Tag Archives: Jamie Raskin

Miller Announces New Senate Leadership

Today, Senate President Mike Miller announced his new leadership team. Except for Sen. Ed DeGrange from Anne Arundel, all are from either Baltimore, Montgomery or Prince George’s–for the excellent reason that these jurisdictions provide the majority of the Democratic Caucus.

Committee Leadership

Much speculation surrounded who would take incoming AG Brian Frosh’s place as Chair of Judicial Proceedings, and the post has gone to Sen. Bobby Zirkin, who played leadership roles in efforts to decriminalize marijuana and tighten the responsibility of dog owners for attacks by unleashed dogs. Sen. Lisa Gladden will remain Vice Chair of this committee.

Sen. Jamie Raskin now heads the Executive Nominations Committee with Sen. Delores Kelley serving as Vice Chair. Less exciting during unified government, this committee will likely play a much stronger role–particularly in the next few months–with the Senate controlled by Democrats and the governorship by the Republicans.

Sen. Rich Madaleno also advances to Vice Chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee. Interestingly, he now holds the same posts as U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen did when he was in the MD Senate. Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, a comparatively moderate Democrat, will remain chair, which likely makes Madaleno a key progressive point person on budget issues.

Besides serving as Chair of the Montgomery County Senate delegation, Sen. Nancy King will now serve as Chair of the Education, Business and Administration Subcommittee of the Budget and Taxation Committee.

Another progressive, Sen. Paul Pinsky, advances to Vice Chair of Education, Health and Environmental Affairs. Sen. Joan Carter Conway remains the Chair of this Committee. This committee also remains a likely flashpoint between the Governor-Elect and the Democratic General Assembly.

Additional appointments, including a slew of new faces in the party leadership, including Sen. Catherine Pugh–a leader from Baltimore City–as Majority Leader are announced in the full press release:

SENATE PRESIDENT MILLER ANNOUNCES NEW LEADERSHIP APPOINTMENTS

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Today, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. announced the first round of new leadership appointments effective for the new legislative session. “We are blessed in the Senate to have a wealth of talent and wisdom to help lead the state forward,” stated Senator Miller. “These members will provide the leadership to move our state and chamber forward.”

Senator Bobby Zirkin (Baltimore County, D-11) will become the Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Senator Zirkin has served on the Judicial Proceedings Committee during his time in the Senate, and served as a member of the House Judiciary Committee during his time in the House. “Senator Zirkin has been a key leader on judicial issues, and I know he is the right person to lead this committee,” stated Senator Miller. “His work in the legislature, and in his law practice provides him with the real-world experience that will allow him to lead the Judicial Proceedings Committee through the many difficult issues they will face.” Senator Lisa Gladden will remain Vice-Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Senator Jamie Raskin (Montgomery County, D-20) will serve as Chair of the Executive Nominations Committee, and Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. Senator Raskin has served in the Senate since 2007, and has served as a member of many important committees including Legislative Ethics, and Judicial Proceedings. Since 2012, Senator Raskin has also served as Majority Whip. “Senator Raskin’s ability to lead on key issues, and knowledge of this state will serve well as Chair of the Executive Nominations Committee,” stated Senator Miller. “Additionally, his legal knowledge and strong moral compass will make him a perfect fit for the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.” Senator Delores Kelley will serve as Vice-Chair of the Executive Nominations Committee

Senator Richard S. Madaleno (Montgomery County, D-18) will serve as Vice-Chair of the Budget & Taxation Committee. Senator Madaleno has served in the Senate since 2007, all on the Budget & Taxation Committee. He will also serve as Chair of the Health and Human Services Subcommittee. “Senator Madaleno is one of the brightest budget minds in the Senate, and his leadership on a wide variety of budget issues will be critically important as we face looming deficits and difficult times ahead.” stated Senator Miller. “I am confident that Senator Madaleno will continue to be an effective advocate for the best interest of the entire state.” Senator Edward Kasemeyer will continue to serve as Chair of the Budget & Taxation Committee

Senator Paul G. Pinsky (Prince George’s County, D-22) will serve as Vice-Chair of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. Senator Pinsky has served on the Education, Health, & Environmental Affairs Committee in the Senate since 1994, and as the Chair of the Education Subcommittee since 2003. “Senator Pinsky has the depth of knowledge of the issues needed to help guide this committee,” stated Senator Miller. “His keen understanding of educational and environmental issues will be an asset to our state moving forward.” Senator Joan Carter Conway will continue to serve as Chair of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee.

Senator James “Ed” DeGrange (Anne Arundel County, D-32) will serve as Vice-Chair of the Rules Committee. Senator DeGrange has served in the Senate since 1998, and has formerly served as Vice-Chair of the Executive Nominations Committee, and currently serves as Chair of the Public Safety, Transportation, and Environment Subcommittee of the Budget and Taxation Committee, as well as Chair of the Capital Budget Subcommittee of the Budget and Taxation Committee. Senator DeGrange will continue in both these roles. Said Senator Miller: “Senator DeGrange is a true leader in the Senate and his longevity and leadership will ensure that the Rules Committee will have a strong voice as Vice-Chair.” Senator Katherine Klausmeier will continue to serve as Chair of the Committee on Rules.

Senator Nancy J. King (Montgomery County, D-39) will serve as Chair of the Education, Business and Administration Subcommittee, and will continue to serve as Assistant Deputy Majority Leader. “Senator King is a leader on budgetary issues in the Senate, and a key member of the Budget & Taxation committee,” stated Senator Miller. “As Education, Business and Administration Subcommittee Chair, Senator King will make certain we look out for the needs of all Marylanders.”

In addition to committee leadership, Senator Miller today announced Caucus leadership for the Senate Democratic Caucus. “We thank Senator Jim Robey for his service to our Caucus and our state. I am proud to announce the new Caucus leadership who will continue to make sure that as Democrats we continue to have a large tent that hears the views of all Democrats and all Marylanders.”

Senator Catherine Pugh (Baltimore City, D-40) will serve as Majority Leader. Senator Pugh has served in the Senate since 2007, has served as Deputy Majority Leader since 2011, and is the former Chair of the Women’s Caucus. “Senator Pugh has the respect and admiration of her colleagues throughout the Caucus and the Senate,” stated Senator Miller. “She has a strong grasp on the issues and will be a strong voice for the needs of all Marylanders.”

Senator Douglas J. J. Peters (Prince George’s County, D-23) will serve as Caucus Chair. Additionally, Senator Peters will serve as the Chair of the Pensions Subcommittee of the Budget & Taxation Committee. Senator Peters has served in the Senate since 2007, and has served as Chair of the Prince George’s County Delegation and Chair of the Veteran’s Caucus. “Senator Peters has been a strong leader in the Senate and will serve the Caucus well as its Chair,” stated Senator Miller. “His commitment and devotion to the State of Maryland and knowledge of budgetary issues will help to lead this state through the upcoming session.”

Senator Katherine Klausmeier (Baltimore County, D-8) will serve as the Deputy Majority Leader. Senator Klausmeier has served in the Senate since 2003, and the General Assembly since 1995. “Senator Klausmeier brings a unique perspective to our Caucus, and one that helps bind together and ensure that all areas and perspectives of our state continue to be heard,” stated Senate Miller. “I am excited to have her serve our Caucus in this key leadership role.” Senator Klausmeier will also continue to serve as Chair of the Senate Rules Committee.

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Ten Most Progressive Senators

ProgSen

In the Maryland Senate, all of the incoming Democrats will be more liberal than all of the Republicans. But who are currently the most progressive of the 47 state senators?

Using the same dataset provided by Boris Shor and Nolan McCarty of state legislator ideology mentioned in previous posts, the above table lists the most progressive senators. Remember that a more negative score indicates a more progressive senator. These scores are for the legislator’s entire career in the General Assembly and include House as well as Senate service.

The most consistently progressive member of the Maryland Senate is Rich Madaleno, who represents District 18 (Chevy Chase, Kensington and Wheaton) in Montgomery County. Indeed, six of the most liberal senators represent MoCo–Madaleno (#1), Manno (#3), Lee, (#4) Montgomery (#5), King (#7), and Raskin (#10).

Three of the others on the list are African-American women from Prince George’s or Baltimore: Conway (#6), Nathan Pulliam (#8), and Benson (#9). The final member of the list is Paul Pinsky, who hails from Prince George’s and is the second most progressive member of the Senate after Madaleno.

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MD-08 Tea Leaves

Chris Van Hollen probably ain’t going nowhere. He has a lot to lose and very little to gain by running for US Senate. In the House, he’s got a solid shot at the Speakership (if Team Blue ever regains control of the chamber). Even if he falls short, he’ll likely advance into some lower tier of leadership–and being Majority Leader or Caucus Chairman ain’t bad. Perhaps he ends up in some lofty post in a theoretically Biden Administration (the Vice President is very close to CVH). But hey, many a down county pol dreams of the day this seat will open up . . . so let’s speculate.

Here are some politicians, who without having asked them, I’d wager would seriously consider it:

State Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20): Jamie represents about 20% of MD-08 and would carry with him a rabid base of progressive activists. I believe he would be able to tap into a substantial network of national “net roots” small donors as MD-04 Congresswoman Donna Edwards was able to in 2006 and 2008. He’d also be able to raise money from national progressive donors. I think he could raise betwixt $1,000,000 and $1,600,000 for this bid.

State Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18): Rich would likely attract substantial backing from a large community of national LGBT donors. He also represents 1/5th of MD-08 currently and presents a more practical blend of progressivism than Senator Raskin. I believe he could raise between $700,000 and and a million dollars.

Delegate Bill Frick (D-16): I discussed Delegate Frick’s congressional fortunes in my post on MD-06. He represents a much larger portion of MD-08 than MD-06 so he might have a stronger showing here.

County Council Member At Large Hans Riemer: Hans has the distinct advantage that he represents the vast majority of Democratic Primary voters in this district. He’d also be a nice Obama spin off Congressional Candidate. Perhaps by the time MD-08 is open the President will be ready to stump for the alumni of his historic campaigns. I think Hans could put together $500,000-$650,000. He also has the opportunity to a great deal of constituency building due to his county wide position.

District 5 County Council Member Tom Hucker: It is my opinion that Tom Hucker espouses a slightly different brand of progressive rhetoric than Jamie Raskin. Jamie is the liberal law professor while Hucker is a fiery labor organizer. I believe Hucker would be labor’s choice and could come up with between $350,000 and $600,000.

Former Delegate Heather Mizeur (District 20): This is the seat Heather was born to run for. Unfortunately, I think Raskin would cut her electoral base out from under her. This is very different than her donor base and I believe she could rake in between two and three million dollars for her bid. Weirdly, I hear her mentioned more frequently for MD-01 (where she owns a vacation home, in Kent County).

My Analysis
In a field likely to be chock full of dynamic progressive elected officials (think Raskin, Hucker and Mizeur) vying to be the farthest of the far left a slightly more pragmatic liberal (think Madaleno, Frick or Riemer) could break through. It even opens the door for a real moderate (!) self funding businessman to flood the race with money and cruise to victory.

Outlook: Toss Up

Did I miss someone? Am I off base? Shoot me an email at johnga.ems@gmail.com.

 

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Raskin Supports Frosh, Madaleno

Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20) is fighting back against the misuse of quotations from him that give the sense that he has endorsed opponents of AG Candidate Brian Frosh and Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-18):

Politics can be a tough business because anybody can say anything, and before it’s all over, they probably will.  But the truth is important, and I want to be clear about something to any of my friends out there.  When all the dust settles on Tuesday, Brian Frosh better be the Democratic nominee for Attorney General and Rich Madaleno better be coming back as the Senator from District 18.  These two public servants—I do not use the term lightly–are indispensable to the people of Montgomery County and Maryland.   Indispensable.  We would not have the toughest gun safety law in America without Brian Frosh, and we would not have marriage equality without Rich Madaleno.  Go out and vote for them with pride in everything they have accomplished and confidence in both their public honor and their passionate commitment to our community.

The boldface is mine.

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Raskin Endorses Moon and Smith, Defends Shurberg

In a major boost to their campaigns, incumbent Sen. Jamie Raskin has endorsed David Moon and Will Smith for the two vacant delegate seats in District 20. Both Moon and Smith had managed one of Jamie’s earlier campaigns. Previously, Jamie had already endorsed incumbent Del. Sheila Hixson.

Despite not endorsing him, Raskin also defended Jonathan Shurberg against attacks on him for having been suspended temporarily from the practice of law for co-mingling client funds with his own:

Because of my allergy to negative politics, I have been unhappy about the imbalanced ad hominem attacks (not coming from District 20) on my friend and Delegate candidate Jonathan Shurberg. While he was found to have negligently misappropriated client funds, he was punished for it, no clients were harmed, and all funds were restored. In my opinion, this event should be viewed in the context of Jon’s significant public contributions to our community . . .

Raskin’s endorsement of David Moon:

Born in Takoma Park to Korean immigrants, David Moon has had an unusually effective career as a grassroots political organizer, civil liberties and civil rights policy consultant and attorney, and founder of the awesome political blog Maryland Juice, which was named one of the nation’s best by the Washington Post.  A champion of insurgent reform politics, David volunteered to manage my underdog campaign for the Senate in 2006 and, through many sleepless nights and by precocious mastery of the new social media, built the organizational infrastructure for the movement that changed Montgomery County politics forever.  Recognized for his dazzling political mind and devotion to social justice in our community, David went on to run numerous successful campaigns at the county and state level. He also used his formidable political skills to mobilize thousands of Marylanders to defend at the polls our legislative victories on marriage equality and the Dream Act. What impresses me most about David is his wonderful modesty, his passion for service to our community, and his love of making both democracy and new technology work for all.  He will make an exceptionally able and faithful servant to Silver Spring and Takoma Park in the House of Delegates, and I support him with pride.

Raskin’s endorsement of Will Smith:

Born at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, the son of a Barwood taxi driver and a civil servant at GSA, Will Smith is the first person in his family to graduate from college, a gifted lawyer and former legislative assistant at the ACLU of Washington, a passionate Democrat, a U.S. Naval Reserve Officer and Obama administration appointee, and a young person of awesome intellect, character and commitment.  In 2010, Will ran the combined campaign of the District 20 Delegation (Delegates Hixson, Hucker, Mizeur and myself), and in that capacity I got to know him as a zealous advocate for the young people of Silver Spring and Takoma Park.  An active Board Member for the Gandhi Brigade, IMPACT Silver Spring, the NAACP Montgomery County Chapter, and GapBuster Learning Center, Will established the Youth Achieve Scholarship Fund, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars for college scholarships for young people in our community.  As a Delegate, Will promises to fight hard to promote educational excellence for all of our kids, accelerated school construction in Montgomery County, and criminal justice reform, especially passage of the “Second Chance Act,” a measure to shield from public scrutiny marijuana possession and other nonviolent misdemeanor convictions several years after a person completes his term; with Will’s urging, I introduced the Second Chance Act in 2014 and we passed it in the Senate this Session but it languished on the House side.  I know that, as a Delegate, he will not rest until he gets the job done. I also know that he will stay in close touch with our community groups and neighborhood associations because he is totally accessible and responsive; my friend Paula Kowalczuk remembers him coming to register voters for several hours on the weekend when he was in high school! I have great confidence in Will and support him with pride and excitement for the future.

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Who is the Next Senate Majority Leader?

Trying to figure out who is the next person to obtain a particular leadership position in any legislature is often a pointless exercise in Kremlinology. However, pointless exercises in Kremlinology are great fun. So here we go.

After the 2010 elections, Senate Majority Leader Ed Kasemeyer was appointed Chairman of the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee. Senate President Mike Miller appointed Montgomery County Senator Rob Garagiola as his replacement. After the 2013 session, Senator Garagiola retired from the legislature. In his place, retiring Howard County Senator Jim Robey served as a placeholder Majority Leader for the 2014 Session.

Following the 2014 Elections, the position will be vacant and Mike Miller will need to appoint a new Majority Leader for the fourth time in four-ish years. I asked a panel of reporters at a forum on the 2014 session who they thought had the best shot at becoming Majority Leader. None had any idea who might be on the short list.

After consulting with my vast network of spies, the following would appear to be the short list –

  • Bobby Zirkin (Baltimore County)
  • Rich Madelano (Montgomery County)
  • Roger Manno (Montgomery County)
  • Nancy King (Montgomery County)
  • Paul Pinsky (Prince George’s County)

From 2011-2013, Montgomery County held to two leadership positions in the Senate (JPR Chair and Majority Leader). Montgomery County currently holds one (JPR Chair), but that is precarious as Frosh is running for Attorney General. For Maryland’s largest jurisdiction to hold no leadership positions in the upper chamber would be untenable, especially since all of Montgomery’s eight Senate seats are held by Democrats.

Most people I have talked to view Jamie Raskin as the heavy favorite for the JPR Chairmanship. However, if Raskin is not appointed–and considering how far to the left of Mike Miller he is, this does not seem unrealistic to me–it would seem to necessitate the appointment of Manno, Madaleno or King as Majority Leader.

However, Raskin’s main opponent for the JPR Chairmanship seems to be Bobby Zirkin of Baltimore County. If Raskin is appointed Chair, Zirkin could be appointed Majority Leader as a consolation prize. Conversely, if he is passed over for Chair, Raskin could find himself in contention to be Majority Leader

I personally think Manno (who would be entering his second term in the senate) probably lacks the requisite seniority to be Majority Leader. However, stranger things have happened.

Currently, Prince George’s County lacks a Committee Chairman, although Senate President Mike Miller represents a large chunk of the jurisdiction. This makes Pinsky somewhat more attractive.

Who am I missing? Who do you think has the edge? What’s your analysis? Email johnga.ems@gmail.com to let me know.

 

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A Competitive General in . . District 20?!

No Republicans hold office in Montgomery County at the county, state, or federal levels. However, in the bluest facet of this sapphire, a challenger of some credibility has emerged. In District 20, former Takoma Park City Councilman Dan Robinson has filed to run in the general election on the Green Party line. If there is a legislative district in Maryland where the Green Party is viable, it would be the ultra-progressive district home to nuclear free Granola Park.

How serious a challenger Dan is remains to be seen. Most Green Party targeted campaigns raised $20,000-$30,000. Dan will probably be able to exceed that amount. Like any third party candidate, this is a long shot. But conditions will likely be as good  as ever this November for an Emerald takeover.

Robinson could try to make the case that powerful Ways and Means Chair Sheila Hixson is a tool of a Democratic Leadership that is too moderate for the District 20 electorate.

If Jonathan Shurberg wins the Democratic Primary, Robinson could try to make the race about Shurberg’s ethics issues.

Robinson could attack Will Smith, who is a Homeland Security consultant, on the premise that he’s part of the military industrial complex and therefore not truly progressive.

These issues are typically irrelevant in state legislative elections but Jamie Raskin had some success attacking Ida Ruben over a non-binding resolution regarding the Iraq War in 2006. Robinson would have to make corporate welfare for Lockheed Martin a central issue in this line of attack.

Will Jawando is a corporate lobbyist. Robinson could probably ding him on that but I don’t see how he can turn it into the kill shot he needs in a region almost as full of lobbyists as lawyers.

David Moon, the most progressive candidate in the race, is squeaky clean as far as I can tell. Robinson would be foolish to target him.

Whoever the Democratic nominees are, they will have depleted their resources in the primary. They will also likely take the general election for granted. More than likely they, will have difficulty raising additional funds in the general–most donors will likely choose to devote their resources to tough races in other parts of the state–and I doubt many volunteers will be fired up about knocking doors.

Perhaps Dan Robinson can catch the sleeping giant and become the first Green Party State legislator in Maryland. I don’t expect it to happen. But I wouldn’t be totally surprised if he did.

 

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Assembly Electeds Dis Progressive Neighbors

PNWebanner

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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FAMA Passes the House–Vote Tally

FAMA

Today, the House voted 82-57 to pass the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, the transgender equality bill. This day would not have come without the hard work of many people. The Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality along with Equality Maryland’s Carrie Evans and Keith Thirion worked indefatigably on this issue.

Of course, the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Rich Madaleno and Del. Luke Clippinger, also deserve much credit. While she was not the lead sponsor this year, Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk worked hard for many years on this issue, as did Sen. Jamie Raskin. I know Del. Bonnie Cullison did much to move the bill forward this year as well.

A total of twelve Democrats voted against the bill. No Republicans voted for the bill. Here is the vote tally in the House of Delegates (listed  by district):

YEA (all D): Busch, Clagett, Olszewski, Bromwell, Jones, Nathan-Pulliam, Cardin, Morhaim, Stein, Bobo, DeBoy, Mallone, Guzzone, Pendergrass, F. Turner, Kaiser, Luedtke, Zucker, Dumais, Fraser-Hidalgo, A. Miller, Frick, A. Kelly, Lee, Barve, Gilchrist, Simmons, Carr, Gutiérrez, Waldstreicher, Arora, Cullison, Kramer, Hixson, Hucker, Mizeur, Barnes, Frush, Peña-Melnyk, Gaines, Healy, A. Washington, Holmes, Hubbard, Valentino-Smith, Howard, Swain, Braveboy, Davis, Griffith, V. Turner, Valderrama, Proctor, Vallario, Murphy, Beidle, Love, Cane, Barkley, Reznik, S. Robinson, Conaway, B. Robinson, Tarrant, Carter, Oaks, Rosenberg, Lafferty, Anderson, McIntosh, M. Washington, Haynes, Mitchell, Stukes, Branch, Glenn, Clippinger, Hammen, McHale, Ivey, Niemann, Summers.

NAY (all R unless indicated): Beitzel, K. Kelly (D), Myers, Donoghue (D), Parrott, Serafini, Hogan, Hough, Afzali, Elliott, Schulz, Kach, Ready, Stocksdale, Minnick (D), Weir (D), Impallaria, McDonough, Szeliga, Boteler, Cluster, Bates, Krebs, W. Miller, Burns (D), Vaughn (D), Walker (D), Fisher, Jameson (D), Wilson (D), Bohanan (D), O’Donnell, Wood, George, McMillan, Dwyer, Kipke, Schuh, Sophocleus (D), Costa, McConkey, Vitale, Glass, James (D), Rudolph (D), McComas, Norman, Stifler, Arentz, Jacobs, Smigiel, Eckardt, Haddaway-Riccio, Conway (D), McDermott, Otto, Aumann.

NOT VOTING: Frank (R), Harper (D)

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Push Polls in District 20?

MoonSmithShurbergThree of the District 20 Delegate Candidates: David Moon, Will Smith, and Jonathan Shurberg

District 20 has a lively delegate race with two vacancies caused by Del. Heather Mizeur’s gubernatorial run and Del. Tom Hucker’s county council candidacy. Local lawyer and Democratic activist Jonathan Shurberg is a candidate.

Jon has already loaned his campaign $125K and is rumored to be prepared to loan far more if needed to win the seat in his first run for elective office. Even in Montgomery County, he will clearly break towards the very high end of spending if he follows through and loans his campaign similar amounts in the future.

Rumors started earlier this week that Jon was the victim of a push poll when voters started receiving calls asking questions about Shurberg’s past three tax liens and previous disbarment, actually suspension, from the practice of law in Maryland (see also here and here) due to having misappropriated client funds. The poll also asked for responses to positive statements about his opponents.

Some speculated that David Moon or Will Smith–two other candidates in the race–had possibly sponsored the poll to undermine Jon’s campaign. Both know quite a bit about campaigns, especially in District 20. David ran Jamie Raskin’s 2006 campaign, has worked extensively as a campaign consultant, and is the author of the Maryland Juice blog, Will Smith, a former Obama appointee in the Department of Homeland Security, ran the D20 slate’s successful reelection campaign in 2010.

However, I could not imagine savvy, experienced campaign consultants like either David or Will carrying out a push poll because it just wouldn’t make much sense in this case.

First, the multi-seat nature of delegate races offers little incentive to go negative. When campaigning in these sorts of races, it’s best to be on friendly terms with everyone. If you meet a voter who says they like a rival candidate, it makes it easier to respond “she’s great, I hope you’ll vote for me too!” Attacking another candidate mainly risks losing votes from their supporters.

Second, there is no guarantee that it will benefit the ad’s sponsor, particularly in a race with so many candidates. Instead, it may aid another candidate, especially when the target denounces the ad as scurrilous and its sponsor as throwing mud. Finally, polling is costly and the money would be better spent on voter contact.

So who did the poll?

Turns out Jon did the poll to test out the impact of potential attacks and positive messages that other candidates may use.

Not a good use of campaign funds. Money is a very helpful campaign resource but only if it is spent wisely. Polling results are often dubious in down ballot races with so many candidates. Name recognition of the candidates is low. Voters respond as much to cues from endorsers as much as message.

One can test messages but it hardly requires a poll to know that voters will be suspicious of an attorney threatened with disbarment. Moreover, it’s working to counter a message that will likely never be used. Better to have spent the money on voter contact instead of exposing voters to negative information about his past.

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