Tag Archives: Aruna Miller

Six Candidates of Good Temperament

It’s not easy to be a public official. It involves dealing with not only a lot of tough issues and often unappealing choices. It also entails listening to unhappy constituents who often express their feelings vehemently and with anger, especially in our current age when there is so much of the latter going around. And, of course, you have to deal with people like me.

As a result, I thought it would be good to highlight some candidates for office here in Montgomery County who I think have the right temperament for public office. This is wholly different from whether I agree with them on issues and as a result I don’t plan to vote for all of them (and I don’t live in all of their constituencies).

It does mean that they strike me as even-keeled people who will address issues thoughtfully and have a good capacity to listen to people and take on board the views of people with whom they disagree. In an election with a plethora of candidates, it seems worth identifying some who deserve a look-in to see if they are what you are seeking in a candidate.

One caution: Writing this blog gives me the opportunity to meet a good many candidates. In truth, however, it’s only a fraction of the many running for office and space is limited even on the Internet. So please don’t take omission from here as even the most oblique indictment. There are a lot of good people running for office. Here are just a few of them.

Aruna Miller is running to represent the Sixth Congressional District. The people who work closely with Aruna in the House of Delegates admire and respect her as a serious, hard-working legislator, and she has received the bulk of their endorsements. I only know Aruna so well but what I see only verifies these impressions. Del. Miller brought an unusual level of calm maturity and experience when she entered politics. Unafraid to stand up for principle, she can also reach out and work well with others.

Evan Glass is running for Council At-Large. I got to know Evan because we served on the Board of Equality Maryland together. He’s a great listener and excellent communicator, perhaps not a surprise given his extensive work in journalism. Evan also has the uncanny ability of knowing when and how an intervention in a political debate can have the greatest impact. He was one of the most quietly effective and useful members of the Board.

Marilyn Balcombe is running for Council At-Large. Marilyn is best known for her work in the Upcounty and on the President/CEO of the Gaithersburg/Germantown Chamber of Commerce. I’ve found Marilyn to be an effective and strong yet pleasant advocate. She has done a lot over the years to make Germantown a more vibrant place. Marilyn is someone who already knows a lot but also is smart enough to know that there is always more to learn and listens well.

Gabe Albornoz is running for Council At-Large. Gabe has headed the County Parks and Recreation Department and had the unpleasant task of dealing with major budget cuts due to the economic crisis. He lives in my legislative district and I got to know him through our mutual activity in local Democratic politics. Gabe is a natural leader yet also very easygoing and unusually good at dealing with criticism and bringing people together. A class act.

Hans Riemer is running for reelection to a third (and final) term for Council At-Large. I’m purposefully not focusing on incumbents on this list, as they’re already well known. However, I’ve always appreciated Hans’s ability to disagree without being disagreeable, even right after I’ve criticized a decision that he made. This well-liked councilmember has also consistently been willing to meet with people on the other side of an issue and work to figure out what he can do for them.

Marlin Jenkins is seeking election to the House of Delegates in District 19. He comes from a small town in Louisiana not far from where Ike Leggett grew up and is an impressive man who  worked very hard to create and to take advantage of  opportunities. Marlin joined the army at a young age, distinguished himself leading a unit in Iraq, and is now a major and still moving up. Along the way, he first earned a college and then law degree. He and his wife, also a lawyer who Marlin met in law school, have made their home here. An affable man and good listener, Marlin cares a lot about helping make it possible for others to move up the ladder too.

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Hitting Publish Too Soon: Pulling the Previous Post

Adam Pagnucco reminds me that the same Asian American Democratic club that got into trouble for making a non-existent person their treasurer is the one that just issued the blast in the previous (now removed) post attacking Aruna Miller. As the organization seems highly sketchy as a result, I regret giving their views a wider hearing even if there is nothing inaccurate in my reporting their endorsement and their views.

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Are Republicans Trying to Help Aruna Miller?

By Adam Pagnucco.

Much has been said about the Maryland Republican Party sending out racist mailers targeting Congressional District 6 candidate Aruna Miller.  The standard interpretation of this seems to be that the GOP sees Miller as a strong candidate and is trying to keep her out of the general election.  Indeed, the Washington Post editorial board made that argument.  But what if the Republicans are actually trying to help Miller instead?

The classic example of intervention in an opposing party’s primary is Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill’s promotion of conservative GOP Representative and eventual opponent Todd Akin.  McCaskill spent $1.7 million on ads accusing Akin of being “too conservative” during his GOP primary, helping boost him past the rest of the field.  And that’s not all – when Akin pulled a successful TV ad in favor of one that flopped, McCaskill schemed to have her pollster contact Akin’s campaign to persuade him to re-run the high-performing ad.  Once Akin won his primary, McCaskill exploited his weaknesses to finish him off and get reelected.

Two “anti-Akin” ads by McCaskill and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Why do we bring this up?  Some of the people who received the GOP mailers were female Democrats, including Miller herself.  A few took to Facebook and Twitter to complain about it.  And if they didn’t get them directly, they may have read about them in publications like the Washington Post, Bethesda Magazine and India West.  How do you think they are going to react when they see a female Democratic candidate getting bashed in racist mail sent by Republicans?  They are going to rally to Miller, of course, and that’s what happened on social media.  Maybe that’s the point.

Miller uses GOP racism to motivate her supporters.

Aruna Miller is doing really well in this campaign.  She is raising lots of money, doing well at forums, attracting great endorsements from the Sierra Club and the teachers and is the most prominent woman running in a primary electorate that is roughly 60% female.  But look at this race from the standpoint of the GOP.  They know David Trone won an absolute majority of the vote in rural Frederick and Carroll Counties in the CD8 primary – the kind of areas that Republicans need to dominate in the sixth district.  They know Trone could spend $10 million in a general election, something no other Democrat can do, and that would free up national Democratic money to go to other Congressional districts around the country.  Most of all, Trone looks more like incumbent Congressman John Delaney than any other candidate – a center-left businessman who says he has created thousands of jobs.  The GOP knows that kind of candidate can win in this district.  Why would they want another one like Delaney?  And if they don’t, why not help a rival win?

Maybe we’re reading too much into this but we don’t think the GOP is stupid.  This kind of tactic can work.  Just ask Claire McCaskill!

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Backlash Builds Against Baker Endorsement of Trone

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is experiencing a rapid backlash against his endorsement of wealthy businessman David Trone in his bid for the Democratic nomination for the Sixth Congressional District.

Baker announced his support for Trone two days ago. Today, the Washington Post reported that Trone, his family members and company have donated a total of $39,000 to Baker’s gubernatorial campaign. My own quick scan of Rushern Baker’s latest campaign finance filing revealed the following donations:

David Trone, $6000, 10/5/17;
Julia Trone, $2000, 11/16/17;
June Trone, $6000, 10/5/17;
Michelle Trone, $6000, 11/5/17;
Natalie Trone, $2000, 11/16/17;
Natalie Trone, $3000, 11/16/17;
Robert Trone, $2000, 11/16/17;
Anna-Marie Parisi-Trone, $6000, 11/16/17;
Anna-Marie Parisi-Trone, $6000, 11/16/17.

While David, June, and Robert Trone are described as affiliated with Total Wine, Natalie Trone is listed as a student and Michelle Trone with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). All of the donations were made in October or November of last year.

Problems for Baker

There is certainly no proof of pay-to-play or corruption. Indeed, Baker has been a welcome breath of fresh air on that front in Prince George’s after the disastrous Johnson years. However, Baker’s decision to endorse in a race outside of Prince George’s has raised eyebrows.

In particular, I heard that senior women in the General Assembly are especially annoyed at Baker’s decision to endorse in the race when there was an experienced, talented and respected female legislator, Del. Aruna Miller, in the race. Baker’s wading into the race surprised many, as the Sixth does not overlap with Prince George’s.

Today, that frustration emerged more publicly in the form of a wave of endorsements of Miller’s campaign by her colleagues, especially many senior women. Miller’s campaign issued a press release (see below) touting support from:

Speaker Michael Busch,
Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones,
Chair Emerita Sheila Hixson,
Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh,
Environment and Transportation Committee Chair Kumar Barve, Ways and Means Committee Chair Anne Kaiser,
Health and Government Committee Chair Shane Pendergrass, Judiciary Committee Chair Joe Vallario,
Judiciary Committee Vice-Chair Kathleen Dumais,
Appropriations Committee Vice-Chair Tawanna Gaines,
Women’s Caucus Chair Ariana Kelly

It will be interesting to see if this backlash impedes Baker’s efforts to reach further outside the County. Similarly, I’m curious to see if Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, a strong Baker supporter, endorses a candidate in the Sixth District. Unlike Baker, Leggett has long had constituents in the Sixth.

Problems for Trone

Baker’s endorsement has also revived talk of Trone’s use of his wealth. Two years ago, Trone told the press bluntly, “I sign my checks to buy access.” Indeed, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s lawyers cited this statement in their brief appealing McDonnell’s corruption conviction. County Councilmember George Leventhal also needled Trone regarding his gaffe.

Now, as Michael Kinsley once said, a gaffe is simply when a politician speaks the truth out loud. Trone was forthright and honest on this point, in a manner similar to Donald Trump in presidential bid. But the similarities to Trump and the current concerns regarding the corruption of American politics are hardly likely to endear him to Democratic primary voters.

Aruna Miller for Congress Press Release by David Lublin on Scribd

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How Much Will Emily’s List Spend in CD6?

By Adam Pagnucco.

Recently, Emily’s List announced its endorsement for CD6 candidate Aruna Miller, a move seen as significant in that race.  Emily’s List’s Super PAC, Women Vote, has made millions of dollars in independent expenditures (IE) in federal races over the last five cycles.  But how effective are they?

Let’s start in Maryland.  In 2016, Emily’s List invested in three federal candidates: Donna Edwards (U.S. Senate), Joseline Peña-Melnyk (CD 4) and Kathleen Matthews (CD8).  The group had an impact: they accounted for at least a million dollars in TV spending for Edwards and basically assumed the bulk of mail duty for Matthews.  But all three candidates lost, with Edwards finishing second in the primary and Pena Melnyk and Matthews finishing third (despite both having the Washington Post endorsement).  The group spent $3.2 million of IE funds on behalf of the three candidates, including $2.9 million for Edwards.  Edwards’ amount was one of the largest single-race investments made by Emily’s List in the 2016 cycle.  Data for the group’s IE spending in Maryland appears below.

Now let’s examine the group’s IE spending nationwide in 2016.  The group invested in 23 races, winning 7 and losing 15.  In the remaining race (Florida CD9), the group’s original pick lost in the Democratic primary, but they then spent on behalf of the Democratic nominee, who won in the general.  Let’s call that one a draw.  It’s important to note that Emily’s List did not spend in every race in which it endorsed.  Data for the group’s IE spending nationwide in the 2016 cycle appears below.

What can be learned from the results of Emily’s List’s chosen races?  Although their win rate and their experience in Maryland are not impressive, they had some notable successes.  Perhaps their biggest win was helping to knock out freshman Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte (NH) in a razor-tight win for then-Governor Maggie Hassan.  Emily’s List spent $3.2 million against Ayotte.  They also spent $3.6 million to hold Harry Reid’s Senate seat in Nevada, helping to boost Catherine Cortez Masto to victory.  But besides Ayotte, they tried and failed to knock out seven other GOP incumbents, spending $6.9 million on those races.  These were not crazy bets – GOP Senators Pat Toomey (PA) and Richard Burr (NC) were thought to be vulnerable at the time – but they did not work out.

In U.S. House races, Emily’s List spent an average of $218,675 per contest.  The group’s highest single IE in a House race was a combined $881,880 to defeat freshman New York GOP Congressman Lee Zeldin, who beat the group’s candidate by 16 points.  In many House races, the group spent less than $100,000, which was probably not enough to make a difference.  Maryland and New York are the only states in which the group lost three races.  We would not blame Emily’s List if they decided not to throw more money our way!

What does all of this mean for CD6?  The 2018 elections, in which opposition to Donald Trump is likely to play a significant part, may very well contain more opportunities for Emily’s List and other progressive groups to score victories against the GOP than in 2016.  That could draw Emily’s List’s money away from a blue-state primary like CD6 and into districts where GOP incumbents are vulnerable.  The group may also consider David Trone’s nearly unlimited finances, which helped outpoll their chosen candidate in CD8 last year, and conclude that it’s not worth opposing him again.  All of this means the group could do one of two things.  First, it could make a modest investment in CD6, perhaps a couple hundred thousand dollars at most.  That would only make a difference in a close race.  Or second, as it has done in many races over the years, it could invest nothing at all.

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EMILY’s List Endorses Aruna Miller

Big news in the Sixth Congressional District. EMILY’s List has endorsed Del. Aruna Miller. We’ll have to see how much cash EMILY’s List invests in this contest but they put huge resources into Donna Edwards’ bid for Senate. David Trone may not be the only one with real money in the race.

It is yet another sign that Del. Miller is running a serious, focused campaign. She has raised significant dollars on her own and now has the backing of the major national Democratic organization that promotes pro-choice women.

Money doesn’t make someone a good Member of Congress. But it sure makes it a lot easier to run a viable congressional campaign. If anyone didn’t already think Aruna is among the candidates to watch, this should get across the message.

Here is the press release from her campaign:

GAITHERSBURG, MD – Delegate Aruna Miller is pleased to announce that she has been endorsed by EMILY’s List for her campaign for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Maryland.

EMILY’s List is the nation’s largest resource for women in politics and has raised over $500 million to support Democratic women candidates. Their grassroots community of over five million members helps Democratic women wage competitive campaigns. Since their founding in 1985, they have helped to elect 116 women to the House of Representatives, 23 to the Senate, and over 800 to various state and local offices.

“I am honored to have been endorsed by EMILY’s List. This is an organization founded on bringing more people to the table, and I am so excited to see our message catching the attention of progressives who share our values,” said Delegate Miller. “We have learned this year that motivated and organized grassroots supporters can move mountains, and we know that with EMILY’s List support, we will take the fight to Donald Trump to protect our healthcare and our choices, to invest in our public education and programs like STEM, and to show that government works for the people.”

Aruna Miller has been a civil engineer, working for 25 years for Montgomery County. She began her political career by volunteering for her local Democratic Central Committee, going door to door and serving as a precinct captain. In 2010, she was elected to the Maryland Legislature where she represents the 15th District and serves on the Appropriations Committee. Delegate Miller officially entered the campaign for Congress earlier this year and has already surpassed $350,000 in fundraising.

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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?

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Political Opening in Alcohol

Politicians often have trouble finding major issues that they can use successfully in campaigns. The Montgomery County Liquor Monopoly provides a rare opportunity for politicians who wish to advance or outsiders who want to crash the incumbent party.

Why It is a Good Campaign Issue

Good campaign issues have several key attributes. First, they have to divide you from your opponent. Voters cannot  differentiate between candidates when they agree. Put another way, “I’m even more pro-choice” is usually not going to unseat an incumbent. Montgomery County’s liquor monopoly is an easy issue for candidates to differentiate themselves.

Second, the subject has to be easy to communicate. If an issue requires jargon, like Maintenance of Effort, to explain it, it is not going to work. Clear and concise are critical. Opposition to the monopoly is the rare issue that works well on a postcard.

Finally, voters have to care about the issue and favor the candidate’s position. Unlike with many issues, many voters have direct experience of the monopoly and have formed opinions about it. Put simply, they don’t like it and would like to see it go away. Recently, a poll confirmed the well-known widely shared antipathy for it.

Opportunity in Opposing the DLC Monopoly

The existing Department of Liquor Control monopoly over the distribution of all alcohol and the sale of hard liquor provides a fat, juicy target. Through personal experience, many County voters know that the DLC assures higher prices in unattractive stores.

Comptroller Peter Franchot has already raised the issue’s profile.
The natural coalition favoring reform is powerful. Consumers receive no benefit from the monopoly, as it raises prices and forces them to travel farther to find greater selections at lower prices. They just don’t get why the County needs to be in this business. In short, they’ll only benefit if perestroika arrives in MoCo.

Business also hates the monopoly because it makes it much harder for the critical restaurant sector to thrive. More broadly, it is a barrier to expanding business around the County’s nightlife. Getting rid of the monopoly is a leading priority for the Chamber of Commerce. Fighting the monopoly looks like an excellent way to open doors to an untapped source of campaign donations.

Moreover, the defenders of the monopoly make excellent foils. Its main supporter is MCGEO–the union that represents the current DLC stores. While they claim to protect union jobs, the industry is highly unionized, so their real fear is that the workers would be represented by other unions.

Moreover, MCGEO acts like a union out of Republican central casting, attempting to bully its opponents into submission. Union President Gino Renne is not just a character but a caricature of the well-paid union boss. MCGEO slings mud in a way that attracts bad publicity rather than support.

Moreover, MCGEO is incredibly ineffective. It tried to take down numerous incumbents in the last election and failed all around. Unlike the Teachers (MCEA), MCEGO just doesn’t carry much weight with voters or show an ability to accomplish much on behalf of its candidates. Councilmember Roger Berliner wiped the floor against MCGEO’s well-funded candidate in 2014.

Conclusion and Petition

This is a rare bipartisan opportunity. Opposition to the monopoly is shared among Democrats and Republicans. It’s great issue for either primary or general challengers to wield against local or state incumbents who don’t join those who have gotten out in front on this issue.

Six members of the General Assembly–Del. Kathleen Dumais, Sen. Brian Feldman, Del. Bill Frick, Sen. Nancy King, Del. Aruna Miller, and Del. Kirill Reznik–are sponsoring a bill so that Montgomery voters can decide the issue in a referendum.

You can sign the petition, launched yesterday, to support their efforts.

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Del. Kumar Barve to Announce for the Eighth

Kumar

Delegate Kumar Barve (D-17) intends to announce very soon that he will run for the Eighth Congressional District made vacant by Chris Van Hollen’s senatorial bid.

Career

Though born in New York, Barve went to Paint Branch High School. Barve was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1990, so he is now in his seventh state (pun unintended) legislative term. Currently, he chairs the Environment and Transportation Committee. Barve has also served previously as Majority Leader.

Pioneer

While it may seem ordinary now, it was a big deal when Del. Barve was first elected in 1990, as he was the first Indian American to win election to any state legislature in the country. At the time, he was also the only nonwhite member of the Montgomery delegation.

Kumar has supported efforts of other South Asians to win election, including Del. Aruna Miller (D-15) and former Del. Sam Arora (D-19). Miller and Barve have remained close. But no one was more peeved when Arora reneged on his commitment to back marriage equality–a bill that Barve sponsored and supported strongly.

Barve has the potential to receive substantial ethnic backing from Indian Americans not just locally but nationally. Currently, Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) is the sole South Asian American in Congress. Barve provides a strong opportunity to increase their number. He would also be the first Hindu Indian American in Congress and only its second Hindu member.

Territory

The 17th Legislative District includes all of the Cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg. The bad news for Barve is that the Eighth Congressional District includes Rockville but not Gaithersburg so about one-half of his legislative district is outside the congressional district that he seeks to represent.

The good news for him is that Rockville voters participate in primaries at a much a higher rate than in Gaithersburg, so he is hemorrhaging much less support due to district boundaries than appears at first glance. Until 2014, Kumar also represented much smaller Garrett Park, which is also in the Eighth.

Nonetheless, District 17 casts fewer Democratic primary votes than in either District 18 or District 20. Assuming that either or both Sens. Rich Madaleno (D-18) or Jamie Raskin (D-20) run, they each start out already representing at least 50% more primary voters. It will take more effort–and more money–for Barve to introduce himself to new voters.

Overlap and Challenges

I don’t see real overlap between Del. Barve and other candidates. He’ll probably start out with more experience in office than any of them. But they will all essentially share rather similar principles and struggle to accentuate differences.

Kumar’s real challenges are to raise money and to run a disciplined campaign. As for all candidates, he will need to spend far more time raising money than any sane person desires. And he will have to make sure it is spent very wisely.

Another key question is whether he can attract volunteers on the same scale and organize them as well as candidates who made their first bid for office more recently, and thus may have more of their original core supporters around to help them.

It will be interesting to see how much traction Del. Barve gains in the race. But I don’t think he will get lost in the shuffle. He is outspoken and certainly as ambitious as anyone seeking this seat.

Final Question

Will Del. Barve be tempted to switch to the Sixth District if Rep. Delaney jumps into the Senate race? After all, he lives in the Sixth even if his legislative district falls equally in the Eighth.

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MCDCC Sample Ballot Incompetence Spoils Dems Pre-Election Weekend

The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) sends out a sample ballot before the state elections to urge Democrats to the polls and remind them of their party’s ticket. There were some major snafus this year.

I’ve been receiving a lot of reports, some conflicting, of problems, and have been attempting to sift out fact from fiction. This is why I’ve delayed posting on this topic.

Mix and Match Candidates

In District 19, incumbent Sen. Roger Manno‘s name has been replaced by that of Sen. Rich Madaleno–the candidate in District 18. As you can imagine, Sen. Manno–who donated money to help pay for the sample ballot–was understandably not happy about it.

I suppose one could view this as karma, since Rich Madaleno’s name appeared as Roger Madaleno on the Apple Ballot during the Democratic primary.  But at least the critical last name and first initial were right in that case. I hope Roger gets his donation back.

In District 16, Delegate Nominee Marc Korman‘s biography has been replaced with that of Aruna Miller. I am sure Marc was interested to learn that he worked for county since he was eight and has already served on a House committee before winning election.

Latino Outreach Fail

MCDCC has touted its efforts to reach out more strongly to the County’s fast-growing Latino community. Unfortunately, the sample ballot was a textbook example of how not to go about it.

First, the name of incumbent Delegate Ana Sol Gutiérrez (D-18) was misspelled on the sample ballot:

sample2

Second, accents and the tilde of ñ were often left out in Spanish text. The office titles are sometimes incorrect, even though they could have been directly copied from the official bilingual version. Even español has been written as espanol:

sample1

Finally, the sample ballot directs people on how to find a Spanish sample ballot online. Other than that it doesn’t exist, this is an excellent idea.

Small Mailing and Still Waiting?

Beyond the giant mistake in District 19, the real story may be how many sample ballots were sent out. I am told that elected Democrats were promised that hundreds of thousands would go out but that only around 90,000 were mailed. I am unable to confirm this. MCDCC has made clear that they will not respond to my requests for information, though I understand they are also being closed-mouthed with electeds on this issue too.

While many, including your gentle blogger, have received their Democratic sample ballot, I have heard that other Democrats who did not vote early have yet to receive them. No doubt this is due to the last minute mailing. On the other hand, I imagine Roger (or is it Rich?) Manno must be relieved that at least early voters did not get it before going to the polls.

Missing Signs on Bag Day

There were no signs for either Brown/Ulman or for Brian Frosh. In other words, there were no signs for the two statewide candidates who need strong visible support in Montgomery on Tuesday.

Rumor that Should be Ignored

Some told me that they were shocked that their congressman was left off the sample ballot. This is not an error but intentional in order to comply with federal campaign finance law. Advertising their names counts as a campaign contribution.

Why Did this Happen?

MCDCC Chair Kevin Walling personally managed the sample ballot with his inner circle (the Politburo? the Presidium?) of MCDCC. It arrived very late to the printers and few others were involved to review it and make sure that they got this complex task (different versions need to go to different areas of the County) right.

MCDCC staff has long been dedicated to the Democratic Party and helped with this task many times before. They should not be blamed and I hope no one tries to throw them under the bus in order to save their own reputation.

As in the past, MCDCC has many excellent members. But they need to address these issues squarely. The central problems with MCDCC remain the ones I outlined in a previous post: a lack of accountability, transparency, and inclusion. I should now add incompetence. Mistakes happen but both elected officials and ordinary Democrats are mad about the sample ballot snafu–and rightly so.

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