Tag Archives: Jeff Waldstreicher

Waldstreicher Aide Running in Chevy Chase View

Ardy Kamali, Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher’s legislative aide has now filed to run for the Chevy Chase View town council after failing in his effort to file for delegate at the last minute after Del. Al Carr withdrew from the race. Three candidates are running for the two town council seats. Besides Kamali, Thomas George and incumbent Paula Fudge are seeking election.

Kamali still hasn’t explained how he and another Waldstreicher supporter just happened to learn that Carr had dropped out to file for county council. Hard to imagine that Kamali decided at the last minute to challenge Waldstreicher’s slate. Waldstreicher has not responded to a request for Kamali’s contact information.

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Almost as Many Candidates as Voters: the D18 Dem Caucus Forum

Ten (!) candidates participated in the District 18 Democratic Caucus forum for the open delegate nomination that MCDCC will fill tomorrow night.

I was first struck by who wasn’t there: Ardy Kamali, Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher’s legislative aide who raced down to file for the office but now doesn’t seem interested. I reached out to Waldstreicher for Kamali’s contact information but he has not replied. I’m still wondering if Kamali lives in the district, how he heard about the vacancy, and why he raced down to Annapolis.

The forum started on a poor note with the first ten minutes given over to an “introduction” that was essentially advertising for the three incumbents state legislator running for reelection. A little ironic in a party that highlights leveling the playing field so strongly.

The ten candidates who participated were:

Cecily Baskir
Carlos Camacho
Marla Hollander
Aaron Kaufman
Mark Lande
Leslie Milano
Jose Ortiz
Joel Rubin
Ron Sachs
Michael Tardif

Each candidate got to give an opening statement and then up to one minute to answer three questions posed by the moderator. The first two questions essentially asked them to highlight a key issue with the focus in the second being on local questions. The third query was whether everyone in District 18 can live comfortably. (Is there any community where the answer would be “yes”?)

The candidate in a strong position who helped himself most is Central Committee Member Aaron Kaufman. Now 35, Aaron is no longer the teenager I first met years ago through our mutual involvement in local politics. A “lifelong District 18 resident,” he believes “fervently in serving my community,” “serving those with significant needs” and “would bring unique diversity because I have cerebral palsy.”

Kaufman combined a general passion on the issues with mention of specific proposals he supports to address them. He gave the best answer on the greatest local problem, highlighting food insecurity. “Our streets haven’t been paved with gold in a long time. We have more kids on free and reduced meals than the DC public school system.” Kaufman argued he was best positioned to address the issues, “You have to know what levers to push and have relationships with people. I do.”

Former Chevy Chase Councilmember Cecily Baskir outlined a wealth of experience on the PTA, a law practice representing indigent defendants, and teaching part-time at Catholic University Law School. She reminded us that she knows how to build effective coalitions, through her work building the Coalition of Bethesda Area Residents (CBAR) before she joined the TOCC Council.

Her primary issue was education; she wants to work to implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s future as well as combat COVID learning loss, school overcrowding, and the mental health crisis. Baskir did an excellent job connoting knowledge in experience in a tight time frame.

Michael Tardif’s brand of politics may not exactly be mine, but he made his case well and convincingly. Tardif has an interesting personal story, growing up speaking French as his first language in a small town in Maine and the son of a labor leader. He and his husband have been married and living in the area for 24 years. Tardif described how he was named the 2021 Democrat of the Year for working “tirelessly for the local party to improve communications, voter access, and scheduling over 150 town hall meetings with officials.”

Tardif gave perhaps the most skillful answer on what one issue he thought was most important by subverting the question, saying that “housing is a human right, health care is a human right, we have to move fast on climate change, protect LGBT students and adults. We can walk and chew gum at the same time, and advance all of these priorities as fast as we can.” It’s the sort of answer that highlights possibilities and Democrats like.

At 69, newcomer Ron Sachs may have been the oldest candidate in the race but his life experience was a needed reminder of its value in a culture that venerates the young. Sachs has lived in the district for four decades and advocated for the First Amendment as a photojournalist and member of the White House News Association. He’s not interested in using this as a steppingstone to higher office and wants to advocate for people like his daughter, Melissa, a child with special needs. He raised several issues, but this seemed to be his passion along with reducing prescription drug prices—a key problem for older voters.

Carlos Camacho is not someone who I had seen previously but got me interested. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique, he explained that he’s “running because top-down governance isn’t effective.” He worked for the county council until recently but left because it was “too hierarchical.” I’m not sure he’d find the House of Delegates any more congenial. Camacho now works for Baltimore City Parks & Rec as a community liaison. He emphasized the importance of education, including “high quality virtual education” and “pathways to higher education in high value fields.”

In addition to her fourth-place finish in 2018, Leslie Milano highlighted her experience in leadership positions at the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club, Committee for Montgomery, CCES PTA and the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission. Milano was most intriguing when arguing that “Maryland is a small state with opportunity to pass progressive legislation. We need to understand the real value we have in that role” and we must think about the “possibilities of what Maryland is.”

Joel Rubin tagged himself as a “real fighter for democracy,” explaining that he “tried to file on Friday after the first Seder so we can fight for our democracy” and that he is similarly ready to “sprint to Annapolis to work for you.” I had trouble following his answer to the first question. In contrast, his very cogent answer to the final question will no doubt divide people but should win points precisely for not staying on utterly safe ground. Rubin explained that “development has run amok.” We need to “right size development while we get the benefit of development, but so that people are lifted up, with enough green space, investment in schools and infrastructure.”

Jose Ortiz worked for Democrats for the last twenty years, living here for the past ten. Beyond serving as a precinct chair, he has been “active in this diverse community” and is a “small business owner.” Democrats could use more candidates and officials who have experience in business rather than government, so I’d like to know more. Ortiz heavily highlighted his work with former Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez on many issues.

Marla Hollander has lived in Kensington for nine years. She says we “need leaders who can find pathways to a new normal where anyone can thrive.” A member of the 2022 Emerge class, she has worked with nonprofits to champion community-led solutions. I would have liked to hear more detail, but the forum wasn’t conducive to lengthy explanation. When speaking on health policy, her reference to “breaking down silos” brought back bad memories of these trendy academic buzzwords from a few years back, but that’s just my bedbug.

Mark Lande expressed a real passion for ending Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. Kudos for putting himself out there but it’s probably not a good focus for the state legislature.

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D18 Forum Tonight for Open Nomination

It has been a busy weekend in Legislative District 18, where Del. Al Carr’s surprise last minute decision not to seek reelection has left open a vacant nomination.

Maryland Matters reported the drama as two candidates tried unsuccessfully to register for the vacancy at the last minute. Ardy Kamali, the Legislative Director for Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher’s office, arrived in time to file but lacked the required Treasurer. Town of Chevy Chase Councilmember Joel Rubin, also a Waldstreicher supporter, arrived moments too late.

No one else interested in the seat heard about the vacancy in time. Waldstreicher would certainly benefit if an ally rather than a potential challenger took the seat. MM Editor-in-Chief Danielle Gaines captured an incredible photo of Kamali fruitlessly trying to register as Rubin stood just outside of the locked door.

If Kamali or Rubin want to run in what is effectively the oddest race for a full delegate term being held this year, they’ll now have to apply to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC), which can fill the vacant nomination. MCDCC has to make the appointment on Tuesday night.

The District 18 Democratic Caucus has organized a candidate forum for Monday night that will be moderated by Danielle Gaines. You can register to watch by going to bit.ly/d18-04-18. Kudos to the Caucus for organizing the forum.

So who is running? Or rumored to be running? Candidates have until 11:59pm on Monday to submit a cover letter and resume to MCDCC, so we won’t even necessarily know all the candidates in advance of the forum. But here are some of the names being floated:

Shruti Bhatnagar. She is an appointed member of MCDCC and a member of the Maryland Democratic Party Executive Committee. Bhatnagar ran for an at-large county council seat in 2018 and came in fifteenth in the Democratic primary with 2.1% of the vote (equivalent to 8.4% if you assume that everyone voted for four candidates). She is a past chair of the Montgomery County Group of the Sierra Club and the D18 Democratic Caucus.

Aaron Kaufman was elected to MCDCC in 2018 and chairs its Issues Committee. He is a Senior Legislative Associate at the Jewish Federations of North America. Long active in District 18, he is best known as an advocate for disability rights and inclusion. Way back in 2007, when this blog was called Maryland Politics Watch, I published his testimony on a bill on health insurance before the General Assembly. Then Sen. Richard Madaleno said “you could have heard a pin drop while he spoke” and that “he really had an impact.”

Michael Tardif was appointed relatively recently to MCDCC but has been organizing and greatly improving their communications over the past two years. An architect, Tardif is the managing partner of Building Informatics Group. Tardif was named Democrat of the Year at the Montgomery County Democratic Party Gala in 2021. He has served on the Host Committee of a fundraiser for Max Socol, Waldstreicher’s challenger. Active in the LGBTQ Caucus, he joined Socol in calling for stronger police reforms.  

Leslie Milano ran for the House of Delegates four years ago and came in fourth in the Democratic primary with 14.2% of the vote, 1,557 behind now Del. Jared Solomon. Currently, she is President of the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club. She is the Chief Executive Officer at APIC Consulting Services, which specializes in “infection prevention and control solutions.”

Joel Rubin is a Town of Chevy Chase councilmember, an office he won unopposed three times. He ran for the House of Delegates in 2018 and placed fifth with 11.2% or 2,011 votes out of the money. In 2016, he ran for the open Eighth CD and won only 1.1% or 1,426 votes. A former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and frequent media commentator, Rubin has also worked at J-Street, as Bernie Sanders’s Jewish liaison in 2020, and is now Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress.

Other people mentioned include Max Socol and Natali Fani-Gonzalez, though I expect both candidates to stick with their current races.

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Waldstreicher Misrepresents

What a difference two letters can make.

In the tweet pictured above, Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher touted that he was “honored to be recognized by Maryland Matters today as a champion of racial justice.”

Except that he wasn’t recognized by Maryland Matters. At most, he was “recognized” in Maryland Matters by the author of a guest opinion piece. It’s like a politician claiming he was endorsed by the Washington Post because a guest columnist wrote a piece saying nice words about him somewhere in the paper.

The opinion piece is also longer on politician speak than concrete evidence. It explains that Jeff Waldstreicher “led” and “fought for” various goals rather than reporting specific bills he passed or how he played a critical role beyond serving as Vice Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. You could probably write a similar piece about most Montgomery legislators.

What makes this tweet an especially sorry twisting of the truth is that it served no purpose. There was no material benefit to touting being “honored to be recognized by Maryland Matters” instead of simply thanking the constituent who wrote the piece. Instead of political nous, it shows an odd desperation by a four-term legislator who has raised over $400,000 for his reelection campaign.

Sen. Waldstreicher often likes to say that he is “humbled” when he receives an endorsement. This tweet is humbug, not humble.

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Grosfeld endorses Socol

Most Maryland Senate incumbents face their fiercest challenges from sitting delegates. They usually represent exactly the same people, which leads to many senators casting a wary eye on their partners in the House who can be opponents or slate mates.

Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18) appears to be facing a strong challenge from newcomer Max Socol. Yesterday, Sharon Grosfeld, who represented the same district previously for two terms in the House and another in the Senate, endorsed Socol:

Since hearing in depth about Max’s values, exemplified by his unwavering support for a woman’s right to choose, equal rights for LGBTQ+, advocacy on behalf of tenants rights and protecting the environment, coupled with his leadership positions fighting for racial justice, including criminal justice reform, it is my great privilege to officially endorse Max in his campaign to be the next District 18 state senator.”

Grosfeld was known as a staunch, liberal advocate, particularly on women’s issues. Her endorsement plays to Socol’s theme that Waldstreicher isn’t really a leader on progressive issues like his recent predecessors, Sens. Van Hollen, Grosfeld and Madaleno.

Still, it has been 20 years since Grosfeld last won an election in District 18. At this point, the prime endorsements that can move voters are those of Sen. Chris Van Hollen or Rep. Jamie Raskin. It will be interesting to see if they get involved in the D18 primary this year.

The real question is whether they endorse Waldstreicher or decide to give the race a pass. The incumbent would benefit greatly from their support–both are extremely well-liked in this district—and I imagine he will do his formidable best to secure them. But I don’t really see any benefit to them from it, as it seems more likely to divide or to alienate a bunch of existing supporters rather than gain new ones.

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Waldstreicher Challenger Gets Prominent Grassroots Support

Max Socol is running as a progressive challenger to incumbent Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher who is seeking reelection to the Maryland Senate after having also served three terms in the House of Delegates. That Socol is holding a fundraiser is hardly news.

The names on the invitation, however, grabbed my attention. All are well known in Montgomery County politics. Many are exactly the sort of people you’d think would be supporting an incumbent who touts himself as a “proud progressive” and “champion for justice” but are instead lined up squarely behind his challenger.

Former Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, who served with Waldstreicher for three terms in the House and ran on a ticket with him twice (!) is now working to defeat her former slate-mate. Always an alliance of convenience, I can’t say I find this shocking.

Brandy Brooks is making her second bid for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council. Like Socol, she is positioning herself as a progressive activist outsider. Brooks is considered one of the leading candidates in her own race.

Michelle Whittaker is a communications and campaign strategist. She is the former Communications Manager for Manna Foods and the former Director of Communications for FairVote among other organizations. She has testified for removing police officers from public schools and ranked choice voting. (She is also Brandy Brooks’s sister.)

Fran Rothstein, Diana Conway and Beth Tomasello are Past Presidents of the Women’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County. An informant tells me Conway has previously hosted an event for Waldstreicher. An environmentalist, Conway has been very active in the fight against synthetic turf playing fields. Tomasello is an attorney who has advocated on criminal justice reform.

Laura Stewart is currently the First Vice President of the Women’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County but probably better known as a PTA leader, an active supporter of County Executive Marc Elrich in 2018 and many other progressive causes.

Zola Shaw serves on Montgomery County’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee and is a member of the Board of the Montgomery County Chapter of Our Revolution Maryland. Michael Tardif was named Democrat of the Year by the Montgomery County Democratic Party in 2021.

Bottom Line

Whether Socol can build the coalition and the campaign needed to unseat Waldstreicher, a reelection-focused incumbent if there ever was one, remains to be seen. But the early strength indicates that Waldstreicher hasn’t nailed down his base even after sixteen year in the General Assembly.

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Three Vie for Two Seats on Kensington Council

by a correspondent in Kensington

Local politics in Kensington typically is a sedate pursuit and contested elections tend to be the exception. This year, not only has the mayor’s race attracted competition but three candidates are seeking to fill two seats on the nonpartisan Town Council.

Incumbent Duane Rollins, mayoral candidate Peter Fosselman’s husband, is stepping down but Bridget Hill-Zayat is seeking reelection to a second term. She won a seat on the Council in 2018, after having lived in town just three years.

Councilmember Hill-Zayat and Mayor Tracey Furman clashed in 2018 over the Knowles Manor Senior Housing project. In letters to planning staff, Hill-Zayat noted inadequate parking and “our town’s intense dislike of this project” while Furman expressed support on behalf of the Town Council.

A group of Kensington residents appealed the Planning Board’s approval but settled after improvements made regarding parking and the traffic pattern. Nate Engle, a senior climate change specialist for the World Bank who has lived in Kensington since 2011 and active in that group, is now seeking election to the Town Council.

Also running is Jon A. Gerson, a former director of economic development in Montgomery County and longtime town resident. Gerson regularly attends town meetings and helped support the creation of a town dog park. He served on the Town Council in the early 1980s but remains best known as the former political director for the county’s teachers union (MCEA).

The Washington Post editorial board was then a fierce critic, accusing Gerson of demanding that endorsed candidates donate to MCEA’s campaign and that he “threatened to withhold the group’s political support” from anyone backing an MCEA-opposed school board candidate.

Others might simply place Gerson’s actions under the rubric of “politics” and point out that he was an effective advocate. Locally, he played a significant role in trying to clear a path for now Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher when he first ran for delegate in District 18 in 2006.

The last contested Council race in Kensington was in 2017.

Voting this year will be conducted by mail, but ballots also may be deposited at a drop-box at Town Hall, 3710 Mitchell Street. This represents a marked shift from the Town’s normal practice of voting in person during the evening on election day. The impact on turnout is unknown, especially among the town’s apartment residents who usually vote at low rates.

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Evaluating the Negative Mail in the Senate Race

The negative mail has been flying fast and furious in District 18. How accurate is it?

Where’s Waldstreicher?

Let’s start with Dana Beyer’s attacks on Del. Jeff Waldstreicher. She opened with a clever mail piece playing on Where’s Waldo? entitled Where’s Waldstreicher? that went after Jeff’s attendance record. Specifically, it pointed out that Jeff has missed far more county delegation votes than any other delegate and also missed a lot of committee votes in 2015. Additionally, Jeff has convened the special committee on drug and alcohol abuse only once since 2011.

More recently, I received this piece that additionally attacks Jeff for hiding from his constituents. (Note: two of the quotes come from previous Seventh State reporting.)

evening gowns UK

Are these claims by Dana Beyer about Jeff Waldstreicher accurate? Yes. The quotes are not taken out of context and Jeff has indeed cancelled several campaign appearances on short notice for a variety of reasons.

This is a very effective negative advertisement. Going after an incumbent for missing a lot of important votes and being afraid to meet his constituents is utterly legitimate. It directly undermines Jeff’s claim to be a progressive champion since he misses important votes and seems to be doing his best to avoid answering questions from constituents on issues in public settings.

Jeff has not responded publicly. However, he has paid for neighbor letters to go out claiming that the attack on his attendance record is false. Similarly, he has told constituents one-on-one that it’s not true. However, the letter cherry picks his committee attendance in a different year and doesn’t even discuss his frequent absences from delegation meetings. So Jeff’s claims that Dana’s criticisms are false are deceptive and untrue.

Jeff Returns Fire

What about Jeff’s attack on Dana? After issuing statements in the past saying “when they go low, we go high” and paying for neighbor letters than attack Dana’s campaign as negative, Jeff has decided to close out his campaign with a very negative mail piece that castigates Dana for criticizing President Barack Obama.

How accurate are Jeff’s negative attacks on Dana? Completely. They are accurate quotes that detail Dana’s sharp criticism from the left of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Some might point out that the quotes that Jeff uses are very old. Indeed, they are from 2009 and 2012. But that doesn’t render them untrue.

Moreover, as in the case of Dana’s attack on Jeff, he seems to have captured something important here. While Dana supporters would likely portray her statements as a trenchant progressive critique, they come across as almost limitless in arrogance.

Dana blithely sets aside political realities that limited the nature of the health care reform bill and seemingly negates that Obama achieved a long-time Democratic dream. It communicates the sense that she really understands these issues better and clearly would have handled this challenge better than the President.

The piece captures the utter certitude that can be useful to a surgeon handling a crisis in the operating room but less appealing in a junior politician who needs to work with colleagues who will not have patience for lectures of this sort. This same tone can also come across as talking down rather than listening to constituents.

Conclusion

I have heard some local residents decrying the negative tone of one or the other campaign. However, these are reasonable lines of attack. They are not made up or spurious allegations and neither distorts the other’s record. You’re free not to like it but the claims all seem reasonable enough to me.

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On the District 18 House Race

By David Lublin and Adam Pagnucco.

Folks, this is an unusual joint post from the two of us.  David and Adam both live in District 18 and we’ve seen a lot of action here over the last few cycles, so we decided to write this one together.  Each of our remarks are labeled so you know who is saying what.  We begin by printing the June financial summary and the endorsements below.  We include the Senate candidates in that data but today’s post is on the House race.

Update: The original totals we reported for Emily Shetty were incorrrect.  The correct ones are below.

David

District 18 is blessed with eight (count ‘em!) candidates for the three delegate seats. How is the race shaping up as we head into Election Day?

Helga Luest created one of the real moments of the campaign when she attacked Del. Jeff Waldstreicher, a candidate for Senate, as sexist for trying to recruit her into the Senate race. Her “low carb” campaign is catchy but makes me think about the Atkins Diet rather than carbon emissions and the environment.

Regardless, Helga is not likely to come in the money because she just hasn’t raised enough of it to engage in sufficient voter contact. Ron Franks has run an earnest campaign and made a positive impression on voters who have met or seen him but faces the same fundamental problem. Like Helga, Ron has raised less than $15K, which is just not enough to win.

That leaves six other candidates, including incumbent Del. Al Carr. (Disclosure: I am supporting Al.) Maryland Matters sees Al as highly vulnerable, pointing to his past victories as part of a slate and that he has raised less money than several other aggressive, hungry candidates.

I see it differently. Though he has less money, he has raised just a hair under $100K, plenty of money for a delegate race and well over the threshold needed for sufficient voter contact. A former municipal official, Al has cultivated a network of support among local municipal, civic and environmental activists.

This is Al’s fourth time on the ballot with two previous victories under his belt, so he has greater name recognition. I also note that Al has managed to do just fine even when opposed by the Washington Post and the Post isn’t making endorsements this year. Finally, he has far more endorsements than the other candidates. In a crowded race, he has consistent support.

Adam

I agree with David that Helga Luest and Ron Franks don’t have the resources to compete.  I think Al Carr will probably win but I am less confident of that than David.  In 2010 and 2014, Al ran as part of a united slate of incumbents headed by Senator Rich Madaleno.  (I was the slate Treasurer from 2008 through 2012.)  In the one race that he ran by himself – 2006 – he finished seventh of eight.  Times are different now because Al is the only incumbent running for one of three seats.  That’s a huge advantage.  But the Delegate field is very strong this year with several well-financed and hungry new candidates.  I think Al will win but if he doesn’t I won’t be shocked.

David

Emily Shetty came in a strong fourth in 2014 and worked very hard to maintain visibility since the last election. She was a leader in the D18 Democratic Caucus and now on MCDCC as a gender-balance appointee. She has raised more than last time, though less than anyone besides Luest or Franks, and doesn’t face a slate of incumbents. Emily has tried to position herself as left wing and a new mom, succeeding better at the latter.

Word on the street is that Emily has been working very hard at the doors and run a good, focused campaign. Though she missed out on the Apple Ballot, Emily has secured a number of nice endorsements, partly because organizations perceive her as a likely winner. The one major downside: she was endorsed by the Washington Post last time and used the endorsement well to close strong. She won’t have that advantage this time.

By all rights, Leslie Milano ought to be out of the mix. She entered the race late, has fewer endorsements and has raised less money than all but Shetty, Franks and Luest. Nevertheless, Leslie has managed to make herself a strong contender. Though still relatively young, she is a bit older than several candidates and has made a consistent impression as someone with a real edge in terms of experience and maturity. Combined with authenticity, she strikes many voters as trustworthy and with the potential to be a strong delegate. At least in my area, she has sent out unusually strong neighbor letters with grassroots support. Still, she is making up ground.

Adam

I like Emily and Leslie very much.  Emily should be a model for politicians who lose their first race.  The temptation is to say, “Never again!” and go back to a sane life.  That’s totally understandable!  But Emily decided to stay involved, joining the Central Committee and working with both Action Committee for Transit and the Wheaton Hills Civic Association.  She has many more relationships now than when she first ran and is a stronger candidate.  I think she will win.

Leslie is one of my favorite new candidates in the entire county.  She is a very smart, charismatic and experienced person who is also a hard worker and a good listener.  Most of my friends in the D18 activist community love her to death.  She’s also versatile.  If you’re a progressive, you will love her work to pressure sweatshops to clean up their acts earlier in her career.  If you’re more of a moderate, you will love her emphasis on jobs and the economy.  But as David noted, she got in late and that hurt her ability to garner institutional endorsements.  If Leslie doesn’t win this time, I would like to see her come back and try again.

David

Jared Solomon is a young teacher and I hear repeated whispers from many that he’s extremely nice and seems on track to win one of the delegate seats. While his fundraising is lower than some at $93K, it is certainly well above the threshold for a strong campaign and Jared has run a very hard, engaging campaign. Among the non-incumbents, only Emily can go toe-to-toe in endorsements and he is on the Apple Ballot.

If this election were about signs and money, Joel Rubin would win a walk. In the Town of Chevy Chase, where he won election to the Town Council in 2017, I see about twenty of his signs as I walk into Bethesda. At $152K, he has also raised more money than anyone else in the field. As my mailbox indicates, he is closing with a lot of mail. A former political appointee in the State Department, Joel has real communication skills and a lot of foreign policy experience.

Joel sought the Democratic nomination for Congress in 2016. In terms of votes, it didn’t go well but he acquitted himself well and it turns out his donors were still ready to help fund his state legislative campaign just two years later. This previous campaign expanded his name recognition but his emphasis on national politics, including in some campaign videos, and running for offices at different levels of government, may not play well with all voters. On the other hand, his videos about his family are among the best and a great, authentic American story. He’s on the Apple Ballot but has few other endorsements from groups.

Mila Johns has made a real presence on social media. She speaks her mind both on Facebook and in forums, coming across as an opinionated, honest, straight shooter – welcome characteristics in an age where people are tired of canned politicians. At the same time, though social media is important, nothing beats meeting voters and our Facebook circles are often tighter loops than we realize.

Mila is also just a bit behind Joel in terms of having raised money and started sending mail out earlier than other candidates (i.e. before we started getting ten pieces a day). Like Leslie, she could use a few more endorsements but has accomplished the difficult feat of standing out in a crowded field in a very busy election year.

Adam

Jared is one of the strongest candidates in the race.  He has done everything right – he’s on more doors than an encyclopedia salesman, he makes a great impression, he has raised decent money and he has a bunch of endorsements.  He is also the only candidate who has ever mailed me a personal, handwritten thank you letter after a round of drinks.  I love old school manners like that!  Mila and Joel are good candidates who have enough money and support to be in the mix too.

Overall, this field is outstanding and is a result of the electoral spigot finally opening after three straight terms of the same four incumbents.  I wouldn’t trade our House candidates with any other district in the state.  I expect Emily, Jared and Al to win with Leslie having a chance to break through and Mila and Joel also getting big shares of votes.

David

This is a great field of candidates and District 18 is guaranteed to have turnover in at least one-half of its state legislative delegation. The newbies may be in office a long time, so make your choices thoughtfully.

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Waldstreicher Fibs His Way Out of Facing His Constituents

Bethesda Beat reported that Del. Jeff Waldstreicher, who hopes to win the Democratic nomination for the District 18 Senate seat, had to miss the District 18 Democratic forum on May 30th “due to what sponsors said was a commitment in Annapolis related to his legislative duties.”

Except that there was nothing official going on at that the General Assembly that day, as these screenshots of its calendar reveal:

Jeff isn’t the only one in the General Assembly campaigning for reelection, so it’s mighty odd that he had to miss a forum. I sent an inquiry to Jeff as to what was so important related to his legislative duties but have not received a response.

Jeff worked hard to avoid commenting on any controversial issue, or even speaking much at all, at an earlier forum, and skipping out on this forum would fit this pattern. Moreover, Jeff’s attendance at delegation meetings during the legislative session has been lousy, so his need to miss the forum for reasons of state seems odd.

Liquor control was one of the hot issues at the debate. Jeff didn’t comment on it at the first debate, and obviously didn’t at the one he missed. he might be keeping a low profile because he is against decontrol, as evidenced by his support from MCGEO, but not from public statements.

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