District 16 is centered on Bethesda. In redistricting, it lost a small amount of territory around Garrett Park and White Flint. It gained more area in Potomac to compensate. The overall net change is small. The district has a high number of Reform Jewish voters. Asian Americans compose 11% of the voting-age population.
It almost seems like a cliché that this chock full o’lawyers district has produced not one but two candidates for attorney general. Sen. Brian Frosh and Del. Bill Frick are both seeking the office. Brian heads the Judicial Proceedings Committee in the Senate. Bill surprised by winning the delegate appointment and is one of the most talented delegates in Montgomery. (Note: This district is very near to mine and it just feels too weird to call all those people I know or have met by their surnames.)
Their candidacies have produced rare open seats in D16. Well-liked Del. Susan Lee is gliding towards the Senate without opposition despite rumors of everyone from Duchy Trachtenberg to Kyle Lierman entering the race. None has filed and no one is expected to do so. Susan will almost certainly become the first Asian American senator in Montgomery County (in Maryland?)–and not from one of the districts with an especially high Asian populations.
The action is in the delegate race. Del. Ariana Kelly probably never thought she would be the senior delegate when she joined the House in 2011 after having beat Kyle Lierman by 356 votes in the Democratic primary. Read: the election. D16 used to elect liberal Republicans like Sen. Howard Denis and Del. Connie Morella but that era just seems over.
This is probably the wealthiest district in the State and the campaign account balances of the candidates reflect it. Ariana has $120K in her campaign account and is returning to the House of Delegates. She seems most likely to be joined by Marc Korman and Hrant Jamgochian.
Attorney (go figure) Marc Korman has served on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. He is passionate about transit, including an independent funding sources for Metro, the Purple Line, and redecorating the Bethesda Metro station. Marc has $121K in his campaign account. (Note: Marc is a friend and used to write for this blog on occasion. He will likely win a seat despite these flaws.)
Hrant Jamgochian (yep, another attorney) ran in 2010 and made a very good impression. He won the Washington Post endorsement and came in a respectable fifth. Crucially, he carried himself well even after he lost–this does not always happen. Hrant has $116K in his campaign account.
Jordan Cooper is working very, very hard but has only $27K in his campaign account. He is 27 (correction: he’s 28) but looks even younger–an advantage in almost every aspect of life except politics and getting senior citizen discounts. Jordan seems a dark horse in this race but his effort impresses and, at the least, has a political future.
Gareth Murray won election from District 20 in 2002. He won the third slot in the Democratic primary when incumbent Del. Dana Dembrow imploded after being arrested for domestic violence. In 2006, he came in seventh in a field of seven, an unusually poor showing for an incumbent.
He has moved to Potomac but retains ties to Silver Spring as the assistant pastor of a church. No money in his campaign account means a similarly poor finish on primary day but he is a welcome addition to the contest.
Karen Kuker-Kihl is a frequent candidate. In 1998, she came tantalizing close to beating Republican Betty-Ann Krahnke in District 1 (Bethesda-Potomac) with 47%. In 2002, she performed abysmally in the District 16 Democratic primary. She hasn’t filed yet this year but is expected to run.
Peter Dennis has not filed a campaign finance report (unless it is just not coming up on the website). He won only 419 votes in the 2010 Democratic primary and will turn in a repeat performance.
In short, District 16 is less competitive than the number of candidates indicates. Only one question remains: will Susan Lee and Ariana Kelly slate with Hrant Jamgochian or Marc Korman? It’s unusual for incumbents to slate with non-incumbents but hardly in the news of the weird column.
UPDATE: Major egg on my face for forgetting Kevin Walling. An openly gay candidate, Kevin moved to the district to run. While he has $30K in the bank and is a very personable guy who will be good on the campaign trail, I rate Kevin’s chances a below those of Jordan’s, who has a more impressive campaign operation.