Tag Archives: Ana Sol Gutierrez

Campaign Finance Reports: Council Districts, May 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

Today we look at fundraising by the Council District candidates.  As with our prior posts on the County Executive and Council At-Large races, we start with a note on methodology.  First, we calculate total raised and total spent across the entire cycle and not just over the course of one report period.  Second, we separate self-funding from funds raised from others.  Self-funding includes money from spouses.  Third, for publicly financed candidates, we include public matching fund distributions that have been requested but not deposited in raised money and in the column entitled “Cash Balance With Requested Public Contributions.”  That gives you a better idea of the true financial position of publicly financed campaigns.

Let’s start with the Council District 1 candidates.

Former Comptroller staffer Andrew Friedson is easily the fundraising leader.  His total raised for the cycle ($333,081) exceeds any of the Council At-Large candidates and his cash on hand ($245,290) almost equals the cash on hand of the next three candidates combined ($251,205).  Friedson has raised $159,257 from individuals in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Glen Echo, Cabin John, Kensington, Potomac and Poolesville, which represents 48% of his take.  That amount is not very different from the TOTAL fundraising from others reported by former Kensington Mayor Pete Fosselman ($174,996) and former Planning Board Member Meredith Wellington ($138,820).  Of Friedson’s 1,074 contributions, 702 were for $150 or less.

The endorsement leader in District 1 is Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, who has the support of MCEA, Casa in Action, SEIU Locals 500 and 32BJ, Progressive Maryland and MCGEO.  But Gutierrez’s main base of voters is Wheaton, which is not in the district, and she does not have a lot of money for mail.  Friedson got a big boost when the Post endorsed him.

Reggie Oldak faces a cash crunch at the end because of her decision to participate in public financing.  Unlike Friedson, Fosselman or Wellington, she can’t get big corporate or self-financed checks to catch up late and she has already received the maximum public matching funds available ($125,000).  District 1 has by far more Democratic voters than any other district and past candidates, like incumbent Roger Berliner and former incumbent Howie Denis, raised comparable amounts to the at-large candidates.  The next County Council should consider whether to adjust the matching funds cap to avoid handicapping future District 1 candidates who enroll in public financing.

Now let’s look at the Council District 3 candidates.

Incumbent Sidney Katz and challenger Ben Shnider have raised comparable amounts for the cycle.  But Shnider’s burn rate has been much higher (partly driven by early mail) and Katz has more than twice his cash on hand.

Katz’s strength is not simply his incumbency but the fact that he has been a county or municipal elected official in the district longer than Shnider has been alive.  That shows up in their fundraising.  Katz is in public financing and recently announced that he will receive the maximum public matching funds contribution of $125,000.  Of Shnider’s $199,454 total raised, just $14,639 (7%) came from individuals in Rockville, Gaithersburg, Washington Grove, Derwood and zip codes 20878 and 20906.  That is a huge gap in starting indigenous support that Shnider has to close.

Here are the summaries for Council Districts 2, 4 and 5.

Council District 5 challenger Kevin Harris qualified for public matching funds so he can send mail against incumbent Tom Hucker.  But we expect Hucker and his fellow council incumbents, Craig Rice and Nancy Navarro, to be reelected.

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Clash on the Issues, Part III: Blame It on the Alcohol

This is the third in a series about the issue positions of candidates in District 1 based on the debate hosted by Friends of White Flint. Today’s topic: what do the candidates think about the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control’s alcohol monopoly?

Time to Get Off the Sauce: Candidates for Privatization

Bringing levity to the debate on several occasions, Pete Fosselman started by bluntly stating “I like my liquor” to laughter from the crowd. He proposes letting the county retain control of hard liquor but privatizing the sale of beer and wine, arguing that the change would boost in Montgomery restaurants. As an industry that makes most of their money on alcohol sales, they watch this aspect of the business carefully.

Andrew Friedson spoke passionately in favor of privatization. Fighting back against those concerned about the loss of revenue generated by the monopoly, Friedson stated “I believe government should be judged on how well it serves people, not how well it makes money.” Moreover, he argued that the monopoly costs Montgomery revenue, as it is hard to explain why alcohol sales are 41% lower here than elsewhere in the region unless you think Montgomery has “a secret temperance movement.”

Meredith Wellington agreed with Friedson, saying thoughtfully that the monopoly is a symptom of the county’s problematic approach. Arguing that government can’t do everything, Wellington said that we want entrepreneurial people in the county and need to work with them to help us market the county to businesses.

Though concerned about losing the union jobs, Reggie Oldak also thinks the county should not be in the liquor business, pointing out that $30 million is not much in a $5.5 billion budget. She shouldn’t worry so much. Private liquor distributors are also unionized. Why should the county should favor jobs with one union over another?

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab, I Said No, No, No: Candidates against Privatization

Bill Cook believes that privatizing the liquor industry would be a huge loss for the county because we’d lose $30 million and those “great paying union jobs.” Taking perhaps an unusual tack, he then proceeded to attack of his own potential constituents, Total Wine Co-Owner David Trone, who lives and has located the headquarters of his business in District 1.

Stating that there is “nothing wrong” with the county selling liquor and endorsed by UFCW 1994 MCGEO, Ana Sol Gutiérrez favors modernization, not privatization. She says that “significant steps have been taken” in terms of improvements. I wonder if she also thinks Metro escalators rarely break down. Gutiérrez likes that we can take on new debt by bonding the revenue stream. In other words, the county is fiscally hooked on alcohol.

Jim McGee opposes privatization but favors modernization. Unfortunately, that has been promised for years but is much like waiting for Godot. They say that it’s coming. But when is it coming? At the same time, McGee thinks it is too hard for microbreweries to distribute their product.

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Clash on the Issues, Part II: is Ballooning Debt a Problem?

This is the second in a series about the issue positions of candidates in District 1 based on the debate hosted by Friends of White Flint. Today’s post looks at whether the candidates are concerned about the share of the county budget going to service debt, which is approaching 20% according to the question.

Ana Sol Gutiérrez doesn’t see County debt as a problem and views it is analogous to a home mortgage, leaving me hoping that we don’t end up under water like so many home owners. She has confidence in analyses showing the county is financially stable but also expressed interest in finding “other funding streams,” which sounds like taxes. Throughout the debate, however, she referred to mysterious state-level funds that the county had left untapped, a perplexing claim from a this long-time delegate on the appropriations committee who should be well placed to direct funds to the County.

In a similar vein, Bill Cook commended the Council for its balanced budget and well-funded rainy day fund, and blamed “reckless” development without appropriate impact taxes for placing additional burdens on county residents.

Reggie Oldak took a more centrist position, arguing that too much debt is a burden and Montgomery needs to preserve its AAA bond rating. At the same time, she agreed it is shortsighted not to spend on the safety net, leaving me a bit concerned as debt should go to capital, not operating, expenses.

Noting a lot of agreement among the candidates, Jim McGee took a similar position. He views debt as an “investment in the future” but also says we need to see the return on the investment. He also noted aptly that interest rates are rising, so debt will cost more in the future. Economic growth is the real solution to this problem.

Meredith Wellington was the first to express directly that she is very concerned about the debt gobbling up more of our budget even as revenues have not bounced back and we’ve raised taxes. She supports the affordability guidelines, even though they constrain the county’s ability to borrow, and said we need to set priorities. In short, Wellington was the first to identify rightly that growing debt and flat revenues is not a sustainable fiscal path, and that the county will have to make real choices as a result.

Andrew Friedson concurred with Wellington. He countered Gutiérrez’s home mortgage analogy directly, arguing cogently that we cannot do the equivalent of taking out a bigger mortgage or taxing our way out of it. There is certainly little appetite for increased property or income taxes in Montgomery, especially in the wake of the County’s big tax hike.

Showing his expertise on the topic, Pete Fosselman noted the $375 million paid in interest last year and the $120 million hole in the current budget. He’s concerned about the County’s AAA bond rating, arguing that we need fiscal discipline and to work better to provide services through nonprofits even as we stop funding politically connected “sock puppet nonprofits.”

Once again, voters appear to have a real choice, as candidates expressed broad differences on both debt as a problem and the solutions. All should be concerned with the county bond rating because lower bond ratings mean we pay more in interest and can afford less. As Wellington identified, and Friedson and Fosselman agreed, we are not on a sustainable fiscal path, so debt should be a real concern. The era of difficult choices is far from over.

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SEIU Local 500 Endorses Ana Sol Gutierrez

By Adam Pagnucco.

SEIU Local 500, which represents MCPS support staff, adjunct college professors, child care employees and other members, has endorsed Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez for the open Council District 1 seat.  Gutierrez has also been endorsed by Progressive Maryland, Casa in Action and MCEA.  Last week, she requested $10,290 in matching funds from the state under public financing, which – if she gets them – will give her over $30,000 in the bank.

We reprint Local 500’s press release below.

*****

For Immediate Release

March 15, 2018

Contact: Christopher Honey

honeyc@seiu500.org

SEIU Local 500 endorses Ana Sol Gutierrez for Montgomery County Council District 1

(Gaithersburg, MD) SEIU Local 500, the largest union local in Montgomery County, announced it was putting its full support behind Ana Sol Gutierrez for the Montgomery County Council District 1. The District 1 seat is open because incumbent Count Councilmember Roger Berliner is running for County Executive.

“Ana has a strong background in education and understands the unique challenges and opportunities families face in Montgomery County. She has always been an advocate for those left behind in Montgomery County. She has been a leader on issues like affordable housing and working to close the achievement in our schools,” said Merle Cuttitta, President of SEIU Local 500.

President Cuttitta added, “She’s also a member of SEIU Local 500 – she was a union adjunct at George Washington University!”

SEIU Local 500 represents over 20,000 workers across the region, including supporting services professionals in Montgomery County Public Schools, adjunct faculty at Montgomery College and Maryland family childcare providers.

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Progressive Maryland Endorses for County Council

By Adam Pagnucco.

Progressive Maryland, an umbrella organization containing several influential progressive groups, has announced it is endorsing the following candidates for County Council.

At-Large: Brandy Brooks, Will Jawando, Danielle Meitiv and Chris Wilhelm

District 1: Ana Sol Gutierrez

District 3: Ben Shnider

District 4: Nancy Navarro

District 5: Tom Hucker

Progressive Maryland has previously endorsed Marc Elrich for County Executive and Ben Jealous for Governor.  Brooks is an employee of the organization.  Hucker founded the group’s predecessor, Progressive Montgomery.

Two things strike us as interesting here.  First, this is the first major institutional endorsement not received by at-large incumbent Hans Riemer.  (SEIU Local 500 has endorsed three non-incumbents in the at-large race but left a spot open for Riemer contingent on further events in Rockville.)  Second, Progressive Maryland’s affiliates include MCGEO, UFCW Local 400 (grocery store workers), the SEIU Maryland/D.C. council, NOW and ATU Local 689 (WMATA), all of whom play in MoCo elections.  Does Progressive Maryland’s decision provide insight on which candidates may be endorsed by these other groups?

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Ana Sol Gutiérrez for Senate?

In his analysis of the Montgomery County Council District 1 race, Adam Pagnucco pointed out correctly that Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez (D-18) is completely outclassed on the fundraising front. She is unknown in much of D1, as the great majority of it is outside of District 18. Moreover, the portion of D18 that is Ana’s strongest base, though not her Chevy Chase home, lies outside D1.

Adam speculated that Ana might drop back to the delegate race. I suspect not. At this point, I imagine that she might prefer to retire or at least to go out in a long-shot race that gives her a better platform for her issues, especially on immigration and progressive policies designed to help poor and working Montgomeryites.

District 1 Race is a Bad Fit for Ana

Even taking this into account, the D1 Council race is a poor choice. This is a crowded contest with several highly qualified, well-funded candidates, so candidate debates may end up being more like those in a delegate contest. Additionally, even some of her usual supporters within D18 have decided to support other candidates rather than Ana’s surprising bid.

It’s also just a bad fit. Over the years, Ana has made little bones about her lack of interest in the local concerns of D1 residents. D1 residents are very pro-immigrant but there are a lot of local issues on which Ana has visibly little passion. The rationale for electing a councilmember who emphasizes immigration, as a glance as Ana’s twitter feed reveals, is not high because Nancy Navarro has occupied that niche and this is simply not a contested issue on the strongly pro-immigrant county council.

The barrier is not that Ana is Latina in a predominantly white district. African-American Craig Rice represents the whitest district in county and has no problem being simultaneously a proud African American and a strong local advocate. The idea that elected officials must match the predominant race or ethnicity in a district is grotesque.

Nevertheless, as in her quixotic congressional bid two years ago, Ana is destined to come towards the back of the pack in this group of candidates. She lacks the resources, the name recognition, or the strong rationale that would propel her candidacy forward.

District 18 Senate Race is Far More Intriguing

If Ana wants a platform, she’d be better off taking a flyer on the D18 Senate contest for a number of reasons.

Unlike on the Montgomery County Council, there is a real niche to fill in the Maryland Senate. Sen. Victor Ramirez is leaving the Senate to run for State’s Attorney in Prince George’s. The Senate will lose one of its strongest advocates on immigration and sole Latino voice. Though Maryland voted strongly for the Dream Act, immigration is contentious at the state level with Gov. Hogan more willing to make Trump-like noises on this issue than others.

Ana has already represented all of D18 for years and done well in delegate primaries. Though Jeff Waldstreicher spent far more money and campaigned far harder in 2014, he received only 122 votes more than Gutiérrez. In 2010, Ana beat Jeff by 483 votes to come in an easy first place.

Ana and Jeff ran on a slate together in these elections, so it is hard to gauge their individual support. Jeff campaigns much harder but Ana has a real following. She does well especially in the Wheaton and Silver Spring portions of the district but also gathers many votes near her Chevy Chase home.

If Ana ran, there would still only be three candidates in the race, which would prevent her voice from being crowded out. A conviction politician unafraid to stand up for what she believes, she will stand out. Moreover, her entry would completely scramble efforts by Jeff Waldstreicher and Dana Beyer fight to claim the progressive mantle.

Entering this race wouldn’t destroy any relationships. It is well known that Gutiérrez is no fan of her colleague, Del. Waldstreicher. I don’t know how she feels about Beyer but she supported Rich Madaleno steadfastly when Beyer challenged him four years ago.

Waldstreicher and Beyer will both run expensive, hungry campaigns. However, that leaves Gutiérrez able to position herself as more grassroots candidate who can’t dump thousands of her own money on a campaign like Beyer and is not beholden to the donors who Jeff has pursued with vigor. However, she’d need to cultivate local support, especially since Jeff positions himself as a good constituency service politician.

While most endorsers will overlook Gutiérrez for the D1 Council race, she would have to receive serious consideration in D18. Despite being way behind in the fundraising, she would have a shot based on name recognition alone. Endorsers would also have to explain why they are overlooking the more senior female delegate to endorse the younger Waldstreicher.

A Note on the Purple Line

Unlike in past D18 races, the Purple Line should not be an issue. In previous elections, there was no “right” position on the Purple Line in D18, as supporters and opponents both have prospered. (I was a strong opponent but now hope it goes well since we’re about to spend billions on it.)  Ana gained friends as a steadfast supporter.

Jeff and Dana’s positions are both more complex. Jeff positioned himself as an opponent but my conversations with people on both sides of the issue reveal that he bent over backward to curry their support without altering his public position. Pro-transit groups accused Dana of being opposed to the PL despite her statements of support. As a result, neither Jeff nor Dana gained allies from either supporters or opponents.

Regardless, to the extent it matters, it feeds the narrative of Ana as an authentic, conviction politician among both voters and, more importantly, among candidate validators and endorsers.

The Bottom Line

My guess is Ana sticks with the D1 race. I haven’t asked and she certainly doesn’t look to me for advice.

But if she switches horses, it would be far more interesting if she ran for Senate than sought another term in a crowded contest for the House with no incumbent slate. Though it would be a tough race and both Waldstreicher and Beyer possess real strengths in terms of money and drive, there is a path in D18 for Gutiérrez that just doesn’t exist in the D1 Council race.

Note: At various times, I have supported and given donations to Beyer, Gutiérrez and Waldstreicher. I have not donated or supported any of their campaigns this year.

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CD8 Primary Election Results, Part Three

A guest blog by Adam Pagnucco.

The data below combines precinct information with census tract data on Hispanic origin and race from the 2010 Decennial Census.  The demographics of the three counties are very different.  Of the 67 precincts in Carroll and Frederick Counties, 63 had populations that were at least 90% white.  Of the 139 precincts in Montgomery County, 57 were majority-minority.  These differences influence the presentation below.

Here are the results for precincts by their population percentages in different demographic categories.

CD8 Votes by Demographics 2

At first glance, the data shows a seeming contradiction.  Trone led in precincts with populations over 75% white.  But Trone also led in precincts with less than 40% white populations.  How can this be?  The former fact is explained by Trone’s victory in the overwhelmingly white precincts of Carroll and Frederick.  The latter fact is explained by Trone’s wins in Gaithersburg, Glenmont/Norbeck and parts of Rockville, which are racially diverse.  Trone also finished a close second in Wheaton and Silver Spring East County.  While Senator Jamie Raskin won big in diverse precincts in Takoma Park and Silver Spring Inside the Beltway, he also won in predominantly white Bethesda, Cabin John, Chevy Chase and Kensington.  Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez was a factor in Glenmont/Norbeck (Zip Code 20906 excluding Leisure World), finishing second in the nine precincts there.  She finished third in the 19 precincts with at least 33% Hispanic populations.

We will have a summary of the candidates’ performance in Part Four.

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CD8: The Aftermath

A guest blog by Adam Pagnucco.

For the sake of posterity, here are a few thoughts on The Aftermath of the historic race for Congress in District 8.

Jamie Raskin

Senator (soon-to-be Congressman) Raskin is now the King of MoCo Progressives, a title he would have gained even if he had lost the election.  Raskin is the King because of the kind of campaign he ran, which mixed liberal issues with a record of accomplishment, a dose of passion and a lot of inspiration.  The fact that he had two well-financed opponents, one of whom was self-funded, played into his narrative.  For progressives, he appealed to both their hearts and their brains.  His vote percentage, currently about a third of the electorate, came from high-information voters, super-liberals and Downcounty residents, a desirable base for almost any MoCo candidate.  It would not be a stretch to imagine that he had the support of 90% or more of the party activists who often play outsized parts in deciding County Council and state legislative races.

All of this gives Raskin enormous potential influence over county politics.  Chris Van Hollen was the most popular elected official in MoCo during his tenure in the U.S. House, but he was rather cautious about using that asset.  He endorsed sparingly in primaries, and even then with great care.  Examples include safe picks like County Executive Ike Leggett in 2014 and the incumbent state legislators in District 18, where he served as a State Senator and Delegate.  Van Hollen never took chances on endorsing unknown or controversial candidates.  Raskin will soon be approached by many politicians, incumbents and non-office holders alike, seeking his support.  Will Raskin follow the Van Hollen model and stay out of most races?  Or will he actively try to get very progressive candidates elected down the ballot?  Lots of politicians and activists would like to know the answer to this question!

David Trone

Ninety days ago, few voters had any idea who David Trone was.  Many millions of dollars later, Trone finished six points behind Raskin, a margin that could tighten a little bit as absentee ballots are counted.  As David Lublin has noted, Trone ran a competent, professional campaign that put batters on all the bases – advertising, mail and field.  He bested Kathleen Matthews, who had been running for many months, and smoked the rest of the field.

Trone should be encouraged by his showing in Carroll and Frederick Counties, where he finished with 53% and 52% of the vote, respectively (and that is before absentee counts come in).  If Congressman John Delaney runs for Governor, Trone’s performance in the two Western Maryland counties suggests that he has potential in Congressional District 6.  If Trone would like to run for office again – and he is considering it – one weakness that he should consider addressing is the allegation that he has not been involved in local affairs.  Trone would be a great champion for the local business community, and he could also be a patron for Democratic Party activities and institutions.  Projects like these would shore up his hometown credibility and set him up well for Round Two, whatever that might be.

Kathleen Matthews

Along with U.S. Senate candidate Donna Edwards, Matthews was the biggest disappointment of the night.  She ran a well-funded, female-oriented campaign against two leading opponents who were men.  She had great fundraising and solid TV ads.  The electorate is sixty percent female.  Hillary Clinton won the presidential primary in Maryland by thirty points.  And yet Matthews finished third with 24% of the vote.  How does that happen?  One theory is that Trone won over many of the more moderate voters who might have found Matthews appealing, and there is something to that.  Another theory is that Matthews’s campaign, along with that of Donna Edwards, illustrates the limitations of pure identity politics.  And finally, her generic campaign had little local dimension to it and did not create sufficient distinction from her opponents.

Ana Sol Gutierrez

Trailing badly in fundraising, mail and television, Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez still finished fourth.  When the precinct results come in, she will probably have significant vote totals in Wheaton, Long Branch, Glenmont and areas near University Boulevard, all places with significant Latino populations.  This will firmly entrench her as the Queen Mother of MoCo Latinos and also shows the latent political potential of that community.  That’s not a bad consolation prize.

Will Jawando

When is it a candidate’s time, and when is that time past?  That is the key question with Will Jawando.  His talent, charisma, intelligence and presentation skills are undeniable.  He’s a very good fundraiser and came close to winning a District 20 Delegate seat two years ago.  And MoCo needs more young leaders of color.  But Jawando was never going to win this race and now he has two losses on his record.  Yes, candidates can come back from that – Marc Elrich, for example, lost four times before being elected to the County Council.  But Elrich is an exception and repeated losses tend to reduce both support and fundraising capability for most candidates.  Our hunch is that Jawando has one more good election in him that he would very much need to win.

Another factor is the upcoming District 20 appointment process.  The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee will appoint a successor to Jamie Raskin’s Senate seat when he vacates it.  The appointee will most likely be one of the two freshman Delegates, David Moon or Will Smith.  That will then open a Delegate seat vacancy.  Jawando, who finished fourth in the House race in 2014, would have had a significant claim to that appointment.  But running unsuccessfully against the King of MoCo Progressives – a man who has been the undeniable King of District 20 for a decade – hurts his chances.  This was a missed opportunity all around.

Kumar Barve

If voters voted on resumes, Delegate Kumar Barve would have won.  He has been in office since 1990 and has adroitly climbed the Annapolis ladder to House Majority Leader and standing committee chair.  He has been involved in every major policy debate at the state level for many years.  And he’s whip-smart, well-spoken and funny as hell.  But Barve couldn’t get traction in the race as he was drowned out by the better-funded candidates.  Barve didn’t get what he wanted, but MoCo residents will get something valuable as he goes back to Annapolis: a dedicated, substantive leader on environmental and transportation issues.

That’s about it for now.  We will be following up with data on this election as it becomes available.  In any event, one thing is sure: this race will be remembered around here for a long, LONG time.

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The State of Play Before Primary Night II: CD8

The Democratic primary in the Eighth Congressional District is fierce. And no wonder. Whoever wins is virtually assured of becoming a new Member of Congress in this safely Democratic territory.

Adam Pagnucco has done a good job outlining the strength and weakness of the three leading candidates (Matthews, Raskin and Trone), so I thought I’d look at how the other candidates may impact the race even if they don’t win.

Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez has run a somewhat quixotic campaign that has mainly been about advancing her progressive point of view in debates. Her campaign lacks to money to be competitive even though she has loaned it money from personal funds.

Despite the lack of funds, I heard from one voter that saw a television ad. Unfortunately for Gutierrez, advertisements have to play a lot in order to have an impact and her budget is simply not large enough to buy that hefty an ad buy.

She has sent out one bilingual piece of mail in the form of a newspaper. Voters may pick it up and take a peek because it’s original. But it has a lot of small print and many photos of the candidate in the style of the North Korean Central News Agency‘s coverage of Kim Jong Un.

Despite these limits, Gutierrez may have an impact. She had volunteers at the Lawton Center early voting center in Chevy Chase. Moreover, she has been in public office for 25 years as a candidate for the School Board and then the House of Delegates.

Gutierrez’s final political move has been to endorse Bernie Sanders. This seems more likely to do her more good than Bernie, as she links her campaign to a popular progressive and appeared on stage to endorse him at a rally in Baltimore.

As the first Latina elected in Montgomery County and a known  name, I expect Gutierrez to pick up a good chunk of the Latino vote. Indeed, it seems likely to propel her into fourth place even if she loses much of her past non-Latino support to Jamie Raskin.

Raskin seems most likely to be hurt by Gutierrez’s presence in the race. He represents a large Latino community in District 20 and has advocated strongly on a variety of issues from immigration to social justice that Gutierrez also emphasizes. It would certainly be ironic if Gutierrez, who ran to advance progressive issues, ended up costing the leading progressive candidate the nomination.

Del. Kumar Barve is a former majority leader of the House of Delegates who represents Rockville and Gaithersberg. Smart and quick, he’s one of the funniest members of the House of Delegates. Like the other state legislators in the race, he has ended up heavily on the liberal side of most issues.

Barve has more money than any candidate outside of the top three but remains out of their financial league. He has attempted to gain notice through strong criticisms of Raskin’s ads but my assessment is that these efforts have gained very limited traction.

At the risk of making Barve sound far older than he is, Barve was the first Asian American elected in Montgomery County and, indeed, is often highlighted in descriptions of pioneering elected officials. This would seemingly be an advantage in a county with a large and growing Asian American population.

Unfortunately for Barve, most Asian Americans identify less as Asians and more by their national origin. As Barve likes to note somewhat ruefully, he has the Hindu vote nailed down with the implication being that just won’t get him far.

Barve is one of those candidates who I could well have imagined breaking through but it hasn’t happened for him for a variety of reasons, including Trone’s money attracting so much attention. It would be nice for Barve if he finished well in the portions of the district he represents in the House of Delegates.

Will Jawando ran a good but losing campaign for the House of Delegates in District 20, home to Jamie Raskin. Two years later, he has jumped into the congressional race. Jawando is young attorney with a family who is also running on progressive platform and is easy to imagine winning public office in Montgomery County.

Jawando’s decision to enter this race surprised many. The safer bet would have been to help Raskin win election and then angle to win appointment to the state legislative vacancy. Jawando would have been a very strong candidate due to his own abilities, respectable finish last time, and links to the congressional winner.

While Rep. Elijah Cummings has stayed out of the U.S. Senate race, he has endorsed Jawando for the Eighth District. As the only African American in the race with support from a prominent African-American Democrat, albeit not from around the area, Jawando has the potential to attract some votes.

As with Gutierrez, this could hurt Raskin. However, Jawando is less well-known that the long-established Del. Gutierrez, so it’s unclear how big a splash he will manage to make in the race.

Joel Rubin is a friend and neighbor. He’s a nice, personable guy who, like many in Montgomery County, has been active in federal politics but at the local or state level until now. Rubin has raised a nice sum of money and run a good campaign even though he just lacks the funds or previous support base to be competitive.

Even though this is his first race, he’s shown some good clever, campaign abilities, including producing these excellent YouTube videos on Trone and and his own family story:

Like Will Jawando, I would not be surprised to hear more from Joel Rubin in the future.

Finally, I know little about Dan Bolling and David Anderson. Bolling is running as the anti-partisan candidate and Anderson appears to be a well-meaning progressive. I do not expect either to have a major impact on the outcome of the race. Click on the links to learn more about them.

 

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All Politics is Local . . . Right?

Today, I’m pleased to present a guest post by Adam Pagnucco.

“All politics is local” according to the famous quote by former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill. Moreover, any occasional viewer of Hardball, the MSNBC politics show featuring his former Chief of Staff Chris Matthews, can probably hear the host’s voice repeating it over and over. In fact, he actually titled an entire chapter of one of his books with that phrase and explored its meaning in detail.

So who would disagree with this hallowed political wisdom? Apparently, none other than Chris Matthews’ wife and current candidate for Congress in District 8, Kathleen Matthews.

Kathleen Matthews is a formidable candidate with many strengths. She has name recognition from her long-time career as a local news anchor that would make most candidates green with envy. She’s great on TV and radio. She’s smart, well-spoken and attractive. She raises all the resources she needs to win. And she is a female candidate running against a group of mostly men, which is a plus in a Democratic primary tilted heavily to female voters.

But her campaign is so generic that it would be equally applicable to someone running in California, Massachusetts or New York.

Check out her issues page and her Facebook page. Almost everything her campaign discusses is a national issue. There’s nothing inherently wrong with talking about national issues.  Congress is a federal institution and deals with national and international matters. Gun control, the environment, education, the Middle East, women’s health and more are all important and she’s right to discuss them

The problem is that there’s almost no locally relevant content to go along with it. It feeds the vibe that her campaign is planned and executed by national-level, D.C.-connected operatives with no understanding of Montgomery, Carroll and Frederick Counties. And this is particularly surprising given the fact that Kathleen Matthews covered local issues as a journalist for twenty-five years.

Want to go local? Here’s how.

1. Metro

It’s impossible to understate the frustration that Metro riders have with WMATA. And how can one miss the drumbeat of local press coverage–assuming that one actually READS local press coverage? Riders want a fix and Members of Congress can play a big role. But Metro is buried in the Environment section of Matthews’ issues page.

Delegate Kumar Barve, one of Matthews’ opponents, gets it. Here is one of his many statements on Facebook about it. “METRO NEEDS TO BE FIXED!” blares Barve, echoing a sentiment with which few CD8 voters would disagree. Freshman Delegate Marc Korman made WMATA arguably his number one issue in 2014 and defeated a better-funded opponent with the Apple Ballot in Bethesda, an area where Matthews needs to do well. (Does any member of Matthews’ campaign staff know what an Apple Ballot is?)

Barve WMATA

2. Other Transportation Issues

Transportation and education have been the two most important issues in Montgomery County since, well . . .  no one here remembers when they weren’t the Big Two. But Matthews’ issues page has no transportation section. All of the key transportation solutions on the table required big federal bucks: the Purple Line, getting money for the Corridor Cities Transitway, remedying congestion on I-270, dealing with the American Legion Bridge and getting financing for Montgomery County’s proposed bus rapid transit system are all appropriate issues for federal involvement.

3. Immigration

This issue is both national and local and it is another no-show on the Matthews issues page. Many CD8 communities, including Takoma Park, Silver Spring and Wheaton, are filled with first- and second-generation immigrants of many nationalities. Barve and Delegate Ana Sol Gutiérrez are talking about this a lot and most CD8 candidates are addressing it. Is Matthews?

4. Localize National Issues

There are ways to talk about national issues while rooting them firmly in local affairs. Take a look at Senator Jamie Raskin’s issues page. He touches on many of the same matters as Matthews, but he discusses them in Maryland-specific terms while touting his specific accomplishments. Here are two more examples of Raskin discussing education and the environment employing a local frame. Whatever one may think of Raskin, he is definitely running in Maryland!

Raskin schools

Raskin environment

5. Meet the Neighbors

This is Raskin’s great strength. His campaign has deployed one of the best local field operations in recent memory and openly brags about its success. Raskin’s supporters extend beyond the establishment types (who can sometimes be a mixed blessing) and go down into the ranks of grass-roots activists–the kind of people who provide ground energy for campaigns. Some of his solicitations have so many names on them that even the most diligent reader can’t make it to the end. Does the Matthews campaign have lists of precinct officials, PTA officers, civic association board members and religious leaders to contact? How many of these local leaders have been asked to meet the candidate? Matthews is by many accounts an impressive person capable of making a good impression. How much is that strength being utilized?

6. Know Our History

The Annapolis establishment is mostly with Raskin, and the rest of it is with Barve. That’s not necessarily a problem for Matthews, as there is a certain segment of the electorate that dislikes political “bosses” and they respond well to perhaps her most important supporter, Comptroller Peter Franchot. So what does her campaign do? It lumps in news of Franchot’s endorsement with endorsements by two U.S. Senators with no connection to Maryland as well as former Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Anyone with any knowledge of Maryland politics would know that Townsend was responsible for one of the most humiliating defeats in state Democratic Party history, the loss of the Governor’s seat to Republican Bob Ehrlich, and it all began when unknown retired retail clerk Bob Fustero got more than 20% of the vote in the Democratic primary. The Franchot endorsement is a big deal.  It can be used to good effect with fiscally moderate Democrats, especially in Carroll and Frederick Counties, and it can be used to fuel a similar anti-establishment narrative to the one used by now-Congressman John Delaney in 2012. But announcing the Townsend endorsement at the same time sent a signal to anyone acquainted with state politics that Matthews’ campaign has little understanding of our history or current political scene.

One more thing. Where  is former County Executive Doug Duncan?  He may be Matthews’ most prominent local supporter other than Franchot and he has a sizeable following in Montgomery County. He was a key early backer of John Delaney. But he is not mentioned at all on Matthews’ website.

7. Come Out Strong on a Hot Local Issue

Speaking of the Comptroller, he has a knack for latching onto hot local issues that help him build his base. For example, what do air conditioners in Baltimore County Public Schools have to do with the Comptroller’s core duties of tax collection and regulation of alcohol and tobacco? Absolutely nothing. But Franchot and Governor Larry Hogan are using the issue to bedevil a common adversary, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, and are fortifying their support in one of the state’s key jurisdictions.

The counterpart issue in Montgomery County is the county’s notorious liquor monopoly, on which the Comptroller has been a resolute opponent. David Lublin has written of the substantial opportunities available to any politician who dares to challenge the county employee union and call for open competition. Even if you disagree with me on the issue (and I am its organizer), consider three facts:

First, a substantial number of Democrats want the alcohol laws to be reformed. Second, if just one candidate in a multi-candidate race agrees with that position, those voters will flow towards that one candidate and away from the others, creating an advantage. And third, the monopoly’s principal defender, the county employee union, would never endorse Matthews no matter what since there are several other candidates in the field with long pro-labor voting records. So Matthews has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Why not call for Ending the Monopoly and pick up some votes?

Look, folks.  Kathleen Matthews is a top-tier candidate and she could definitely win. But if she doesn’t, this is why: so far, her campaign does not believe that All Politics is Local. Or really, that Any Politics is Local at All.

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