Tag Archives: Dana Beyer

Polling the D18 Senate Race

The state senate primary is really heating up! A fellow District 18 resident reported to me that someone is out with a very lengthy poll for the state senate race. Dana Beyer mentioned to me just the other day that “I’m getting started this week, with my polling,” so I imagine it’s for her campaign.

The poll tested potential negatives that could be used against Beyer, including concerns about her being a millionaire and whether she is all about her own agenda while Jeff Waldstreicher has been getting the work done.

Neither candidate is impoverished and Jeff is a corporate attorney, so I’m not sure how or why Jeff would use Dana’s wealth against her. In any case, attacking your opponent based on their wealth seems ill-advised in a district dominated by affluent communities like Chevy Chase, Kensington and Silver Spring.

Similarly, though Jeff is a three-term incumbent and Dana has achieved name recognition through her past campaigns, I doubt the vast majority of primary voters have more than vague knowledge about the achievements or deficits of either. It’s not a knock against them but just the nature of Maryland state legislative races.

Testing the negatives might ironically give them more exposure than they would receive otherwise. The late Jonathan Shurberg, a good friend and political ally of Dana Beyer, made the same polling decision when he ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2014.

Dana Beyer’s willingness to drop a lot of money on a poll once again shows her serious determination to win this race. Having a good message is key to any race. At the same time, I believe that most campaigns would be well advised to focus more directly on voter contact. It’s even more critical and it doesn’t really take a poll to divine the major issues that concern Democrats these days.

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Beyer Rejects Waldstreicher Slate Offer

I’ve heard from multiple sources, and Dana Beyer confirmed, that Del. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18) offered to run on a slate with Dana if she would run for delegate instead of senate. Instead, Beyer is pressing ahead full-steam with her Senate campaign. When I mentioned the rumored offer in passing when I saw Jeff, he neither confirmed nor denied it.

Waldstreicher’s Offer

Jeff’s offer makes perfect sense from a political perspective. While Jeff is the favorite against Dana, why not get a candidate with a fair amount of name recognition from previous races and very deep pockets – Dana has self-funded to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars – out of the way?

It’s reminiscent of Jeff’s first run for delegate, as James Browning reported that an MCEA political operative tried to talk him out of running in 2006 as part of his effort to ease the path for Jeff, who had been endorsed by the teachers union. (Browning used pseudonyms in his write-up of the race.)

Jeff’s offer makes it somewhat more awkward for him to attack Dana in the Senate race. After all, if she is so awful, why was he willing to run on a ticket with her? It probably won’t stop Jeff’s campaign from sending out negative mailers attacking his opponent but should make people a bit more cynical about them.

Dana’s Rejection

While Jeff’s offer makes sense, Dana’s rejection is more perplexing. Having spent a fortune running thrice previously, she is clearly extremely intent on winning election to the General Assembly. Running on a ticket with an established incumbent with two open delegate seats would seemingly put her on a strong path towards that goal. So why joust with Jeff? Why not take yes for an answer?

First, Beyer has long been no fan of Waldstreicher. She ran against him not just in 2006 but also in 2010. Jeff strongly supported Rich Madaleno in 2014 when Dana challenged him. Beyond there being no love lost, Dana undoubtedly views herself as a stronger progressive leader with better credentials as both a doctor and an activist. Alliance building has never been her strong suit and she’d would have had to swallow hard to make the strategic decision to accept Jeff’s offer. In any case, Dana wants to conduct the orchestra – not play second violin to Jeff.

Second, my guess is that Dana thinks she can win. She was utterly convinced that she was going to win in 2006 and angry and flummoxed when she came in a strong fifth. In each new campaign, Dana has believed that she has identified the silver bullet– be it more professional polling or spending buckets more money – and come back again. Jeff may be an extremely focused campaigner but one cannot overstate Dana’s determination.

Finally, having run for the Senate last time, I suspect that Dana would view it a step down to run for the House. Running for Senate, moreover, gives Dana the opportunity to become the first transgender senator, as Danica Roem has stolen Dana’s thunder with her fairy-tale story of a David versus Goliath victory over an incredibly bigoted incumbent in Virginia, instead of the second delegate.

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District 18 Senate Battle by the Numbers

By Adam Pagnucco.

Last week, David Lublin broke the news that former District 18 candidate Dana Beyer is planning to run for Senate against Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher.  Both Beyer and Waldstreicher have run three times in the district.  Let’s see how their past performances stack up.

Electoral Results  

Beyer and Waldstreicher first ran for office in 2006 when both ran for the House.  Waldstreicher, aided greatly by the Apple Ballot, won a close contest with attorney Dan Farrington to claim the open seat vacated by Rich Madaleno.  Beyer ran a credible campaign but finished fifth of eight candidates.  Waldstreicher would never be seriously threatened in his two reelection contests while Beyer lost another House race in 2010 and a Senate challenge to Madaleno in 2014.  One fact apparent in the electoral data is that Waldstreicher’s performance has improved over the years while Beyer has consistently received between 5,000 and 5,500 votes.

Fundraising

In 2006, both Waldstreicher and Beyer were primarily self-financed candidates.  Since then, Waldstreicher has successfully raised outside money while Beyer has continued to mostly self-fund.  Beyer’s loans to her 2014 campaign against Madaleno constituted one of the largest self-financing performances in the history of MoCo General Assembly elections.  Drawing on her own money, she is easily capable of matching Waldstreicher dollar for dollar.

Major Endorsements

Waldstreicher has been endorsed by virtually every major progressive group over the course of his career as well as by the Washington Post in 2014 and the Gazette in 2010 and 2014.  Beyer was endorsed by the Post, the Gazette and Equality Maryland in 2010 and by MCGEO in 2010 and 2014.

Beyer vs Madaleno for Senate

In 2014, Beyer ran against incumbent Rich Madaleno for Senate.  It was a steep uphill climb.  Madaleno is beloved by nearly all District 18 activists and is arguably the most prominent Senator in the district’s history other than the immortal Chris Van Hollen.  Despite all of that, Beyer lost by a 58-42% margin, coming closer to winning than many people believed she would.  She outraised the incumbent by more than 2-1 (if you count her epic self-financing), won the precincts in Rockville and Wheaton and was competitive in Silver Spring and Garrett Park.  Her loss was due to Madaleno running up margins of close to 30 points along Connecticut Avenue.  Still, this was a loss and not a disaster.

So what does all of this mean?  Your author agrees with David Lublin and sees Jeff Waldstreicher as the favorite in this race.  He owns most of the advantages that come with incumbency: fundraising capability in Annapolis (especially with those who have business before his powerful House Economic Matters committee), relationships in the district built through constituent service and relationships with many influential progressive groups who have endorsed him in the past.  He is also a hardworking, adept campaigner who has survived three straight competitive elections.

But Dana Beyer will present a real challenge.  She could wind up spending more than Waldstreicher due to her self-funding capacity.  She has shown some strength in the less wealthy parts of District 18.  And she is more than willing to get tough to win, burying Madaleno in waves of negative mail in 2014.  She is definitely going to bring it against Waldstreicher.

This is gonna be one hell of a race!

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BREAKING: Dana Beyer Running for Senate

Looks like Jeff Waldstreicher isn’t going to waltz into the Democratic nomination for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Rich Madaleno, who is running for governor. Dana Beyer let it be known last night that she’s running.

A former eye surgeon and aide to one-term Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg, Dana has sought election unsuccessfully before in District 18, twice for delegate and last time challenging Rich for Senate. She’s built name recognition, is independently wealthy and willing to spend it on a serious campaign. There is no love lost between Dana and Jeff, so expect this to be tough-fought contest at the very least.

Jeff will expect interest groups to go with him as the established incumbent legislator and work aggressively to persuade them that he will win so they should back him, Dana’s entry provides interesting opportunities for groups that feel Jeff has been insufficiently supportive or doesn’t have their back when push comes to shove and want to send a warning.

Dana has been working hard to organize a slate with candidates for delegate. It will be interesting to see if Jeff does the same and whether and how candidates for delegates choose to plump. I’m sure many will be watching Del. Al Carr, who has built a constituency the district’s municipalities–he was formerly a Kensington Councilman–as well as neighborhood associations and civil activists. There are dangers in joining either camp but also in remaining unaligned.

Fasten your seatbelts District 18, it’s going to be a wild ride!

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Can Waldstreicher Nail Down the D18 Open Senate Seat?

Del. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18) has acted fast to lock down the open senate seat being vacated by Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-18), who is running for governor. Jeff is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination, and thus this very safe blue district, but openings nevertheless remain for the right candidate.

Advantages

Jeff has a solid advantage in name recognition. He has won three terms to the House. More voters begin to recognize state legislators, who often remain obscure to their constituents, after three campaigns and ballot appearances.

No one I know is more tenacious or focused when it comes to campaigns. Jeff won his first election in 2006 against a very tough field with just one open seat. Besides successful fundraising, Jeff won the endorsement of MCEA, in part by arguing convincingly that he was going to win and they should back him.

Jeff is also fortunate in having an extremely supportive family. In past races, they have had his back not only financially but also doing whatever they can to help out from cheering him on at debates to volunteering on the campaign.

Jeff possesses enviable fundraising skills. I have never met anyone more relentless in pursuing a campaign donation and the results show in his impressive bank account balance of $165,491 according to his last campaign finance report. This sort of war chest not only aids victory but deters potential opponents.

Jeff has already secured and vocally touted the valuable endorsement of Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8), a local progressive icon. No doubt he is also pursuing the endorsement of Sen. Chris Van Hollen, which he has received in the past for the House.

Interest groups are likely to back Jeff, if only because he is an incumbent with a record they can assess. They also tend to want to back the winner to avoid alienating a future senator and will naturally perceive him as the heavy favorite. Jeff will not be afraid to pressure any groups that may hesitate.

Potential Openings for Challengers

For all of these advantages, Jeff has vulnerabilities that could tempt a well-funded candidate.

Jeff does not have an especially strong political base in the district. While he has easily gained reelection as part of the D18 team, I have yet to identify groups within the district who passionately support him and see him as their champion.

The perception that Jeff is unwilling to take firm stands on controversial issues hinders his ability to win avid supporters. Politicians naturally desire to avoid offending voters, but taking stands in tough fights is precisely how many politicians gain supporters who stand by them through thick and thin.

The same problem plagues Jeff’s relationships within the General Assembly. Even in a business known for back-stabbing, inhabitants of Annapolis-land are astonishingly willing to volunteer privately their lack of trust, and even dislike. They see Jeff as very transactional and attentive to his own ambitions but not especially hardworking or responsive to his colleague’s needs.

These weaknesses, however, give opponents less of an opening than may appear. Challenging a legislator on the basis of his effectiveness, rather than issues, is a proven way to lose a campaign. Moreover, regardless of their opinion, viewing him as the probable winner, his colleagues will likely line up to offer support and give a friendly quote for the press.

Like all politicians, Jeff is good at touting his support for popular positions and claiming credit on having voted for broadly supported bills passed by the General Assembly from marriage equality to additional funding for school construction. Occasionally, however, he takes it a bit far. Jeff routinely boasts that he is “fiscally responsible” because he “voted for a balanced budget.” Jeff never had the opportunity to do otherwise because the Maryland Constitution mandates balanced budgets. While this sort of false piety grates, opponents will only be able to use to their advantage if they can find a way to use it to feed into a larger portrait of Jeff as yet another inauthentic long-term politician.

Moreover, as a three-term legislator, Jeff has a couple of substantive achievements under his belt. His website mentions that he was the lead sponsor on legislation making possession of child porn a felony, and a ban on texting while driving. Both are easily understood, popular positions, and thus highly amenable to quick, effective campaign communication.

I asked Jeff last week via email how he got interested in these issues and to detail the leadership he showed in passing these bills, or on other issues not mentioned on the website, but did not receive any written answers for quotation.

Though I don’t think campaign websites matter a heck of a lot, his current website could nevertheless punch up his message, as it now highlights banal boilerplate that is about as convincing as ersatz coffee such as “As a father, husband, and life-long resident of Montgomery County, I am committed to the safety of our neighborhoods. I will continue to be a strong advocate for our families.” – Jeff on Safety.

Potential Opponents

Dana Beyer is the obvious candidate. She is seriously considering entering the race and rumor has it that she is trying to put together a slate.

A former eye surgeon and aide to one term Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg, Dana has been hungry to win a seat in the General Assembly, seeking appointment twice and running three times. In 2014, Dana challenged Sen. Rich Madaleno and lost with 41.7% of the vote after spending in excess of $350,000 on her campaign.

Dana is one candidate who could easily bring to bear more money than Jeff. Like Jeff, she’s also smart, hardworking and extremely determined. While she has not won election, she has been on the ballot a number of times and built name recognition. She has gained valuable experience in running past campaigns.

On the other hand, though Dana has tried to build ties with left-wing progressives, she does not have a personal base of supporters in the district and has difficulty in recruiting or working with allies. She would also have a lot of fences to mend with Madaleno supporters. A decisive and opinionated person, she needs to articulate an authentic voice while at the same time remembering that voters want to be heard and not lectured—a skill that Jeff already possesses . In short, she’d have to figure out how to grow her support.

Of course, a candidate who is not currently on my radar could still emerge. The best bet for someone else to challenge Jeff is a candidate with very deep pockets who wants to run as a fresh, authentic face and argue that we need new ideas and new leadership in Annapolis. Even if it would likely remain an uphill battle to defeat Jeff, I could imagine such a candidate gaining traction and making him sweat to win the seat.

The bottom line is Jeff is well positioned to become District 18’s next senator. That doesn’t mean he won’t have to fight for it. However, if his luck continues, it may even occur with ease, as when Rich Madaleno won in 2006 without opposition.

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The Case Against Public Financing: A Manifesto

To a certain type of Goo-Goo liberal, public financing of elections seems like a splendid idea.

It isn’t. Here is why:

The New York Example
I’ve worked perhaps even more extensively in New York politics, where City Elections are publicly financed, than in Maryland. From my reading of the bill, it appears based upon the system used to finance New York City Council races. This isn’t a good thing.

In New York State Assembly races, you can effectively finance a campaign with the support of four donors. If you happened to be running for New York City Council, you need the support of hundreds of small donors to reach the match threshold to run an effective campaign. So candidates for City Council are forced to do congressional candidate level hours of call time (20-30/week).

I remember one of the most successful fundraisers in Democratic Politics once asked me whether I’d rather ask a  thousand people for a dollar, or one person for a thousand dollars. The answer for a candidate is obviously the second one.

I’m sure that if any sitting council members truly understood that come 2018, if they pass this, they will be spending six hours a day in a windowless room calling small time activists to beg for fifty dollar donations, this bill would die a swift death.

The New York State Legislature understands this perfectly well.

I remember having a long phone conversation with one of the head lawyers for the New York Senate Democrats on this topic. He vividly related to me the story of how he told the children of Billionaire Financier George Soros that no amount of money was going to buy him a public financing law. Why you ask?

Because most term limited New York City Councilman end up in Albany and will never go back to the nightmare that is raising small dollar donation for matching funds.

The Colorado Example
In Colorado, the max out donation is $400. Typically, a targeted State Senate race in Colorado maxes out at $200,000. (This cycle they will likely hit $225,000). However, $750,000-$1,000,000 is typically spent by the Colorado Senate Democratic Majority Fund in independent expenditure. This means that the real fundraising campaigns happen outside of the campaigns themselves.

Divorced of a candidate’s name or approval, this translates into lots of nasty, negative, no holds barred political advertising. To me this bill seems like a final attempt by Phil Andrews to kneecap Montgomery County business and union interests. While I find this a vile prospect, Phil’s plan is doomed to failure. At the end of the day, Real Estate Developers and Labor Unions are savvy people. They shall do in Montgomery and circumvent the system through independent expenditures.

The Second New York Example
Mike Bloomberg was elected Mayor of New York City as a Republican because his Democratic opponents were capped at $5  million dollars in spending while he dropped nine figures on his campaign. If you want Dana Buyer, Lou Simmons and Jonathan Shurberg on the Council–the top three self funders in Montgomery County in the 2014 Democratic Primary–please vote for this bill.

The Annapolis Example
Maryland Democrats consistently win districts that should send Republicans to Annapolis (with Democratic Performance indices giving Republicans up to a ten-point edge in many seats long held by Team Blue). This is not because we run better campaigns on the Democratic side in Maryland than anywhere in the country. We’re a decade behind New York, Virginia, California and dozens of others in that regard.

It’s because in Maryland’s one-party environment, traditional economic donors that would be inclined to support Republicans (think Comcast) donate to Democrats. Which explains why Jim Mathias, the most vulnerable Democrat in Maryland’s Senate, will face a Republican with less than $50,000 all in to spend. Mathias will have north of $300,000.

If you have Republican County Council candidates with $125,000 in the bank, Democrats should expect to have competitive general elections in districts 1, 2 and 3.

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Holy Moly, Look at What They Spent!

Campaign finance reports have started to come out. And wow, Dana Beyer and Jonathan Shurberg now have significantly lighter wallets but still managed to lose their primaries. If anyone knows of General Assembly campaigns that have spent more, please let me know.

Dana Beyer

Dana Beyer spent a whopping $332,503–or $63.48 per vote–on her failed bid for the District 18 Democratic senatorial nomination. Virtually all of it came out of her own pocket. In 2013 and 2014, Dana loaned her senate campaign $315,500. So she raised only $17,003 in contributions, including $500 from Emily’s List.

Dana has loaned herself $497,703 over the course of her three unsuccessful campaigns for the General Assembly–two for delegate in 2006 and 2010, and senator in 2014.

Jonathan Shurberg

But Dana’s expenditures fall short next to Jonathan Shurberg’s total so far of $421,858 for losing effort to gain the delegate nomination in District 20.  The total could go even higher as Jonathan has loaned or given his campaign an astounding $496,773. His loans totaled $366,200 and gifts added up to $130,573.

The total per vote based on Jonathan’s expenditures is an incredible $140.76 per vote but that could rise to $165.76 based on his loans and gifts to his campaign.

And to think some people just go to Neiman Marcus.

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I Ran for the Legislature and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

In Montgomery County, money talked in the form of bombing people’s inboxes with mail but didn’t always translate into votes.

(1) In District 20, Jonathan Shurberg likely set a new local record for the ratio of money spent to votes received. After loaning his campaign at least $240,000, he hired an expensive campaign team, conducted polls, and sent a barrage of mail to voters, including an expensive booklet.

Jonathan came in sixth with just 2853 votes and far behind the 5709 votes secured by the third-place nominee for delegate. The ratio of spending to votes exceeds $80.

(2) In District 18, third-time candidate Dana Beyer, has loaned her campaign account at least $350K across all of her races according to the last report and more money since it was filed. After sending bundles of mail to households, Beyer lost her two-person race with 4890.

While still lagging behind Shurberg, her expenditure of well over $200,000 in this campaign probably still exceed $50 per vote. And she spent roughly $500,000 over her three unsuccessful legislative campaigns in 2006, 2010, and 2014.

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