Tag Archives: Cheryl Kagan

Kagan Endorses Haffner over Gilchrist

District 17 is having quite an interesting set of alliances this year. Sen. Cheryl Kagan is seeking renomination without opposition. Incumbent Dels. Kumar Barve and Jim Gilchrist are also seeking reelection.

Much earlier in the primary season, Barve and Gilchrist formed a slate with Rockville Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr. You can see their joint signs up near polling places and they share door-knocking literature. In contrast, Kagan decided to hold off on supporting other candidates.

Prior to early voting, however, she released a sample ballot indicating that she favors giving the heave-ho to Gilchrist and replacing him Julian Haffner. This places her somewhat at odds with the two other delegates she is supporting.

Del. Jim Gilchrist has served three terms in the House and is widely seen as one of its most affable members. His quiet style is very different from Sen. Kagan’s. Haffner is an attorney who served on MCDCCand son of a Sierra Leonean immigrant mother.

Current School Board Member Rebecca Smondrowski is also running for the seat and I’ve heard she has performed well in forums. In short, District 17 has a wealth of good candidates for the three delegate seats – and an unusual set of alliances too.

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Kagan Names a Name

By Adam Pagnucco.

One of the things that has been missing so far in the #Metoo movement’s impact on Annapolis is the naming of actual perpetrators of sexual harassment.  Well, that ends now.  Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-17) has issued a statement on official letterhead accusing former District 16 Delegate and current lobbyist Gilbert J. Genn of touching her inappropriately.  (Genn was once a member of the House Judiciary Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice.)  Think on this, folks: if a lobbyist is behaving this way with a person of power – a State Senator! – what is happening to others?

We reprint Kagan’s statement below.

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MCEA Endorses Kagan, Kramer and Waldstreicher

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) has endorsed three MoCo Senate candidates: Cheryl Kagan (D-17), Ben Kramer (D-19) and Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18).  Kagan is an incumbent who is running unopposed.  Kramer is a Delegate running for the Senate seat being vacated by Roger Manno, who is running for Congress.  So far, Kramer’s sole opponent is a Green Party member.

Waldstreicher is a Delegate who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Rich Madaleno, who is running for Governor.   Waldstreicher now has the support of MCEA, MCGEO, the Sierra Club, SEIU Local 32BJ, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Fire Fighters Local 1664 and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35.  Dana Beyer, his principal opponent, has been endorsed by SEIU Local 500.

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Lamone Backs Election Observers in Letter to Kagan

State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone continues to stand by Maryland’s traditional willingness to welcome international elections observers in a letter to Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-17), despite absurd Maryland Republican hysteria raised over the prospect of Russian interference as a result.

Will Gov. Larry Hogan now finally stand up and put a stop to these shameless anti-democratic attacks by the Maryland GOP?

Here is a copy of the letter:

SBE Letter to Kagan on Election Observers by David Lublin on Scribd

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Hogan Republicans Run Trump’s Playbook on Russia and Election Fraud

Can we please stop pretending that Larry Hogan is some sort of goo-goo Republican reformer?

Yesterday, the Maryland GOP sent out a hysterical email railing against – gasp – foreign election observers of American elections:

Do you think foreign nationals should be openly invited into our polling places on election day? Democratic Senators Kagan and Rosapepe think so.

For all the complaints about potential foreign involvement in U.S. elections, Maryland Democrats sure are trying to invite outside influences into our elections…

Now, they have introduced SB 190 that would give an international election observers the same rights as a U.S. citizen to watch over our elections for any polling place in the state that they see fit.

This bill gives foreign nationals the right to:

  • Go to polls unsupervised and move from poll-to-poll
  • Enter the polling place one-half hour before the polls open
  • Enter or be present at the polling pace at any time when the polls are open
  • Remain in the polling place until the completion of all tasks associated with the close of the polls
  • A police officer who is on duty at a polling place shall protect an international election observer in the discharge of the duties of the international election observe
  • The election judge shall designate reasonable times for international election observers to examine polling lists

SIGN AND SHARE the petition if you believe the Maryland Senate should vote AGAINST SB 190! 

I don’t know who came up with this unhinged horror at a piece of legislation that should be so uncontroversial as to verge on banal. Foreign election observers are common in elections around the world. The U.S. sends observers to countries around the world as part of observation missions.

Indeed, the American government plays a major role in funding these initiatives through the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI), Organization of American States (OAS), and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). All but the last are based in Washington.

Beyond the creepy weirdness of attempting to whip voters up over people observing – a word that specifically excludes any participatory role  – our elections, this is right out of the Trump playbook because of (1) its xenophobic attack on foreigners as somehow inherently nefarious, and (2) being resistant to any effort to improve the electoral process whatsoever.

Trump is impervious to protecting our elections from proven Russian interference in our elections because it helps Republicans. (Ronald Reagan must be rolling over in his grave.) Under Larry Hogan, the Maryland GOP shows similar hostility to the most mild effort to improve our democracy in their effort to whip up hate about a bunch of foreign election experts who will come here, observe elections, and write a tempered report with a few suggestions for improvement.

The Governor has just lost what little credibility as a reformer he had. He is willing to speak out against redistricting in Maryland, because he thinks it will benefit his party, but totally silent on Republican efforts to protect it north of the Mason-Dixon and south of the Potomac.

Yet he found time to travel to Virginia to support the odious Ed Gillespie in his effort to become governor using hateful rhetoric and scaremongering. Despite Gillespie’s flop, Hogan apparently decided to import Gillespie-type tactics.

If Larry Hogan’s Republicans were remotely reasonable, they would never publish something like this. The Governor needs to repudiate it immediately and replace the people in the Maryland GOP who came up with this piece of tripe.

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Campaign Finance Reports: Districts 16 and 17, January 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 16

First, the easy part: all three incumbents – Senator Susan Lee and Delegates Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman – are running as a team and are headed to reelection.  Lee has historically been one of the delegation’s best fundraisers (although Korman surpassed her by a little bit this cycle).  Kelly is beloved by advocates for families, women and children for her work on their issues and has emerged as a leader on ridding Annapolis of sexual harassment.  Korman is a rare bird: a lawyer who is good with numbers.  Metro riders everywhere should thank him for his tenacious work to improve WMATA.  Great things are predicted for Korman so long as he does not return to blogging.

Attorney Sara Love and MCPS teacher Samir Paul are the top non-incumbents vying for the seat being vacated by Delegate Bill Frick, who is running for County Executive.  Love and Paul would be great candidates in any part of the county, but unfortunately for them, they are running in the same district.  Love fits in well with the progressive female voters who dominate District 16 primaries.  Paul is a teacher who has been active in MCEA (which has endorsed him), but his message is much bigger than education as he draws links between all public institutions that confer benefits but require investment, especially WMATA.  Love and Paul had super fundraising performances and are essentially equal in cash on hand.  Those who have met them are impressed with both of them, but sadly, there is only one open seat.

The Big Question: will Frick, who filed a disappointing January report, drop back down to the House race?  We know Frick does not enjoy that question, but since he withdrew from the Attorney General’s race and refiled for Delegate at the last hour in 2014, this is on everybody’s mind.  Such a move by Frick would probably result in all four incumbents being reelected, wasting huge time and effort by Love and Paul.

District 17

This district is a mess.  The only certainty here is that Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Kumar Barve will be reelected, assuming that Kagan is not picked up by a gubernatorial candidate as a running mate.  As for everything else… well.

At the root of the mess is Delegate Jim Gilchrist.  By all accounts, he is a nice guy who never causes trouble.  His defenders describe him as a studious, intellectual workhorse who gets into the weeds and doesn’t claim credit for anything.  But he has little tangible to show for three terms in office.  He has passed no signature legislation.  His website is inactive.  His Facebook page has not been updated since 2014 as of this writing.  And his fundraising is weak.  Consider this: since 2006, Gilchrist has raised a total of $83,217 from others, an average of $27,739 per cycle.  (He has also self-financed $11,120 over that period.)  MoCo has a bunch of candidates who can raise $27,000 in a month.

The search result for Gilchrist’s website less than five months from election day.

So why does he keep winning office?  He has a guardian angel: Barve, who is his committee chair and likes him.  Barve slates with him regularly and appears in joint mailers with him.  Gilchrist would be a goner in most districts, but with Barve helping him, he survives.  And that has caused grumbling in some parts of District 17.

This time, Rockville City Council Member Julie Palakovich Carr decided to run for Delegate in July even when it appeared that all three incumbents (Barve, Gilchrist and Andrew Platt) were running for reelection.  Six months later, Platt dropped out and Barve and Gilchrist quickly decided to slate with Palakovich Carr.  That’s when simmering tensions erupted into the open.

Kagan, who is no fan of Gilchrist, announced that she was not endorsing the Delegate slate, at least not yet.  This is almost unheard of; in virtually all cases when incumbent Delegates form a slate and none of them are challenging the sitting Senator, the Senator participates.  And when Kagan posted her decision on Facebook, the Mayor of Gaithersburg and two Gaithersburg City Council Members voiced their displeasure with the slate.

Open dissatisfaction with the Delegate slate surfaces on Kagan’s Facebook page.

The nominal reason expressed by some for their unhappiness is that with the inclusion of Palakovich Carr, all three slate members are from Rockville and none are from Gaithersburg.  (The two cities are roughly equal in size.)  But lurking underneath is festering discontent with Gilchrist’s performance in office.  Some would prefer open competition in part because it might lead to Gilchrist’s defeat, but instead they got another slate designed to protect him.  Two Gaithersburg House candidates – school board member Rebecca Smondrowski and attorney Julian Haffner (who is married to a City Council Member) – have now entered the race.  Barve is the only Delegate candidate with any real money, so all the others have a lot of work to do.

The Big Questions: will the Gaithersburg grumblers step up and organize for one or more of the House candidates from their city?  Or will they cut their losses and make their peace with Barve and his slate-mates?  And what, if anything, will Kagan do?

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Leventhal Blames Term Limits on “Right Wing Populism”

By Adam Pagnucco.

In a post on Senator Cheryl Kagan’s Facebook page, Council Member George Leventhal has blamed the voters’ passage of term limits on “right wing populism.”  Yes folks, you read that correctly!

On Sunday, Senator Kagan posted an innocuous account of the number of reusable bags she has accumulated in the wake of the county’s use of a bag tax.  (Your author and many others can relate!)  Her post had nothing to do with term limits and she even stated her support of the bag tax.  Nevertheless, Leventhal replied within ten minutes.  “Constituents have told me the bag tax was a primary reason term limits passed. I support the bag tax too, but I’m just letting you know that you walk a thin line when you associate with right wing populism by identifying yourself with term limits.”

First, Kagan did nothing to identify herself with term limits or with right wing populism of any kind.  No reasonable person would make those leaps of illogic by reading her post.  Second, while Robin Ficker and Help Save Maryland may have gathered signatures for the term limits charter amendment, 70% of the county’s voters (and a majority of Democrats) voted for term limits.  Third, at the same time that “right wing populism” was apparently sweeping the county, those same voters supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 75%-19%.  The alleged right wingers also voted for Chris Van Hollen and Jamie Raskin by more than 50 points each.

Large majorities of every part of the county except Takoma Park voted for term limits.  Is right wing populism running wild in MoCo?

Part of what is going on here may be a reaction to Kagan’s consideration of a run for County Executive, an office which Leventhal is seeking.  Potential rivals are right to fear Kagan.  She is an outstanding candidate who is a veteran of two recent hard-fought Senate races and has many fans inside and outside of her district.  She is also plenty tough, having sent out mail against her 2014 opponent showing him “gallivanting around as a Republican elephant masquerading in a Democrat donkey mask.”  She is unlikely to be intimidated by unfriendly statements on Facebook.

There are many reasons for the passage of term limits: the giant tax hike of 2016, declining local media coverage, falling voter turnout, unhappiness with nanny state laws and, in some areas, dissatisfaction with recent master plans.  These factors and more combined to produce the biggest political revolt in MoCo in fifty years.  But there is no evidence that right wing populism played a decisive role here.  Leventhal’s remarks are reminiscent of his equating term limits supporters with Brexit voters and his branding of the entire effort as “dumb and unnecessary.”  His views do not appear to have changed.

Disclosures: Your author is a big fan of Kagan, has done campaign work for Roger Berliner in the past and publicly supports Berliner for Executive.

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Equal IVF Treatment for Same-Sex Couples Passes Senate

Sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-17), SB 416 requires insurers to give equal coverage for in-vitro fertilization and artificial insemination to lesbian couples. The bill passed third reading in the Senate by 37-10.

While 36%, or 5 of 14 Republicans, voted for the bill, it won support of 97%, or 32 of 33 Democrats. The Republican split on the bill shows how far support for same-sex rights has progressed even since the 2012 referendum on marriage equality. Republicans may be beginning to realize that they win more when they focus on economic issues.

A corresponding bill, HB 838, has been sponsored in the House by Del. Terri Hill. Here is the vote on the bill in the Senate (Republicans are in italics):

Voting YEA (32D, 5R)
Miller
Astle
Benson
Brochin
Conway
Currie
Edwards
Feldman
Ferguson
Gladden
Guzzone
Hershey
Jennings
Kagan
Kasemeyer
Kelley
King
Klausmeier
Lee
Madaleno
Manno
Mathias
McFadden
Middleton
Montgomery
Muse
Nathan-Pulliam
Peters
Pinsky
Pugh
Ramirez
Raskin
Rosapepe
Serafini
Waugh
Young
Zirkin

Voting NAY (1D, 9R)
Bates
Casilly
DeGrange
Eckardt
Hough
Norman
Ready
Reilly
Sailling
Simonaire

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New Senate Set for Greater Polarization

MD Senate Id Change

Past posts have mentioned that the new Maryland General Assembly will be more polarized than the previous one. But what is the measurable impact of the election? Fortunately, since many new senators were formerly delegates, there are measures of their ideology in relation to other legislators.

Using the same dataset provided by Boris Shor and Nolan McCarty of state legislator ideology mentioned in previous posts, this post examines directly the ideology of incoming senators as compared to the people they are replacing. (The scale ranges from around -1.9 for the most liberal Democrat to 1.2 for the most conservative Republican with moderates closest to zero.)

In two cases, measures are not available but the impact is clear. Sens. Roy Dyson and Norm Stone were among the most very moderate members of the Democratic Caucus. They are being replaced by conservative Republicans. These changes will leave the Democrats more liberal and quite possibly also make the Republicans more conservative.

Two cases of Republicans being replaced by fellow Republicans will clearly make the GOP Caucus more conservative. Del. Gail Bates is more conservative than Alan Kittleman. Similarly, Del. Wayne Norman is also more conservative than Sen. Barry Glassman.

There are seven cases with less dramatic changes. Despite the fierce primary, Del. Michael Hough’s voting record has not been dramatically more conservative than Sen. Michael Brinkley. Theirs may be a difference more of style than of substance. But a more confrontational style likely exacerbates polarization.

In Howard County, Del. Guy Guzzone is a bit more liberal than outgoing Sen. Jim Robey. Del. Susan Lee is just a tad more liberal than AG-Elect Brian Frosh. Retiring Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell has a somewhat less liberal voting record than Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam. The impact of the replacement of conservative Sen. Nancy Jacobs by Bob Casilly is less clear but it would be surprising if he turns out to be less conservative than Jacobs.

In two cases, changes may mildly reduce polarization. During her previous service in the House, Cheryl Kagan was a bit less liberal than outgoing Sen. Jennie Forehand. Similarly, Del. Addie Eckardt is a tad less conservative than defeated Sen. Richard Colburn. She is also viewed as a more thoughtful and productive member of the General Assembly than Colburn, who focused on scoring political points rather than shaping legislation.

The Overall Impact

Excluding the three seats won by people who have not served previously in the General Assembly, here are the calculations for the overall ideology of the Senate.

Median D: -1.107 (change of -0.005).
Mean D: -1.115 (change of -0.047).

Median R: 0.881 (change of 0.124).
Mean R: 0.883 (change of 0.062).

Increase in Polarization (Medians): 0.13 (7% increase).
Increase in Polarization (Means): 0.11 (6% increase).

Remember that these calculations underestimate increases in polarization because they exclude the two cases that will have the most dramatic impact–the replacement of Dyson and Stone–especially on the Democratic side as they were among the five most moderate Democrats in the Senate.

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Simmons Running Write-In Campaign

Del. Lou Simmons lost the Democratic Primary for State Senate to Cheryl Kagan in District 17 this year but that apparently has not stopped him from running a quixotic write-in campaign for the seat in the general election with signs up in most precincts.

However, he has not filed a certificate of candidacy (see screenshot below from the State Board of Elections website today) as a write-in candidate, so I do not think that he would qualify even if he pulled off the upset of the decade. (If someone knows more about the appropriate law, please let me know.)

D17

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