TONIGHT: Live Tweeting Gubernatorial Forum

Tonight, I’m planning to live tweet the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club gubernatorial forum. It starts at 7PM and will feature all seven of the Democratic candidates.  Below is the information on the forum. It’s at the Silver Spring Civic Center in case you want to attend in person.

My twitter handle is @theseventhstate.

From the Women’s Democratic Club:

Woman’s Democratic Club to Host Public Forum for Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates

The Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County (WDC) is hosting a Forum in Silver Spring on April 24 for Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates in the June 26 primary. Contenders Rushern Baker, Ben Jealous, Kevin Kamenetz, Rich Madaleno, Alec Ross, Jim Shea, and Krish Vignarajah have agreed to participate. Washington Post reporter Ovetta Wiggins, who covers Maryland state politics, will serve as moderator. This timely public educational event represents an excellent opportunity to hear these aspiring governors discuss how and why they think they can defeat Gov. Larry Hogan in the November general election. They will also respond to questions about their priorities and highlight their differences through the lens of policy issues important to women and families.

This forum will begin at 7:00 PM at the Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD. This is a free event but attendees should register on Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/2tSXpAl.

For more information and to see a complete listing of promotion partners, visit the above link.  Attendees may, when they register, name one important issue they would like to hear the candidates address at the forum; responses will be submitted to event organizers.

The WDC, which has more than 600 members, was established after the 1956 Presidential Election. This event continues the Club’s long-standing tradition of supporting Democratic candidates and keeping voters informed.

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Correction on Earlier Ben Jealous Post

4/26 UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Ben Jealous blasted me in a blog post today. Some are for the mistakes outlined below that I apologized for and corrected two days ago. Jealous now also explains that he lived in California when he wasn’t voting (but apparently wasn’t purged) in D.C. in 2006 and 2008. You can read my response here. I’ve left this post unchanged at this point so that you can better assess his claims and mine.

UPDATE: Some of the information in the original version of the previous post wasn’t right. I’ve corrected the table as well as the text, so you can see the difference.

The source of the error is that Ben Jealous did not miss the 2012 and 2014 elections in DC, as he was registered in Maryland, though the DC database records him as not having voted because he had not yet been purged because of the change of address. I discovered the error myself after rereading the post.

My apologies not just to Ben Jealous but to readers for the errors.

Several key facts, however, remain unchanged. Ben Jealous did not register as a Democrat prior to his move to Maryland. He did not vote in a high share of elections, including the previous gubernatorial primary and the historic 2008 presidential election.

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Ben Jealous’ Surprising Voter History

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE (4/26): Ben Jealous blasted me in a blog post today. Some are for the mistakes outlined below that I apologized for and corrected two days ago. Jealous now also explains that he lived in California when he wasn’t voting (but apparently wasn’t purged) in D.C. in 2006 and 2008. You can read my response here. I’ve left this post unchanged at this point so that you can better assess his claims and mine.

UPDATE (4/24): Some of the information in the original version of this post wasn’t right. I’ve corrected the table above as well as the text below, so you can see the difference. (The source of the error is that I counted the elections before he was purged in DC as having been missed, when Jealous had registered in Maryland.) My apologies not just to Ben Jealous but to readers for the errors.

Yesterday, I looked at the voting records of all Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Ben Jealous has been registered to vote in Maryland only since 2012 and I speculated that either he had been voting elsewhere or not at all.

Turns out that Jealous was registered in DC from 2000 through 2010 (he wasn’t purged from the DC rolls until after the 2014 elections) – far longer than he has been registered in Maryland.

Recent Democrat

Jealous became a Democrat only recently. He was registered in DC as an unaffiliated voter:

This choice stands out because, as in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, the closed Democratic primary is the key election in most cases. His decision to register as an independent means that, for example, he could not vote in the 2008 presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Jealous also did not have the opportunity to weigh in on heated contests for mayor and other local offices.

Lackadaisical Voter

For someone who is asking people to vote for him, Jealous missed a lot of elections. When he was registered in DC, Jealous skipped 6 of 14 elections in which he was eligible to vote. (Primaries in which the DC Board of Elections and Ethics says he was ineligible are excluded. There must have been nonpartisan offices or questions on the primary elections listed here.)

As reported yesterday, he also missed two of the six elections while registered in Maryland, so he has voted in 12 of 20 elections since 2000.

Missed Historic Votes

Among the 43% 56% of DC elections that Jealous skipped were some important contests. He didn’t vote in the historic election of Barack Obama as our first African-American president, probably unusual in a former NAACP President! He also did not vote in 2012, when he was reelected even more handily. (Folks, this is incorrect, he voted in that election in Maryland).

Jealous also missed out on the vote on to legalize marijuana in 2014.

At the local level, the 2013 special election to fill a Council vacancy, the DC equivalent of our state legislature, was an exciting contest and far from a foregone conclusion. (Also wrong, he voted in Maryland that year, as my chart from yesterday shows.)

Finally, as mentioned yesterday, he has never voted in a Maryland gubernatorial primary. The first Democratic primary vote he casts for governor will be for himself.

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We Get Phone Calls

By Adam Pagnucco.

Sometimes your author gets phone calls like this.

*****

Politician X:  Hey Pagnucco!  How’s the kid?  How’s business?

Me:  Well, I –

Politician X:  Great to hear it.  I got something you need to write about RIGHT NOW.

Politician X then tells a story about Politician Y.  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 equal to felonious behavior and/or rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and 1 equal to peeing in the shower, this is a 2.5.  Nothing illegal here, but there might be some questionable judgment IF it’s true.  As background, Y is not running against X, but Y has endorsed one of X’s opponents.  X also heard a rumor years ago that Y told someone X is a conniving politician.

Me:  OK.  Do you have any proof that Y did that?

Politician X:  No.  But you know it’s gotta be true!  Remember when Y did that other thing?

X retells another story about Y from a while back that was never verified.  That one might have been a 3.5 IF it ever happened.

Me:  Are there any documents?  Any links?  (The allegation does not involve anything easily verified like a vote on legislation, a campaign contribution or a screenshot.)

Politician X:  I don’t know.  Maybe you can find something.  Ask Politician Y.  Maybe he’ll be stupid enough to admit it!

Me:  Um, OK… Lemme think about whether this is provable, and if so, how.  In the meantime, if you believe it’s true and you can back it up, say it on Facebook.  Then maybe it will be covered.  At least it will be discussed, and if there’s anything there, it might come out.

Politician X:  I can’t do that!  I’m running for office.  If I say that, Y’s supporters will come after me.  That’s why we have blogs.  You guys will say anything!

Me: … … …

Politician X:  I’ll check back later to see how that story is coming along.

*****

Look folks.  We like investigating allegations, but there has to be something to them.  If you’re going to tell us something, be ready to 1. supply evidence or 2. go on the record.  We’re not gonna print unfounded speculation on your behalf just so you can get someone else to say something YOU want to say but won’t.  We’re not the New York Times, but there are such things as libel laws.  If you want to libel someone, do it yourself!

If you are thinking of making a call like the one made by Politician X above, don’t bother.  And Politician X, if you are reading this – and we know you will! – the next time you make a call like this we are gonna print your name.  Believe that!

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Joy Nurmi: Meitiv Flunks Science Test

By Joy Nurmi.

Danielle Meitiv frequently reminds us that she is a scientist. Then one should wonder why, when she accuses our County Executive of failing to endorse women candidates, she fails at one of science’s most basic tenets – sample size and probability of drawing a false‐positive conclusion when the sample is too small.

According to one of the country’s top science organizations – the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – sample size is important. In the NIH publication, “How sample size influences research outcomes,” NIH says: using a sample smaller than the ideal increases the chance of assuming as true a false premise.

So when Ms. Meitiv draws the conclusion that our County Executive is not interested in gender balance because of his endorsements in the Council at-large race, one might ask about how Mr. Leggett’s track record stacks up in a larger sample size. For example, when one looks at all the candidates he has endorsed in the current election, one sees that it includes four women: Aruna Miller, Lily Qi, Charlotte Crutchfield and Rebecca Smondrowski. Interestingly enough, that equals 50% of his total endorsements. And with his endorsement of Aruna Miller, he was out up front and early when many were hanging back.

Look carefully at Mr. Leggett’s endorsements. They are not only gender balanced, but they are rich in diversity as well. It is important to note that this County has never elected any Latino or Asian for an at-large seat. And, Mr. Leggett is the only African American ever elected to an at-large office.

Where has Ms. Meitiv been in furthering this goal of diversity, correcting these deficiencies? She criticizes Mr. Leggett only because it benefits her as a candidate. It gets her publicity.

Look also at the top tier of management in County government appointed by Mr. Leggett. Twenty-two of the 44 top managers/directors are women. Again, 50%.

He has been highly successful in advocating for gender balance and diversity on a number of fronts. He has advocated with our governors for a more diverse judiciary, including recommending many women for judgeships, who have since been appointed. He has endorsed many women for elected office in the past. The examples are too numerous to list. In fact, you will not find any leader anywhere who has such a track record of fostering diversity and gender balance in so many facets of public life to equal Mr. Leggett’s.

It is truly unfortunate that Ms. Meitiv lashed out without facts, and as a result, failed this science test.

Joy Nurmi is a Special Assistant to County Executive Ike Leggett and a former Chief of Staff at the County Council.

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Who Voted – and who Didn’t – in Maryland?

The participation of the seven Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Maryland elections varies widely. The table at the top of the post reveals not just whether but also how each voted since 1994, a period that includes 12 primary and general elections apiece with the number also evenly split between presidential and gubernatorial election years.

Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno

The three officials who currently hold elective office – Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno – have voted in every one of the 24 elections.

Krish Vignarajah

Despite registering to vote in Maryland in 2006, Krish Vignarajah has voted just once in Maryland. In 2016, she voted in the general after skipping the primary. She registered to vote in D.C. in 2010 and participated in four elections there from 2010 through 2014.

In order to remain eligible to run for governor, Vignarajah claims incredibly that she remained a legally registered voter in Maryland. Even as she cast ballots elsewhere and claimed a D.C. address on her voter registration application, she was never purged from the rolls in Maryland.

This presents a series of real problems for Vignarajah. To put it bluntly, if she really lived in Maryland all the time and her D.C. apartment was just a “crash pad” as she now says, why did she fraudulently claim that she lived in D.C. on her 2010 voter application? Alternatively, if she was honest on her application, how can she claim that she has always maintained her Maryland residency?

Additionally, if she was always a Maryland resident, why didn’t she just vote here? She says voting in D.C. was just a matter of convenience because she was so busy at her job working for Michelle Obama. But many other busy people manage to apply for absentee ballots and they’re not all Marshall Scholars who made law review at Yale. Why couldn’t she do the same? It doesn’t exactly exude commitment to the State.

Moreover, how can one be legally registered to vote in two places at the same time? Just because she wasn’t purged from the rolls, as she should have been after she registered in D.C., doesn’t mean that she remained someone who could legally cast a ballot here.

I’ve had personal experience with this issue. When I moved back to Maryland twenty years ago after four years teaching in South Carolina, I discovered I was still on the rolls. I had registered and voted in South Carolina but, until I moved back to Maryland, I didn’t have illusions that I could vote here or was still a resident despite frequent visits.

Vignarajah could advance her residency claim if she would release her tax returns. She already refused to answer where she filed when Tom Sherwood asked on WAMU. As he pointed out, that really answers it anyway. One imagines that Vignarajah would have said that she had filed in Maryland if she had done so.

We’ll get a chance to know for sure when Vignarajah releases her tax returns. Her campaign told the Baltimore Sun that she’d release her returns “if others do.” Jealous, Ross, Shea have said they will, and Madaleno has already done so,. Hopefully, we will know soon if she filed in the District or Maryland or both, assuming that this is not a Trump promise, which is an oxymoron.

Ben Jealous

Unlike Vignarah, Ben Jealous is unquestionably eligible to run. However, he has only voted four times in Maryland since 1994, which surprised me as his online bio certainly gives the appearance that he spent most of his life in Maryland.

His voter participation record suggests otherwise. Jealous first registered to vote in Maryland in 2012. Though he has participated in all general elections, he skipped both the 2012 and 2014 Democratic primaries. When Jealous casts his ballot in 2018, presumably for himself, it will be the first time that he has ever voted in a Maryland gubernatorial primary – something he has in common with Vignarajah!

Either Jealous has been voting elsewhere or not at all.

Jim Shea and Alec Ross

Jim Shea voted in all general elections but missed 5 of the 12 primaries, with four of the five that he missed occurring in presidential election years. None of these four primaries had a hotly contested presidential or senatorial primary.

Alec Ross did not vote in 7 of the 24 elections. Ross took a pass on his first opportunity to vote in 1994, but he would have just moved to Baltimore in the summer before the primary. However, he also missed both the primary and general in his second statewide elections. More recently, Ross skipped the 2010 and 2012 primaries.

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Female Candidates Accuse Leggett of Sexism

By Adam Pagnucco.

County Executive Ike Leggett’s decision to endorse four men in the Council At-Large race – incumbent Hans Riemer, Gabe Albornoz, Hoan Dang and Will Jawando – has provoked public accusations of sexism from two women who are running for office.

Council At-Large candidate Danielle Meitiv kicked things off on Facebook minutes after Leggett’s endorsement of Jawando was announced, writing, “Nice how our County Exec doesn’t think we need any women on the Council at large.”

District 18 Delegate candidate Mila Johns followed up, directly accusing Leggett of “sexism, pure and simple,” and eventually shared Meitiv’s post on her own page.

Council Member Nancy Floreen also weighed in on this, although somewhat indirectly.

The sentiment expressed by Meitiv and Johns is shared by other women running for office.  Several of them blasted Leggett to your author in scathing terms but would not go on the record.  That makes sense – most politicians want to avoid public disputes with a sitting County Executive at election time.  One candidate who was willing to comment on the record was Brandy Brooks, who is running for Council At-Large and co-wrote an essay about gender parity in politics with Meitiv.  Brooks told us:

For many, 2018 could be the year for women, people of color, and working people, but not if we aren’t actively changing our political system both internally and externally. Maryland has one of the worst records in the country on gender parity: we rank 38th on the gender parity index with a score of 12.1 (down from 21.2 in 2014) with few women in federal, state, or local office. To be clear, the four men who have been endorsed by the county executive are qualified candidates — that is not the question. However, not endorsing a single woman running at-large sends the wrong message about how our political and elected leaders view gender parity. Some will argue that more of the women running should have sought the endorsement. Unfortunately, this view continues to fault women instead of asking why our leaders aren’t being intentional to seek women to endorse as well. It continues a pattern that leaves many on the margins. Thankfully, there are many strong women candidates running for office in 2018 to change this status quo, and I’m excited to be one of them.

If Leggett’s choices win, it’s possible that the council might have just one female member in its next term: District 4 incumbent Nancy Navarro.  Since its current structure was established in 1990, the nine-member council has never had fewer than two female members and has sometimes had three or more.  Additionally, the issue of how women are treated in politics has erupted in Annapolis as the General Assembly grappled about how to deal with harassment in its most recent session.  One at-large candidate (Delegate Charles Barkley) has even been accused of inappropriate behavior with women.

Riemer, Albornoz, Dang and Jawando are not unusual choices for Leggett.  The Executive has had a cordial relationship with Riemer during their time in office together.  Albornoz is widely regarded as one of his best department directors.  Dang and Jawando are solid candidates and both would bring assets to the council if elected.  But surely Leggett and his team should have expected pushback on this in the wake of his criticism of the District 39 state legislators for accepting Lesley Lopez on their slate, a dispute in which gender was raised as an issue.

In Leggett’s defense, he has filled his administration with strong and competent women, including but not limited to Department of Permitting Services Director Diane Schwartz-Jones, Office of Management and Budget Director Jennifer Hughes, Health and Human Services Director Uma Ahluwalia, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Lily Qi, former libraries director Parker Hamilton and Special Assistant Joy Nurmi.  (Some of these ladies have left multiple boot prints on your author’s rear end!)  Leggett’s wife, Catherine, is an admired player in county politics who chairs the Executive’s Ball and raises money for the arts.  We are sure that Leggett’s MANY female supporters will step up in his defense should they deem this criticism worthy of response.

So who’s right?  That’s for you, the readers, to decide.

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Leggett Endorses Jawando

County Executive Ike Leggett has endorsed Council At-Large candidate Will Jawando.  The Executive has previously endorsed Gabe Albornoz (his Recreation Director), Hoan Dang and incumbent Hans Riemer in the race.  We reprint Jawando’s press release below.

*****

April 18, 2018

Inquiries: info@willjawando.com

County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett Endorses Jawando

ROCKVILLE, Md. – In a statement released today, Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett endorsed Will Jawando in his race for County Council At-Large, noting Jawando’s record of public service and progressive leadership.

“I am honored to endorse Will Jawando for County Council At-Large. Will is an exceptional leader with a lifelong record of public service to Montgomery County and the nation. He worked as a public policy attorney on Capitol Hill and for President Obama in the White House. I was proud to appoint Will to serve on the Montgomery County Commission on Juvenile Justice, and worked with him to provide support for Summer R.I.S.E, a summer career internship program for high school students that he spearheaded,” Leggett said. “As an active, progressive community leader, Will understands the needs of Montgomery County and is committed to making our outstanding county even greater. I’m voting for Will, and respectfully urge you to join me in electing him to the County Council.”

If Jawando wins his contest, he will be only the second person of color to be elected to a county-wide office in Montgomery County. Leggett was the first, and only to date. Jawando recognized that when he welcomed Leggett’s endorsement.

“I’m privileged to earn Ike’s support, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to continue his legacy of public service in Montgomery County,” Jawando said. “We’ve worked together on closing the opportunity-and-achievement gap in our public schools, addressing issues of juvenile justice, and engaging our underrepresented communities in the civic process. I’m dedicated to addressing those issues that matter most to our families — our schools, fair and affordable housing, reliable transit and jobs. That’s the promise of Montgomery County.”

Aside from creating and managing the first year of Summer R.I.S.E., and his work on the Montgomery County Commission on Juvenile Justice, Jawando co-chairs the African-American Student Achievement Action Group, and created a community-based non-profit called Our Voices Matter, which works with underrepresented populations to increase civic engagement, voter registration and leadership training.

To learn more about the Montgomery County Promise, please visit www.willjawando.com.

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Ortman-Fouse Files for Matching Funds in Record Time

By Adam Pagnucco.

Board of Education member Jill Ortman-Fouse, who is running for Council At-Large, has filed for matching funds from the county’s public financing system.  Ortman-Fouse took 49 days from the date on which she established her campaign committee to apply for matching funds, a FAR shorter period of time than any other candidate.

Ortman-Fouse’s application, made on April 16, lists $23,466 in contributions from 368 county residents, exceeding the Council At-Large thresholds of $20,000 and 250 residents.  Below is the number of days between committee establishment and matching funds application for the twenty candidates in public financing who have applied for matching funds.  (Five other candidates submitted applications but were ruled ineligible by the State Board of Elections.)  Bear in mind as you read the stats below that the candidates have different qualification thresholds.  Executive candidates must collect $40,000 from 500 county residents.  District council candidates must collect $10,000 from 125 residents.

Ortman-Fouse totally smoked her competition in filing time, something that is going to turn heads among her competitors.  In just one term, she has become arguably the most popular school board member in the county since Blair Ewing, who left to run for County Council twenty years ago.  One reason for that status is her close attention to answering constituent questions and her constant social media interaction with them, something that is typical of the best elected officials in county and state governments but is unusual for school board members.  That has given her a network of supporters that approaches the level of incumbent County Council Members.  How far that penetrates into the rank-and-file voting public is unknown, however, as few voters can name their school board members.  And Ortman-Fouse has also been handicapped by her late start, missing out on the endorsement processes of many influential organizations.

That leaves us with a general observation.  It’s true that the top fundraisers in the Council At-Large race are men and that men have received most of the influential institutional endorsements (with some going to Brandy Brooks and Danielle Meitiv).  But the Democratic primary electorate is roughly 60% female and of the seven councils in the current structure since 1990, only one (the 1998-2002 council) lacked a female at-large member.  So don’t count out the women, dear readers – and especially not Jill Ortman-Fouse!

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Clash on the Issues, Part III: Blame It on the Alcohol

This is the third in a series about the issue positions of candidates in District 1 based on the debate hosted by Friends of White Flint. Today’s topic: what do the candidates think about the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control’s alcohol monopoly?

Time to Get Off the Sauce: Candidates for Privatization

Bringing levity to the debate on several occasions, Pete Fosselman started by bluntly stating “I like my liquor” to laughter from the crowd. He proposes letting the county retain control of hard liquor but privatizing the sale of beer and wine, arguing that the change would boost in Montgomery restaurants. As an industry that makes most of their money on alcohol sales, they watch this aspect of the business carefully.

Andrew Friedson spoke passionately in favor of privatization. Fighting back against those concerned about the loss of revenue generated by the monopoly, Friedson stated “I believe government should be judged on how well it serves people, not how well it makes money.” Moreover, he argued that the monopoly costs Montgomery revenue, as it is hard to explain why alcohol sales are 41% lower here than elsewhere in the region unless you think Montgomery has “a secret temperance movement.”

Meredith Wellington agreed with Friedson, saying thoughtfully that the monopoly is a symptom of the county’s problematic approach. Arguing that government can’t do everything, Wellington said that we want entrepreneurial people in the county and need to work with them to help us market the county to businesses.

Though concerned about losing the union jobs, Reggie Oldak also thinks the county should not be in the liquor business, pointing out that $30 million is not much in a $5.5 billion budget. She shouldn’t worry so much. Private liquor distributors are also unionized. Why should the county should favor jobs with one union over another?

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab, I Said No, No, No: Candidates against Privatization

Bill Cook believes that privatizing the liquor industry would be a huge loss for the county because we’d lose $30 million and those “great paying union jobs.” Taking perhaps an unusual tack, he then proceeded to attack of his own potential constituents, Total Wine Co-Owner David Trone, who lives and has located the headquarters of his business in District 1.

Stating that there is “nothing wrong” with the county selling liquor and endorsed by UFCW 1994 MCGEO, Ana Sol Gutiérrez favors modernization, not privatization. She says that “significant steps have been taken” in terms of improvements. I wonder if she also thinks Metro escalators rarely break down. Gutiérrez likes that we can take on new debt by bonding the revenue stream. In other words, the county is fiscally hooked on alcohol.

Jim McGee opposes privatization but favors modernization. Unfortunately, that has been promised for years but is much like waiting for Godot. They say that it’s coming. But when is it coming? At the same time, McGee thinks it is too hard for microbreweries to distribute their product.

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