George’s letter to MCDCC:
I’m writing to express my hope that MCDCC will appoint Herman Taylor to the District 14 Delegate seat.
With a Republican governor in Annapolis, it is more important than ever that Montgomery County build closer relationships with other Democratic-majority jurisdictions, especially Baltimore and Prince George’s County. Herman was an officer of the Legislative Black Caucus and has warm, long-standing friendships with the senators and delegates from those jurisdictions.
The central committee’s process is — correctly in my judgment — being criticized for failing to give District 14 voters a voice. Herman was elected by those voters twice already, in 2002 and 2006.
I like and respect Pam Queen, Chris Bradbury and Mark Feinroth. I understand these are tough choices. But there is no doubt in my mind that Montgomery County will be best served at this moment by putting Herman back in the seat he occupied previously.
Thank you for considering my point of view.
The contest for the vacant delegate seat continues to heat up. While the District 14 delegation, Muslim Democratic Club, and MD NARAL PAC have backed Pam Queen, the Montgomery County Democratic Clubs of Color, Councilmember Nancy Navarro, and the NAACP Political Chair are behind Herman Taylor.
Taylor has defended his record on abortion rights vociferously in response to attacks on his past voting record in the House of Delegates by MD NARAL PAC. Backed by supporters, Taylor promises a 100% pro-choice voting record. Competing records on LGBT rights may well become the next issue to come under scrutiny as the Central Committee fills the vacancy this evening.
In 2008, almost all Montgomery County delegates received perfect ratings of 100 from Equality Maryland’s PAC. Taylor tied with Luiz Simmons, defeated in his 2014 bid for the Senate, for the lowest score in the House delegation at 60. Taylor stood out in the MoCo delegation one of only three delegates not to sponsor marriage equality. No votes were held on the issue, so sponsorship was a key signal of support.
Taylor again tied Simmons for the lowest score among Montgomery delegates in 2009. He was one of the few legislators in the County not to consponsor either marriage equality or the bill to add gender identity to existing state law prohibiting discrimination. Again, votes were not held, so sponsorship was a key signal of public support.
As anti-LGBT bills continue to surface in the General Assembly, I hope the Central Committee asks not just Herman Taylor but all of the candidates good questions on their views regarding protections for LGBT Marylanders.
Here are the complete 2008 and 2009 scorecards from Equality Maryland PAC:
Odessa Shannon, the Political Action Chair for the NAACP sent the following email to MCDCC. Deeply involved in Montgomery County for many years, Shannon has in the past been elected to the Board of Education, served as a Special Assistant to the County Executive, and was Director of the Office of Human Rights.
Shannon is backing former Del. Herman Taylor for the vacancy. Taylor is one of two African-American candidates for the seat along with Pam Queen, a professor at Morgan State University. In her email, Shannon says that MCDCC’s actions towards Taylor can “easily be argued as harassment based on race and possibly sex, a federal and local civil rights issue.”
Members of the MCDCC:
This is my third communication with you on this issue.
It has come to my attention that you are requesting information from Herman Taylor which is not being asked of the other candidates.; copy of drivers license, when it was obtained, picture , proof of certain years of home ownership and other frequent and spontaneous requests.
From the information I have received, this action can easily be argued as harassment based on race and possibly sex., a federal and local civil rights issue.
It appears the MCDCC is trying to discredit a candidate for it’s own reasons. The process of selecting a candidate should be open and honest, whoever wins!!!
Before I send a copy of this e-mail to the County Executive, the Montgomery County Office of Human Rights , the head of the Md Democratic party and the Media, I would like immediate assurance that this kind of activity, so resonant of the 1960’s and 70’s, will cease and desist immediately.
Odessa M. Shannon
Former Del. Herman Taylor, a candidate to fill the delegate vacancy caused by the move by Craig Zucker from the House to the Senate, has issued the following letter in response to questions regarding his record on abortion rights:
Dear MCDCC Members,
I am aware of the apparent concern being expressed about votes cast that relate to women’s reproductive rights during my tenure, many years ago, while serving in the Maryland House of Delegates.
I am and always have been a Democrat. I began at the age of 22 working as a vice chair of a precinct, working hard to get democrats elected. I have dedicated a substantial amount of time and effort in building this party which I love, and whose progressive principles I wholeheartedly embrace.
Although I, like many others, have at one time early in my career struggled with the difficult and painful issues associated with abortion, I do not believe, as a matter of public policy, that the government should in any way dictate to women how they should cope with this most private of issues. Please be assured that If I have the opportunity to be appointed to fill the District 14 vacancy, my votes will reflect that I am a firm and staunch supporter of women’s reproductive rights.
The Montgomery County Democratic Clubs of Color sent a follow-up to their endorsement of Herman Taylor to address specifically this issue:
Dear Mr. Anderson and Members of the Central Committee:
The Clubs of Color Caucus strongly believe in the Democratic principles such as a woman’s right to choose and the importance of diverse representation at all levels of government. We measured each candidate against these principles and decided that Mr. Herman Taylor is best suited for the vacancy. Mr. Taylor assured us that he is 100% Pro-Choice and supports the interests of communities of color. Since his current values are not inconsistent with Democratic values, and given the fact that he is the most experienced, we have made the endorsement as indicated in our earlier endorsement letter.
CLUBS OF COLOR CAUCUS
Mayra Bayonet, President, Latino Democratic Club
Dr. Martin Ma, CAPAD-MD Co-chair
Chung Pak, CAPAD
Laurie Anne-Sayles, President AADCMC
Stan Tsai, CAPAD-MD Co-chair
Former Del. Herman Taylor has won the united endorsement of the African-American Democratic Club of Montgomery County, the Latino Democratic Club of Montgomery County, and the Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats of Maryland for the delegate vacancy in District 14:
Undoubtedly what most impresses us with Mr. Taylor is his demonstrated dedication to issues of economic development particularly as they relate to communities of color. We believe Mr. Taylor’s membership among the Montgomery County delegation ensures that there will be another strong voice in support of economic development particularly for the residents of East County.
Taylor and Central Committee Member Pam Queen are viewed as the top-two competitors for the seat. This endorsement gives Taylor a nice boost in advance of the Central Committee meeting.
Maryland NARAL PAC has endorsed Central Committee Member Pam Queen for the delegate vacancy in District 14. While they also commend Central Committee Member Chris Bradbury for his support for choice, MD NARAL has less than kind words for former Del. Herman Taylor:
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC believes there are far better choices to represent District Fourteen than Mr. Herman Taylor. Any representations by him or his supporters that we have ‘resolved’ our differences over his anti-choice legislative record are false. Mr. Taylor’s legislative record and any subsequent claims of settlement reinforce the fears we have for peril of transparency and choice in Maryland.
The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) voted 25-2-1 to nominate Del. Craig Zucker to fill the vacancy caused by the retirement of Sen. Karen Montgomery. Central Committee Members Venattia Vann and Loretta Garcia voted instead for former Del. Herman Taylor. MCDCC Vice Chair Arthur Edmunds, who lives in District 14, abstained.
Once Gov. Larry Hogan formally appoints Zucker, MCDCC will once again have to fill a vacancy, this time in the House of Delegates. The current delegation is supporting Central Committee Member Pam Queen for that spot. Herman Taylor left open the possibility of seeking the seat when I spoke to him prior Zucker’s appointment.
Craig Zucker may well become the first person ever to vote to override the Governor’s veto in both chambers of the General Assembly. Earlier this week, he joined with the House majority to overturn the veto of the bill to restore the voting rights of ex-felons. The Senate has delayed the override vote until after the Governor fills the District 14 vacancy. Of course, all of this is perfectly legal and ethical but will make for an interesting bit of political history.
Congratulations to Craig Zucker. He already represents the same people in the House of Delegates so his set of constituents will remain the same. Former Del. Herman Taylor may not have won support from MCDCC but merits thanks for putting himself forward as well as his past work in the House of Delegates.
I spoke earlier tonight with former Del. Herman Taylor, who confirmed that he plans to move forward with his bid for the District 14 Senate vacancy caused by the retirement of Sen. Karen Montgomery. The current District 14 delegation has endorsed Del. Craig Zucker for the seat.
Taylor won election to the House of Delegates in 2002 and 2006. He was among the first African Americans to win election from a majority white district, a path since followed by current County Executive Ike Leggett (UPDATE: though I am reminded Ike won election to an at-large seat on the County Council much earlier) and County Councilmember Craig Rice.
The race will be decided by a vote of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. Taylor raised concerns to me about the process, likely amplified by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s lack of posting about on its website, though I did receive an email requesting applications.
Zucker remains heavily favored to win the appointment, having received the backing of County Executive Ike Leggett, the African-American, Latino and Asian county Democratic clubs as well as the delegation. Taylor left open the possibility of seeking the delegate seat seat should Zucker win the appointment to the Senate.
Herman Taylor for Senate?
Former Del. Herman Taylor is working behind the scenes to build support for a bid to fill the Senate vacancy in District 14 caused by Sen. Karen Montgomery’s retirement. Taylor served two terms in the House of Delegates until he ran in a lopsided losing primary against Rep. Donna Edwards in 2010–Taylor won 9% of the vote.
The leading candidate for the Senate vacancy is Del. Craig Zucker, who has the support of retiring Sen. Montgomery as well as Dels. Anne Kaiser and Eric Luedtke. Zucker is now serving his second term in the House of Delegates.
Taylor will have an uphill battle to win support from a majority of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. Beyond his colleagues, Zucker recently gained support from African American Democratic Club, Latino Democratic Club and Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats. Former NAACP Leader Ben Jealous has also endorsed his candidacy.
The adroitly planned rollout of Zucker’s bid for the appointment has aided his effort to secure the Senate seat. The delegation supports filling the delegate vacancy created by Zucker’s move to the Senate with African-American Pam Queen, a current member of the Central Committee, helping to alleviate concerns about maintaining the representation of women and expanding minority representation.
A pro-life moderate, Taylor will have trouble gaining support from a party identified solidly with abortion rights. Taylor’s run against Edwards no doubt earned him the ire of increasingly assertive progressives who celebrated her defeat of Al Wynn.