My Retirement

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

I wanted to let you know that I plan to step down from the Town Council this May at the end of my term. I feel very fortunate and honored to have received the trust of the people in the Town of Chevy Chase and to have had the opportunity to serve on the Council the past six years, including two as mayor.

I’m looking forward to remaining involved in the community. Thanks to Housing Unlimited, a wonderful organization that provides housing for people with psychiatric disabilities here in Montgomery County, for the privilege of letting me serve on their Board.

Though I didn’t file for reelection, I am very pleased to have been nominated for my professional association’s governing Council. I look forward to having more opportunity to focus on my research and to indulge my love of travel.

I’ve learned and gained so much from the experience–my respect for those of you who are running has increased all the more. I appreciate all of the friendship and support so many people in the Town have given me. The best part about serving on the Council is all of the great people that I have gotten to know.

Many thanks and all the best,
David

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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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Thoughts on the Gansler-Ivey Poll

The Gansler-Ivey poll results are catnip for people like me who follow campaigns but also a good example of why outlets that try to estimate the current shape of election campaigns (e.g. 538, pollster.com) do not include them in their analyses.

The press release includes some interesting numbers. I was less interested in the top lines than in the report of Doug Gansler’s favorability ratings. If opinions of the AG have indeed improved since the spate of very bad press earlier this year, that would certainly be good news for the Gansler-Ivey campaign.

However, the press release was more telling for what it did not include than what it did. There is no information about the questions that were asked. One poster on Seventh State’s Facebook page claims that the questions were primed to elicit negative responses about Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

(Update: The Gansler campaign informs me this was not the case and that the questions about candidate ratings and horse race numbers were asked prior to the questions regarding the exchanges in any case.)

While the poll reported Gansler’s favorability ratings, it did not do the same for either Brown or Mizeur. Additionally, there are no demographic breakdowns. I’d be especially interested to know the gender, racial, and religious composition of the survey, as well as the results for these demographic groups.

This information would make it possible to answer several questions. For example, does the share of women estimated in the electorate correspond to past gubernatorial elections? Women routinely makeup a disproportionate share of Democratic primary voters in Maryland but do they in the polling sample? How strong does the poll state support is for candidates among groups whose support they might hope to consolidate?

So, while fun to read, I’ll be looking forward to the next poll reported by an outlet not associated with one of the campaigns.

Note: I’m supporting Gansler but I try to call it like I see it as is evident here.

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Gansler-Ivey Release Poll

I’ll try to provide more analysis later but thought I would just share the document now. It shows Brown with a 31% lead with 22% for Gansler, 8% for Mizeur, and a whopping 40% undecided–less than reported in past polls for the Post and the Sun.

The release from the campaign also highlights that Brown has a 37% positive-47% negative rating on handling the health care exchange. It also says that Gansler’s favorability ratings have increased 10 points from previous media polls to a net 46% favorable and 16% unfavorable.

Gubernatorial Poll from Gansler-Ivey Campaign

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Young Guns Redux

Longtime Seventh State (then known as Maryland Politics Watch) loyalists will remember the Young Guns of MoCo series that the Adam Pagnucco wrote back in 2009. The YG’s that year were (in the following order): David Moon, Jackie Lichter, Lisa Fadden, Jeff Waldstreicher, Bill Frick, Marc Korman, Jason Waskey (tied with Ben Moskowitz and Eric Luedtke), and finally Ryan Spiegel.

Adam’s post set the age limit at 35. I’m going to bring it down to 30. I’m also going to take it beyond Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Western Maryland (Garrett, Allegheny, Washington, Frederick and Carroll), the Eastern Shore (too many counties to list), the Baltimore Suburbs (Baltimore County, Harford County and Howard County), Baltimore City, and Southern Maryland (Anne Arundel, Charles, Calvert & St Mary’s) will each get their own editions.

There will also be a special Annapolis edition and a statewide top ten. Email your nominations to johnga.ems@gmail.com. Commentary is appreciated.

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Equality Maryland Endorses Brian Frosh

From Equality Maryland’s press release:

“Brian Frosh has been a firm ally and leader on LGBT issues in the General Assembly. He has the maturity, experience and commitment to be an effective advocate for the LGBT communities of Maryland as our next Attorney General,” said Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans.

Evans added, “During the just-completed General Assembly session, Equality Maryland worked closely with Senator Frosh on passage of SB 212, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act. He worked with Senate leaders and advocates to shepherd the bill through the Senate. His leadership was instrumental in achieving the 8-3 vote for the bill in the Judicial Proceedings Committee which he chairs.”

“Equality Maryland members were already aware of Brian Frosh’s record of support on our issues.  During his interview with us he spoke convincingly about his commitment to fairness and how his own convictions were shaped by the example of his father, who supported civil rights for African Americans as a member of the Montgomery County Council more than 50 years ago,” said Equality Maryland PAC Chair Tim Williams.

“Senator Frosh has more than 35 years of experience as a practicing attorney and has served in the General Assembly for 27 years.  He understands the duties of the Attorney General and articulates a clear vision for how this office can continue to move Maryland forward on fairness or equality,” said Equality Maryland, Inc. Board Chair Stephanie Bernstein, adding, “We strongly urge the LGBT community and its allies to support Senator Frosh in his bid to be Maryland’s next Attorney General.”

To find out more information about Senator Frosh and his campaign, click here.

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Not So Progressive Neighbors

PNWebanner

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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