Progressive Neighbors Caves

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In a previous post (“Not So Progressive Neighbors“), I detailed PN’s problematic, unethical endorsement process. Among other criticisms I made was their inexplicable decision not to endorse incumbent Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez:

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?

They’ve quietly changed their mind and endorsed Del. Gutiérrez “after input from our supporters and reconsideration by the Steering Committee.” Disgruntlement with their flawed process has gone beyond the many Democratic incumbents who wouldn’t even respond to their questionnaire.

Looks like PN has taken the first step towards the first step of admitting that they have a problem.

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Putting a Face on the Victims of Gun Violence

Two teenagers, Najee Thomas and Michael Mayfield, were shot this past week in Baltimore. Najee was 14 and Michael was 17. According to reports, “Michael was passionate about the Junior ROTC, band and the Inner Harbor Project. He played for the Edmondson High School baseball team.” Najee worked at a smoothie stand in Camden Yards and dreamed of being a lawyer.

I’m sure all reading this join me in expressing deepest condolences to their families.

Michael MayfieldMichael Mayfield

Mayfield was a student at Edmondson High school. He was a member of JROTC, a standout baseball player and a youth leader with the Inner Harbor Project.

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/17yearold-high-school-standout-killed-27235.shtml?wap=0&app_data=%7B%22pi%22%3A%2243793_1397834796_1577214203%22%2C%22pt%22%3A%22twitter%22%7D#.U1co1ce1bZg

Mayfield was a student at Edmondson High school. He was a member of JROTC, a standout baseball player and a youth leader with the Inner Harbor Project.

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/17yearold-high-school-standout-killed-27235.shtml?wap=0&app_data=%7B%22pi%22%3A%2243793_1397834796_1577214203%22%2C%22pt%22%3A%22twitter%22%7D#.U1co1ce1bZg

Mayfield was a student at Edmondson High school. He was a member of JROTC, a standout baseball player and a youth leader with the Inner Harbor Project.

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/17yearold-high-school-standout-killed-27235.shtml?wap=0&app_data=%7B%22pi%22%3A%2243793_1397834796_1577214203%22%2C%22pt%22%3A%22twitter%22%7D#.U1co1ce1bZg

Mayfield was a student at Edmondson High school. He was a member of JROTC, a standout baseball player and a youth leader with the Inner Harbor Project.

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/17yearold-high-school-standout-killed-27235.shtml?wap=0&app_data=%7B%22pi%22%3A%2243793_1397834796_1577214203%22%2C%22pt%22%3A%22twitter%22%7D#.U1co1ce1bZg

Mayfield was a student at Edmondson High school. He was a member of JROTC, a standout baseball player and a youth leader with the Inner Harbor Project.

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/17yearold-high-school-standout-killed-27235.shtml?wap=0&app_data=%7B%22pi%22%3A%2243793_1397834796_1577214203%22%2C%22pt%22%3A%22twitter%22%7D#.U1co1ce1bZg

Najee Thomas

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Kessler Responds to CASA’s Torres

Kessler

Rick Kessler issued the following comment in response to the strong defense of Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez’s decision to travel to El Salvador by CASA de Maryland’s Gustavo Torres .

This is a question of commitment to District 18.  It is about the choices made by one elected official who chose to be absent for two days during the recent Maryland Legislative Session to vote in the Salvadoran election when she could have voted by mail. The Legislative Session only runs for 90 days: I believe that the Session is important and that Delegates are elected to be present and participate. There were important Appropriations Committee budget hearings on those days that she could have attended and still voted in the El Salvador election by mail.I think the people of  District 18 deserve better: they have a right to expect that the priority of their elected legislators is to participate fully in the Maryland legislative process on behalf of the people who elected them.

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CASA Slams Kessler Attack

casa logoRecently, Delegate Candidate Rick Kessler (D-18) raised questions about Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez’s decision to travel to El Salvador during the session. CASA Director Gustavo Torres issued this statement in response:

I was extremely disturbed to recently learn that a candidate for state office in the 18th district has chosen to attack Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez for a trip she made to El Salvador during the past legislative session. Rick Kessler’s willingness to engage in this type of thinly-disguised race-baiting reveals that he is not the right representative for any district, let alone one as diverse as the 18th.

To recap, Delegate Sol Gutierrez missed two days of session in order to fly over a weekend to El Salvador and participate as an Official International Observer of the Salvadoran Presidential election. She traveled at the formal invitation of the Salvadoran National Assembly, an invitation that Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch not only approved but described as “an honor.” Legislators miss floor votes and committee hearings all the time due to illness, family emergencies, personal business, and to attend special events. It is hard to imagine an event more important than participating in a historic election for progressive change in a country whose past civil conflict has driven so much immigration to our region and whose leadership impacts so many close relatives of district residents. It seems an odd posture particularly for someone that is actually running for elected office and, we would assume, a believer in the importance of political participation.

I believe that the real purpose of these complaints is to surface that Delegate Sol Gutierrez remains engaged in her country of birth and to imply that this engagement somehow lowers her commitment to this country – one she is so dedicated to that she has chosen to dedicate 20 years to the unusually grueling life path of public service including, for the past 12 years, representing her home district in the Maryland House of Delegates. During the early 20th century, immigrants to the United States were frequently attacked for their continued affiliation with their country of origin and these arguments were used to support profiling, red-lining, and exclusion from political engagement. Reading the Bethesda Now piece, I was reminded once again how very far we have to go. As an organization whose very purpose is to engage immigrants in the political process, leaders like Delegate Gutierrez show that our responsibility is global, our lives cross borders, and our kids can strive to achieve extraordinary triumphs in a multicultural world.   While it is certainly true that not everyone in the 18th District has immigrated to this country, we believe that most of its residents honor diversity, celebrate immigration, and appreciate open cultural and civic engagement, here and abroad.

In closing, while it is true that CASA in Action has endorsed Delegate Sol Gutierrez as well as three additional candidates for delegate, I have not chosen to address this issue because of that support. Regardless of who you support, our community is better than the types of attacks that Mr. Kessler has chosen to engage in.

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EQMD’s Final Endorsements

Here is a list of Equality Maryland’s final endorsements for 2014. I’ve done my best to boldface the non-incumbents but have undoubtedly made a few mistakes here.

Statewide Offices
Governor/Lt. Governor: Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman
Attorney General: Brian Frosh

General Assembly
District 3
House: Carol Krimm (D3A), Karen Young (D3A)
Senate: Ron Young

District 4  
House: Gene Stanton (D4A)

District 5
House: Dorothy Scanlan

District 6
Senate: John Olszewski, Jr.

District 8
House: Eric Bromwell
Senate: Katherine Klausmeier

District 9  
House: Tom Coale (D9B)
Senate: Ryan Frederic

District 10
House: Benjamin Brooks, Robert “Bob” Johnson, Adrienne Jones
Senate: Delores Kelley

District 11
House: Shelly Hettleman, Dan Morhaim, Dana Stein
Senate: Bobby Zirkin

District 12
House: Rebecca Dongarra, Terri Hill, Clarence Lam
Senate: Ed Kasemeyer

District 13
House: Vanessa Atterbeary, Frank Turner
Senate: Guy Guzzone

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

District 15
House: Kathleen Dumais, David Fraser-Hidalgo, Aruna Miller
Senate: Brian Feldman

District 16
House: Bill Frick, Ariana Kelly, Marc Korman
Senate: Susan Lee

District 17
House: Kumar Barve, Jim Gilchrist, Andrew Platt
Senate: Cheryl Kagan

District 18
House: Al Carr, Ana Sol Gutierrez, Jeff Waldstreicher
Senate: Richard Madaleno

District 19
House: Bonnie Cullison, Benjamin Kramer, Marice Morales
Senate: Roger Manno

District 20
House: (four endorsements for three seats): Sheila Hixson, Will Jawando, David Moon, Will Smith
Senate: Jamie Raskin

District 21
House: Joseline Pena-Melnyk
Senate: James Rosapepe

District 22
House: Tawanna Gaines, Anne Healey, Alonzo Washington
Senate: Paul Pinsky

District 25
House: Stanley Onye

District 26
Senate: Veronica Turner
House: Kris Valderrama

District 28
House: John Coller

District 30
House: Michael E. Busch (D30A), Mitchelle Stephenson (D30B)

District 31
House: Robert Haynes (D31A)

District 32
House: Spencer Dove

District 34
House: Cassandra Beverly (D34B)

District 39
House: Charles Barkley, Kirill Reznik, Shane Robinson
Senate: Nancy King

District 40
House: Barbara Robinson

District 41
House: Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg

District 42
House: Stephen Lafferty

District 43
House: Curt Anderson, Maggie McIntosh, Mary Washington

District 44
House: Keiffer Mitchell (D44A), Charles Sydnor, III (D44B)

District 45
House: Cory McCray
Senate: Nathaniel McFadden

District 46
House: Luke Clippinger, Peter Hammen, Brooke Lierman
Senate: Bill Ferguson

District 47
House: Will Campos (D47B), Diana Fennell (D47A), Michael Summers (D47A)
Senate: Victor Ramirez, D47

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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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Leventhal Slams CASA

casa logo

The Washington Post reports that dealing with negative impacts of the Purple Line on low-income people is CASA’s biggest priority and the lack of concern with these issues cost incumbent Councilmembers George Leventhal and Nancy Floreen the organization’s support:

CASA ‘s biggest priority in Montgomery at the moment is the Purple Line’s potential threat to affordable housing and minority-owned small businesses in communities such as Long Branch. In CASA’s assessment, they weren’t there with them. . . .

CASA and other groups are worried that gentrification, triggered by escalating real estate values along the route, will price Latinos out of the community.

“George’s perception is that any discussion of equity around the Purple Line undermines its chances of going forward,” Propeack said.

George responded less than tactfully:

“My impression is that they’re trying to insult me,” Leventhal said. He added: “I do think CASA sometimes loses sight of the fact that the primary beneficiaries of the Purple Line will be Latinos. It will be of enormous benefit to workers who will have greater access to jobs. I guess they think transit is bad for communities.”

This quote exhibits George’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. He is fervent in his causes and makes cogent arguments for them. At the same time, he often acts in ways that express disdain for people who disagree with him and build barriers rather than friends. This case is especially telling because of his past very close relationship with CASA and his genuine, strong support for Latinos.

Nancy also made a statement to the reporter:

Floreen said she couldn’t say what happened.

“I have no idea. These are folks with their own agenda. They’re all advocates for something or other.”

Whether you agree with her or not, Nancy is opinionated, informed, and smart as a whip. But when I read this, it sounded like the least sensible quote ever from Nancy Floreen. Of course, they have an agenda. They’re an interest group.

However, interviews are long and quotes are short, so I gave Nancy a call. Her assessment has more sang-froid than George’s:

It’s their assessment of the politics of the situation. I’ve always supported them and their interests in the past and will continue to do so in the future whether or not they endorse me.

Essentially, they’re an interest group with their own goals they will do what they will do. A smart response as it leaves doors open, doesn’t alienate, or give the story more traction.

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Jones-Rodwell Hangs It Up

JonesRodwell

One of the hottest Senate primaries is no more. The Daily Record reports that Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell has decided to retire from the Maryland Senate (h/t Neal Carter).

As I blogged previously, redistricting had dealt Jones-Rodwell a poor hand by placing her in a district far more favorable to her primary opponent, Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam:

Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D 10), who lives in the portion of the old District 10 that is now part of the new District 44, is challenging incumbent Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D 44). The new district contains roughly twice as many people from Nathan-Pulliam’s old district, though it bears Jones-Rodwell’s district number.

Both Jones-Rodwell and Nathan-Pulliam struck me as assets to Baltimore in the General Assembly and I was unhappy to see them redistricted into the same seat. Sen. Jones-Rodwell’s voice will be missed from that body but hopefully not from Baltimore. Fortunately, Del. Nathan-Pulliam service in the House gives her a strong leg up navigating the Senate.

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Seventh State Stats

Wow. You’ve really been reading. Since the reboot of Maryland Politics Watch as Seventh State in February, readership has increased dramatically.

When I started Maryland Politics Watch, I got really excited when daily unique hits reached over 300. This past week, that number jumped well over 1000 for the first time since the relaunch. And that excludes the 130 of you who have signed up to receive every post via email not to mention followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to those who have shared news, information, stories, and given helpful feedback on posts. I learn a lot by doing this blog and appreciate these interactions.

I’ll keep doing my best to provide opinion, news, and analysis. You can keep following 7S here and also follow on Twitter @theseventhstate or on our Facebook page–besides reading, it’s one of the best ways you can say thanks to us. Just click the floating buttons on the lower right to follow or to like.

Thanks for reading.

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D1, Pt. II: Allegany County

D1BDistrict 1B in Allegany County

This is Part II in a two part series about District 1 in Western Maryland. While Part I focused on the Garrett County portion of the district, this post centers on Allegany County.

All of District 1B’s population lives in Allegany. Frostburg and a northern section of Cumberland are located in 1B. District 1C is split between Allegany and Washington Counties with 55% in Allegany. The remainder of Cumberland and all of the smaller town of Hancock in Washington County are located in 1C.

Allegany County has been heavily Republican in federal contests. Mitt Romney received 64% of the vote in 2012. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett received 55% of the vote in Allegany even as he went down to defeat to John Delaney with just 37% of the total vote in the entire Sixth Congressional District.

Lately, Allegany has also been quite lopsided in its support for Republicans in statewide contests. Bob Ehrlich won 57% in 2006 and 61% in 2010 in Allegany. Notice that Ehrlich increased his share of the vote in Allegany even as his statewide margin declined. The last Democratic gubernatorial candidate to carry Allegany was Parris Glendening in 1998 with 52% of the vote.

Allegany District 1B has been one of the most hotly contested delegate seats over the past several decades. Incumbent Democratic Del. Kevin Kelly won reelection in 2010 with just 51% over Republican Mary Beth Pirolozzi, a Cumberland City Councilmember.

Kelly originally won his seat in 1986 when he was one of two Democrats elected from a two-member district located entirely in Allegany. He easily won reelection in 1990.

In 1994, Kelly lost the Democratic primary in the newly redistricted single-member District 1B, receiving 43% as opposed to 57% for Del. Betty Workman, his colleague in the former two-member district. But Kelly turned the tables in 1998, winning the primary over Workman by 59% to 41% and then went on to win the general with just 51% of the vote. Kelly beat his Republican opponent with a more comfortable 56% of the vote in 2002 and 2006.

This year, Kelly has no primary opposition but faces Jason Buckel, a member of the Allegany County Republican Central Committee, in the general election. In January, Buckel had just $2.6K in his campaign account compared to $18K for Kelly, though Buckel could raise money during the session while Kelly could not.

Allegany Central

Central Allegany County Partisanship
(Source: Dave’s Redistricting, More Orange is More Republican)

Though Kelly has a long history in this district, no Democrat can ever take anything for granted. Despite its Republican lean, 1B contains some of the less Republican precincts in Allegany located in Frostburg and Cumberland (see above), which should aid Kelly.

D1C

District 1C in Allegany and Washington Counties

District 1C is perhaps best known as the district that unseated the sitting Speaker of the House in 2002. Democratic Speaker Cas Taylor, who brought enormous amounts of state funds home and worked relentlessly to aid Western Maryland’s economy, lost his reelection bid by 76 votes.

Redistricting was more the culprit than the fickleness of Allegany voters. Prior to 2002, 1C was contained entirely within Allegany County. District 1 grew more slowly than the the State as a whole in the 1990s and had to expand east, so 1C had to take in sections of Washington County. While Speaker Taylor won 61% in his home stomping ground of Allegany, he garnered just 29% in the new, extremely Republican Washington portion of the district.

Del. LeRoy Myers, who defeated Speaker Taylor, is retiring after three terms. Two Republicans, Ray Givens and Mike McKay, are competing for the GOP nomination, while Democrat Nick Scarpelli has no opposition within his party.

Swept in as part of the tea party wave in 2010, Mike McKay serves as President of the Allegany County Board of Commissioners. He’s the CEO of a company with six dry cleaning locations. McKay has the support of sitting Del. Myers.

Perhaps because actually having to run a government tends to moderate extreme views on all sides, McKay is now being tea-party challenged from the right by Givens. A Hancock resident, Givens has never held office but was very active in opposition to Gov. O’Malley’s gun safety legislation and supports fracking.

Givens has served in the military, and worked in corrections and law enforcement. In January, McKay reported $15K cash on hand as compared to $10K for Givens.

As McKay lives in Allegany and Givens is from Washington, this primary could well turn into a classic friends-and-neighbors contest that depends on the level of support and ability to turn out voters within each candidate’s home base. Del. McKay should benefit from his experience in office as well as his endorsement by Myers. But Givens could gain energy from gun rights advocates.

Meanwhile, as unlikely as it may sound, Republican 1C is one district where the Democrats hope to make a pick up. Cumberland City Councilman Nick Scarpelli is a local magnate with investments in chains of funeral homes and shoe stores as well as real estate.

Scarpelli is very conservative for a Democrat–he is pro-gun, pro-life and pro-fracking. His major goal is to join the majority caucus and be part of the fine tradition of bringing home the bacon to this long economically challenged region. Scarpelli can self fund and plans to advertise on television–a lot cheaper in the Hagerstown media market than elsewhere in Maryland.

His chances likely depend at least partly on who wins the GOP primary. Scarpelli would have a stronger shot against Givens than McKay. Regardless, he will make this a much more interesting race than one would expect in this mostly Republican part of the world.

District 1B Rating: Toss-Up (Slight Edge to Kelly).
District 1C Rating: Lean Republican (Slight Edge to McKay in the primary).

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