Lou Peck over at Bethesda Beat has the story. You can also check out 7S’s earlier story on the Kunes slate. Despite the contretemps, congratulations to all of the newly elected MCDCC officers. Kunes’s statements to Bethesda Beat indicated a welcome focus on reenergizing the precinct organization and fundraising as part of a broader effort to boost Democratic turnout.
Dave Kunes and other candidates on a recently formed slate for the leadership of MCDCC have issued the following press release. In it, the group promises focus on maginalized groups and party building oriented toward GOTV.
Kunes is an aide to County Councilmember Tom Hucker and very tight with the unions. In the wake of union unhappiness over MCDCC supporting the all-Democratic County Council’s unanimous position on effects bargaining (further supported by the voters), he played a key role in putting together the 2014 organized slate for MCDCC. Several were Montgomery County Young Democrats, an organization he helped revitalize.
Kunes, the slate candidate for chair, had a spot on the MCDCC slate in but failed to win enough support from primary voters to gain a seat in 2014. He was named to MCDCC to fill a vacancy. Emily Shetty, the slate candidate for vice chair, joined the committee as a gender balance member.
If this slate is elected, neither the chair or the vice chair will have been elected by Democratic voters to the committee. I have also learned that there is some debate as to whether gender balance members can also serve as MCDCC officers.
Regardless, MCDCC is currently very fractious and badly needs leadership oriented toward the goal of re-energizing the local party. As Adam Pagnucco has pointed out, Democratic turnout in general elections has been steadily declining. Both Kunes and Shetty have campaign experience–Shetty lost a primary for delegate but ran a good race–that could prove very useful.
NEW LEADERSHIP SLATE ANNOUNCED FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CENTRAL COMMITTEE ELECTION
December 10, 2016 — Understanding the challenges and embracing the opportunities that lay before the Democratic Party in Montgomery County, the slate has been formed to ensure the Party’s success in 2017 and beyond.
The slate is as follows:
Chair – Dave Kunes
Vice Chair – Emily Shetty
Treasurer – Julian Haffner
Assistant Treasurer – Erin Yeagley
Secretary – Johntel Greene
Assistant Secretary – Mimi Hassanein
If elected, the slate will be focused on strengthening the Party’s fundraising apparatus, identifying and supporting the next generation of party leaders with particular focus on marginalized groups, and ensuring the Party’s focus on diversity and inclusion, which in light of the recent Presidential election, is more critical than ever.
“Our current Executive Committee has maintained a strong foundation including an open office and staff, successful major events in the Brunch and Spring Ball, and precinct organization. If elected, I will work to re-direct and maximize our existing resources towards our mission: inspiring more Democrats to vote.” said slate Chair candidate Dave Kunes.
“Now, more than ever before, our Committee needs to be committed to transparently and actively engaging voters in the community, to ensure that the hard work of our Democrats elected across the county and state is heard. We must engage in sustained, modern outreach to ensure that we continue to build up our party from the ground up. We are fortunate to have years worth of state, county, and federal campaign experience on our team, and hope to utilize our skills to benefit our party’s efforts.” said slate Vice Chair candidate Emily Shetty.
“The County’s rapidly changing demographics present challenges, certainly, but also provide our Party with a tremendous opportunity to amplify voices which historically haven’t been heard. I believe this is the group that will usher our Party into the future, and I am excited by the prospect of serving with them.” said slate Treasurer candidate Julian Haffner.
The election of officers will be held December 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm at Central Committee Headquarters located at 3720 Farragut Ave, Suite 303. Kensington, MD 20895.
Former Young Dem President Dave Kunes helped organize the official MCDCC Unity slate after leading labor-backed challenges to MCDCC. But he did not win one of the at-large slots for MCDCC. Among with the 11 candidates, Kunes came in ninth with the top eight gaining a seat. Natalia Farrar, a non-slate candidate, came in fifth and will join the new MCDCC.
In District 16, Almina Khorikawala currently lags 200 votes behind Loretta Jean Garcia. Almina had been tipped to be the new chair of MCDCC. Her defeat would be a real loss for the Central Committee which needs her combination of smarts and experience.
The other non-slate winner was incumbent Harold Diamond in District 19 who beat incumbent Hoan Dang.
1. Dave Kunes & Nik Sushka. Dave is a smart, savvy operative with the heart of an activist. He revitalized the Montgomery County Young Dem’s into a force to be reckoned with within the County and beyond. That they helped carry a candidate the Virginia House Caucus had left for dead to victory–Mike Futrell–in 2013 was lost on none). Tom Hucker was lucky to have him and Anthony Brown is too. Labor’s favorite person–period. Future? Whatever he damn well pleases.
Nik, Dave’s fiancé and an all around nice person could have a future representing District 20 in the Legislature. She succeeded Dave as President of the Young Dems (which, in a strange twist of events, now seems to wield more clout than the Central Committee). She works for Montgomery College and is well versed on a number of policy issues.
2. Andrew Platt. If Andrew isn’t finishing up his first session as a delegate representing District 17 next year, I will donate $100 to a charity of his opponents’ choice. But between massive labor support, strong fundraising, and tremendous campaign vigor, I think my hundred bucks is safe. He’s sharp as anyone and has the spirit of a hustler. Future MD-06 Congressman?
3. Dan Reed. Land use aficionados have turned to Just Up The Pike for sharp policy analysis for years. In the last six months, Dan has shown versatility in taking on Josh Starr on a host of education issues for which he has dutifully taken heat. Future Planning Board Member? Or could a 2016 school board candidacy be in the offing?
4. Jonathan Jayes-Greene. Jonathan is charming, handsome and very bright. He combines a tremendous personal story with boundless political savvy to promote the issues important to him, which frequently involve immigration. Currently working in the governor’s office, maybe he’ll return there as First Panamanian-American governor?
5. Joel Sati. Joel isn’t just smart. He’s a genius. He brings the intellectual fire power of an Ivy League Department Chair to his advocacy which has often been based around the Dream Act. Currently in New York City for School, I (and many others) would love to see him run for office back home. With JD/PhD plans in his future, could he be the first African American AG?
6. Dan Campos. This Latino investment banker and former U.S. Senate staffer made a convincing 2010 bid for delegate in D17 as a Republican, earning the NARAL endorsement. He has since switched parties–and everyone should welcome him to Team Blue with open arms. Right now, he is leader of the opposition in Gaithersburg’s municipal affairs. When he runs for something, watch out. Nobody outworks Dan Campos.
7. Jonathan Sachs. A rare wunderkind made good. Currently Director of Public Policy for Adventist Healthcare , I could see Jonathan as a successor to GiGi Godwin as CEO of the MoCo Chamber. A number of different people wrote in to nominate Jonathan for this list. Here is what two of them said:
“Probably the most notable thing about Jonathan—and it speaks to his character and intelligence—is that in a county where “progressives” rule, Jonathan is a centrist, pro-business Democrat. He thinks for himself and doesn’t fall in line with the local political dogma, so his input is all the more valuable because those who share his point of view can get drowned out in our local political conversations. But when Jonathan says something, people—included elected officials—pay attention.”
“In a universe of newbies – most with slim credentials – Jonathan stands out as a star. Rather than conjuring up bona fides, Jonathan is and has been in the trenches since his days at the University of Maryland.”
8. Kelly Blynn. Rockstar Organizer. No one does it better in Montgomery County. I dread the day I find myself on the opposite side of an issue from Kelly because that can be a very scary place to be. One nominator described her as:
“Coalition for Smarter Growth, transit advocate – a sophisticated and energetic organizer who played a central role in the BRT campaign.”
9. Kevin Walling. A well connected national operative who works at the top political phones firm in the country, Kevin traded an uphill fight for delegate for a safe shot at the MCDCC. Four years from now, he’ll have the local roots to compliment his national credentials. This will make him an even stronger candidate when he runs for office again. Rumor has it that he intends to make a play for MCDCC Chair this year.
Editor’s Note. Number 10 is the author, John Gallagher, nominated by just too many different people to leave out. Offered without comment except from the nominators:
“John Gallagher, Seventh State, mail/campaign operative – the youngest of the young guns, with a campaign resume that would be impressive for a 40-year-old.”“You. You’re everywhere, you’re a beast, you deserve it.”
Honorable Mention: Marc Korman. Marc has aged out. However, due to his youthful good looks so many people mistakenly nominated him for the list as to necessitate his inclusion. He has an even shot at winning a delegate seat in Annapolis this year. Sidley Austin Attorney, Democratic Party stalwart and ex-Capitol Hill staffer. Anonymous comment:
“candidate for delegate, former MPW – smooth edges and a good sense of humor, with broad and deep contacts across Montgomery politics and government.”
I just wanted to thank the Montgomery County Young Democrats for having me over tonight. I had a blast meeting lots of people and sizing up the races. Oddly enough, I even got to feel young as the MCYDs are older than the students I taught earlier in the day.
Paraphrases of a few of the really good questions they asked: Will the state legislative delegation and county council get along better after the elections? Why isn’t there more competition in the County Council races? Which incumbent is most likely to lose the at-large races? Will the General Assembly take up legislation on GMOs soon? Will our delegation be more progressive after the election? How can our elected officials be more effective in Annapolis?
Kudos to Melissa Pinnick for taking the lead in organizing a MCYD team for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Rockville. Click to sign up for this event or make a donation in support of this event.
I’d say it was great to meet future leaders but this is an active and influential group. Almost all of them are already highly active in leadership roles around the County and the State.
They’re also smart. They found the secret entrance on Platform 2 1/2 of the Bethesda Metro Station to the B-CC Regional Services Center. Marc Korman and Jordan Cooper promised that, if elected, they’ll make it easier to find.
In the wake of the boycott of the Spring Ball, the Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) and labor unions started applying pressure for major changes on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) to include more labor representation and more young people.
The prime movers in this effort appear to be Dave Kunes, Chair of MCYD at age 24, and Gino Renne, MCGEO President. Renne is the most senior of the leaders of the three unions–the others are the FOP and the Firefighters–involved in government operations in Montgomery County.
Labor talked up running an alternative slate for MCDCC. Kunes, who then worked for Del. Tom Hucker and now works for MSEA as well as chairing MCYD, organized a PAC to back candidates for MCDCC. MCGEO donated to the PAC. At this point, perspectives on the story diverge.
No one disagrees on the basic facts, essentially a meeting occurred between MCDCC Chair Gabe Albornoz and others, including Kunes, where they agreed to put together a unity slate that would incorporate significant new members.
It’s the interpretation that varies. Some see Gabe as taking advantage of the situation to renovate a MCDCC in need of new ideas and new blood. Others see it as Gabe suing for peace in order to avoid competing slates and more acrimony within the Montgomery County Democratic Party.
Either way, the result turned out the same. MCDCC set up committees of five people who were not running for MCDCC to interview people for slots on the unity slate. So far, so good.
Except that laudable step was undercut completely by the closed, secret nature of the process. Only certain people, essentially current MCDCC members and selected Young Democrats, were invited to apply. If the goal is truly renovation rather than major change to benefit specifically MCYD and labor, why keep it secret and limit applications?
The people involved may call on Captain Hindsight to lament this approach. Sorry but not buying. They organized it specifically to accomplish their goals. They own it.
Regardless, this lack of transparency and the limited nature of the invitations had the desired effect. Roughly eight members of the unity slate, or one-third of candidates, are young Democrats. As a result, the committee is set to take in a major influx of people who helped place the pressure on MCDCC to change.
Additionally, some changes were further negotiated between the major players behind the scenes after the interviews. In particular, the unity slate dropped Young Democrat Brígida Krzysztofik in favor of Kevin Walling, who had raised money for his delegate race in District 16. Both are LGBT. Krzysztofik was quietly promised that she would get a slot next time.
Some of the unity slate choices make more sense than others. I was surprised to learn that the slate didn’t include Jay Wilson, a very talented, smart Young Democrat and Vice President of the African-American Democratic Club. (I know Jay through his work for a nonprofit that we both support.) Despite passing on Jay, African Americans comprise roughly one-third of the slate.
Most of the retiring members have done so by choice but a few were defenestrated from the slate against their will. The primary example is Harold Diamond, who won a seat in District 19 challenging the slate in 2010, but was not selected for the unity slate.
Diamond chaired both the Ballot Questions Advisory Committee as well as the precinct officials meeting to vote on them. He had the nice sounding but dreadful in practice idea of populating the committee with essentially anyone who volunteered. Not the best means to recruit a group of volunteers who are particularly sensible, representative, or sensitive to the variety of interests and trends within the party.
The meeting of the precinct officials also left several key issues until very late in the evening and Diamond repeatedly tried to steer matters in the direction he favored. No surprise he was left off the slate. Nonetheless, he will be seeking reelection from District 19.
Despite labor’s grievances avowedly being a prime motive for unhappiness with MCDCC, only one of the new members has a direct link to the three governmental unions who were upset with MCDCC–Erin Yeagley works for MCGEO. However, Dave Kunes also works for MSEA and the Young Dems as a group are perceived as labor proxies.
The oddness doesn’t end there. The dispute began because labor was frustrated with the County Council. But MCDCC’s major power is to fill vacancies in the legislature. Vacancies on the County Council are filled by appointment. On the other hand, Gino Renne will likely view it as mission accomplished if he can prevent MCDCC from sending out another sample ballot endorsing a question opposed by organized labor even if unanimously supported by an all-Democratic County Council.
Some view all of this as simply an power play by Dave Kunes supported by the unions. Certainly, the idea that crisis is another word for opportunity has more than a dollop of truth. Nevertheless, harnessing ambition for public goals can be a powerful force for change. Kunes revitalized the Young Democrats and made them a force in the County. Regardless of how it came about, the changes at MCDCC provide a real chance to regenerate the party.
Politics is perhaps the only profession in which people are supposed to loudly protest their lack of ambition or desire for advancement as they move their way up the ladder. So what if ambition played a role in his organization of this renovation/partial takeover? All our officials should be so skilled and talented.
The final part in this series will explore the upcoming election for MCDCC as well as its future.
As outlined in Part I, voters seemingly had settled the battle between the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the County over effects bargaining in favor of the County. In the 2012 referendum known as Question B, 58% of voters supported the County’s decision to allow the Police Chief to take more actions without the need to consult FOP management.
The referendum turned out to be the beginning rather than the end. The public employee unions (FOP, the Firefighters, and MCGEO) struck back by calling for a boycott of the annual Democratic Spring Ball. For those of you who are not regular attendees at this soiree, it is essentially a giant coffee klatch for local politicos and their fans complete with dancing. It’s held, like virtually all of these events, at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center.
Having felt abandoned by the local Democratic Party, the unions–long party stalwarts–decided to withhold their money and to make their displeasure public. Ingeniously, they styled the boycott as a picket line, knowing that labor-loving Democrats hate to cross them (or at least be seen crossing them). As none of the workers at the Center were on strike, it wasn’t really a picket line in the traditional sense but it made for great optics and amped up the pressure.
Republicans, as usual, were mad that they hadn’t thought of the idea first. Montgomery Republicans would get far better attendance at their events if people thought that they would have the privilege of strike breaking in the process.
The Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD), led by President Dave Kunes, jumped on the boycott bandwagon. Kunes, formerly an aide to Del. Tom Hucker (D 20) and now Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) Field Director, had some experience with seizing opportunities to challenge organization leadership, as he led the successful insurgent slate that took control of MCYD in 2012.
The problem for MCDCC was less monetary–donors stepped up and helped the party cover losses–than morale and the apparent division. It also put the Democratic elected and party leadership on the defensive politically and ideologically.
None of this had any chance of helping the Republicans. Remember, Montgomery is a one-party county and this battle was about jockeying for power and influence over the one political vehicle worth driving–not a clunker.
Part III looks at the major upcoming changes on MCDCC.