Tag Archives: Adam Pagnucco

Gino Threatens Reznik

By Adam Pagnucco.

In a statement on the Facebook page of political blogger Ryan Miner, MCGEO President Gino Renne has vowed to defeat Delegate Kirill Reznik (D-39) in next year’s election.  In response to a post about Reznik’s decision not to run for Congress, Renne wrote to Reznik:

Thanks for your unproductive representation. I’m one of your constituents who believes you bring no value to our district’s representation in Annapolis. You were appointed to the seat which gave you the advantage of incumbency. This time around there are several quality candidates running for delegate in our district. I and many others intend to do whatever is necessary to unseat you. District 39 can do better and deserves better than you.

You now have the benefit of more unsolicited intel.

MCGEO once supported Reznik, giving him five contributions totaling $4,100 between 2007 and 2011.  What is their problem with him now?  Renne is not shy so we will probably find out!  Perhaps his casus belli includes Reznik’s support for Delegate Bill Frick’s End the Monopoly bill, a piece of legislation so objectionable to Renne that he famously promised to investigate the lifestyles of its supporters.

Few interest group leaders make such open threats against incumbents.  That’s because defeating incumbents is difficult and MCGEO is no better at it than anyone else.  In recent years, the incumbents MCGEO has tried to defeat include Council Member Phil Andrews (D-3) in 2006, Delegate Al Carr (D-18) in 2010, Senator Nancy King (D-39) in 2010, Board of Education member Mike Durso in 2010, Council Member Roger Berliner (D-1) in 2014 and Senator Rich Madaleno (D18) in 2014.  All of these candidates won by double digits except Carr and King.  Berliner won by 57 points even though his opponent’s campaign was managed by MCGEO’s former Executive Director.  MCGEO has supported two recent successful challengers to incumbents: Delegate Roger Manno (D-19) over Senator Mike Lenett and Hans Riemer over Council Member Duchy Trachtenberg (At-Large), both in 2010.  Lenett lost in part because he blew himself up with horrible mailers such as this one about the Holocaust.  Trachtenberg lost in part because she inexplicably hoarded $146,000 which could have been spent on campaign activity.

Here’s the problem with making threats of this kind: you have to follow through and win or you look weak.  Reznik has none of the weaknesses that sometimes result in incumbent losses in Montgomery County: he’s not a Republican, he’s not lazy and he doesn’t have legions of enemies at home.  It’s also not clear that there are enough strong open seat candidates in District 39 to seriously threaten him.  In fact, the smart move for the challengers is to court him and the other incumbents in hope of inclusion on their slate.  All of this is good for Kirill Reznik and not so good for Gino Renne.

Group of Elected Democrats Agrees to Withhold Gubernatorial Endorsements

By Adam Pagnucco.

A group of elected Democrats from around the state has issued a joint statement that they will not endorse in the upcoming gubernatorial primary until the filing deadline has passed and one or more debates have occurred.  Following is their press release.

*****

For Immediate Release

May 27, 2017

Contact: Delegate David Moon – david@davidmoon.us

Maryland Elected Democrats Commit to Delay

Endorsements in 2018 Gubernatorial Primary

16 Democratic Officials Agree to Wait Until Debates Happen & Filing Deadline Passes

TAKOMA PARK, MD – Today sixteen Maryland Democratic elected officials announced an agreement to delay endorsing candidates in the 2018 gubernatorial primary until: 1) the February 2018 filing deadline has passed, and 2) one or more debates have occurred. The diverse group of Democrats were elected to serve in federal, state, county, and city government and come from a range of communities throughout Maryland.

Every Democratic official who signed the letter has a different reason for joining the effort. Some are available for comment:

Mayor Jacob Day (Salisbury) – jday@salisbury.md

Delegate Kathleen Dumais (Montgomery) – kathleen.dumais@house.state.md.us

Delegate Robbyn Lewis (Baltimore) – robbyn.lewis@house.state.md.us

City Councilmember Robert Wu (Gaithersburg) – rwu@gaithersburgmd.gov

City Councilmember Ryan Dorsey (Baltimore) – ryan.dorsey@baltimorecity.gov

The full text of the letter and list of signers appears below:

Grassroots Democracy Commitment for Maryland Governor

We the undersigned elected Democrats in Maryland, commit not to make an endorsement in the 2018 race for Governor until the candidate filing deadline has passed and there have been one or more debates between the filed candidates.

We are in a period of dramatic grassroots expansion of our party, and we believe it would be wise to provide all rank and file Maryland Democrats — including those who are engaging for the first time — the opportunity to help shape the future of the party.  At this early stage in the nomination battle, endorsements may create a primary among insiders that reduces voter input and unnecessarily keeps potential candidates out of the race.

Moreover, delaying endorsements will push those who seek to lead Maryland Democrats to articulate a broad and compelling vision and agenda for our party, debate the issues in detail, and compete effectively for support throughout the state.

In short, we think an open and competitive gubernatorial primary will help us win in November and will encourage candidates to develop strategies that harness grassroots energy to strengthen the Maryland Democratic Party.

Let’s use our resources now to strengthen the organizing base and structure of our Party so we can make the best possible choice for a standard-bearer in next year’s critical primary election.

Signed,

Mayor Jacob Day (Salisbury)

County Councilmember Dannielle Glaros (Prince George’s)

City Councilmember Ryan Dorsey (Baltimore)

City Councilmember Robert Wu (Gaithersburg)

Delegate Erek Barron (Prince George’s)

Delegate Luke Clippinger (Baltimore)

Delegate Kathleen Dumais (Montgomery)

Delegate Sheila Hixson (Montgomery)

Delegate Ariana Kelly (Montgomery)

Delegate Brooke Lierman (Baltimore)

Delegate Jazz Lewis (Prince George’s)

Delegate Robbyn Lewis (Baltimore)

Delegate David Moon (Montgomery)

Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins (Montgomery)

State Senator Will Smith (Montgomery)

Congressman Jamie Raskin (Montgomery)

Hucker, Riemer Targeted by Enviros

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), one of Maryland’s major environmental organizations, is targeting County Council Members Tom Hucker (D-5) and Hans Riemer (At-Large) for not supporting a bill that would have required the county’s benefits funds to divest their holdings of fossil fuel company stocks.  The bill, lead-sponsored by Council Members Roger Berliner (D-1) and Nancy Navarro (D-4) and co-sponsored by Council Member Marc Elrich (At-Large), was converted into a non-binding resolution because it could not gather five affirmative votes.  The resolution was passed today.

Hucker has received numerous environmental endorsements during his history as a candidate.  The Maryland League of Conservation Voters gave him a 99% lifetime score when he was in the House of Delegates.  Riemer was endorsed by the Sierra Club in 2010 but not in 2014.

Following is the text of the blast email from CCAN Executive Director Mike Tidwell.  CCAN is also asking its supporters to email Hucker.

*****

Subject Line: Time to keep up the divestment fight.

Dear ,

First, the good news: We made real progress today in divesting our county’s massive pension funds from dirty fossil fuels. The Montgomery County Council just passed a resolution encouraging the employee pension boards to finally STOP buying and holding stocks in companies like ExxonMobil and Arch Coal. This is a positive step.

However, it’s only a resolution. It’s not the stronger legislation – an actual bill – that CCAN and many of you had asked for.

By a vote of 8-to-1, the Council approved today the carbon divestment resolution sponsored by Council President Roger Berliner (thank you, Roger!). It asks the county pension boards to report in six months (and every 12 months after that) on efforts to divest from the 200 biggest global warming polluters. With record high temperatures, rising seas, and ExxonMobil basically running our nation’s foreign policy, it is outrageous that our county pension funds hold over $70 million in mega-pollution stock. It’s YOUR county money, after all.

Please thank your Councilmember Tom Hucker for voting for the divestment resolution. But remind Tom he’s pledged to get real results from this resolution. We need action, not delay, on dirty energy investments.

Over the past several months, many of you have attended town hall meetings and contacted the MoCo Council on this issue. You demanded that actual legislation – not just a resolution – be passed to move our county toward divestment. Thank you for your citizen activism! And big thanks to Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Nancy Navarro, and Marc Elrich for sponsoring and supporting this legislation!

But Councilmembers Tom Hucker (D-Silver Spring) and Hans Riemer (D-at large) never supported the stronger bill. And because they were swing votes, the bill died. Instead, Councilmember Hucker repeatedly told CCAN and other advocates that a nonbinding resolution was his preference. He pledged to use the resolution as leverage and then lead the fight to demand that the county’s two pension boards actually divest in the coming months.

Our message to Tom Hucker: Thank you for your efforts and we look forward to the real results you’ve said could come from your preferred resolution approach. We now want to invite Councilmember Hucker to a countywide town hall meeting exactly six months from now, where he and Hans Reimer will have the opportunity to update citizens on their efforts to persuade the pension boards to voluntarily divest from high-polluting companies.

Please thank your Councilmember Tom Hucker for voting for the divestment resolution. But remind Tom he’s pledged to get real results from this resolution. We need action, not delay, on dirty energy investments!

A little background now. For too long, our county has sought to lead on climate change policy while also investing tens of millions of dollars in the very companies whose business plans and actions are causing the climate crisis. It’s wrong to profit from these companies – and we don’t need to. The evidence is clear that properly diversified funds perform as well or better without fossil fuel companies. We don’t need to invest in ExxonMobil to have a healthy pension system.

The good news is that pension divestment can be accomplished, as we have seen from just a few miles away. The D.C. Retirement Board eliminated direct investments in the 200 most harmful fossil fuel companies shortly after a divestment resolution passed the D.C. Council in 2014.

But we’ll need real commitment from Montgomery leaders like Hucker and Riemer – and pressure from citizens like you – to replicate the D.C. success here.

So, on we go. Change is never easy, even in a progressive county like ours. We’ll be in touch in the coming months to update you on the next phase of the divestment fight in Montgomery County. And in November we’ll invite you to the big town hall meeting where we hope our leaders can confirm the real progress they’ve said is possible in the coming months.

And thanks again for all you do!

Best,

Mike Tidwell

Executive Director

Khan Claims Endorsements Without Permission

By Adam Pagnucco.

In his emailed announcement of candidacy for a House seat in District 39, Hamza Khan claimed several endorsements from elected officials.  But there’s a problem: at least two of them were cited without permission.

An excerpt from Khan’s announcement email.

Senator Will Smith (D-20), who was listed as an endorser, told us, “I wish Hamza well in his endeavor. However, I did not know about the email and I was not asked to have my name included.  I have not endorsed anyone in that race.”

Delegate Eric Luedtke (D-14), who was also listed as an endorser, said, “I like Hamza a lot, I think he’s a passionate and effective advocate for the community, and I think he would make a great Delegate. He and I have had conversations in the past about an endorsement but we haven’t reached that point yet. The inclusion of my name was a simple error at this point.”

We contacted the other elected officials listed in the announcement asking whether they had endorsed Khan.  To this point, none of them have replied.

This has happened before in Montgomery County.  Lord knows that candidates have made more serious mistakes than this in the past.  But it’s also an easy issue to avoid.  If you are running for office and looking to release a list of endorsers, just contact them and ask, “May I list you as endorsing my candidacy in my announcement?”  Better yet, do it in writing so that there is no dispute over the answer.

UPDATE

We received this note from Hamza Khan:

Thank you for publishing my campaign announcement. As embarrassing as this is: I have to inform you that it turns out two of my endorsements from elected officials are incorrect. At this time, Senator Will Smith, Delegate Eric Luedtke and Delegate Bilal Ali have not formally endorsed me. I was out of the office most of today, and so it took me until now to write to you and issue this retraction. I regret the error, and am thankful that Eric, Will and Bilal contacted me to clear up this matter.

As Adam pointed out in his blog post earlier about “endorsements without permission” — this was an avoidable mistake, and mistakes do happen. But they shouldn’t happen to someone who’s been involved in politics as long as I have. I apologize to you and your readers for this error. Being forthright and honest in the aftermath is all I can do to rectify the error, and I appreciate your willingness as bloggers to allow me the chance to try and rectify the mistake.

With Great Respect,

Hamza Khan

Editor’s Note (i.e. David Lublin): We all make mistakes. How one deals with them says a lot about a person. In this case, while the errors were regrettable, I applaud Hamza’s taking responsibility and look forward to seeing the campaign as it moves forward.

A Critical Moment for MoCo’s Smart Growth Movement

By Adam Pagnucco.

2018 is shaping up to be a big year in MoCo politics.  The Executive seat and four seats on the County Council have opened up due to term limits.  Dozens of people are considering running for county office and some are already doing so.  Discussions are underway among both business and progressive groups on how to prepare for the elections.  But one critical group is so far conspicuously absent:

MoCo’s smart growth community.

Smart growth advocates have some big asks of county elected officials.  They want the county to finance a bus-rapid transit network that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.  That is at the same time that the county is trying hard to pay for what could be billions in school construction costs.  Smart growth groups are also seeking to terminate M-83, a planned Upcounty highway with significant support among its prospective users.  The current County Council is dealing with the Bethesda master plan and the next one will be deciding a host of others.  And at the state level, smart growth advocates are trying to convince the Governor and the General Assembly to support dedicated funding for WMATA.  Any one of these issues would be serious asks, but together they comprise an agenda that is expensive, difficult and costly in political capital.

When other groups have similar hard asks, they participate in the electoral process to enhance their prospects.  Business entities contribute money.  Labor unions contribute money, make endorsements and run direct actions by their members.  Other groups like the Sierra Club, NARAL, the volunteer Fire Fighters, the League of Conservation Voters, NOW and Casa in Action play too.  The smart growth movement does none of this.  That’s turning into a serious problem.

Many of the pieces are in place for the smart growth community to be politically potent.  They have a coherent, well-developed ideology with potential appeal to many.  They have a flagship blog, Greater Greater Washington, with a vast readership around the region.  They have several effective advocacy groups like the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Purple Line NOW and Action Committee for Transit.  They have formed issue-based alliances with others including some parts of the business community, environmental groups and the anti-M-83 group TAME.  And they have substantial support for some of their priorities.

What they don’t do is direct political action.  There is no smart growth organization that makes endorsements, raises and contributes money and finances independent expenditure campaigns advocating for and against candidates.  The closest thing they have to a political tool is Action Committee for Transit’s scorecards, which are handed out sporadically and not mass emailed or mass mailed.  For politicians who take risks in supporting the smart growth agenda, there is no assurance of offsetting electoral rewards.  That is one reason why M-83 continues to survive despite the alleged opposition of six Council Members plus the County Executive.

Now consider the stakes.  The leading vote-getter in recent at-large elections is Council Member Marc Elrich, who has voted against three transit-oriented master plans along the Purple Line route and is a top-tier candidate for Executive.  Total Wine co-owner David Trone, who could potentially spend over $10 million if he runs for Executive, is an open M-83 supporter.  (See his tweet below.)  The views of many council candidates on smart growth issues are totally unknown.  One thing is sure: all of these candidates will hear from citizens who oppose the Purple Line, transit-oriented development, bus-rapid transit lines and any potential tax hike that will be needed to fix WMATA.  How much will they hear from supporters?

Because of the sheer number of open seats in the county, 2018 will be a watershed year in the history of MoCo politics.  Will it be a watershed year for the smart growth movement?  Or will it be a year in which candidates who pay lip service to smart growth priorities get elected and then water them down once in office, not fearing any consequences?

Smart growthers, that depends on you.  The time to step up is now.

FBI Raids Republican Campaign Firm

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Strategic Campaign Group, a political fundraising and consulting firm in Annapolis, has been raided by the FBI.  This story will surely play out more in coming months.  But as of this moment, what do we know about this firm?

Here are a few facts.

  1. Its founder is a long-time GOP operative.

Kelley Rogers, the firm’s owner, was once the National Political Director of the National Federation of Independent Business and has been a political operative for more than twenty years.  The company tends to work for Republicans and right-leaning organizations – but not exclusively.  The firm claims to be “the largest provider of Telephone Town Hall technology for Republican campaigns and conservative organizations in the United States.”

  1. The company has been active in Maryland.

State Board of Elections data indicates that the firm has been paid by a number of Maryland-based GOP clients, including Queen Anne’s County Commissioners Mark Anderson ($68,600 in 2014) and Steve Wilson ($47,505 in 2014), Republican House of Delegates Minority Leader Nic Kipke ($30,537 in 2014-2016), former Del. Ron George’s gubernatorial campaign ($6,654 in 2013-2014), the Republican House Caucus Committee ($2,964 in 2017) and former Montgomery County GOP Senate candidate Frank Howard ($1,085).  The Washington Post reports that the company worked in support of the Congressional campaigns of GOP Dels. Kathy Szeliga and Pat McDonough.  The firm has also worked for Democratic Prince George’s Sen. Anthony Muse ($2,000 in 2012), several Fire Fighters local unions and an independent expenditure committee financed by Penn National Gaming to oppose the 2012 gambling expansion referendum.  Outside of Maryland, the firm’s clients included firebrand neo-con John Bolton.  The company offers a large range of services to its clients, including mail, media, fundraising, printing and campaign materials and field expenses.

A fundraising solicitation sent by Kelley Rogers on behalf of Del. Nic Kipke.

  1. The company worked for White House party crasher Tareq Salahi’s campaign for Governor of Virginia.

Remember Tareq Salahi, the vintner who crashed a White House state dinner in 2009?  Three years later, Salahi ran for Governor of Virginia and hired Rogers as a senior consultant.  Salahi ran as an independent but could not get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.  His write-in candidacy drew less than 1% of the vote.  Salahi’s story had many twists and turns afterwards.

Rogers (right) with Gov. Larry Hogan at a fundraiser for MarylandReporter.com.  Photo credit: Office of the Governor.

  1. Former Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli sued Rogers in 2014, alleging he was running a “Scam PAC.”

Even as Rogers was named as a senior consultant by Salahi, one of Salahi’s opponents – GOP nominee Ken Cuccinelli – alleged that Rogers was using a PAC to raise money in his name.  Cuccinelli sued Rogers, his company and others the year after losing his race claiming:

(A) substantial proportion of the approximately $2.2 million that defendants raised through political fundraising in 2013 was directly attributable to solicitations invoking Ken Cuccinelli, as Virginia’s gubernatorial election was the marquee contested race of American politics in 2013… Defendants, however, have admitted that they did not use the money raised invoking Ken Cuccinelli to actually aid the Cuccinelli campaign, either through direct contributions to the campaign or through independent expenditures in support of the campaign, other than a single $10,000 contribution to the campaign on October 4, 2013 – which amounted to less than one-half of one percent of the approximately $2.2 million that defendants raised in 2013.

The lawsuit was settled a year later with Cuccinelli proclaiming victory.  In the Post’s report, Rogers himself speculates that this incident may be connected to the raid.

Dan Reed for Planning Board

By Adam Pagnucco.

One of Montgomery County’s most remarkable activist careers was started when a bus failed to show up on Route 29.  Yes, it’s true.  Most of us would simply grouse about it for a few minutes, call a cab and move on with our lives.  But Dan Reed wrote about it on the Internet and wondered, “Why is Route 29 the only road across the Northwest Branch? A ‘Route 29 spur’ was proposed as part of the County’s Master Plan for roads that would have connected University Boulevard to 29 north of Lockwood Drive, bypassing Four Corners and the Burnt Mills Dam. Of course, this was forty years ago. The Right-Of-Way probably no longer exists – but, boy, would it have saved a lot of trouble this morning.”  And so began one of MoCo’s greatest creative endeavors, Just Up the Pike.

Most people in MoCo who start out as transportation or land use activists begin local and stay local – very local.  They’re concerned with something that impacts their neighborhood.  That’s how Dan started, as someone who cared about his native East County and wanted to chronicle it, champion it and make sure it got the attention and respect it deserves.  But he didn’t stop there.  He wrote and wrote and grew and grew.  In his exploration of East County, he learned both about the technical aspects of transportation and land use planning as well as the differing views held by the many people who lived there.  He combined this with his education in architecture and planning at U-Maryland and the University of Pennsylvania to become one of MoCo’s preeminent story tellers, advocates and experts.  He also branched out to take on subjects including local history, education, demography and politics.  All of this has come to form a vision of MoCo combining the transit-oriented development and multi-modal priorities of the smart growth movement with the cultural sensibilities of millennials.  Very few people have accomplished such a body of work in this county as has Dan Reed.

Now Dan is applying for the Planning Board.  This is an immensely powerful position.  The five board members recommend master plans for the county’s communities to the council.  They also have input into the county’s budgetary and transportation priorities.  Finally, they approve specific plans for individual development projects that collectively and continuously transform the county.

Planning Board members, who are selected by the County Council, have been a diverse lot over the years.  They have included developers, attorneys, community activists, planning professionals and people of many other backgrounds.  But there has never been a Planning Board applicant quite like Dan.  It’s rare that one person would have a comparable background in leadership, vision, advocacy, writing and professional expertise all in one package – and to have those characteristics developed, not regionally or nationally, but right here in MoCo.  And from the perspective of diversity, few would argue that our county would benefit from the engagement of more young people and more African Americans, both groups of which Dan is a member.

As a blogger for more than a decade, Dan has a point of view.  But like all points of view, both its content and its expression are not universally appealing.  David Lublin identified several things Dan has said over the years about residents in the western parts of the county that they would understandably find to be displeasing.  Let’s consider Dan’s writing in context.  First, he began writing Just Up the Pike at the age of 18 and he wrote many of his posts in his early 20s.  Males of that age are not known for their judiciousness, discretion and restraint but Dan was better than most.  Dear reader – what were YOU doing at that age?  Your author admits nothing, and if my fraternity brothers post pictures here, they will be promptly deleted!  Second, Dan and I (and David Lublin) have written well over a thousand blog posts each over the last decade.  Surely there are a few things in such a vast body of work that we might look back on and think, “Hmmmm.  Maybe I would write that differently today, or maybe not at all.”  Does that invalidate the other 99% of content that might contain merit, and in Dan’s case, significant merit?  Reasonable people could disagree on that, but I would argue that with Dan, the 99% overwhelms the 1%.  And third, on those occasions when Dan has pointed out differences in education, income, school performance and other factors between the county’s regions, he was not wrong to do so.  Might there have been more tactful ways to express such perspectives?  Perhaps, but there is not a single one of us who has a perfect record of doing so.  Dan may have some work to do on this, but so do I – and in our current benighted era of incivility, so do we all.

What all of this means is that Dan Reed is a human being – highly educated, ridiculously qualified and gifted, but human nonetheless.  Those of us who have read Just Up the Pike over the last decade have watched Dan grow up – a process that for the rest of us has mercifully occurred away from the Internet.  The person Dan is now is an ideal candidate for public service.  Few people combine his insight, vision, passion, knowledge and readiness.  MoCo is lucky to have him.

Dan Reed for Planning Board.

Could Anyone Stop David Trone in CD6?

By Adam Pagnucco.

The future plans of Congressman John Delaney remain unclear, but that has not stopped some potential candidates from expressing interest in his seat.  Two have filed paperwork to start raising money – Delegates Bill Frick (D-16) and Aruna Miller (D-15).  It’s time to examine what a potential open seat race in Congressional District 6 might look like.

Let’s begin by asking the obvious question: could anyone stop David Trone?

Trone, a co-owner of Total Wine and second-place finisher in the 2016 CD8 Democratic primary, is known to be looking at races for both Montgomery County Executive and CD6.  Trone shares certain characteristics with Delaney: both are successful, center-left businessmen who live in Potomac and have been active political contributors at the national level before running for office.  Delaney’s 25-point victory in 2012 over establishment favorite Senator Rob Garagiola (D-15) is no doubt encouraging to Trone because it provides a model for his own potential candidacy.  So far, five Montgomery County state legislators – Frick, Miller, Delegates Kirill Reznik (D-19) and Andrew Platt (D-17) and Senator Roger Manno (D-19) – have told the Sun that they would consider running in CD6.  There may be others as well as several Republicans.  But let’s start with the MoCo Five.  How do they compare to Trone?

Money

This is the elephant in the room.  Trone set a record for a self-funding candidate for Congress last year.  Here is how his potential MoCo rivals stack up to him in lifetime campaign receipts.

Money doesn’t make Trone invincible.  Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20) raised $2 million in the CD8 primary, was outspent by Trone by more than 6-1 and still defeated him by 7 points.  But money is a big advantage for Trone and none of these MoCo legislators has proven that they can raise anywhere near as much money as Raskin.

Geography

Unlike Trone, the five MoCo legislators represent legislative districts and presumably have relationships with their constituents.  Here is the number of Democratic voters in the portions of their districts that overlapped with CD6 during the last mid-term primary, which occurred in 2014.

None of these legislators represents a dominant share of CD6’s Democratic electorate.  Two of them – Miller (20%) and Reznik (16%) – represent a larger share of CD6 than Raskin did of CD8 (14%).  But Raskin’s in-district supporters were intensely invested in him and he was able to reach into other districts through many surrogates.  These legislators would have to do something similar in order to acquire an advantage over the others.

Now, what of the 43% of CD6 Democratic voters who do not live in any of these districts?  Aside from the handful who reside in four precincts in Legislative District 14, they live in the district’s four Western Maryland counties.  In the CD8 primary, Trone won absolute majorities of the vote in both Carroll and Frederick Counties.  Trone also won pluralities in Damascus, Gaithersburg, Glenmont/Norbeck, Potomac and Rockville.  The implication is clear: if each of these legislators gets in and holds most of their home territory, Trone could still win by running up big margins in Western Maryland and picking up pockets of votes in UpCounty MoCo.  Let’s remember that MANY of these residents were exposed to Trone’s millions of dollars in broadcast TV commercials last year.

Electoral Experience

Most of Trone’s potential rivals have not won an intense, hard-fought election like last year’s race in CD8.  Frick and Reznik were originally appointed to their seats.  Miller was inducted onto the District 15 incumbents’ slate in 2010 prior to winning an open Delegate seat.  The exception is Manno, who withstood some of the most depraved political attacks in recent MoCo history when he took out incumbent Senator Mike Lenett (D-19).  But CD6 is much larger than D19 and the potential reach of Manno’s prodigious door knocking – his favorite campaign tactic – is in question.

And then there is Trone himself.  After three months of all-out campaigning, Trone eclipsed a field of initially better-known candidates to finish on the brink of victory.  Our interview with Trone last year is instructive.  As a self-made man, Trone has a swagger that is off-putting to some who meet him.  But he has also endured significant tragedy and failure in his life that was key to his later triumphs.  Trone has an almost preternatural ability to reflect, learn and adapt.  His cover picture on Twitter even advises visitors to “Try Things… Get Comfortable with Failure.”

The thought of a wiser, more experienced and more strategic Trone should inspire dread in potential opponents.

And yet, Trone can be beaten.  Let’s look at the man who did it.  Jamie Raskin started out as one of MoCo’s best-ever challengers when he defeated twenty-year incumbent District 20 Senator Ida Ruben.  He spent the next ten years building progressive networks at both the national and local levels.  The former helped him raise millions of dollars; the latter gave him a grass-roots army that has been seldom seen in this county.  No prospective CD6 candidate checks all those boxes.

It will take two things to stop Trone if he runs for an open seat in CD6.  First, most of the MoCo legislators mentioned in the Sun would have to not run, thereby giving the remaining candidates room for electoral growth.  And second, one of Trone’s rivals would have to run the race of his or her life, far exceeding previous performances.

Raskin proved that it can be done.  But can it be done again?

Is John Delaney Running for President?

By Adam Pagnucco.

Updates:

A Delaney spokesman told the Daily Record’s Bryan Sears, “Congressman Delaney does not have an office in Iowa or any other place other than Maryland and Washington, D.C… As he has said before, the Congressman and his wife plan to make an announcement regarding a possible run for Maryland’s governor by the end of June.”  Note that while this statement denies opening an Iowa office, it does not specifically deny an interest in the Presidency.

Also, Delaney’s campaign sent out a blast email excoriating the Republicans’ plan for health care today.  The email was titled, “TrumpCare – It’s Back!”  It began by saying, “They’re at it again. Any minute now, Donald Trump and House Republicans could force a vote to eliminate healthcare for 24 million Americans. This time they made the bill even worse. They’re trying to rally enough votes to weaken protections for pre-existing conditions, those that prevent discrimination against women, seniors, and middle-class families. We need to tell them enough is enough.”

Original Post:

Western Maryland blogger Ryan Miner had an interesting post on Congressional District 6 Congressman John Delaney yesterday.  Miner quoted former Attorney General Doug Gansler predicting that Delaney will be announcing for President.  He also posted a short Twitter video in which MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews (the husband of the current Maryland Democratic Party chair) alleged that Delaney is opening an office in Iowa.

Is this just a crazy rumor or is there something to this?

Consider the following.

  1. Delaney has been involved in Iowa politics before.

In 2013, Delaney visited Iowa to campaign for Jim Mowrer, an Iraq War veteran and Democratic candidate for Congress against arch-conservative incumbent Steve King.  Delaney also made two separate contributions to Mowrer of $2,600 each on 9/5/13 and 9/8/13.  Mowrer lost the 2014 general election to King by 12 points.  Mowrer challenged a different Republican incumbent two years later and lost again.

  1. Delaney has played in other places too.

Delaney does not have a leadership PAC to send money to other politicians like many Members of Congress do, but he has made several individual contributions to other candidates since being elected.  Recipients include former Florida Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy ($2,700 in 2016), Virginia Senator Mark Warner ($2,600 in 2013), California Congressman Raul Ruiz ($1,000 in 2013) and former Illinois Congressman William Enyart ($1,000 in 2013).  In addition, Delaney’s wife has contributed to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker ($2,600 in 2013) and Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell ($1,000 in 2014).

  1. Delaney is continuing to raise federal money.

Delaney’s fundraising schedule includes at least three near-term events.  A May 2nd event in D.C. was hosted by lawyers Bert Pena and Joseph A. Muldoon III.  A May 18th event will be held at the Delaneys’ Capitol Hill townhouse.  And a June 9-11 event is scheduled at the Delaneys’ home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  Look carefully at the language of the solicitation for this last event.  It is an “inaugural beach weekend,” implying that there will be similar events in the future.

What does all this add up to?  Maybe not much, but none of this is consistent with a run for Governor.  It is especially interesting that Delaney is continuing to raise money for his federal account but, as of this writing, has no state-level account for a gubernatorial run.  And if Delaney runs for President, what does that mean for his Congressional seat?  Would he give it up to run full-time?  Or would it be smarter to hold onto it as a platform going into the 2020 election?  One thing is for sure – a risky run for Governor would make no sense in a Presidential scenario.  A candidate who loses in his own state has little potential as a national prospect.

No doubt, more will be coming out soon!

Poll Launched in CD6

By Adam Pagnucco.

A poll has been commissioned in Congressional District 6.  Congressman John Delaney currently represents the district, but he is considering a run for Governor and many potential candidates are mulling a run for what would be his open seat.  The pollster called Merry Eisner Heidorn, a former General Assembly staffer and school board candidate, and she kindly provided details of the call.

The call was made by a live caller and lasted twenty minutes.  The first three minutes collected demographic information, including age, gender, zip code, county and party.  This was followed by questions on voting tendency, including whether the respondent understood what primaries were, voted for candidates or only on party label, had voted in gubernatorial as well as presidential elections, intended to vote in the 2018 primary and had voted in past primaries.  Then the caller asked about the respondent’s opinions on Donald Trump, Larry Hogan, the economy and other issues.

Next, the caller asked, “So if John Delaney runs for Governor, would you support his run for Governor?”  This was followed by five to seven minutes of favorability questions on three potential candidates to succeed him – Total Wine co-owner David Trone, State Senator Roger Manno (D-19) and Delegate Bill Frick (D-16).  The caller then zeroed in on Trone, asking about a series of issues pertaining to him and then asking how each impacted the respondent’s favorability towards Trone and the likelihood to vote for him.  The specific issues raised about Trone included the fact that he had never held office, had contributed money on behalf of his business to politicians of both parties, had run for office before and was a “successful businessman from Potomac.”  At the conclusion of the call, the pollster asked, “Now that we have talked about David Trone, has your desire to vote for him changed?”

This is a fairly standard bio- and message-testing poll.  The pollster is attempting to gauge support for a possible run in CD6 both across the entire sample and among a number of key sub-groups.  Trone is known to be considering a run in CD6 and has polled previously on the Montgomery County Executive race.  This poll along with Trone’s establishment of campaign office space will fuel further speculation on what race, if any, he will enter.  The entire Montgomery County political class is watching.