Tag Archives: Ashwani Jain

Ashwani Jain is Running for Governor

By Adam Pagnucco.

Former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain is running for governor. A resident of Potomac, Jain ran for Montgomery County Council At-Large in 2018 and finished eighth in a race for four seats. Jain just made an announcement and his press release is reprinted below.


Shairee Arora | PressForJain@gmail.com

Former Obama-Biden Appointee Ashwani Jain Announces Historic Candidacy for Maryland Governor

If elected, Jain would become the nation’s first millennial Governor and Maryland’s first Governor of color

Montgomery County, MD — Last night, Friends of Ashwani Jain announced that Maryland native Ashwani Jain is running for Governor of Maryland in a historic campaign. If elected, Jain would become the nation’s first millennial Governor and Maryland’s first Governor of color. To learn more, visit JainForGovernor.com. To watch the campaign’s kickoff video, click here.

“Maryland needs strong leadership — leadership that reflects the makeup and diversity of the state. That’s why I’ve decided to run for Governor,” said Ashwani Jain. “If elected next year, I would serve as the nation’s first millennial Governor and Maryland’s first Governor of color. While a voice like mine has never been in the Governor’s Office, in a state that is younger and more diverse than it’s ever been, voices like mine are growing and need to be represented. I’m honored to be running to be the next Governor of Maryland.

“Although I may be young, I have experience beyond my years and understand how the systems of government work. For two decades, I’ve fought to expand opportunities for Marylanders through advocating for public policy at all levels of government, including with then-President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden. And on a personal level, as an 18-year survivor of childhood cancer, a son of immigrants and small business owners, a Maryland native and product of public schools and a diverse millennial, I understand the real impact of policies, including the inequities, because those policies and inequities have impacted me.

“I firmly believe I have the experience, perspective and empathy needed to serve as Maryland’s next Governor. It’s time for a new start and to change the narrative of who deserves a seat at the table.”

Jain (he/him pronouns) is a 31-year-old with a compelling personal and professional story. He beat cancer, attended a Title 1 Elementary School and later went on to earn two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree. He has worked in the public, private and non-profit sectors, and served in the Obama/Biden White House and two federal agencies — the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Health and Human Services. Jain also served as the Director of Outreach for now-President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot.

With what will be a completely vacant Governor’s seat for the first time in a decade, Jain has two main objectives. The first is to make Maryland’s state government more representative, transparent and accountable by focusing on Inclusion, Banning Corruption and ensuring Equal Access. The second is to take a comprehensive approach to solving Maryland’s issues by focusing on a “Relief, Recovery and Reform” agenda. To learn more, visit JainForGovernor.com.



Council At-Large Fundraising History

By Adam Pagnucco.

Last week, we wrote about fundraising in the Council At-Large race.  Today we put that in perspective.  How do today’s campaigns compare to the campaigns of the past?

There are two big differences between this year’s Council At-Large race and its three predecessors: 2006, 2010 and 2014.  The first is the presence of public financing.  The second is the number of open seats.  In 2006, there was one open seat vacated by Steve Silverman, who ran for County Executive.  In 2010 and 2014, all four incumbents ran again.  This year, there are three at-large vacancies – something that has never happened before.

One thing that all four cycles have in common is the importance of fundraising.  Public financing may have changed the mode by which fundraising occurs, but it did not reduce the centrality of fundraising to the prospect of winning.  Raising a lot of money doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s hard to win without it!

Below is a chart showing fundraising for Council At-Large candidates over the last four cycles.  Candidates shown include incumbents, winners and all others raising at least $150,000.  Contributions to 2018 candidates go through the Pre-Primary 1 report, which was due on May 22.  Incumbency, endorsements by the Washington Post and MCEA and place of finish are also shown.

Since 2006, all candidates who raised at least $240,000 won with one exception: Duchy Trachtenberg.  In 2010, Trachtenberg – then a first-term incumbent – committed one of the craziest decisions of all time by sitting on $146,000.  Rumor had it that she had polls showing her winning and had decided to save her money for a future race, perhaps for Executive.  Her fellow incumbent, George Leventhal, edged her out for the fourth spot by 3,981 votes.  If Trachtenberg had spent her full sum, she might have been able to send out at least another three mailers and history could have changed.

On the other side, no one raising less than $230,000 has won since 2006 with one exception: Marc Elrich.  Love him or hate him, Elrich is the exception to a lot of rules in MoCo politics and he has always vastly outperformed his fundraising.  Becky Wagner (2010) and Beth Daly (2014) were good candidates but they couldn’t quite raise enough money to break through, even with substantial self-financing.

This year, the folks whose fundraising is in the same ballpark as prior winners are Hans Riemer (the race’s sole incumbent), Evan Glass, Bill Conway and Will Jawando.  Gabe Albornoz and Hoan Dang are close.  The others on this chart are below Daly and Wagner.  All of this year’s candidates will raise a bit more money because these figures only go through a month before the primary.  But those in public financing – everyone except Delegate Charles Barkley and Ashwani Jain – have already raised most of their funds for this cycle.  Public financing does not allow for last-second $50,000 loans or bundled corporate checks to pay for a final mailer or two.

Money isn’t everything – just ask David Trone.  But it has a role and public financing has not changed that.  As we go down to the wire in the at-large race, money matters as much as ever.


Campaign Finance Reports: Council At-Large, May 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

Today, we look at the Council At-Large candidates.  As with yesterday, 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.

Below is our fundraising summary for the Council At-Large candidates.

First, a few random notes.  As of this writing, five at-large candidates – Craig Carozza-Caviness, Ron Colbert, Paul Geller, Richard Gottfried and Darwin Romero – have not filed May reports.  Lorna Phillips Forde did file a May report and requested matching funds, but her report contains many duplicated entries and is a big mess.  We are not printing her numbers until they get straightened out.  Michele Riley has given herself a combined $21,000 in two loans and one contribution, which exceeds the $12,000 self-funding maximum allowed in public financing.  That needs to be corrected or otherwise remedied.

Now to the numbers.  In the pre-public financing days, winning at-large candidates generally raised $250,000 or more with the notable exception of Marc Elrich.  Four candidates are in that territory: Hans Riemer (the only incumbent), Evan Glass, Bill Conway and Will Jawando.  Gabe Albornoz and Hoan Dang are not far off.  Delegate Charles Barkley (D-39) has not raised quite that much, but he started with a big war chest built over years of little competition in his district.  The cash on hand leaders are Glass, Riemer and Barkley, who are virtually tied, followed by Conway and then Jawando.

In evaluating differences in cash position, we don’t find variances of $20,000-30,000 very significant.  That’s because candidates schedule their expenditures differently.  Some have spent a bit more before the deadline and some held back to show a bigger balance.  What we do find significant is the difference between candidates who have close to $200,000 available for the final push – Riemer, Glass, Barkley and Conway – and those who have half that amount or less, such as Albornoz, Dang, Marilyn Balcombe, Jill Ortman-Fouse, Mohammad Siddique, Ashwani Jain, Danielle Meitiv, Seth Grimes and Brandy Brooks.  (Forget about those who have $25,000 or less.)  The latter group of candidates now faces very tough decisions on resource usage.  A mailer to super-Dems can cost $35,000-$45,000 depending on how the universe is defined.  So a candidate with $100,000 on hand might be able to squeeze out two or three mailers and that’s about it.  Is that enough to stand out given all the other races going on?

Institutional endorsements also play a role.  Several of the lesser funded candidates, especially Brooks and Meitiv, have some good endorsements that could help them.  We think the biggest beneficiary will be MCPS teacher Chris Wilhelm, who has more cash on hand than Albornoz, Dang and Balcombe and also has the Apple Ballot.  If the teachers mail for Wilhelm, that could effectively close the gap a bit between him and the top-funded candidates.

For what it’s worth, the conventional wisdom is that Riemer will be reelected, Glass and Jawando will join him and the last seat will come down to Conway or Albornoz.  We’re not ready to buy that for a couple reasons.  First, among the seven County Councils that have been elected since the current structure was established in 1990, only one – the 1998-2002 council – had zero at-large female members.  Combine that with the fact that 60% of the primary electorate is female and it’s premature to write off all the women running.  Second, this is an unprecedented year.  We have never had public financing before and we have never had so many people running at-large.  What seems like conventional wisdom now could seem very unwise in the blink of an eye!  So we expect surprises in this historic election.

Next: the council district races.


Joe Biden Endorses Ashwani Jain

Former Vice President Joe Biden has endorsed Council At-Large candidate Ashwani Jain.  We reprint Jain’s press release below.



May 23, 2018


Jaan Williams

Campaign Manager

Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Endorses Ashwani Jain for Montgomery County Council, At-Large

Silver Spring, Md. (May 23, 2018) — Today, Friends of Ashwani Jain announced that Vice President Joseph Biden has endorsed Ashwani Jain, Democratic candidate for an At-Large seat on the Montgomery County Council. Biden is the former Vice President of the United States in the Obama Administration and previously served as a U.S. Senator from the state of Delaware from 1973 to 2009.

“I am humbled and proud to be endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden,” said Ashwani Jain. “Working for him on the Cancer Moonshot at the White House was truly an incredible experience, and being a part of his team was one of the proudest moments of my life. I’m honored to follow his example as a kind, compassionate, tireless advocate and public servant as I run for Montgomery County Council, At-Large.”

“I have seen first-hand Ashwani Jain’s commitment to his community and our nation, and I am proud to endorse him for an At-Large seat on the Montgomery County Council,” said Vice President Biden. “He is a first-generation American and a 15-year cancer survivor who worked with me in the Administration on the Cancer Moonshot, an issue close to his heart and one that affects so many families in our community. Ashwani understands that to have a strong economy and build the middle class we must work together and ensure equal access to opportunity.”

Ashwani Jain served on the Vice President’s team working on the first ever 50-state Cancer Moonshot Summit.  Jain worked with the former Vice President, medical professionals, and researchers nationally and in Montgomery County – at the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute and Walter Reed Medical Center – in the successful creation of the program. Jain previously served in the Obama-Biden Administration as the Associate Director of External Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Deputy White House Liaison at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.



SEIU Local 500 To Endorse Five in MoCo Races

By Adam Pagnucco.

SEIU Local 500, one of the largest unions in Maryland, will be endorsing five candidates in MoCo races soon.  The local’s membership of more than 8,000 is concentrated among MCPS support staff, adjunct college faculty and child care workers.  It has one of the most aggressive political operations in the state and its endorsement is highly valued in MoCo.

At this time, the local will be endorsing:

Marc Elrich for County Executive

Gabe Albornoz, Ashwani Jain and Will Jawando for Council At-Large

Ben Shnider for Council District 3

The union has not decided on an endorsement yet in Council District 1 and may announce one later.  It has postponed endorsement decisions for incumbent Council Members outside District 3 pending further actions of the council.  Since MCPS accounts for a significant portion of the local’s membership, budget decisions on the schools may impact the union’s thinking.

Congratulations to the endorsees.  To be continued!


First Impressions, Part Four

By Adam Pagnucco.

Seth Grimes, Takoma Park

Former Takoma Park City Council Member Seth Grimes’s edge is his experience.  Other than incumbent Hans Riemer and Delegate Charles Barkley (D-39), Grimes is the only candidate in the field who has served in elected office so far.  During his two terms in office (2011-2015), Grimes passed legislation allowing 16-year-olds to vote in municipal elections as well as banning environmentally harmful pesticides and polystyrene containers.  The latter two bills were models for similar county legislation.  He also pushed for better management practices in the city both before and after he started serving on the council.

In person, Grimes comes across as studious and tremendously substantive.  Those qualities are present in such abundance that he can struggle to convey ideas in layman’s terms.  He can go into significant detail on his favorite subjects, including affordable housing, food security, reducing poverty and municipal tax duplication.  On many other subjects, Grimes can relate them to his work in the city.  As a provider of many more services than a lot of Maryland municipalities (including a full service police department), the city provides a good laboratory for understanding the functions and problems of county government.

One major plus for your author is that Grimes is a blogger.  (Folks, we bloggers are sorely misunderstood and must stick together in the face of a sometimes unforgiving world!)  His blog shows a person who is fact-oriented, careful, versed in policy and extremely well informed.  It’s obvious that he would be ready to serve on the County Council from day one.  That fact alone makes him worthy of consideration for your vote.

Ashwani Jain, Potomac

Former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain has an inspiring story.  He is a first generation American whose father came here from India years ago with no connections and built a thriving family jewelry business.  He is also a cancer survivor, having contracted the disease at age 13 and undergone chemotherapy.  Jain understands the American dream as well as personal tragedy.  Lots of people will relate to him.

Jain’s claim to fame is his association with President Obama, dating from his volunteering for him ten years ago and ultimately culminating in positions at the White House and the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development.  He is part of the local Obama network that also includes Council Member Hans Riemer, Delegate Marc Korman, former Maryland Obama Director Jason Waskey, former Delegate candidate Kyle Lierman, former MCDCC Member Oscar Ramirez and fellow at-large council candidate Will Jawando.  But Jain is not just a national-level person – he is also a native of the county and has lived in several parts of it, both east and west.  That gives him a gut-level knowledge of the county that most transplants don’t have.

Jain’s policy views on land use and budgetary issues are not well developed, though he does favor transit projects like the Purple Line and the BRT system, he supports a $15 minimum wage, he believes the county should be a sanctuary jurisdiction and he emphasizes the need for affordable housing.  He also thinks the county should consider ending its liquor monopoly.  But perhaps the biggest reason why voters will like him in addition to his Obama experience is his appealing personality.  Simply put, it is virtually impossible to dislike him.  That’s a major asset for any politician.  Local activists don’t know him yet, but he could really surprise people before this race is over.

That’s it for now, folks.  As we meet more candidates, we may renew this series in the future!


Ashwani Jain Announces Run for Council At-Large

Ashwani Jain, a former Obama administration official and campaign coordinator, has announced that he is running for County Council At-Large.  His announcement appears below.



Media Advisory for Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 — Saturday, Ashwani Jain will host a campaign kick-off event to announce his candidacy for Montgomery County Council, At-Large. Ashwani will be joined by friends, family and supporters to celebrate the launch of his campaign, his birthday, and the 15th anniversary of becoming cancer-free. The event is free and open to the public.

Ashwani is a first generation Indian-American, the son of local small business owners, a lifelong native of Montgomery County, and a former appointee of the Obama Administration. Ashwani has built his career as a political organizer and coalition builder in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors as well as through extensive political campaign experience in Montgomery County.

Ashwani is running for County Council because he believes that responsible, diverse, and accountable government doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. He hopes to engage more Montgomery County residents in the political process and to ensure our political institutions are more representative, responsive, inclusive and accountable.

WHAT:          Ashwani Jain for Montgomery County Council Campaign Kick-Off Event

WHEN:          SATURDAY, August 12th, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. ET

WHERE:       Kaldi Social House, 918 Silver Spring Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910

LINK:             https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ashwani-jain-for-montgomery-county-council-campaign-kick-off-tickets-36309625066

Note:  Media interested in attending should RSVP to Jaan Williams (jwilliams@voteashwanijain.com) or 202-630-5226