Tag Archives: Duchy Trachtenberg

Random Bits, October 2017

By Adam Pagnucco.

Chris Wilhelm is Winning the Sign Wars

MCPS teacher and progressive at-large council candidate Chris Wilhelm has covered parts of Georgia Avenue and University Boulevard with his campaign signs.  (It helps to speak Spanish!)  Yes, we know signs don’t vote.  But it shows that Wilhelm is working and that’s good for perceptions of his campaign.

Who Has Momentum in Council District 1?

Council District 1, which covers Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac, Poolesville and a large part of Kensington, has more regularly voting Democrats and more political contributors than any other council district by far.  It’s a prime seat.  Right now, there are nine candidates in the race and there might be more on the way.  Many good candidates in this district, like Bill Conway, Gabe Albornoz, Emily Shetty, Samir Paul and Sara Love, are instead running for council at-large or the General Assembly.  There are lots of openings to choose from these days!

So who has the momentum right now?  You could say Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, who is the only sitting elected official who is running.  Or Reggie Oldak, who has qualified for matching funds in public financing.  Former Planning Board Member Meredith Wellington should appeal to land use voters oriented towards Marc Elrich.  Former Kensington Mayor Pete Fosselman was just endorsed by former Governor Martin O’Malley.

But we’re going with Andrew Friedson, who just had his kickoff boasting endorsements from his former employer, Comptroller Peter Franchot, along with Senators Brian Feldman (D-15) and Craig Zucker (D-14) and former long-time DNC member Susan Turnbull.  Feldman is an old hand in the Potomac portion of the district and has not been seriously challenged in 15 years.  Turnbull doesn’t usually play in local races but she has a national network in both the Democratic Party and the Jewish community.  If she is all in for Friedson, that’s a big deal.  Friedson, who is killing the field in social media, is feeling pumped up right now with good reason.

Where’s Duchy?

It’s unusual to see a large field of MoCo candidates without Duchy Trachtenberg among them.  She has a long electoral history, losing a District 1 County Council race in 2002 by a hair, winning an at-large council seat in 2006, losing reelection in 2010, briefly running for Congressional District 6 in 2012 and getting annihilated in a challenge to District 1 council incumbent Roger Berliner in 2014.  Now she has a full table of races to pick from, including council at-large, council District 1 and the District 16 General Assembly seats.  Say what you will about Duchy – and we’ve said plenty – but she can raise money, she has a network and she has campaign experience.  Is she done or is she just waiting to file at the last minute, as she has done before?

Can Greenberger’s Strategy Work?

Former County Council spokesman Neil Greenberger is torching his old bosses, saying they treat voters like ATMs and guaranteeing that if he is elected, there will be no property tax hikes.  This is a new strategy for a Democratic council candidate made possible by the 2008 passage of the Ficker amendment, which requires votes from all nine Council Members to go over the property tax charter limit.  Furthermore, it’s an unusual strategy from a historical perspective.  Most council candidates over the last few decades have emphasized schools, transportation, development (pro or con) and a handful of other left-leaning issues but have not been explicitly anti-tax.  That sentiment has mostly come from Republicans.

But two things have changed in Greenberger’s favor.  First, the passage of term limits was rooted partly in opposition to last year’s 9% property tax hike.  But it wasn’t just the increase alone that annoyed residents.  Unlike the 2010 energy tax hike, last year’s property tax increase was not driven by the catastrophic effects of a recession, but was a policy choice by the council that could easily have been much lower.  Voters didn’t see the tax hike as truly necessary, which increased their frustration with it.

Second, the number of votes needed to win an at-large seat could be much lower in this cycle than in the past.  Over the last four cycles, at-large candidates have needed around 40,000 votes to have a shot at victory.  (Incumbent Blair Ewing far exceeded that total in 2002 and still lost.)

That number may no longer hold.  No one knows what the turnout will be next year; informed observers disagree about that.  But the candidate field will be two to three times larger than in any other recent cycle and only one incumbent is running.  That could mean a very fractured electorate yielding a low win threshold and tight margins.  That favors candidates with medium-sized but intense bases, whether geographic, demographic or ideological.  In Greenberger’s case, if 100,000 Democrats vote, and 30,000 of them are sick of tax hikes, and Greenberger can actually communicate with them, he could win.  And so could anyone else who can put together 30,000 votes.

Share

MCGEO Paves the Way for Alcohol Reform

[UPDATE at the end of this post.]

During his campaign for the Democratic nomination in Montgomery County District 5, Evan Glass pushed hard for liberalization of Montgomery’s antiquated monopoly on the sale of alcohol in the County. Despite his narrow defeat, the next four years presents the best opportunity for reform in ages.

MCGEO, the union that represents the employees at County owned liquor stores, bet disastrously on the wrong candidates in the recent Democratic primary. The attempt by MCGEO under the leadership of Gino Renne to flex its muscle and become the leading force among unions and possibly in County politics backfired and earned the union far more enemies than friends.

Montgomery County Council
Let’s look first at County Council races. In District 1, MCGEO endorsed Duchy Trachtenberg’s bid to return to the Council in a challenge to incumbent Roger Berliner. Duchy even hired MCGEO’s former executive director as her campaign manager. Trachtenberg lost with 21% of the vote. MCGEO didn’t just lose; it looked puny and ineffectual.

The big race in District 3 went no better for MCGEO, Gaithersburg Mayor Sid Katz defeated their choice of Ryan Spiegel, who won less than one-quarter of the vote. In Districts 2 and 4, MCGEO did not endorse either incumbent in the primary even though they were unopposed. No relationships built there.

Tom Hucker, who was expected to win by more, limped home to the District 5 nomination in his battle against newcomer Evan Glass. While MCGEO should have a friend in Hucker, his narrow victory hardly impresses and its not clear yet how much weight this new member of the Council will carry with his colleagues.

In the at-large races, MCGEO supported incumbent Marc Elrich so a bright spot for them there. However, they also supported Beth Daly, the most serious challenger to the other incumbents, who all won reelection. No real reason for Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal, or Hans Riemer to prioritize MCGEO’s interests. And Hans has already expressed public interest in alcohol reform.

General Assembly
MCGEO played it safer in the General Assembly but surely has teed off the three incumbents whose opponents it supported in District 18. It gave $1000 to Sen. Rich Madaleno’s opponent. Madaleno won despite being heavily outspent by his self-funding opponent who dumped over $300K in the attempt. Unfortunately for MCGEO, he is already one of the more influential insiders on the Budget and Taxation Committee.

While MCGEO supported Jeff Waldstreicher, it also gave $1000 to Natali Fani-Gonzalez, which certainly cannot especially please incumbents Al Carr and Ana Sol Gutierrez. The two incumbents romped home easily with Fani-Gonzalez placing sixth out of seven candidates.

The Results
MCGEO spent a lot of money and political capital in an effort to look strong but made its weakness apparent. Its ill-conceived campaign to plant friends on the Council and instill respect of its power has left it vulnerable. Montgomery officials can move ahead with alcohol reform. They know they have nothing to fear.

UPDATE: MCGEO made another terrible investment in the District 17 Senate race. They donated $6000 to Del. Lou Simmons, another heavy self-funder. Despite having a clear financial advantage, Lou lost the nomination to former Del. Cheryl Kagan by 9 points.

Share

Winners and Losers: MoCo Edition

This is an off-the-cuff first glance assessment of last night’s primary election results.

WINNERS

1. Incumbents. Did any of them lose? Even the ones facing strong challengers seem to have made it safely to dry land. In the Council races, Hans Riemer, George Leventhal and Roger Berliner all made it home safe. While Leventhal lagged notably behind the other incumbents, he still had a relatively nice margin over Beth Daly who ran strong. Ditto for executive and legislative offices.

2. Sidney Katz. The Mayor of Gaithersburg’s campaign was consistently underrated by many as Ryan Spiegel scooped up union endorsements and Tom Moore garnered support from the Washington Post. But Katz’s longtime service and knowledge of the area just mattered more.

3. Minority Representation. The legislative delegation will have  new African-American (Will Smith), Latino (Marice Morales), and Asian (David Moon) representatives. Additionally, appointed Del. Fraser-Hidalgo fought off a tough challenge. Susan Lee just became the first non-white to win a Senate seat. And Ike Leggett will return for a third term as county executive.

4. Cheryl Kagan. Second time is a charm for the former delegate who sought election to the Senate previously in 2010. Despite Luiz Simmons’ incumbency and seemingly endless barrage of self-funded negative mail, he could not overcome her strong campaign or problems created by his own legislative record.

LOSERS

1. MCGEO President Gino Renne successfully positioned his union as the leader of the county public employee unions outside the school system, including the FOP and the Firefighters. His efforts backfired hugely yesterday as preferred county council candidates lost across the board with the exception of Tom Hucker, who won a tight race over newcomer Evan Glass.

2. Sam Arora and Ben Kramer. Arora was more or less forced out of the legislature after his last-minute switch against marriage equality led to national outrage. His effort to extend his influence through his endorsement of Charlotte Crutchfield also failed. Kramer also lost in betting against Maricé Morales, the choice of Sen. Roger Manno and Del. Bonnie Cullison.

3. Kevin Gillogly didn’t have much success as a campaign operative, having worked for unsuccessful legislative candidates Jonathan Shurberg and Dana Beyer.

4. Duchy Trachtenberg had lots of money but incumbent Roger Berliner just cleaned her clock. This ought to be Duchy’s last stand but that doesn’t mean that it will be.

Share

More on Duchy, Roger, DFA and Ten Mile Creek

First off, I am informed by Alan Hyman that Duchy Trachtenberg was endorsed by DFA on May 8th. No idea if Alan is associated with Duchy’s campaign but it really doesn’t matter because he’s correct. DFA has also changed its website today and Duchy is now listed as an endorsed candidate in Maryland. Of course, this still leaves unanswered where DFA got its inaccurate information on Ten Mile Creek or why they are investing in the race.

I received an email from local activist Molly Hauck who was strongly offended by DFA’s email blast. Below is her email to other people in Kensington as well as her letter to DFA.

This email is offensive and you can see my response below. If anyone else is a member of DFA or knows members of DFA, please contact them with your response. . . .

Roger said that Duchy worked for Howard Dean and her campaign manager, Joe Trippi, worked for Howard Dean, so they are paying her back. What a way to do it! They should have someone do some fact checking before sending out something like this.

Dear Franco Caliz,

I live in Kensington, part of Montgomery County, and I follow what is going on in the Montgomery County Council. This is an unfair and dangerous attack on Roger Berliner. Whoever wrote this hasn’t followed what is going on in the Montg. Co. Council and doesn’t understand the facts. Roger Berliner was one of the three people on the Montgomery County Council who worked hard to protect Ten Mile Creek. He is an environmental lawyer who loves to do trout fishing. He successfully fought the development project that was proposed near Ten Mile Creek. Water has to be clean for trout to live in it. So he worked with two other Council members, Marc Elrich and Phil Andrews, to protect Ten Mile Creek. Environmentalists were happy with the results and just celebrated last week at the Audubon Society. He has also introduced and passed a lot of environmental legislation in the Montg. Co. Council. Your email describes him as a developer. This is totally inaccurate.Duchy had nothing to do with fighting the developers who wanted to ruin Ten Mile Creek. She isn’t on the Montg. Co. Council, so how could she “push back?”

After reading this, I am afraid of Duchy’s judgment and that of the people running her campaign. I don’t understand why Democracy for America  would perpetrate such lies. This will definitely impel me to work to reelect Roger Berliner. It also makes me wonder if I want to contribute to Democracy for America in the future.

Democracy for America should apologize to Roger Berliner and send an email retracting this to all the people who just received it.

Molly Hauck

I am told by someone in the know that Hans Riemer was also active in the effort to preserve Ten Mile Creek.

 

Share

Duchy Trachtenberg, Joe Trippi and DFA

Democracy for America (DFA), a PAC founded by Howard Dean to advance progressive causes, has sent out an email attacking Roger Berliner and trying to raise funds for Duchy Trachtenberg. The email is reproduced at the end of this post.

So why did DFA send out the email?

Though DFA endorses at virtually all levels of office, it has not endorsed Duchy Trachtenberg as of May 20th based on my search of their online list of endorsed candidates. Indeed, they have endorsed no one in the State of Maryland.

The answer could be Joe Trippi. Duchy hired Trippi as her consultant according to her January campaign finance report:

DuchyFinance

Duchy January 2014 Campaign Finance Filing

Trippi received national attention for his success as Campaign Manager at catapulting Howard Dean to the front of the Democratic pack for awhile in 2004. That campaign was the first to grasp the importance of social media. DFA started out as Dean for America and pioneered attracting small donors via social media.

The email was funded by DFA as an independent expenditure rather than by Duchy’s campaign. So it would be illegal for Trippi to contact DFA to ask them to spend money on Duchy’s behalf. Since he works for Duchy, coordination between Trippi and DFA would turn this legally from an independent expenditure into a contribution that should appear under Duchy’s own authority line. But if Trippi didn’t contact DFA and get them to do this for Duchy, who did?

Inaccurate, Bizarre Attack

The attack on Roger in the email for promoting development at Ten Mile Creek is particularly strange as Roger helped protect it. Moreover, Duchy has received strong support from the developer who is angry with Roger over his efforts.

Ironically, the email starts to wrap up with “When politicians focus on their own political gains and corporate interests, everyone else suffers.”

Indeed.

 

Democracy for American Email:

We don’t need to tell you: Roger Berliner is bad news. He’s consistently undermined the needs of working families in Montgomery County, despite the fact that he calls himself a Democrat. How’s that for a betrayal?

Berliner has voted to strip bargaining rights from county employees, to remove indexing from any minimum wage bills, and to approve a construction project right by Ten Mile Creek. After hearing Ten Mile Creek — one of the last clean creeks in the area — would be polluted by storm runoff from his construction project, a progressive voice pushed back.

Duchy Trachtenberg won’t stand for this failed leadership and that’s why she’s running for Mongtomery County Council in District 1.

Montgomery County needs a bold progressive leader. Click here to help elect Duchy Trachtenberg to office!

As a former at-large councilmember and a longtime resident of Montgomery County, Duchy understands the needs and priorities of its residents. As a councilmember, she oversaw the creation of the Family Justice Center, which brings coordinated and effective services to domestic violence victims. She passed a landmark civil rights measure extending protection in employment and housing for transgender persons, and worked to protect pay equity for women.

Her background in grassroots organizing for women’s equity, mental health concerns and public health issues shows her ability to put people-powered policies first. Going forward, Duchy will fight for public employees’ job security and collective bargaining rights, affordable housing for families, and fully funded youth service programs.

Sign up to help Duchy Trachtenberg ensure that progressive voices are heard in Rockville!

When politicians focus on their own political gains and corporate interests, everyone else suffers. Let’s make sure that instead, we have forward-looking, compassionate leadership.

Thank you for all that you do,

– Franco

Franco Caliz, Electoral Campaigns Manager
Democracy for America

Paid for by Democracy for America, http://www.democracyforamerica.com/?t=3&akid=4786.2643726.fr7nXK and not authorized by any candidate. Contributions to Democracy for America are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Share

Effects Bargaining and Endorsements

Effects

MCGEO is the Municipal and County Government Employee Organization. FOP is the Fraternal Order of Police. AFL is the MD-DC AFL-CIO. IAFF is the International Association of Fire Fighters. There might be additional endorsements than those recorded here, particularly for the IAFF.

The government employee unions are placing heavy bets behind candidates who favor effects bargaining despite its repudiation by the voters, especially Duchy Trachtenberg and Tom Hucker. In a recent debate, Duchy speculated that the decline in police morale resulting from the removal of effects bargaining had caused crime to increase. Except that crime has declined–as Ike Leggett loves to remind us–which renders the theory untenable.

Ryan Spiegel has positioned himself as extremely pro-labor despite his unwillingness to revisit effects bargaining. And the unions don’t have a pro-effects bargaining choice in District 3. Ryan is clearly their candidate for the Rockville-Gaithersburg district.

In ultra-liberal District 5, Evan Glass has staked out a position as the only candidate opposed to overturning the will of the voters unless it proves to cause problems for voters. Not a bad idea since he was never going to outbid Hucker for union support.

Marc Elrich is the only incumbent councilmember to receive an endorsement from any of these four unions. At-Large Candidate Vivian Malloy is pro-effects bargaining but is not perceived as a viable challenger by these unions.

Share

Duchy v. Roger: The Verdict

duchyandrogerSuch a bad photo, they can agree that they hate it

Last night, District 1 Candidates Duchy Trachtenberg and Roger Berliner debate in the Town Hall of the Town of Chevy Chase. I live tweeted the debate, so can follow the blow-by-blow there. Overall, it was “disappointingly cordial” in the eye of one observer looking for more heat and light and less combative than the debates in District 5 according to reports.

So who won?

Sorry to disappoint but it was more or less a draw. Here are some quick takeaways:

Best Moment: When asked about the event that changed their life the most, Duchy spoke about her son’s mental illness and how it led to her involvement in NAMI. It was honest, authentic, and the one moment when there was a moment of real connection.

Honest Moment: Duchy called the race a “battle royale” between the government employee and school system unions. It’s one of those truths that is increasingly obvious but that few want to say out loud. No doubt others will label it a gaffe for exactly this reason but the straightforward honesty was refreshing.

Missed Opportunity: Roger attacked Duchy’s support for the restoration of effects bargaining despite the decision by the voters repeatedly and effectively. Duchy could have countered effectively with Roger’s willingness to overturn the referendum on ambulance fees. Instead, she went with unconvincing speculation that the resulting decline in police morale has caused crime to rise.

Roger’s Strengths: He managed to disagree with Duchy while appearing calm and civil yet still setting himself apart crisply from her on certain key issues, such as effects bargaining. Roger was also good at simultaneously calling for working for common ground but also standing up for the public interest, as in Ten Mile Creek. His final words about fighting special interests trying to oust him were among his best in the debate.

Duchy’s Strengths: Conversely, Duchy managed to attack calmly  without appearing too disagreeable–a very difficult line to walk, especially for a challenger who simply has to differentiate herself from the incumbent in order to convince voters to fire him. She came across well.

Roger’s Weaknesses: Was it smart to repeatedly attack Maintenance of Effort? Voters have no idea what you’re talking about but it sure tees off MCEA. That endorsement is still out there and one would think it’s Roger’s to lose, especially after Duchy characterized the budget as a tradeoff between schools and the rest of the budget in a way that should make MCEA worry.

Duchy’s Weaknesses: She just refused to take a real position and called for bringing people together on way too many issues (and more often than Roger). You can do that on some issues but not every issue. The tactic of handing out a list of her and Roger’s contributions from developers offended some and was unconvincing as the last reporting period was in January.

In Attendance: Nice to finally meet Brian Kildee and Liz Matory after the debate. Also in attendance: George Leventhal, Almina Khorikiwala, Pat Burda, Linna Barnes, Pat Baptiste, Cindy Gibson, Jon Gerson, Andy Harney, Jonathan Sachs and many others. And last, but not least, thanks to Charles Duffy for moderating. Great to see so many come out despite the torrential rains.

Note: I’m supporting Roger but have tried to call it as I see it.

Share

It’s On

Montgomery County Council District 1
Democratic Primary
DEBATE
Berliner v. Trachtenberg
Wednesday, April 30th at 7PM

Town of Chevy Chase
Town Hall
4301 Willow Lane

I recall the debate four years ago between incumbent Roger Berliner and challenger Ilya Hopkins as being unusually combative. As this contest is even more heated, I only expect this year’s Democratic primary debate to be more so.

Share

At-Large MoCo Council Race, Pt. 1

MarcElrichMarc Elrich Argues for a Higher Minimum Wage

All four Montgomery County Council incumbents elected at-large are running for reelection: Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal, and Hans Riemer. Two challengers are also in the race: Beth Daly and Vivian Malloy. Both are credible candidates.

Nancy Floreen and George Leventhal joined the Council in 2002 as part of County Executive Doug Duncan’s “End Gridlock” slate. Elrich lost that year but joined the Council when tides turned in 2006. Hans Riemer lost the primary for the District 5 seat to Valerie Ervin in 2006 but unseated one-term incumbent Duchy Trachtenberg with Valerie’s support in 2010.

Gauging the shape of these primaries is difficult. In a county of roughly 1 million people, the county government–equivalent to the city council of a city of the same size–remains much less known than it deserves. Indeed, for the challengers, one of the main problems is getting sufficiently well-known to pose a serious challenge.

None can afford to advertise on television in this very expensive media market. Communication through the mail, in person, and now through social media are the central means of voter contact. All also race around the county following a brutal schedule that makes me tired just thinking about it.

Oddly enough, the Council’s most conservative and liberal members seem safe. In his first reelection bid in 2010, liberal Marc Elrich came in first by a mile despite being underfunded as usual. He is best known for his relentless advocacy of a countywide bus-rapid transit system–an indication of a willingness to work with development interests that he is better known for opposing.

Marc’s BRT plan still strikes me as the most innovative and future-oriented vision for the County. It has the potential not just to aid the County’s transportation needs but also to promote economic and job growth in a sustainable way over the long term.

Nancy has been a leading voice on the other side, successfully promoting revision of zoning laws in a developer friendly manner. While part of the County’s liberal consensus on social questions, she also has staked out conservative positions on other issues, such as her opposition to the county bag tax.

Even as she argues tenaciously for her positions, Nancy also does a good job of keeping in touch with all sides. Despite being seen in many ways as the Chamber’s closest ally on the Council, she is also occasionally willing to deviate from this pattern, particularly when pressed hard by well-organized large civic groups.

Both Marc and Nancy are smart, opinionated lawmakers who utterly disagree on many big issues before the Council.

nancy_and_alexandraNancy Floreen Seeking Golden Shovel Nominees

Share

SEIU Endorses Council Candidates

SEIU Local 500 has released their endorsements for Montgomery County Council Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4:

1: Roger Berliner
2: Craig Rice
3: Ryan Spiegel
4: Nancy Navarro (unopposed)

The most interesting endorsements are in Districts 1 and 3.

In District 3 (Rockville-Gaithersburg), Ryan Spiegel now has the endorsement of two major school system unions: MCEA and SEIU. Two nice endorsements in a hotly contested race with several high-quality candidates for this open seat.

In District 1, Roger Berliner has to be relieved to have received SEIU’s endorsement in his tough contest against Duchy Trachtenberg. So far, MCEA has not endorsed in that race.

The District 1 race could be shaping up as a proxy fight between the school system and county government employee unions. The latter have been mighty unhappy with the current Council and believe that the former have done comparatively well.

Roger Berliner looks among the more vulnerable Council incumbents. Duchy Trachtenberg is not labor’s ideal vehicle given her history but she is the only option if the government employee unions want to take out Berliner and exercise some muscle. Recently, Trachtenberg hired Robert Stewart, the just retired executive director of MCGEO, as her campaign manager.

High-income District 1–it includes Potomac, Bethesda and Chevy Chase–seems an unlikely locale for a labor proxy fight but stranger things have happened. Their divisions could also provide opportunities for other groups to have more influence.

Share