Tag Archives: Joan Carter Conway

Washington Challenges Conway, Part II


Today, we continue our look at the upcoming Democratic primary challenge by Del. Mary Washington to incumbent Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-43).

Del. Mary Washington brings a record of serious work on issues and constituency service to her challenge to incumbent Sen. Joan Carter Conway. She has been keenly interested in expanding community schools that help link students and their families with services that can help in times of crisis or to overcome barriers to gaining an education.

Washington has also gained attention for her effort to prevent homes for being sold for unpaid water bills—a real problem in Baltimore City because of spiking rates and major glitches in the new water billing system that have led to over 1000 homes and churches facing the threat of sale. These are serious problems for people on fixed incomes.

Washington is poised to make a more serious bid to challenge Conway than Henry’s unsuccessful effort in 2014. First, Washington will have already represented the exact same constituents as Conway for eight years. Additionally, she ran a strong campaign for the House twelve years ago, so she’s well-known in the district and on the ballot.

Second, Washington is much more strongly positioned form a financial perspective. Her last report revealed that she had $81,572.45 in her campaign account. While less than Conway has, or will be able to bring to bear in a tough primary, Washington already has enough to afford key expenditures for a serious challenge.

On the other hand, the two sitting delegates, Maggie McIntosh and Curt Anderson, have made clear that they will stick with Conway. Like Sen. Mike Miller, who will also back Conway, Del. McIntosh is an experienced, skilled politician who can bring significant dollars to bear and plays for keeps. They’re key backers that Conway needs—and has—and not the sort of opponents anyone wants to face.

If Conway decides to retire, Anderson has indicated that he is inclined to enter the race, though the betting appears to be that Washington would defeat him. It will be interesting to seek how tight a joint effort the other incumbents run and if Washington aligns with other challengers.

Washington’s challenge appears to be having the effect of causing Sen. Conway to dig in her heels and want to run for a sixth term. While Conway is a seasoned incumbent who has won her spurs in tough races, it remains unclear how aggressively she could or would campaign. In contrast, Washington is clearly hungry for the seat.

This will be a great race to watch.

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Washington Challenges Conway, Part I

Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-43) has not made her intentions clear regarding running for reelection but that has not stopped Del. Mary Washington (D-43) from throwing down the gauntlet and declaring her intention to run for the seat.

After winning election to the Baltimore City Council in 1995, Conway was appointed to the Senate in 1997 when Sen. John Pica, Jr. retired. Since then, she has won the Democratic nomination—tantamount to election in this district—five times. While Conway has faced stronger challenges in recent years, she has continued to win convincingly.

Past Democratic Primary Results in District 43
2014: Conway, 64.5%, Councilman Bill Henry (D-4), 35.5%.
2010: Conway, 69.5%, Hector Torres, 30.5%
2006: Conway, 92.0%, Dave Vane, 8.0%
2002: Conway, 100.0%
1998: Conway, 100.0%.

In 2014, Conway dispatched Councilman Bill Henry with ease, winning by a margin of 29%. Henry’s expenditure of $45,687.36, while not insubstantial, was below the threshold needed to take on an entrenched incumbent. Challengers don’t need to outspend incumbents but they do need enough for key expenditures.

Conway spent $146,993.41 in 2014 and this does not include any independent expenditures made on her behalf, though it does include some expenses for the general election. Though she once again contemplating retirement, having packed up her Senate office, Conway remains financially prepared to wage a serious reelection battle with $108,567.58 in her campaign account according to her January report from this year.

Conway has an interesting relationship with Senate President Mike Miller. While they don’t get along personally, Conway has long been part of Miller’s leadership team as Chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. After the primary in 2014, Conway transferred $35,000 from her campaign account to Miller’s Democratic Senatorial Committee Slate and another $5,000 to conservative Sen. Roy Dyson (D-29). In short, there has been little friction on legislative or political matters even if Miller and Conway will never be BFFs.

Tomorrow, we take a closer look at the challenger, Del. Mary Washington.

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Override Thursday: Voting Rights and Marriott

Voting Rights Restoration Override Vote Postponed

The Maryland Senate special ordered (i.e. postponed) the vote on the Governor’s veto of the bill to restore the voting rights of ex-felons to a later date. The House overrode the Governor’s veto yesterday. The lead sponsors are Sen. Joan Carter Conway and Del. Cory McCray.

The Senate President stated forthrightly on the floor that this was to allow time for the appointment of a replacement to former Sen. Karen Montgomery (D-14). Rumor has it that many General Assembly Democrats are not thrilled about the timing or handling of this appointment.

Keep Marriott in Maryland

The Maryland Senate took a major step toward keeping Marriott headquarters in Maryland by overriding the Governor’s veto of a bill that requires the same tax rate levied on hotel rooms sold by third-party hotel bookers as by the hotels themselves.

This seemingly obvious fairness–the major request of the Marriott Corporation whose headquarters Montgomery County is working hard to retain–had the Governor cowering in fear that it might be cast as a tax increase. It’s evidence that the Governor’s ideological passion exceeds his desire to keep major companies in Maryland.

As the tally sheet shows, the Senate achieved the 29 votes required to override a veto with one to spare despite Sen. Montgomery’s retirement. A real victory for Senate Budget and Taxation Vice Chair Rich Madaleno who pushed hard for the bill.

Marriott OverrideTwo vote switchers from the original bill are Sen. Addie Eckardt (R-Eastern Shore) and Sen. John Astle (D-Anne Arundel). Eckardt’s switch was not surprising, as Republicans tend to want to rally around the Governor to support a veto.

In contrast, Astle is a member of the Democratic leadership team, so his vote to support the Governor was a shock. Indeed, this Montgomery blogger wonders if Montgomery Senate Democrats might return the favor by voting to uphold the veto on funding for Anne Arundel–except that the Speaker wants it.

UPDATE: Sen. C. Anthony Muse also flipped, which is interesting since Gaylord Marriott, located at National Harbor in his district, in Prince George’s made it a top priority. Additionally. Sens. DeGrange and Peters–both Democrats–switched from red on the original bill to voting to green on this vote.

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A Great Way to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Audio Recording of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Give Us the Ballot” Address at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an indefatigable fighter for voting rights. A great way to honor his legacy would be for the General Assembly to overturn Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that would restore voting rights to ex-felons.

The bill would restore the voting rights of 40,000 people. Its lead sponsors are Del. Cory McCray in the House and Sen. Joan Carter Conway in the Senate. The House of Delegates website says that it adopted a motion by Del. Anne Kaiser to special order the bill for an override vote on January 20th. Turning this bill into law would be a great start to the legislative session.

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Ending Felon Disfranchisement

Freshman Del. Cory McCray (D-45) and Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-43), the Chair of the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee are sponsoring a bill (HB 980/SB  340) to restore the voting rights of former felons:

The bill would remove the obstacles that are in the way of an estimated 40,000 ex-offenders in Maryland who want to vote.

Current law in Maryland prohibits individuals with a felony conviction from voting until after they have finished parole, probation and paid restitution. Advocates say many of the former felons who are eligible to vote are uncertain of their voting status. They fear of being accused of voter fraud and being arrested again.

[Sen. Joan Carter] Conway described the current law as a form a voter suppression.

“The criteria doesn’t make sense,” Conway said. “The debt has been paid.”

A Good and Right Idea

The General Assembly should pass this legislation for a variety of reasons. First, we should make it easier for people who have the legal right to vote to participate–not placing barriers in their path, including fear of running afoul of the law.

Some may not like that former criminals get to vote. But we are all citizens of this country. Once someone has paid their debt to society, their citizenship rights, including rights, should be restored as part of their return to the community.

Moreover, the criminal justice system does not always treat similar offenses in the same way. As a result, some people who commit become classified as ex-felons while others do not. There is no reason for this disparity in sentencing–a whole different area for debate–to carry over into the restoration of voting rights.

But Don’t Expect Too Much

Studies show that education is the best predictor of the likelihood to vote. Additionally, people who are more likely to vote include older voters, married voters, and people with a long-established residence.

As a group, former felons are far less likely than other Americans to possess these characteristics. Difficulties in obtaining a job exacerbate problems in gaining a stable housing situation. Barring some very serious organization, former felons will remain much less likely to register or to cast a ballot.

So Republicans who fear that this is a plot by Democrats to get more of “their” voters on the rolls should chill. The impact will likely be small. More importantly, even if every single one voted, no political party worthy of the name should be afraid of citizens participating in our democratic process.

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Miller Announces New Senate Leadership

Today, Senate President Mike Miller announced his new leadership team. Except for Sen. Ed DeGrange from Anne Arundel, all are from either Baltimore, Montgomery or Prince George’s–for the excellent reason that these jurisdictions provide the majority of the Democratic Caucus.

Committee Leadership

Much speculation surrounded who would take incoming AG Brian Frosh’s place as Chair of Judicial Proceedings, and the post has gone to Sen. Bobby Zirkin, who played leadership roles in efforts to decriminalize marijuana and tighten the responsibility of dog owners for attacks by unleashed dogs. Sen. Lisa Gladden will remain Vice Chair of this committee.

Sen. Jamie Raskin now heads the Executive Nominations Committee with Sen. Delores Kelley serving as Vice Chair. Less exciting during unified government, this committee will likely play a much stronger role–particularly in the next few months–with the Senate controlled by Democrats and the governorship by the Republicans.

Sen. Rich Madaleno also advances to Vice Chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee. Interestingly, he now holds the same posts as U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen did when he was in the MD Senate. Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, a comparatively moderate Democrat, will remain chair, which likely makes Madaleno a key progressive point person on budget issues.

Besides serving as Chair of the Montgomery County Senate delegation, Sen. Nancy King will now serve as Chair of the Education, Business and Administration Subcommittee of the Budget and Taxation Committee.

Another progressive, Sen. Paul Pinsky, advances to Vice Chair of Education, Health and Environmental Affairs. Sen. Joan Carter Conway remains the Chair of this Committee. This committee also remains a likely flashpoint between the Governor-Elect and the Democratic General Assembly.

Additional appointments, including a slew of new faces in the party leadership, including Sen. Catherine Pugh–a leader from Baltimore City–as Majority Leader are announced in the full press release:

SENATE PRESIDENT MILLER ANNOUNCES NEW LEADERSHIP APPOINTMENTS

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Today, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. announced the first round of new leadership appointments effective for the new legislative session. “We are blessed in the Senate to have a wealth of talent and wisdom to help lead the state forward,” stated Senator Miller. “These members will provide the leadership to move our state and chamber forward.”

Senator Bobby Zirkin (Baltimore County, D-11) will become the Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Senator Zirkin has served on the Judicial Proceedings Committee during his time in the Senate, and served as a member of the House Judiciary Committee during his time in the House. “Senator Zirkin has been a key leader on judicial issues, and I know he is the right person to lead this committee,” stated Senator Miller. “His work in the legislature, and in his law practice provides him with the real-world experience that will allow him to lead the Judicial Proceedings Committee through the many difficult issues they will face.” Senator Lisa Gladden will remain Vice-Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Senator Jamie Raskin (Montgomery County, D-20) will serve as Chair of the Executive Nominations Committee, and Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. Senator Raskin has served in the Senate since 2007, and has served as a member of many important committees including Legislative Ethics, and Judicial Proceedings. Since 2012, Senator Raskin has also served as Majority Whip. “Senator Raskin’s ability to lead on key issues, and knowledge of this state will serve well as Chair of the Executive Nominations Committee,” stated Senator Miller. “Additionally, his legal knowledge and strong moral compass will make him a perfect fit for the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.” Senator Delores Kelley will serve as Vice-Chair of the Executive Nominations Committee

Senator Richard S. Madaleno (Montgomery County, D-18) will serve as Vice-Chair of the Budget & Taxation Committee. Senator Madaleno has served in the Senate since 2007, all on the Budget & Taxation Committee. He will also serve as Chair of the Health and Human Services Subcommittee. “Senator Madaleno is one of the brightest budget minds in the Senate, and his leadership on a wide variety of budget issues will be critically important as we face looming deficits and difficult times ahead.” stated Senator Miller. “I am confident that Senator Madaleno will continue to be an effective advocate for the best interest of the entire state.” Senator Edward Kasemeyer will continue to serve as Chair of the Budget & Taxation Committee

Senator Paul G. Pinsky (Prince George’s County, D-22) will serve as Vice-Chair of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. Senator Pinsky has served on the Education, Health, & Environmental Affairs Committee in the Senate since 1994, and as the Chair of the Education Subcommittee since 2003. “Senator Pinsky has the depth of knowledge of the issues needed to help guide this committee,” stated Senator Miller. “His keen understanding of educational and environmental issues will be an asset to our state moving forward.” Senator Joan Carter Conway will continue to serve as Chair of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee.

Senator James “Ed” DeGrange (Anne Arundel County, D-32) will serve as Vice-Chair of the Rules Committee. Senator DeGrange has served in the Senate since 1998, and has formerly served as Vice-Chair of the Executive Nominations Committee, and currently serves as Chair of the Public Safety, Transportation, and Environment Subcommittee of the Budget and Taxation Committee, as well as Chair of the Capital Budget Subcommittee of the Budget and Taxation Committee. Senator DeGrange will continue in both these roles. Said Senator Miller: “Senator DeGrange is a true leader in the Senate and his longevity and leadership will ensure that the Rules Committee will have a strong voice as Vice-Chair.” Senator Katherine Klausmeier will continue to serve as Chair of the Committee on Rules.

Senator Nancy J. King (Montgomery County, D-39) will serve as Chair of the Education, Business and Administration Subcommittee, and will continue to serve as Assistant Deputy Majority Leader. “Senator King is a leader on budgetary issues in the Senate, and a key member of the Budget & Taxation committee,” stated Senator Miller. “As Education, Business and Administration Subcommittee Chair, Senator King will make certain we look out for the needs of all Marylanders.”

In addition to committee leadership, Senator Miller today announced Caucus leadership for the Senate Democratic Caucus. “We thank Senator Jim Robey for his service to our Caucus and our state. I am proud to announce the new Caucus leadership who will continue to make sure that as Democrats we continue to have a large tent that hears the views of all Democrats and all Marylanders.”

Senator Catherine Pugh (Baltimore City, D-40) will serve as Majority Leader. Senator Pugh has served in the Senate since 2007, has served as Deputy Majority Leader since 2011, and is the former Chair of the Women’s Caucus. “Senator Pugh has the respect and admiration of her colleagues throughout the Caucus and the Senate,” stated Senator Miller. “She has a strong grasp on the issues and will be a strong voice for the needs of all Marylanders.”

Senator Douglas J. J. Peters (Prince George’s County, D-23) will serve as Caucus Chair. Additionally, Senator Peters will serve as the Chair of the Pensions Subcommittee of the Budget & Taxation Committee. Senator Peters has served in the Senate since 2007, and has served as Chair of the Prince George’s County Delegation and Chair of the Veteran’s Caucus. “Senator Peters has been a strong leader in the Senate and will serve the Caucus well as its Chair,” stated Senator Miller. “His commitment and devotion to the State of Maryland and knowledge of budgetary issues will help to lead this state through the upcoming session.”

Senator Katherine Klausmeier (Baltimore County, D-8) will serve as the Deputy Majority Leader. Senator Klausmeier has served in the Senate since 2003, and the General Assembly since 1995. “Senator Klausmeier brings a unique perspective to our Caucus, and one that helps bind together and ensure that all areas and perspectives of our state continue to be heard,” stated Senate Miller. “I am excited to have her serve our Caucus in this key leadership role.” Senator Klausmeier will also continue to serve as Chair of the Senate Rules Committee.

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Henry Takes on Conway in D43

D43New

District 43 is the first African-American-majority district (63% black) in this series previewing the upcoming 2014 elections. Like District 46, District 43 survived redistricting with relatively little change despite the need to reconfigure Baltimore City’s districts due to its usual decennial loss of representation. District 43 remains roughly the same area between N. Charles and Harford Rd.

Sen. Joan Carter Conway served on the City Council for two years before being appointed to the Senate in 1997, when incumbent Sen. John Pica chose to retire. In 2010, Conway easily turned back challenger Hector Torres who ran to her left and won 30% of the primary vote.

This year, she faces a challenge from Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry (D 4). Sen. Conway along  with slate mate Del. Maggie McIntosh have supported Henry’s opponents in his previous City Council races, so alliances are already drawn.

Councilman Henry was an early, vocal, and valuable ally for marriage equality who testified repeatedly for the bill. Sen. Conway came to support it later in 2011, but she stuck firmly with the pro side in votes on the issue from that point onward.

Probably more salient for the election in terms of issues is a likely clash over liquor regulation–an issue cited by Henry is his announcement. Conway’s late husband was a city liquor board inspector. Her past opposition to allowing Marylanders to have wine shipped to their homes is indicative of her close ties to the liquor lobby.

Conway received some bad press in the wake of her involvement in a dispute at a property action. The man who owned the property prior to its sale at the public auction accused her of assault and posted this cellphone video:

However, the video did not substantiate his case well, at least to this viewer. Sen. Conway and two other people were walking away from the camera when he followed them. At one point, Conway appears to put her hand on the camera lens but it’s not clear from the video that she did anything to the camera. In another moment, you can see Conway trying to dissuade her companion from escalating the argument. You watch and draw your own conclusions.

Regardless of a bout of negative media attention and though he would otherwise be a promising challenger and senator, Henry’s lack of campaign funds severely hinders his campaign. He has only $8K in his campaign account compared to Conway’s $106K–a nice amount in a district where “walking around” money is said to remain a valuable resource. And Conway will have the strong support of all three incumbent delegates who will form a united slate for reelection.

The elections for delegate are quiet. Incumbents Del. Curt Anderson, Maggie McIntosh, and Mary Washington are all seeking reelection. Their one filed opponent, Timothy Vance, has not filed a campaign report. He describes himself on Facebook as a “regular citizen of Baltimore” and will remain so after the election.

Del. McIntosh is the senior pol in this district. She was first elected to the House in 1992 and served as U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s campaign manager and state director in the previous four years. A former House Majority Leader, she has chaired the Environmental Matters Committee since 2003 and is close to Speaker Michael Busch. McIntosh is seen as one of the most likely–possibly the most likely–to succeed him but many less senior delegates are also restless after ten years of a largely unchanged leadership.

Del. Anderson served in the House from 1983-95. In 1994, he ran for the Maryland Senate but lost with 44% to incumbent Pica.  Anderson rejoined the House in 2003. Del. Washington first ran for the House in 2006. Though she lost, she came in a respectable fourth in the primary and easily won the nomination for the open seat in 2010 on a slate with the other incumbents.

While McIntosh has $77K in her campaign account, her colleagues have little–just $5K for Anderson and less than $1K for Washington. But Vance did not even file a report and has no record of even having a campaign account.

No Republicans have filed for any of the legislative seats.

UPDATE: I mistook Mary Washington’s account for that of another candidate. Del. Washington has $50K cash on hand, which renders her a well-funded candidate.

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