Top Six Eastern Shore Young Guns

1. Brian Kemmett – Brian is managing the biggest state senate race of the cycle–Jim Mathias’s reelection. In 2010, he was a Regional Field Coordinator for the O’Malley Campaign. That alone justifies his inclusion on this list. Brian was also a Regional Field Director for the state party in 2012 and attended Salisbury University. In between elections, he was a Canvass Director for Progressive Maryland and worked in US Senator Barbara Mikulski’s office..

2. Jake Day – The Salisbury City Council President also happens to be a Veteran and holds Masters degrees from Oxford and Carnegie Mellon. (For undergrad, he was a Terp). He’s also a Lieutenant in the National Guard. Jake has also worked for the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. He could give Andy Harris a real race one day. He previously served on the City Planning Commission.

3. Josh Hastings – Josh is waging a strong campaign in a solidly Republican district for Wicomico County Council. Currently the lobbyist for the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, he was previously an aide to Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee Chair Joan Carter Conway. Could succeed Rick Pollitt as County Exec one day.

Anonymous: Truly a nice guy. Smart & dedicated to the Eastern Shore.

4. Laura Clay – There are very, very few good professional fundraisers in Maryland. Laura is one of them. She did finance on both of Frank Kratovil’s Congressional Campaigns and is now helping Bill Tilghman post surprisingly big numbers in his MD-01 bid.

5. Robby Sheehan– The Director of Government & Community Relations (and Deputy Chief of Staff in the President’s Office) for Salisbury University is one of the youngest people working in Annapolis (provided you don’t include interns), period. He previously worked for the powerful House Appropriations Committee Chairman Norm Conway. Currently working on a Master’s Degree, this guy has big things in his future.

6. Dennis Teagardin – Dennis’s influence extends far beyond the Shore to the Baltimore Suburbs (where he’ll likely take a seat on the Central Committee in July) and to Montgomery County (where he is Delegate Kirill Reznik’s Legislative Aide). However, this Ocean Pines native and Jamie Fontaine protege will forever be intricately tied  to the Shore. If there were a competitive congressional in MD-01, he’d be a solid field director.

Anonymous: He is president of Baltimore County Young Dems and a candidate for Central Committee for District 11 (he is on the slate with Sen. Zirkin and Delegates Stein and Morhaim).  He is currently on the Central Committee by function of being President of Balto County YD.  He is generally seen as a potential successor to a Delegate seat in 2018, should one come open, and is active on a number of campaigns and fundraising efforts.

Anonymous: He is president of Baltimore County Young Dems and a candidate for Central Committee for District 11 (he is on the slate with Sen. Zirkin and Delegates Stein and Morhaim).  He is currently on the Central Committee by function of being President of Balto County YD.  He is generally seen as a potential successor to a Delegate seat in 2018, should one come open, and is active on a number of campaigns and fundraising efforts.

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Gubernatorial Debate

I live tweeted it @theseventhstate. I’ll leave you to decide who won but here are some quick thoughts.

Gutsy Moments: Doug Gansler sticking up for a corporate tax cut in a Democratic debate; Heather Mizeur calling for full marijuana legalization. As the front runner, Anthony Brown played it safe.

Anthony Brown Strengths: Looked comfortable and gubernatorial. Linked himself to Gov. O’Malley successes on issues from marriage equality to raising the minimum wage. No mistakes that should cause him trouble in the future.

Heather Mizeur Strengths: Good on specifics but not too bogged down in details–a tough balance. She deftly took advantage of Gansler/Brown attacks on each other to look like a leader and the  adult in the room.

Doug Gansler Strengths: Very convincing on the economy–came across as the practical progressive who has a real plan for the State to move forward. Turned around reprimand attack by Brown in a devastating way. Made it look sleazy.

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Town of Chevy Chase Election Results

The Town of Chevy Chase had an usually competitive election with seven candidates for the three seats. The Council has a total of five seats with staggered two-year terms.

There are 2574 registered voters in the Town and 889 cast ballots for a 35 percent turnout. Our Town’s oldest resident, Kathleen Williams who is a very young 102, not only voted but came to the Town’s Annual Meeting where she received a round of applause.

And now to the results with the percentages being out of total ballots cast:

Vicky Taplin: 492 (55.3%)
Kathy Strom: 467 (52.3%)
Al Lang: 400 (45.0%)
Kathie Legg: 390 (43.9%)
Grant Davies: 366 (41.2%)
Donald Farren: 163 (18.3%)
Deborah Vollmer: 74 (8.3%)

There were a total of 2352 votes, fewer than the 2667 votes cast. While some were encouraging bullet votes (casting fewer votes than the maximum of three) in this election, it had a smaller impact than in previous elections where this was a major factors. All but 11.8% of votes were cast.

Both incumbents, Kathy Strom and Al Lang, were reelected but Al beat newcomer Kathie Legg by just 10 votes. Kathie knocked on the door of every single Town resident in a really impressive effort and very good campaign that fell just short.

Don Farren ran on a pro-Purple Line platform–the centerpiece of his campaign. He expressed repeatedly the belief that there was less opposition and much more support for the light-rail line in the Town than realized. That appears to have been repudiated at the polls, as Don received less than one-fifth of the vote.

Note: I voted for Kathy Strom, Vicky Taplin, and Kathie Legg.

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Contemplating Life Inside An Economic Engine

Political and business leaders often refer to Montgomery County as the “economic engine” of Maryland. Interesting words, “economic engine.”

In the 1950s and 1960s, Montgomery County was transforming from farmland to suburbia. I doubt that any of my neighbors in those years imagined that the county would ever be called an economic engine.

In 1950, the county population was 164,000. By 1970, population more than tripled, to 525,000. People were moving to Montgomery County by the thousands because it was a good, safe place to live, with excellent schools. And they could have a yard for the kids and the dog.

The fast pace of growth continued through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s–not only residential development, but construction of shopping malls and industrial parks. The county became a place to work, as well as a place to live. Looking back on those decades, Montgomery County was an engine of constant real estate development.

By the turn of the century, Bethesda was on its way to becoming an “edge city,” with tall office and residential buildings. Cutting-edge industry emerged along the I-270 corridor in Rockville and Gaithersburg, and residential development extended to Germantown.

2014 And The Future

Now, in the year 2014, with a  population of one million, and more jobs than any other jurisdiction in Maryland, we’re not sure if Montgomery County is destined to be a city, a suburb, or something in between. Jobs are a critical concern, but housing is also essential, especially a range of affordable housing for everyone from retail and service workers, to teachers and police officers, to the very affluent.

Taking stock as we approach the 2014 election, and looking to the future, residents might ask the following question:

Do Montgomery County voters want to live inside a constantly growing economic engine?

My own instinctive answer is, “No, Montgomery residents want to preserve, as much as possible, a more bucolic, suburban sense of place.”

At the same time, I wonder, “Maybe we’re too far down the road to urbanization to turn back. We have more jobs than any other place in Maryland. Our population is diverse and multilingual. Wouldn’t it be cool to become a 21st century, cosmopolitan city.”

Imagine a prosperous urban center, combining the best of Montreal and Silicon Valley.

Montgomery County residents and leaders haven’t had much time to catch their breath and fully consider the choices. Growing from 165,000 to one million in six decades, it’s been a constant challenge just for basic infrastructure to keep up with population and job growth.

Past economic growth has been truly impressive, but we have no reason to project that kind of growth into the future. We can’t predict whether future development will overwhelm us, or go elsewhere.

For one thing, the federal government remains the most important economic influence in the Washington, D.C., region. If the federal government did not exist, Montgomery County would still be farmland.

The federal government remains the largest single employer in Montgomery County. But consider that federal job growth has probably peaked. Many workers in both public and private sectors will be replaced by computers and robots. We may well lose jobs faster than we can create them.

No matter what politicians say at election time, it’s not within the power of any one local leader, or even all local leaders acting together, to create private sector jobs.

If economic and job growth is Plan A, we should also have a Plan B. Plan A only works if the American economy returns to the status quo ante 2006. If not, if there’s been an economic paradigm shift, we’ll need a Plan B. What that plan would involve is beyond the scope of this article.

21st Century Infrastructure

Based on geography and infrastructure in the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia region, it looks to me like the economic engine of the future might be the I-95 corridor.

It’s shaped like a barbell, anchored in the south by the federal government and major universities in Washington. In the north it’s anchored by major universities and medical centers in Baltimore, and the Port of Baltimore. In between, along the highway and railroad infrastructure linking the two cities, there’s the University of Maryland at College Park, the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, and importantly, BWI Airport.

Now look west, to Montgomery County. The county is not far from the I-95 corridor, but it’s not exactly at the center of the action. You might almost say — in fact, I will say it — Montgomery County looks perfectly located to be a major bedroom community for the Baltimore-Washington corridor, particularly at the southern end.

Historically, major cities developed around transportation by water, railroad or airport. In the 21st century, can Montgomery County expect to be a major economic player without an airport? The county also does not have a professional sports team, or a major research university, a medical school, law school, or even a four-year college.

We’ve had our hands full in Montgomery County building a basic suburban infrastructure of schools, highways, and mass transit.

If we aspire to be a cosmopolitan center with population density and economic growth, we need to commit ourselves to building other kinds of infrastructure, such as a major airport and a university.

The growing Baltimore-Washington region is going to need another modern airport eventually, I’m thinking. Dulles is far to the southwest and BWI is to the north. Reagan National is reduced to boutique-VIP  airport status for obvious security reasons.

But finding a site for a major airport in Montgomery County is a problem that boggles the mind. It would be an epic battle. Possibly Frederick County would like an airport to support the economic growth of both counties. Or possibly not. All in all, an airport to serve the western part of the metro area seems like an unlikely dream.

Besides an airport, it’s hard to imagine a city of  one million, a center of innovation and scientific development, without a university. Lack of affordable, local higher education is a problem for both middle-class families and business development.

Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove fill part of the need, but they’re less than a shadow of the excellent higher education available in Baltimore and Washington.

So what does Montgomery County have to attract businesses? A great public school system, relatively high costs of land, and inconvenient airport access. Seems to me the I-95 corridor might be a better choice for many companies.

Housing, Business and Jobs

It doesn’t make sense for jurisdictions within the region to compete for all types of development. No one can predict the future, but we’ll probably have more than enough growth to go around over the next 50 years. Might Montgomery add another half-million people? Another million? It’s impossible to say.

Since the pressures for growth are mostly beyond our control, wouldn’t it be best to allow the region to grow organically, rather than trying to rush growth, or block it?

Maybe the I-95 corridor has an advantage when it comes to development of business and commerce. Maybe Montgomery County has an advantage as an excellent place to live.

When good companies want to locate in Montgomery County, we should welcome them. But it doesn’t make sense to encourage growth on steroids, or to get into a bidding war with other counties.

Jobs are a critical need, but so is housing. The exact location of jobs is not critical, as long as they’re within commuting distance. Montgomery residents moved here because they want a good place to live and excellent schools. They knew from the start that they’d be commuting. They don’t necessarily need their jobs to be in the county.

Fortunately, the Intercounty Connector and the Purple Line will connect Montgomery County with the I-95 corridor in both north and south. The improved transportation network will make it easier for people who live in Montgomery to get to jobs in Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore, and vice versa. No need to treat our neighbors as rivals. A cooperative approach would enable the region to grow organically, with a balance of businesses for people to work in, and houses for people to live in. It’s a win-win.

Election year 2014 is an opportunity for decision-making. We only get this opportunity once every four years. But I’m afraid most residents are disengaged from politics.

Assuming that continued growth is virtually inevitable, the question is:  What kind of growth and development do the people who live and vote in Montgomery County prefer, and how much? And what do the candidates think?

Is Montgomery County home sweet home, or an economic engine. Perhaps it can be both. What do you think.

Contact: BJohnHayden@icloud.com

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Top Four Southern Maryland Young Guns

1. Duwane Rager– Sue Kullen is one of three real pick up opportunities for Team Blue this year–the others are Nick Scarpelli and Patrick Murray. Duwane, her Campaign Manager, stands to benefit immensely, if she pulls it off. Duwane is also the President of the Southern Maryland Young Dems and a member of the Calvert Central Committee.

Anonymous The Southern Maryland Young Democrats President, a member of the Calvert County Democratic Central Committee and the Campaign Manager for Sue Kullen’s campaign for Delegate.  He is a great guy and someone who is really going places in the region.

2. Scott Moore – Scott’s a rare breed in Maryland Politics–a professional. He’s done work for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus and the Virginia House Democratic Caucus. I’ve always felt that out of state work is a signal of great talent.

3. Ben Goldstein-Smith – Super nice, solid dude. Currently managing Steny Hoyer’s reelection.  I think the quote speaks more to his talents than I ever could.

Anonymous: Four years ago, Ben was a field coordinator on Nancy King’s Senate re-election. This year, he is serving in his second year as Executive Director of Hoyer for Congress. Talk about moving quick.

4. Anne Klase – Anne is part of Comptroller Peter Franchot’s small, close knit circle (along with Andrew Friedson and Len Foxwell).

Anonymous: Anne is District 30’s go-to. Hardworking, balanced, and liked by everyone.

Anonymous – works for the Comptroller (floats between the campaign and the office) but don’t hold that against her. She’ll be elected to the AAC Central Committee in June. In a county with few strong Dems (and the strong ones can sometimes be divisive), Anne is universally liked and respected. She is young (23/4) and has a long career ahead in AA politics.

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Thoughts on the D18 Delegate Fracas

Recently, Candidate Rick Kessler launched an attack against incumbent Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez for traveling to El Salvador as part of a delegation invited by the Salvadoran parliament to observe the legislative election. CASA Director Gustavo Torres criticized Rick’s statements in the strongest terms (see Rick’s reply here).

An interesting analysis of the politics of Rick’s choice to make an issue out of Ana’s travel from my email:

I had not seen Rick Kessler‘s attack on Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez.  Beyond my disagreement with the point he was trying to make, I don’t get it as a political tactic.  She was the first place finisher in the 2010 primary, not the third, so it seems likely that if you were picking someone to target [it wouldn’t be Ana].  So beyond angering at least one group of voters, what does he hope to accomplish?

A serious candidate, as Kessler appears to be, can’t seriously think he’ll beat Del. Gutierrez, so he must hope that by making this kind of attack he can get some Waldstreicher or Carr voters to give him their third vote.  The funny thing about that, given the approx. 1100 vote gap between Gutierrez and Carr, and the 500 vote gap between Gutierrez and Waldstreicher, is that if the strategy works he’s more likely to take down one of the other incumbents than Gutierrez.

A plausible analysis of the potential impact.

Others were taken aback by Gustavo’s claim that Rick’s attack was race-baiting. District 18 Resident Molly Hauck sent me a letter that included this paragraph:

[Mr. Torres] called Mr. Kessler‘s opinion “thinly disguised race-baiting.” I find this offensive and incendiary. If Ana Sol Gutierrez were to disagree with Mr. Kessler, would we attribute her opinion to his race, religion, country of origin, age, sex, or other personal characteristic? No. It would simply be described as a difference of opinion. When people play the race card, it creates conflict and increases discomfort between different ethnic groups. It is destructive. I hope that if in the future Mr. Torres disagrees with what a candidate says that he will find a different way of expressing it.

My own view is that Rick’s attack was a political mistake in a couple of different ways. First, his original statement suggested merely that Ana left for El Salvador only to vote but did not also mention that she was part of an official delegation to observe the elections and invited by the Salvadoran National Assembly and with the knowledge and approval of the the House Speaker.

Democracy promotion, particularly in a country where many of her constituents have close ties and fled for reasons related to a past civil war and human rights abuses, is a worthy public goal. While I can see why some might think she should stay in Maryland, this set her travel in a very different light.

Even more important, while I understand the desire of challengers to stand out from the pack, attacks generally don’t pay in these multi-candidate delegate elections. Instead of alienating supporters of another candidate, challengers should want to go around and get their votes too because voters possess multiple votes.

On the other hand, precisely because of the ability to give a very good explanation for Ana’s travel, Gustavo’s reply was overkill and polarizing. While it may galvanize support among some Latinos for Ana, it also left some whites, including some of Ana’s supporters, with a bad taste in their mouth.

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Top Eight Young Guns of Baltimore City

1. Cory McCray – As far as I’m concerned, there is not a single person in Baltimore (or Maryland) who doesn’t think Cory McCray will win a seat in the legislature on June 24th. One incumbent actually dropped out to avoid facing him in the primary–and I don’t think anyone blames her. Cory has been a recognized leader in the IBEW for years. He’s also infectiously charming. Future Mayor?

Anonymous: Cory is a graduate of a five-year apprenticeship program with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 24. For the past four years before becoming a candidate in Baltimore’s  District 45 you could not say union organizing in Baltimore without mentioning Cory’s name. Corey also is the co creator of the B.E.S.T. Democratic Club.

2. Dy Reed – The eternally savvy in-house lobbyist for the Maryland Department of Human Resources. Currently in law school at the University of Baltimore, she attended Columbia University for undergrad. Incredible potential.

Anonymous: When Dy isn’t lobbying in Annapolis in her official capacity as government relations rep for the Maryland HR, she is one of the most active members of the Baltimore City Young Dems. Dy was also recently recognized for her work in Baltimore by the B.E.S.T. Democratic Club.

3. Brian Hammock – I’m reasonably certain that Brian was the youngest statewide field director in the country in 2006 when he oversaw the ground game for O’Malley’s first statewide run. After a stint in the Governor’s office, he’s practicing law with Mid-Atlantic powerhouse Venable LLP. He’ll be an insider from city hall to the statehouse until the day he dies.

4. Matt Stegman – The nicest, funniest dude in Maryland politics. With a resume that includes lots of real races both in Maryland (O’Malley and Kratovil) and in more competitive states (Ohio and Pennsylvania). he currently works for House Environmental Matters Committee Chair (and contender for the Speaker’s Chair) Maggie McIntosh. At night, he goes to the University of Baltimore Law School (a.k.a. finishing school for lobbyists).

Anonymous: Like his boss – smart, progressive, & has the best sense of humor in Annapolis.

5. Liz Richards – Liz is a former DSCC independent expenditures staffer who is currently managing Brooke Lierman’s surefire delegate campaign in District 46. I fail to see how they lose that race, and Liz should be well positioned to capitalize on the victory.

6. Benjamin Smith – The Student Government President at UMD Law School is already a published author (the book was about community agriculture). He has 2018 written all over him. Kentucky native but looking to move up in Charm City.

Anonymous: Ben recently moved to Maryland to attend law school, and he has quickly asserted himself in the political community. Ben makes no secret that he holds deep political ambitions in the state of Maryland, and in Baltimore, in particular. Look for him to make a run for elected office shortly after he graduates law school and passes the bar.

7. Anthony Jones – This Baltimore City native and Martha McKenna protege previously worked for US Senator Ben Cardin and Comptroller Peter Franchot. Someone to have on your side in the upcoming 2016 municipal elections.

8. Tashea Brodgins – Currently, she works at the Department of State and was previously with the Executive Office of The President. Tashea was the President of the Baltimore City Young Democrats for five or six years–A remarkable run for an organization known for high turn over–and remains tied in locally as a member of the City Central Committee.

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Duchy v. Roger: The Verdict

duchyandrogerSuch a bad photo, they can agree that they hate it

Last night, District 1 Candidates Duchy Trachtenberg and Roger Berliner debate in the Town Hall of the Town of Chevy Chase. I live tweeted the debate, so can follow the blow-by-blow there. Overall, it was “disappointingly cordial” in the eye of one observer looking for more heat and light and less combative than the debates in District 5 according to reports.

So who won?

Sorry to disappoint but it was more or less a draw. Here are some quick takeaways:

Best Moment: When asked about the event that changed their life the most, Duchy spoke about her son’s mental illness and how it led to her involvement in NAMI. It was honest, authentic, and the one moment when there was a moment of real connection.

Honest Moment: Duchy called the race a “battle royale” between the government employee and school system unions. It’s one of those truths that is increasingly obvious but that few want to say out loud. No doubt others will label it a gaffe for exactly this reason but the straightforward honesty was refreshing.

Missed Opportunity: Roger attacked Duchy’s support for the restoration of effects bargaining despite the decision by the voters repeatedly and effectively. Duchy could have countered effectively with Roger’s willingness to overturn the referendum on ambulance fees. Instead, she went with unconvincing speculation that the resulting decline in police morale has caused crime to rise.

Roger’s Strengths: He managed to disagree with Duchy while appearing calm and civil yet still setting himself apart crisply from her on certain key issues, such as effects bargaining. Roger was also good at simultaneously calling for working for common ground but also standing up for the public interest, as in Ten Mile Creek. His final words about fighting special interests trying to oust him were among his best in the debate.

Duchy’s Strengths: Conversely, Duchy managed to attack calmly  without appearing too disagreeable–a very difficult line to walk, especially for a challenger who simply has to differentiate herself from the incumbent in order to convince voters to fire him. She came across well.

Roger’s Weaknesses: Was it smart to repeatedly attack Maintenance of Effort? Voters have no idea what you’re talking about but it sure tees off MCEA. That endorsement is still out there and one would think it’s Roger’s to lose, especially after Duchy characterized the budget as a tradeoff between schools and the rest of the budget in a way that should make MCEA worry.

Duchy’s Weaknesses: She just refused to take a real position and called for bringing people together on way too many issues (and more often than Roger). You can do that on some issues but not every issue. The tactic of handing out a list of her and Roger’s contributions from developers offended some and was unconvincing as the last reporting period was in January.

In Attendance: Nice to finally meet Brian Kildee and Liz Matory after the debate. Also in attendance: George Leventhal, Almina Khorikiwala, Pat Burda, Linna Barnes, Pat Baptiste, Cindy Gibson, Jon Gerson, Andy Harney, Jonathan Sachs and many others. And last, but not least, thanks to Charles Duffy for moderating. Great to see so many come out despite the torrential rains.

Note: I’m supporting Roger but have tried to call it as I see it.

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Maryland Politics Watch

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