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Progressive Neighbors, an organization originally formed to support the candidacy of Sen. Jamie Raskin, now has a separate life of its own and says that it endorses candidates in four of the eight Montgomery County legislative districts: 14, 18, 19, and 20.

However, most elected officials are just not interested. Only two of the four Senate incumbents bothered to return PN’s questionnaires, including Sen. Raskin. Among the nine delegate incumbents, just three responded.

If the organization was the NRA or Marylanders for Life, this would not be shocking. But Progressive Neighbors aspires to be an endorsement that Democratic candidates covet. Indeed, they made repeated efforts to get electeds to submit questionnaires.

PN sent the following odd note–sort of like a rejection letter for a job to which you never applied –to Del. Anne Kaiser:

Dear Anne; [sic]

We are writing to inform you that the Progressive Neighbors Steering Committee did not vote to recommend an endorsement of your candidacy to our membership in the June 2014 Primary election for House of Delegates Legislative District 14. Per our bylaws, endorsements must be reviewed by the membership and reaffirmed by the Steering Committee after member review. That process is beginning now with a mailing to our membership, and we believe it more considerate that you hear of our actions directly from us, rather than indirectly.

Thank you for completing our questionnaire, which the Steering Committee carefully considered. We also thank you for your willingness to serve our community and your efforts to improve the lives of our fellow citizens. While we are not endorsing you at this time, we welcome the opportunity to work with you in the future to help bring about a more equitable and just society for all. Unless you object, we will be adding you to our email list, if you’re not already on it, so you’ll continue to be informed about our positions and issues. (If you’d rather not be added to our email list, please let us know.)

Del. Anne Kaiser shared with me her reply:

Dear Wally,

Thanks for your email. I must admit that I am a little confused by it, and would hate for you to inadvertently misinform your members.  I find it curious that you mention that you have “carefully considered” my questionnaire: I did not submit one for your consideration.

I am a proud progressive, who in my 12 years in office has been on the vanguard of the progressive movement in the State of Maryland. I have been a key leader on issues including: making the Dream Act a reality, supporting tougher gun laws, raising the minimum wage, promoting transgender and marriage equality, repealing the death penalty, advocating for clean energy and the protection of our bay.  I am a passionate supporter of our unionized brothers and sisters and fiercely fought for their collective bargaining rights.  As a member of the Ways & Means committee I have worked tirelessly to make our tax code fairer for all and as chair of the Education Subcommittee, I have advocated and promoted policies to enhance our nation leading K-12 system.

I hope that you’ll carefully consider the points that I have made when communicating my position, more honestly, to your members.

Sincerely,
Anne Kaiser

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NARAL Pro-Choice’s Unique Endorsement Strategy

NARAL_logoNARAL Pro-Choice Maryland’s PAC is following an endorsement strategy this year that bears comment even leaving aside the controversy over its endorsements raised earlier today here in the exchange between District 18 Candidate Natali Fani-Gonzalez and NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland’s PAC.

Most interest groups endorse up to as many candidates as there are seats to be filled. Occasionally, groups will endorse more candidates that there are seats available. For example, the League of Conservation Voters endorsed four candidates for the three House of Delegate seats in District 18.

NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland’s PAC has taken a unique two-tier approach. The PAC endorses up to as many candidates as there are seats up for election. At the same time, they all give a “100% Pro-Choice” rating to other eligible candidates that do no receive the endorsement.

Like the endorsement, candidates are free to tout this 100% Pro-Choice rating in the literature and other communications. I already received a blast email from Jordan Cooper proudly touting his rating in strongly pro-choice District 16.

Is the PAC devaluing NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland’s endorsement? After all, voters are unlikely to distinguish easily between the endorsement and the 100% Pro-Choice rating. Candidates are less likely to sweat their endorsement process since the consolation prize is such a good one.

While this strategy encourages all candidates to take strong pro-choice positions even if they are unlikely to receive the PAC’s official endorsement, it somewhat weakens the incentive for incumbents to cultivate their support during the legislative session that makes policy.

I suppose it also makes the endorsement process a bit easier as the decision makers know that good candidates who don’t get the endorsement won’t walk away empty handed. We’ll see how it goes and if other organizations follow NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC’s lead.

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NARAL Pro-Choice MD Responds

NARAL_logoNARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC sent me the following statement in response to the earlier post on Seventh State regarding their endorsements in District 18:

The NPCM PAC recently made a clerical error that had a large and unfortunate impact. We understand the magnitude of our error and apologize for the confusion it has caused. We have reached out to each of the candidates, including Ms. Natali Fani-Gonzalez. The NARAL PAC board endorsed the incumbent candidates from District 18. We mistakenly issued an endorsement to a fourth candidate who was intended to receive a 100% Pro-Choice rating, which is used for candidates who do not receive an endorsement but reflects their Pro-Choice values.

I would have been very surprised if the PAC had not endorsed the incumbents, as they all are very supportive of reproductive freedom and I am not aware of any actions they have taken that would cause disgruntlement from NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland.

When I received, Natali Fani-Gonzalez’s communication, I thought perhaps their PAC had intended to endorse her either as a fourth candidate or in place of one of the incumbents because they thought she would be an exceptionally strong leader on the issue.

You can read Natali Fani-Gonzalez’s thoughts on the matter as well as the PAC’s response above and draw your own conclusions.

 

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D18 NARAL Endorsement Controversy

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Natali Fani-Gonzalez, one of the challengers to the three incumbent delegates in District 18, was naturally thrilled to receive the following email from Maida Schifter’s email account with NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland on April 4th:

Dear Natali,

I would like to congratulate you on earning NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland’s PAC endorsement.  We are excited about your candidacy and look forward to working with you as we advance the agenda for reproductive rights in Maryland.

We will be issuing a press release and posting to social media about our endorsement on or about April 14 and at that time will also make available an NCPM ENDORSED logo for your use.  Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you or your campaign may have.

Thank you for your service.

Warmest regards,
Edward Terry
PAC Chair

Endorsements like these serve a number of valuable purposes. In strongly pro-choice districts like D18, it serves as an excellent imprimatur that the candidate is “right” on a set of issues important to voters. They are especially valuable for challengers as they further attest to the seriousness and often viability of a campaign–great for helping to attract additional support.

However, it apparently was not meant to be. NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC Chair Edward Terry called to say that the letter had been mistakenly sent out by an intern. Here is Natali Fani-Gonzalez’s email response to that phone call which she sent yesterday on April 9th:

Hi Maida –
I have just received a phone call (8:24 pm) from your NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC Chair Edward Terry.  He stated that you are an intern at NARAL Pro-Choice and that you mistakenly sent me an endorsement letter five days ago (your email below) on behalf of your organization. Moreover, I received a phone call from NARAL a few days before your endorsement announcement to further inquire about my answer with regards to the taboo of reproductive-rights within the Latino community. During the call, I was also informed that my answers to the questionnaire were great.Excited about the news, I announced your endorsement via Twitter and received lots of great feedback.However, Mr. Terry’s story is flawed:

2. I know that incumbents in D18 were disconcerted with the endorsement.
3. I know that a “serious organization” such as NARAL will never allow interns to distribute sensitive information such as political endorsements.

Over the past decade, I have been part of numerous Boards, including Goucher College, Emerge Maryland, the Maryland Latino Coalition for Justice, to name a few.Therefore, I would appreciate if you do not insult my intelligence with such frivolous rationalization.
The true story: you decided to take back my endorsement under external forces’ pressure.

Respectfully,
Natali Fani-Gonzalez

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Green Endorsements

The League of Conservation Voters and Sierra Club have endorsed a slew of General Assembly candidates. Here is a combined list of the two with non-incumbents in boldface. (L) indicates endorsed just by the League and (S) indicates endorsed just by the Sierra Club.

All of the endorsed non-incumbents for the Senate are currently delegates, though Veronica Turner is the only challenger endorsed over an incumbent for the Senate.

A total of non-incumbents have been endorsed for delegate by either organization–all for open seats. The League endorsed Rick Kessler, as well as the three incumbents in District 18. The LCV also endorsed four including two challengers–David Moon and Darien Unger in District 20..

By far the most endorsements were made in Montgomery County, an indication of the importance of environmental issues to many voters in the County. Prince George’s came up second.

District 3 (Frederick and Washington)
Senate: Ron Young (L)

District 6 (Baltimore County)
Senate: Johnny Olszewski, Jr. (L)

District 10 (Baltimore County)

Senate: Delores Kelly (L)
House: Adrienne Jones (L)

District 11 (Baltimore County)
Senate: Bobby Zirkin (L)
House: Dan Morhaim, Dana Stein

District 13 (Howard)
Senate: Guy Guzzone (L)
House: Shane Pendergrass, Frank Turner

District 14 (Montgomery)
Senate: Karen Montgomery
House: Anne Kaiser, Eric Luedtke, Craig Zucker

District 15 (Montgomery)
Senate: Brian Feldman
House: Aruna Miller, Kathleen Dumais

District 16 (Montgomery)
Senate: Susan Lee
House: Ariana Kelly, Hrant Jamgochian (S), Marc Korman (S)

District 17 (Montgomery)
House: Kumar Barve, Jim Gilchrist, Andrew Platt (S)

District 18 (Montgomery)
Senate: Rich Madaleno
House: Al Carr, Ana Sol Gutiérrez, Jeff Waldstreicher, Rick Kessler (L)

District 19 (Montgomery)
Senate: Roger Manno
House: Bonnie Cullison, Ben Kramer, Charlotte Crutchfield (S)

District 20 (Montgomery)
Senate: Jamie Raskin
House: Sheila Hixson, Will Smith, David Moon (L), Darien Unger

District 21 (Anne Arundel and Prince George’s)
Senate: Jim Rosapepe
House: Ben Barnes, Barbara Frush, Joseline Peña-Melnyk

District 22 (Prince George’s)
Senate: Paul Pinsky
House: Anne Healey (L), Tawanna Gaines (L)

District 23 (Prince George’s)
Senate: Doug Peters (L)
House A: Jim Hubbard (S)
House B: Marvin Holmes (L)

District 24 (Prince George’s)
Senate: Joanne Benson (L)
House: Carolyn Howard (L)

District 25 (Prince George’s)
House: Dereck Davis (L)

District 26 (Prince George’s)
Senate: Veronica Turner (L)
House: Kris Valderrama, Jay Walker (L)

District 27 (Calvert and Prince George’s)
House A: James Proctor, Jr. (L)
House C: Sue Kullen

District 28 (Charles)
House: Peter Murphy (L), C.T. Wilson (L)

District 30 (Anne Arundel)
House: Michael Busch

District 32 (Anne Arundel)
House: Pam Beidle

District 39 (Montgomery)
Senate: Nancy King
House: Charles Barkley, Kirill Reznick, Shane Robinson

District 40 (Baltimore City)
House: Barbara Robinson (L), Shawn Tarrant (L)

District 41 (Baltimore City)
House: Jill Carter (L), Sandy Rosenberg (L)

District 42 (Baltimore County)
Senate: Jim Brochin
House A: Stephen Lafferty

District 43 (Baltimore City)
House: Curt Anderson (L), Maggie McIntosh, Mary Washington

District 44 (Baltimore City and County)
House A: Kieffer Mitchell (L)

District 45 (Baltimore City)
House; Talmadge Branch (L), Cheryl Glenn (L)

District 46 (Baltimore City)
Senate: Bill Ferguson
House: Luke Clippinger (L), Peter Hammen (L), Brooke Lierman (L)

District 47 (Prince George’s)
Senate: Victor Ramirez (L)
House A: Michael Summers

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Forehand Endorses Kagan in D17

CherylJennieCheryl Kagan and Sen. Jennie Forehand

The press release announcing the endorsement of Cheryl Kagan by current Sen. Jennie Forehand surprised me because Kagan challenged Forehand in the last election. People often do not want to support people who opposed them in the past for obvious reasons. Bad news for Del. Luiz Simmons, as this decision tells Forehand supporters where to go and signals a lack of cohesion between him and the rest of the D17 delegation.

The press release with Forehand’s statement emphasized Kagan’s progressive stances:

Cheryl and I share a deep commitment to progressive Democratic values. Whether it’s domestic violence, human trafficking, or gun control, I can trust that Cheryl will consistently speak up on the progressive side.

However, support like this will only matter if Kagan can get the word out through a strong ground operation and has the money to send out a sufficient number of mail pieces–areas where Simmons is already active and running a strong campaign.

 

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