Cheryl Kagan and Lou Simmons are running for the open Senate seat in District 17. The Kagan campaign sent in this video of the opening statements from their recent debate:
Gaithersburg Activist and 2010 State Legislative Candidate Dan Campos forwarded me these documents from the the ethics complaint filed against Lou Simmons (D-17, Rockville and Gaithersburg). While the Ethics Committee has decided not to pursue the matter further, it also said that his actions are “contrary” to previous opinions issued by the Committee.
It does certainly seem a tad sleazy. Simmons requested twenty cases (6000) of free Maryland maps. He sent many maps out in large mailings to his constituents. In contrast, Sen. Ben Cardin, who represents the whole state, requested one case (300).
Below is the letter to Dan Campos from the Ethics Committee, a spreadsheet of map requests to the State (only up to 2010), and copies of the letters from Simmons that came with the maps. Both were sent out on official House of Delegates stationary.
The press release announcing the endorsement of Cheryl Kagan by current Sen. Jennie Forehand surprised me because Kagan challenged Forehand in the last election. People often do not want to support people who opposed them in the past for obvious reasons. Bad news for Del. Luiz Simmons, as this decision tells Forehand supporters where to go and signals a lack of cohesion between him and the rest of the D17 delegation.
The press release with Forehand’s statement emphasized Kagan’s progressive stances:
Cheryl and I share a deep commitment to progressive Democratic values. Whether it’s domestic violence, human trafficking, or gun control, I can trust that Cheryl will consistently speak up on the progressive side.
However, support like this will only matter if Kagan can get the word out through a strong ground operation and has the money to send out a sufficient number of mail pieces–areas where Simmons is already active and running a strong campaign.
The most competitive challenges to incumbent senators usually occur when a delegate runs. In most of Maryland’s 47 legislative districts, three delegates run at-large and represent the exact same constituency as the senator.
As a result, they make excellent challengers. In 2010, then-Del. Karen Montgomery unseated Sen. Rona Kramer in the Democratic primary. Sen. Nancy King and Sen. Jennie Forehand had very close shaves that same year running against either a delegate or former delegate.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, incumbent senators often eye their delegates with the same askance eye as Queen Victoria viewed the Prince of Wales. Nevertheless, most of the 39 incumbents seeking reelection do not face stiff primaries. These are the seven challenges by delegates or former delegates to incumbents to watch:
- 4: Sen. Brinkley v. Del. Hough (R).
- 25: Sen. Currie v. Del. Melony Griffith (D).
- 26: Sen. Muse v. Del. Turner (D) and two others.
- 36: Sen. Hershey v. former Del. Sossi (R).
- 37: Sen. Colburn v. Del. Eckardt (R).
- 42: Sen. Brochin v. former Del. DeJuliis (D).
- 44: Sen. Jones-Rodwell v. Del. Nathan-Pulliam (D).
The challenging delegates in Districts 4 and 44 don’t necessarily have quite the same natural advantages as usual for sitting delegates because they ended being redistricted into another district and have represented less of their new district than the senator.
One other Senate challenger attracts notice even though he does not hold a seat in the House:
- 43: Sen. Conway v. City Councilman Henry (D).
There are also two exciting primaries among the contests for the seven open seats. Both feature delegates looking to move to the Senate:
- 17: Del. Simmons v. former Del. Kagan (D).
- 34: Del. James v. former Sen. Helton (D).
Today, I preview and rate three senatorial contests among the ten with interesting primaries.
District 4 (R): Incumbent David Brinkley faces Del. Michael Hough (R 3), who has been redistricted into this very Republican district in Frederick County. While Brinkley has the home turf advantage, Hough has far more money. This will be a bloody contest with Hough coming at Brinkley from the right and arguing that Republicans need a true conservative to carry the flag. Brinkley has committed the heretical sin of working with the majority Democrats on occasion. More info here and here. Rating: Toss-Up.
District 17 (D): Sen. Jennie Forehand is retiring, so this Rockville-Gaithersburg seat in Montgomery is open. Del. Luiz Simmons, who won this district as a Democrat in 2002 (he previous represented it as a Republican from 1979 to 1983) is going for the open seat. He faces tough competition from former Del. Cheryl Kagan, who represented this district from 1995 through 2003. She challenged Forehand four years ago and nearly won, taking 48% of the primary vote.
Kagan will undoubtedly present Simmons as on the wrong or conservative side of too many issues, particularly domestic violence. In the past, Simmons opposed legislation pushed by Sen. Brian Frosh to change Maryland’s standard for obtaining a protective order from a “clear and convincing” standard to the lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard used in every other state (see also WaPo editorial).
Simmons has had an election year change of heart, as outlined in a devastating column by Josh Kurtz. Simmons is working hard to inoculate himself on this issue with mail pieces (see above) and his avid sponsorship of legislation during this session. Still, this video of his interrogation of a domestic violence victim during a public hearing on the topic may cause him problems:
Interestingly, there is no sign that either Del. Kumar Barve or Del. Jim Gilchrist are rushing to slate with Simmons–a common practice when only one runs for Senate. The question remains if either will take the big step to slate with Kagan instead.
Simmons can self-fund, so he’ll outspend Kagan but she at least can fund raise during the session since she’s not in the General Assembly. Kagan has has a base of donors from her previous campaign and possibly can attract new ones who like Forehand but not Simmons.
But most importantly, she’ll need to run a good ground game–knock on doors and coordinate volunteers to do the same–to beat Simmons. He campaigns hard and clearly takes nothing for granted since he is sending out mail this early. Rating: Toss-Up.
District 42 (D): Incumbent Sen. Jim Brochin faces tough primary and general election contests in a greatly reshaped district. Gov. Martin O’Malley is supporting his challenger, former Del. Connie DeJuliis (more info here). However, Brochin is an indefatigable campaigner and has loads more money than DeJuliis, who served in the 1990s, despite her high level support. Unless Gov. O’Malley goes all in on this one–and he has a very competitive streak–Brochin has the edge. Rating: Likely Brochin.