That’s because the Western Maryland Democratic PAC is holding a “summit” event in Flintstone on April 28 and 29. The event (which requires registration) is described as “charting a progressive course in Western Maryland.” And top billing in the email announcement goes to two familiar names: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Total Wine co-owner David Trone.
Kamenetz, of course, is running for Governor. But what of Trone? His website says he is considering a run for Montgomery County Executive. But his attendance at the Western Maryland event (and the money he must have contributed to be listed as a “Presenting Sponsor”) suggests that he is keeping a CD6 option open. Trone’s self-funding capacity allows him significant timetable flexibility.
But that’s not all. The solicitation states that Delegate Frick and Senator Roger Manno (D-19) will also be attending. Manno is a labor favorite and is known to be interested in the CD6 seat.
Congratulations to the Western Maryland Democratic PAC for setting up such a juicy event. Get your tickets here, folks!
Vote to Allow Late Introduction of Internet Privacy Bill
Yesterday, Adam Pagnucco reported how Republicans in the House of Delegates voted narrowly to prevent the late introduction of a bill by Del. Bill Frick (D-16) designed to protect companies from selling your internet records to anybody, including scammers. Frick introduced this bill in the wake of action by the Republicans in the U.S. Congress to do away with these protections.
Good news today from the Maryland Senate.
On a party line vote, or at least what looks like one based on my eyeballing of the above vote, Senate Democrats pushed successfully to allow the late introduction to the bill and to send it immediately to the Senate Finance Committee for review.
The bill was introduced by Sen. James Rosapepe (D-21) and cosponsored by Sens. Lee, Astle, Benson, Conway, Currie, Feldman, Ferguson, Guzzone, Kagan, Kasemeyer, Kelley, King, Madaleno, Manno, Mathias, McFadden, Middleton, Muse, Nathan-Pulliam, Oaks, Peters, Pinsky, Ramirez, Robinson, Smith, Young, and Zucker.
This list of cosponsors includes the entire Montgomery delegation. Indeed, it includes all Senate Democrats, except, Sens. Brochin, Ferguson, Klausmeier, Miller, and Zirkin. All five voted to move forward with the bill.
Bills in Annapolis face deadlines for introduction so that each chamber has adequate time to send them to committees, hold hearings and votes, and reconcile them if different versions pass. But Congress’s action to legalize Internet providers’ scamming of their customers took place only days ago and Sine Die, the last day of the Maryland General Assembly’s 2017 regular session, is approaching on April 10. Delegate Frick, who is known for introducing consumer protection bills, had to act fast. The Maryland Constitution requires two thirds of state legislators to agree to let a bill be introduced in the last 35 days of session. So Frick quickly drafted a bill to outlaw the scamming that Congress allowed and asked his colleagues in the House of Delegates to allow its introduction. He needed 94 votes. He got 90.
Frick posted a partial screenshot of the vote page on Facebook (below). Delegate Kumar Barve (D-17) posted the full tally. Every single Delegate who voted against the bill’s introduction was a Republican. So were all the Members of Congress who voted to roll back federal Internet privacy rules in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.
What did the Republican Delegates block from being voted on? Frick’s bill was a simple one. It would have made it an unfair or deceptive trade practice in Maryland for Internet service providers to sell or transfer their customers’ names, social security numbers, addresses, IP addresses and browsing histories without their affirmative permission. It also would have banned them from showing ads derived from browsing histories and denying service to customers who refused to allow their personal information to be shared. The bill made an exception for information subject to a subpoena, summons, warrant or court order.
One Republican Delegate who voted against introducing Frick’s bill, Nic Kipke of Anne Arundel County, told the Associated Press that Internet privacy is “a national issue, and a Maryland bill would just drag Washington politics into the state.” Great! So when millions of Marylanders get scammed by Internet predators, the state legislators who represent them should do nothing. Nigerian princes, British lottery officials and offshore bank investors rejoice!
GOP politicians have been known for their squabbling in recent years, but on this one thing, they agree: your personal Internet data should be bought and sold without your knowledge or consent. Remember that in November 2018.
After many years of leadership, and ruling her committee with an iron hand, Del. Sheila Hixson has stepped down as Chair of the Ways and Committee. Del. Anne Kaiser (D-14, Montgomery) is the new chair, and Del. Bill Frick (D-16, Montgomery) replaces Kaiser as the new majority leader.
All are excellent decisions. It’s gracious of Del. Hixson, after her lengthy and effective leadership as chair, to step down at this time and allow new leadership to emerge in a chamber that has seen mostly the same people at the helm for many years.
Del. Kaiser is an obvious choice to grow into her shoes. She has steadily moved up the leadership rungs in the House, and with good reason. The incoming chair combines smarts with savvy strategy with the latter being even more important than the former in an inherently political process. She also knows how to be a team player to get work done in a large legislative body.
Similarly, Del. Frick is a fine selection as majority leader. Another of the bright lights in the Montgomery delegation, Frick has pushed for new ideas, such as liquor decontrol, that are needed to move the County and the State forward. This appointment suggests that Frick is back on track after his abortive run for attorney general.
Finally, all of this reflects well on Speaker Busch. It’s not easy to facilitate transitions of this sort, especially when the outgoing chair is long-time trusted member of your leadership team. Kudos to the Speaker for these good decisions. Now, if he would just replace Judiciary Chair Joe Vallario, who has stood in the way of progress on too many issues, the House would really feel a fresh breeze.
Today, the Washington Post endorsed Del. Bill Frick’s bill to allow voters to decide whether to end Montgomery County’s “antiquated” liquor monopoly:
It’s time to scrap Montgomery’s liquor monopoly. How many times, and for how many years, must the county demonstrate that notwithstanding its proficiency in running libraries, maintaining parks or educating children, it is inept at the liquor business?
Del. Bill Frick Proposes to Allow Voters to Decide
The movement to end the Montgomery County liquor monopoly is gaining momentum. Six legislators plan to introduce legislation to allow voters to decide the question. Comptroller Franchot penned an opinion piece last week arguing for its end. But I suspect that it’s the political potency of the issue with voters that will give it continued forward momentum.
The following is by Adam Pagnucco:
As of this writing, over 900 people have signed the petition asking Montgomery County’s State Senators and Delegates to end the county’s archaic liquor monopoly. Here are a few comments from petition signers that truly say it all.
First of all, I appreciate Roger Berliner’s and the other County leaders’ embrace of this cause. Montgomery County, Maryland’s liquor laws are an embarrassing and harmful anachronism. County sales of alcohol do not serve any public purpose but they do perpetuate an expensive and useless bureaucracy. The County should not be a seller of alcohol but rather should serve as a responsible regulator of private restaurants and stores selling alcohol.
Retaining the current system discourages the entry of businesses into the County and results in a conflict of interest for the County as both a regulator and a vendor selling to and competing with private businesses. Getting the County out of the liquor business would allow private enterprise to offer consumers more choices and more reasonable prices. At the same time, it would allow the County to focus on its regulatory role, while gaining additional tax revenue from businesses to lower individual taxes.
I have lived in this County for more than sixty years. This useless charade cannot be ended too soon. Kenneth Markison, Chevy Chase, MD
I own 2 restaurants in Montgomery County, both well known for the breadth of their beer, wine and liquor lists. The difficulty in creating and maintaining these lists because of the county controlled system is extraordinary. It adds hours of unnecessary labor to my payroll costs, diminishes the quality of my beverage programs through the inconsistency of stock, unavailability of products and errors in delivery, and drives up the cost of the products we sell – which must either be absorbed by us (therefore diminishing our profits) or passed on to the consumer resulting in higher menu prices. This system causes all but the most intrepid restaurant owners to dumb down their offerings because it’s far far easier and ensures Montgomery County will never compete with DC in terms of the quality and creativity of its restaurants. Jackie Greenbaum, Washington, DC
I’m signing because this is 2015, not 1925. Debra Van Alstyne, Potomac, MD
Ridiculous that this is still in place. Way past time to do away with it. Deborah Grossman, Takoma Park, MD
I’m signing because I’m sick of being forced to drive out of MoCo to get the wines I want. It causes MoCo restaurants time, money, and frustration. It discourages new restaurants from considering moving to MoCo. The current system is cumbersome, useless, embarrassing, archaic, and typically paternalistic. I don’t need this County to make my buying decisions for me, thank you. Lezlie Crosswhite, North Potomac, MD
I’m tired of having to go to DC or VA to have a wide choice of wines plus the prices are so much better. Sandra Satterfield, Rockville, MD
I am an economist, retired from the FTC after over 30 years. I worked exclusively on anti-trust cases. Monopolies hurt consumers. Russ Parker, Bethesda, MD
According to the Maryland Declaration of Rights “monopolies are odious”. If monopolies are so odious then why does Montgomery County have a monopoly on the sale of alcoholic beverages in Montgomery County? Justin McInerny, Chevy Chase, MD
… because the monopoly is outdated, stifling, and ridiculous. And annoying. Diana Conway, Potomac, MD
It has been proven to be a flawed system that restricts the store owner’s ability to maximize sales and be self-reliant on their success. The internal inventory controls have been called into question as of late as well. Time to open it up to the free market! John Hodges, Rockville, MD
I am tired of County stores with poor quality and customer service. I have to shop with a cart that has a pole on it so I can be tracked through the store, then I have to stand behind a piece of blue tape on the floor to be helped by someone who doesn’t want to be there. The selection is poor and I find myself shopping elsewhere. It’s time to get rid of soviet era liquor stores. Richard Neimand, Silver Spring, MD
We’re tired of driving to Total Wine in Laurel and Calvert-Woodley in D.C. to find good selections of beer and wine at reasonable prices. We want to spend our money here, but not at the premium we have to pay because of this ridiculous set up. Also, we want to see more restaurants locate here and they need access to good selections of fine wines, craft liquors, etc. Mike Diegel, Silver Spring, MD
This system no longer (if it ever did) makes sense. Michael Webb, Germantown, MD
It is time for the free market to work its magic and for the county to cure its addiction to alcohol (revenues). A remarkably inefficient, and at times corrupt, system should not be tolerated by consumers and businesses directly affected by its protection. Let voters decide what happens. Allen Perper, Silver Spring, MD
I spend money out of county in an effort to avoid the ridiculous monopoly in Montgomery County. It is insulting to my intelligence. Stephen Sugg, Rockville, MD
Business is for the private sector, governing is for the government.| Yovav Sever, Rockville, MD
I buy much of my alcohol outside MoCo. I want a wider selection and to not have to drive! Laurie Wilner, Potomac, MD
The county should NOT be selling alcohol at all! I always thought that was stupid. The county has anti-drink programs and yet sells the stuff…let’s teach our kids hypocrisy, shall we? Pat Burton, Gaithersburg, MD
I’m signing because I do purchase all of my beer and wine in Washington, D.C. Michael Reust, Takoma Park, MD
I live in MoCo and have to go to Frederick County (or Virginia) to get a couple of things that the county won’t allow to be sold. The current system is a total joke. Victoria Cross, Gaithersburg, MD
I’m signing because I resent the county’s imposing a monopoly on its citizens. We’re grownups. Let us decide who to buy our alcohol from, and what to buy. I love Mo Co except this liquor business is an embarrassment. David Austin, Bethesda, MD
I don’t believe the county should have a monopoly on the liquor we buy or the choices restaurants have in what they provide customers. Currently, and for MANY years, I’ve purchased all my liquor in DC. Too bad for Maryland and time to smarten up. Anne Claysmith, Bethesda, MD
I hate having to drive to neighboring counties to find liquor stores with a decent variety to choose from. Mark Eakin, Silver Spring, MD
I worked at a bar in Silver Spring for 4 years, and during that time we were frequently unable to keep regular beers, liquors, and supplies we relied on in stock due to the County’s apathy towards customer interests Jennifer Burrell, Laurel, MD
The county should not be allowed to continue its monopoly on alcohol sales to our businesses. I fully support allowing private sellers to compete with DLC in Montgomery County and putting this issue to a referendum so that it is clear how many county citizens desire a private competition approach. Michael Fetchko, Bethesda, MD
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 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.
Chris Van Hollen probably ain’t going nowhere. He has a lot to lose and very little to gain by running for US Senate. In the House, he’s got a solid shot at the Speakership (if Team Blue ever regains control of the chamber). Even if he falls short, he’ll likely advance into some lower tier of leadership–and being Majority Leader or Caucus Chairman ain’t bad. Perhaps he ends up in some lofty post in a theoretically Biden Administration (the Vice President is very close to CVH). But hey, many a down county pol dreams of the day this seat will open up . . . so let’s speculate.
Here are some politicians, who without having asked them, I’d wager would seriously consider it:
State Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20): Jamie represents about 20% of MD-08 and would carry with him a rabid base of progressive activists. I believe he would be able to tap into a substantial network of national “net roots” small donors as MD-04 Congresswoman Donna Edwards was able to in 2006 and 2008. He’d also be able to raise money from national progressive donors. I think he could raise betwixt $1,000,000 and $1,600,000 for this bid.
State Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18): Rich would likely attract substantial backing from a large community of national LGBT donors. He also represents 1/5th of MD-08 currently and presents a more practical blend of progressivism than Senator Raskin. I believe he could raise between $700,000 and and a million dollars.
Delegate Bill Frick (D-16): I discussed Delegate Frick’s congressional fortunes in my post on MD-06. He represents a much larger portion of MD-08 than MD-06 so he might have a stronger showing here.
County Council Member At Large Hans Riemer: Hans has the distinct advantage that he represents the vast majority of Democratic Primary voters in this district. He’d also be a nice Obama spin off Congressional Candidate. Perhaps by the time MD-08 is open the President will be ready to stump for the alumni of his historic campaigns. I think Hans could put together $500,000-$650,000. He also has the opportunity to a great deal of constituency building due to his county wide position.
District 5 County Council Member Tom Hucker: It is my opinion that Tom Hucker espouses a slightly different brand of progressive rhetoric than Jamie Raskin. Jamie is the liberal law professor while Hucker is a fiery labor organizer. I believe Hucker would be labor’s choice and could come up with between $350,000 and $600,000.
Former Delegate Heather Mizeur (District 20): This is the seat Heather was born to run for. Unfortunately, I think Raskin would cut her electoral base out from under her. This is very different than her donor base and I believe she could rake in between two and three million dollars for her bid. Weirdly, I hear her mentioned more frequently for MD-01 (where she owns a vacation home, in Kent County).
My Analysis In a field likely to be chock full of dynamic progressive elected officials (think Raskin, Hucker and Mizeur) vying to be the farthest of the far left a slightly more pragmatic liberal (think Madaleno, Frick or Riemer) could break through. It even opens the door for a real moderate (!) self funding businessman to flood the race with money and cruise to victory.
Outlook: Toss Up
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If John Delaney left office for unforeseen reasons, it would kick off something Maryland hasn’t seen since 2006: a Democratic primary for an open seat in the US House. In 2012, the battle for the Democratic nomination was a clear fight between State Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola and multimillionaire banker John Delaney. The nuances of the next race are likely to be more subtle. In my estimation, there are three people I am sure would run:
State House Majority Leader Kumar Barve (District 17)
State Senator Roger Manno (District 19)
State Delegate Bill Frick (District 16)
Del. Barve would start out as the clear favorite and would be able to tap into significant sources of funding that might not be available to other candidates: Annapolis economic donors, K Street Economic donors and National Indian American donors. He also represents a larger portion of the District than Sen. Manno or Del. Frick. I believe Del. Barve could raise upwards of $1,500,000-$2,500,000 for this campaign.
Sen. Manno might be able to consolidate the progressive community in general and the labor movement specifically around his candidacy. He has the potential to raise $400,000-$800,000 for this campaign.
Del. Frick is a highly talented politician and would make a dynamic, attractive (in both senses) congressional candidate. His challenge in his aborted AG Campaign was fundraising. The word on the streets of Annapolis and DC has always been that he lacks the intestinal fortitude for call time.
However, Del. Frick also has an amazing network spanning from B-CC High School to Northwestern University to Harvard Law to a decade at Akin Gump. He could raise substantial sums by tapping into hat network and carve out a constituency by going on Broadcast TV. Del. Frick could raise up to $1,500,000–if he puts in the work.
I’ve also heard rumors that current District 39 Del. Kirill Reznik and former (2006-2010) District 39 Del. Saqib Ali might be interest in throwing their hats in the ring. I think Mr. Ali (who has raised up to a quarter million dollars for his bids for state and local office) would be capable of raising money nationally from the Muslim community. Mr Reznik has an appealing immigrant story that could play well in a Democratic Primary.
I also have heard rumors that Attorney General Doug Gansler could view this as a comeback bid. Doug raised over $6 million dollars in his gubernatorial bid (almost entirely from his personal rolodex). I believe he would be enormously formidable in a congressional bid. Outlook with Gansler in the Race: Lean Gansler. Outlook without Gansler in the race: Lean Barve
At least one prominent District 20 activist disagrees with my assessment that longtime incumbent Del. Sheila Hixson is a safe bet for reelection. So, apparently, does the Gazette. I still think she’s a lock but I’ve been wrong in the past. So after asking around Annapolis, here’s the shortlist:
If they hadn’t left the House, Brian Feldman and Justin Ross would both be on the list too. Geographic balance suggests that the chair would have to be from Montgomery County–Maryland’s largest jurisdiction and particularly large Democratic delegation can’t be chair-less.
Promoting gender balance in the leadership would favor a woman for the spot. Otherwise, there would be a very non-PC 1-5 gender split and Democrats tend to be especially obsessed with such things. Both of these would favor the smart, hard charging Education Subcommittee Chair Anne Kaiser.
On the other hand, Revenues Subcommittee Chair Bill Frick is one of the brightest intellects that the House of Delegates has seen in some time. He is also well-liked in Annapolis, although rumor has it his aborted AG Campaign may have rankled some in leadership as well as his District 16 colleagues. Regardless, Frick is an immensely talented politician. If he became Chair, he would become a strong candidate to become Speaker (whenever Mike Busch moves on).
Majority Leader Kumar Barve, who would be first AAPI Committee Chair. However, it would be a somewhat lateral move, as he would have to surrender his spot as Majority Leader. Frick or Kaiser would each have an excellent shot at becoming Majority Leader if Barve took the helm at Ways and Means. But so would John Bohanon or Talmadge Branch.
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