Tag Archives: Kumar Barve

Kagan Endorses Haffner over Gilchrist

prom backdrops/prom backdrops 2019

District 17 is having quite an interesting set of alliances this year. Sen. Cheryl Kagan is seeking renomination without opposition. Incumbent Dels. Kumar Barve and Jim Gilchrist are also seeking reelection.

Much earlier in the primary season, Barve and Gilchrist formed a slate with Rockville Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr. You can see their joint signs up near polling places and they share door-knocking literature. In contrast, Kagan decided to hold off on supporting other candidates.

Prior to early voting, however, she released a sample ballot indicating that she favors giving the heave-ho to Gilchrist and replacing him Julian Haffner. This places her somewhat at odds with the two other delegates she is supporting.

Del. Jim Gilchrist has served three terms in the House and is widely seen as one of its most affable members. His quiet style is very different from Sen. Kagan’s. Haffner is an attorney who served on MCDCCand son of a Sierra Leonean immigrant mother.

Current School Board Member Rebecca Smondrowski is also running for the seat and I’ve heard she has performed well in forums. In short, District 17 has a wealth of good candidates for the three delegate seats – and an unusual set of alliances too.

Share

Kumar Barve’s Draft Notice, 1994

By Adam Pagnucco.

Once in a while, we’re going to post some lit from the past to show today’s newbies how it’s done.  Below is Delegate Kumar Barve’s “draft notice” from 1994, in which the “drill instructor” says, “Delegate Barve will be instructing his troops in the delicate art of brew tasting, mingling around a pub, and having a general good time.  So practice your push-ups and prepare yourself because DELEGATE BARVE WANTS YOU!”

That’s our kind of fundraiser!

Share

Campaign Finance Reports: Districts 16 and 17, January 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 16

First, the easy part: all three incumbents – Senator Susan Lee and Delegates Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman – are running as a team and are headed to reelection.  Lee has historically been one of the delegation’s best fundraisers (although Korman surpassed her by a little bit this cycle).  Kelly is beloved by advocates for families, women and children for her work on their issues and has emerged as a leader on ridding Annapolis of sexual harassment.  Korman is a rare bird: a lawyer who is good with numbers.  Metro riders everywhere should thank him for his tenacious work to improve WMATA.  Great things are predicted for Korman so long as he does not return to blogging.

Attorney Sara Love and MCPS teacher Samir Paul are the top non-incumbents vying for the seat being vacated by Delegate Bill Frick, who is running for County Executive.  Love and Paul would be great candidates in any part of the county, but unfortunately for them, they are running in the same district.  Love fits in well with the progressive female voters who dominate District 16 primaries.  Paul is a teacher who has been active in MCEA (which has endorsed him), but his message is much bigger than education as he draws links between all public institutions that confer benefits but require investment, especially WMATA.  Love and Paul had super fundraising performances and are essentially equal in cash on hand.  Those who have met them are impressed with both of them, but sadly, there is only one open seat.

The Big Question: will Frick, who filed a disappointing January report, drop back down to the House race?  We know Frick does not enjoy that question, but since he withdrew from the Attorney General’s race and refiled for Delegate at the last hour in 2014, this is on everybody’s mind.  Such a move by Frick would probably result in all four incumbents being reelected, wasting huge time and effort by Love and Paul.

District 17

This district is a mess.  The only certainty here is that Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Kumar Barve will be reelected, assuming that Kagan is not picked up by a gubernatorial candidate as a running mate.  As for everything else… well.

At the root of the mess is Delegate Jim Gilchrist.  By all accounts, he is a nice guy who never causes trouble.  His defenders describe him as a studious, intellectual workhorse who gets into the weeds and doesn’t claim credit for anything.  But he has little tangible to show for three terms in office.  He has passed no signature legislation.  His website is inactive.  His Facebook page has not been updated since 2014 as of this writing.  And his fundraising is weak.  Consider this: since 2006, Gilchrist has raised a total of $83,217 from others, an average of $27,739 per cycle.  (He has also self-financed $11,120 over that period.)  MoCo has a bunch of candidates who can raise $27,000 in a month.

The search result for Gilchrist’s website less than five months from election day.

So why does he keep winning office?  He has a guardian angel: Barve, who is his committee chair and likes him.  Barve slates with him regularly and appears in joint mailers with him.  Gilchrist would be a goner in most districts, but with Barve helping him, he survives.  And that has caused grumbling in some parts of District 17.

This time, Rockville City Council Member Julie Palakovich Carr decided to run for Delegate in July even when it appeared that all three incumbents (Barve, Gilchrist and Andrew Platt) were running for reelection.  Six months later, Platt dropped out and Barve and Gilchrist quickly decided to slate with Palakovich Carr.  That’s when simmering tensions erupted into the open.

Kagan, who is no fan of Gilchrist, announced that she was not endorsing the Delegate slate, at least not yet.  This is almost unheard of; in virtually all cases when incumbent Delegates form a slate and none of them are challenging the sitting Senator, the Senator participates.  And when Kagan posted her decision on Facebook, the Mayor of Gaithersburg and two Gaithersburg City Council Members voiced their displeasure with the slate.

Open dissatisfaction with the Delegate slate surfaces on Kagan’s Facebook page.

The nominal reason expressed by some for their unhappiness is that with the inclusion of Palakovich Carr, all three slate members are from Rockville and none are from Gaithersburg.  (The two cities are roughly equal in size.)  But lurking underneath is festering discontent with Gilchrist’s performance in office.  Some would prefer open competition in part because it might lead to Gilchrist’s defeat, but instead they got another slate designed to protect him.  Two Gaithersburg House candidates – school board member Rebecca Smondrowski and attorney Julian Haffner (who is married to a City Council Member) – have now entered the race.  Barve is the only Delegate candidate with any real money, so all the others have a lot of work to do.

The Big Questions: will the Gaithersburg grumblers step up and organize for one or more of the House candidates from their city?  Or will they cut their losses and make their peace with Barve and his slate-mates?  And what, if anything, will Kagan do?

Share

CD8: The Aftermath

A guest blog by Adam Pagnucco.

For the sake of posterity, here are a few thoughts on The Aftermath of the historic race for Congress in District 8.

Jamie Raskin

Senator (soon-to-be Congressman) Raskin is now the King of MoCo Progressives, a title he would have gained even if he had lost the election.  Raskin is the King because of the kind of campaign he ran, which mixed liberal issues with a record of accomplishment, a dose of passion and a lot of inspiration.  The fact that he had two well-financed opponents, one of whom was self-funded, played into his narrative.  For progressives, he appealed to both their hearts and their brains.  His vote percentage, currently about a third of the electorate, came from high-information voters, super-liberals and Downcounty residents, a desirable base for almost any MoCo candidate.  It would not be a stretch to imagine that he had the support of 90% or more of the party activists who often play outsized parts in deciding County Council and state legislative races.

All of this gives Raskin enormous potential influence over county politics.  Chris Van Hollen was the most popular elected official in MoCo during his tenure in the U.S. House, but he was rather cautious about using that asset.  He endorsed sparingly in primaries, and even then with great care.  Examples include safe picks like County Executive Ike Leggett in 2014 and the incumbent state legislators in District 18, where he served as a State Senator and Delegate.  Van Hollen never took chances on endorsing unknown or controversial candidates.  Raskin will soon be approached by many politicians, incumbents and non-office holders alike, seeking his support.  Will Raskin follow the Van Hollen model and stay out of most races?  Or will he actively try to get very progressive candidates elected down the ballot?  Lots of politicians and activists would like to know the answer to this question!

David Trone

Ninety days ago, few voters had any idea who David Trone was.  Many millions of dollars later, Trone finished six points behind Raskin, a margin that could tighten a little bit as absentee ballots are counted.  As David Lublin has noted, Trone ran a competent, professional campaign that put batters on all the bases – advertising, mail and field.  He bested Kathleen Matthews, who had been running for many months, and smoked the rest of the field.

Trone should be encouraged by his showing in Carroll and Frederick Counties, where he finished with 53% and 52% of the vote, respectively (and that is before absentee counts come in).  If Congressman John Delaney runs for Governor, Trone’s performance in the two Western Maryland counties suggests that he has potential in Congressional District 6.  If Trone would like to run for office again – and he is considering it – one weakness that he should consider addressing is the allegation that he has not been involved in local affairs.  Trone would be a great champion for the local business community, and he could also be a patron for Democratic Party activities and institutions.  Projects like these would shore up his hometown credibility and set him up well for Round Two, whatever that might be.

Kathleen Matthews

Along with U.S. Senate candidate Donna Edwards, Matthews was the biggest disappointment of the night.  She ran a well-funded, female-oriented campaign against two leading opponents who were men.  She had great fundraising and solid TV ads.  The electorate is sixty percent female.  Hillary Clinton won the presidential primary in Maryland by thirty points.  And yet Matthews finished third with 24% of the vote.  How does that happen?  One theory is that Trone won over many of the more moderate voters who might have found Matthews appealing, and there is something to that.  Another theory is that Matthews’s campaign, along with that of Donna Edwards, illustrates the limitations of pure identity politics.  And finally, her generic campaign had little local dimension to it and did not create sufficient distinction from her opponents.

Ana Sol Gutierrez

Trailing badly in fundraising, mail and television, Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez still finished fourth.  When the precinct results come in, she will probably have significant vote totals in Wheaton, Long Branch, Glenmont and areas near University Boulevard, all places with significant Latino populations.  This will firmly entrench her as the Queen Mother of MoCo Latinos and also shows the latent political potential of that community.  That’s not a bad consolation prize.

Will Jawando

When is it a candidate’s time, and when is that time past?  That is the key question with Will Jawando.  His talent, charisma, intelligence and presentation skills are undeniable.  He’s a very good fundraiser and came close to winning a District 20 Delegate seat two years ago.  And MoCo needs more young leaders of color.  But Jawando was never going to win this race and now he has two losses on his record.  Yes, candidates can come back from that – Marc Elrich, for example, lost four times before being elected to the County Council.  But Elrich is an exception and repeated losses tend to reduce both support and fundraising capability for most candidates.  Our hunch is that Jawando has one more good election in him that he would very much need to win.

Another factor is the upcoming District 20 appointment process.  The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee will appoint a successor to Jamie Raskin’s Senate seat when he vacates it.  The appointee will most likely be one of the two freshman Delegates, David Moon or Will Smith.  That will then open a Delegate seat vacancy.  Jawando, who finished fourth in the House race in 2014, would have had a significant claim to that appointment.  But running unsuccessfully against the King of MoCo Progressives – a man who has been the undeniable King of District 20 for a decade – hurts his chances.  This was a missed opportunity all around.

Kumar Barve

If voters voted on resumes, Delegate Kumar Barve would have won.  He has been in office since 1990 and has adroitly climbed the Annapolis ladder to House Majority Leader and standing committee chair.  He has been involved in every major policy debate at the state level for many years.  And he’s whip-smart, well-spoken and funny as hell.  But Barve couldn’t get traction in the race as he was drowned out by the better-funded candidates.  Barve didn’t get what he wanted, but MoCo residents will get something valuable as he goes back to Annapolis: a dedicated, substantive leader on environmental and transportation issues.

That’s about it for now.  We will be following up with data on this election as it becomes available.  In any event, one thing is sure: this race will be remembered around here for a long, LONG time.

Share

The State of Play Before Primary Night II: CD8

The Democratic primary in the Eighth Congressional District is fierce. And no wonder. Whoever wins is virtually assured of becoming a new Member of Congress in this safely Democratic territory.

Adam Pagnucco has done a good job outlining the strength and weakness of the three leading candidates (Matthews, Raskin and Trone), so I thought I’d look at how the other candidates may impact the race even if they don’t win.

Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez has run a somewhat quixotic campaign that has mainly been about advancing her progressive point of view in debates. Her campaign lacks to money to be competitive even though she has loaned it money from personal funds.

Despite the lack of funds, I heard from one voter that saw a television ad. Unfortunately for Gutierrez, advertisements have to play a lot in order to have an impact and her budget is simply not large enough to buy that hefty an ad buy.

She has sent out one bilingual piece of mail in the form of a newspaper. Voters may pick it up and take a peek because it’s original. But it has a lot of small print and many photos of the candidate in the style of the North Korean Central News Agency‘s coverage of Kim Jong Un.

Despite these limits, Gutierrez may have an impact. She had volunteers at the Lawton Center early voting center in Chevy Chase. Moreover, she has been in public office for 25 years as a candidate for the School Board and then the House of Delegates.

Gutierrez’s final political move has been to endorse Bernie Sanders. This seems more likely to do her more good than Bernie, as she links her campaign to a popular progressive and appeared on stage to endorse him at a rally in Baltimore.

As the first Latina elected in Montgomery County and a known  name, I expect Gutierrez to pick up a good chunk of the Latino vote. Indeed, it seems likely to propel her into fourth place even if she loses much of her past non-Latino support to Jamie Raskin.

Raskin seems most likely to be hurt by Gutierrez’s presence in the race. He represents a large Latino community in District 20 and has advocated strongly on a variety of issues from immigration to social justice that Gutierrez also emphasizes. It would certainly be ironic if Gutierrez, who ran to advance progressive issues, ended up costing the leading progressive candidate the nomination.

Del. Kumar Barve is a former majority leader of the House of Delegates who represents Rockville and Gaithersberg. Smart and quick, he’s one of the funniest members of the House of Delegates. Like the other state legislators in the race, he has ended up heavily on the liberal side of most issues.

Barve has more money than any candidate outside of the top three but remains out of their financial league. He has attempted to gain notice through strong criticisms of Raskin’s ads but my assessment is that these efforts have gained very limited traction.

At the risk of making Barve sound far older than he is, Barve was the first Asian American elected in Montgomery County and, indeed, is often highlighted in descriptions of pioneering elected officials. This would seemingly be an advantage in a county with a large and growing Asian American population.

Unfortunately for Barve, most Asian Americans identify less as Asians and more by their national origin. As Barve likes to note somewhat ruefully, he has the Hindu vote nailed down with the implication being that just won’t get him far.

Barve is one of those candidates who I could well have imagined breaking through but it hasn’t happened for him for a variety of reasons, including Trone’s money attracting so much attention. It would be nice for Barve if he finished well in the portions of the district he represents in the House of Delegates.

Will Jawando ran a good but losing campaign for the House of Delegates in District 20, home to Jamie Raskin. Two years later, he has jumped into the congressional race. Jawando is young attorney with a family who is also running on progressive platform and is easy to imagine winning public office in Montgomery County.

Jawando’s decision to enter this race surprised many. The safer bet would have been to help Raskin win election and then angle to win appointment to the state legislative vacancy. Jawando would have been a very strong candidate due to his own abilities, respectable finish last time, and links to the congressional winner.

While Rep. Elijah Cummings has stayed out of the U.S. Senate race, he has endorsed Jawando for the Eighth District. As the only African American in the race with support from a prominent African-American Democrat, albeit not from around the area, Jawando has the potential to attract some votes.

As with Gutierrez, this could hurt Raskin. However, Jawando is less well-known that the long-established Del. Gutierrez, so it’s unclear how big a splash he will manage to make in the race.

Joel Rubin is a friend and neighbor. He’s a nice, personable guy who, like many in Montgomery County, has been active in federal politics but at the local or state level until now. Rubin has raised a nice sum of money and run a good campaign even though he just lacks the funds or previous support base to be competitive.

Even though this is his first race, he’s shown some good clever, campaign abilities, including producing these excellent YouTube videos on Trone and and his own family story:

Like Will Jawando, I would not be surprised to hear more from Joel Rubin in the future.

Finally, I know little about Dan Bolling and David Anderson. Bolling is running as the anti-partisan candidate and Anderson appears to be a well-meaning progressive. I do not expect either to have a major impact on the outcome of the race. Click on the links to learn more about them.

 

Share

Updated: Broadcast TV Spending in CD8

The following is a guest post by Adam Pagnucco.

We are now at the end of a record-breaking, historic and extremely expensive Democratic primary for Congress in District 8.  The leading category of spending in the race is television advertising.  Broadcast TV contracts for political ads are available on the Federal Communications Commission’s website, but they are not readily searchable or crunchable.  We tracked and broke down candidate spending on 127 contracts through noon, April 4 three weeks ago.  The updated data below pertains to 218 contracts uploaded as of Saturday afternoon, April 23, and should cover almost all broadcast TV spending in the primary.

First, let’s look at the number of spots and gross spending for each broadcaster.  This data does not include production costs for the ads, only payments to broadcasters to run them.

Broadcast TV Spending by Network

WRC-TV, the Washington NBC affiliate, has been the leading network here for years and accounts for roughly a third of spots and more than 40% of gross spending.  Its news programs, including the Today Show, the local news shows and NBC Nightly News, are among the most desirable – and most expensive – programs for political advertisers.  Three Baltimore broadcasters appear in our dataset because Total Wine co-owner David Trone is advertising on them to reach Carroll County voters.

Television spending has increased steadily since January 26, when Trone kicked off the CD8 2016 ad season.  Former WJLA anchor Kathleen Matthews began advertising on February 8.  Senator Jamie Raskin joined in on March 24 and Delegate Kumar Barve followed on April 6.  April has been a lucrative month for Washington broadcasters, especially WRC.

Broadcast TV Spending by Month

David Trone is the king of TV spending, accounting for the majority of spots and 75% of gross payments.  Trone heavily targets national and local news programs for his ads, considered by many to be solid places to reach voters.  Barve prefers these programs too.  Matthews keeps her costs down by mixing in cheaper daytime television like The Meredith Viera Show, Days of Our Lives, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, CBS Soaps and The Insider.  Raskin runs 15-second spots, half the length of his competitors, and that’s why he has the lowest cost per spot.

Candidate and Cost per Spot

Trone has been on TV the longest and has spent the most money by far, but the entrance of other candidates has cut into his dominance a bit.  Still, even in April when all spigots were opened, Trone had a 68% market share.  Trone spent almost as much on April broadcast TV as Matthews has spent on all items in her entire campaign, and more than Raskin has spent in total.

Candidate and Month

Despite his unprecedented TV spending, Trone’s campaign is not the most TV-intensive as a proportion of total funds.  That distinction belongs to Matthews.  Her broadcast TV spending accounts for 48% of the money she raised through April 6.  Trone’s TV spending accounts for 43% of his resources (including two late contributions through April 15).  Barve and Raskin trail on this measure.  Matthews is able to put more of her money into TV, an area in which she excels, because Emily’s List has basically taken over her mail program.  This is a significant advantage for Matthews.  Aside from the authority line, voters likely cannot distinguish between Emily’s List mailers and anything they have seen from the Matthews campaign.

Percent Spent on Broadcast TV

If spending alone determines the outcome of the race, Trone is going to win.  However, about sixty percent of the electorate is female and that will help Matthews.  And Raskin’s grass-roots support has been second to none.  We are headed towards an exciting finish!

Share

UNITE Endorses Barve

barveunite

Del. Kumar Barve

The following is from the press release issued by Kumar Barve’s campaign:

Rockville – UNITE HERE International Union today endorsed State Delegate Kumar Barve for Congress in the race to replace Chris Van Hollen in Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District. UNITE HERE represents 275,000 hard-working men and women in the hospitality industry across the United States and Canada, including approximately 15,000 who work in Maryland and Washington’s hotels, casinos, cafeterias, and airports.

“Our union is made up of a majority of immigrants, women and people of color,” said Roxie Herbekian, International Vice President of UNITE HERE International Union and President of UNITE HERE Local 7, one of three UNITE HERE Locals with members in Maryland. “As the first Indian American elected to a state legislature in American history, Kumar Barve is an inspiration to our members.”

UNITE HERE members hail from all corners of the planet. The union, in conjunction with the AFL-CIO and thousands of immigrant rights activists, is pushing for comprehensive, worker-centered, and commonsense immigration reform and an end to criminalizing enforcement strategies.

Kumar Barve is a fighter for working people and has stood with labor throughout his career. Delegate Barve supports the “Fight for 15”, expanded collective bargaining rights, and paid sick leave for all American workers.

“Kumar Barve has been a progressive leader in Maryland and is responsible for moving Maryland forward.  He has fought to increase the minimum wage, maintain the prevailing wage and expand workers’ rights.  We need a leader in Congress like Barve who will bring people to get things done for the working families of the 8th Congressional District,” said Bert Bayou, Chapter President of UNITE HERE Local 23.  “It is an inspiration to immigrant workers in our community that Kumar  has used the story of his immigrant grandfather’s fight against the U.S. Government to retain his citizenship as the centerpiece of his campaign to provide dignity and opportunity for every American,” said Bayou, an Ethiopian immigrant now living in Silver Spring.

“I am proud to receive the endorsement of the working men and women of UNITE HERE,” said Delegate Barve, Chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee.  “In Congress I will continue to oppose union-busting and fight to raise wages and improve the living standard for working families,” said Barve.

Share

Three Strategies for Winning CD8

Today, I am pleased to present a guest post from Adam Pagnucco:

With roughly ten weeks until early voting begins in the 2016 primary, candidates for Congress in District 8 are entering the home stretch. Three candidates are leading the field, and each of them has a different strategy for winning. Whichever one of these strategies is best suited for the race will play a major role in determining the winner.

And these strategies are:

Spend

Roll Call recently reported that Total Wine co-owner David Trone made a $900,000 ten-day TV and radio ad buy in early February. Bethesda Magazine’s Lou Peck wrote, “The Trone campaign is making what is known in TV ad lingo as a 600-point buy: The aim is to ensure that 80 percent of adult viewers see an ad seven times or more.” And since Trone has nearly limitless resources and has vowed to spend “whatever it takes” to win, we should expect to see more of this.

Let’s put Trone’s opening bid in context. First, in ten days, he spent more than Senator Jamie Raskin’s entire cash on hand ($869,000) and almost as much as Kathleen Matthews’ entire cash on hand ($1.1 million). Second, this one expenditure is almost equal to Chris Van Hollen’s total spending in the 2002 primary ($1.1 million). Third, it’s more than half of what Congressional District 6 candidate John Delaney paid SKD Knickerbocker for media production and ad buys ($1.7 million) in the entire 2012 primary. And there’s still three months to go.

Trone must find Delaney’s success encouraging. And he certainly has a success story to share. But this year’s CD8 race is different in many respects from the CD6 race in 2012.

  1. CD8 is jam-packed with liberal Democrats in Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington and Wheaton, while half of CD6 is located in considerably less liberal Western Maryland. The latter district is indisputably more hospitable to self-made businessmen like Trone and Delaney.
  1. Delaney’s principal rival, then-State Senator Rob Garagiola, did not have an aggressive grassroots operation as does Senator Jamie Raskin.
  1. The 2012 campaign did not feature a prominent female candidate like Kathleen Matthews.
  1. Delaney was endorsed by Bill Clinton and the Washington Post. Trone has no obvious connection to the Clintons and we will see what the Post chooses to do.

Trone definitely has the attention of the other candidates, with Delegate Kumar Barve sending out an email titled “Fighting Big Bullies” and Raskin stating, “Public office is something you earn, not something you buy.” Trone seems likely to break local race spending records. The big question is how CD8 Democratic primary voters will respond.

Organize

Jamie Raskin has built what is probably the biggest grassroots organizing operation in the county since Van Hollen’s 2002 race. Unlike most candidates who hide their internal campaign measures, Raskin puts them out for all to see. He has adeptly grown from his Takoma Park/Silver Spring base and tapped into activist networks all over the district, aided by his legions of local elected endorsers. He has responded to Kathleen Matthews by assembling a voluminous “Women for Jamie” group. And there is little question that a huge majority of the precinct-level liberal activists are with him.

The big question about Raskin is whether the time he is spending in Annapolis will impede his campaign’s ability to grow. Raskin is a superb one-on-one and small group campaigner. No one is better in a backyard full of progressives. Unlike many people with his level of intellect, Raskin comes across as both smart AND likable – a great talent for a politician. But with Raskin tied up in the Mike Miller Senate Office Building through early April, those assets are not as deployable and they don’t transfer quite as well to television or mail.

Another question about Raskin’s network is how far it penetrates into the community. He definitely has the activist liberals who are critical for winning State Senate and Delegate races. But what about PTA officers and volunteers, civic association leaders, faith leaders and small business people? Raskin is going to be outspent by both Trone and Matthews and his network must be big enough to offset that. If it is, Raskin can corral the progressive vote and win.

Stand Out

Three, maybe four, candidates will have the resources to compete. All of them will have a progressive message. All of them will talk about standard Democratic issues that are also being raised in the presidential campaign. But only one of them is a woman and only one of them has 25 years of experience on television. That’s Kathleen Matthews.

Let’s understand that nearly 60% of Montgomery County’s electorate is female no matter how you cut the data. The Matthews campaign certainly gets that. Below is the cover of the eight-page foldout lit piece that is currently being distributed by their field operation. You don’t need to see the rest of it; the cover says it all.

Matthews Door Cover

Here’s the reaction of the regular female voter who received that piece. “It’s a nice brochure. I haven’t thought about the race. But she is certainly hitting all the right marks for me as a female Dem. I have to admit that the thought of getting another woman in Congress, particularly someone with her knowledge and high profile, is tempting.”

That’s music to the ears of the Matthews campaign.

Matthews has a quiet, but growing field operation that is now roaming the district. Unlike Raskin, the campaign does not advertise its statistics. Her real strength is going to be on television. Trone can run all the ads he wants, but none of these candidates can match Matthews’ abilities on camera. Her campaign’s weakness is that it has not had much of a local dimension to this point. But one TV ad on a hot local issue like Metro could go a long way towards remedying that. No one is better equipped than Matthews to do a film shot at a Metro station with frustrated riders, and then pivot to the camera declaring, “Metro riders deserve better. When I am elected to Congress, I’ll fight to fix Metro!” Then the riders will shout, “We’re Metro riders and we approve this message!

Folks, these are all competent campaigns and this race is turning into one for the ages. It’s going to be a great three months until the end. Enjoy the ride!

Share

All Politics is Local . . . Right?

Today, I’m pleased to present a guest post by Adam Pagnucco.

“All politics is local” according to the famous quote by former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill. Moreover, any occasional viewer of Hardball, the MSNBC politics show featuring his former Chief of Staff Chris Matthews, can probably hear the host’s voice repeating it over and over. In fact, he actually titled an entire chapter of one of his books with that phrase and explored its meaning in detail.

So who would disagree with this hallowed political wisdom? Apparently, none other than Chris Matthews’ wife and current candidate for Congress in District 8, Kathleen Matthews.

Kathleen Matthews is a formidable candidate with many strengths. She has name recognition from her long-time career as a local news anchor that would make most candidates green with envy. She’s great on TV and radio. She’s smart, well-spoken and attractive. She raises all the resources she needs to win. And she is a female candidate running against a group of mostly men, which is a plus in a Democratic primary tilted heavily to female voters.

But her campaign is so generic that it would be equally applicable to someone running in California, Massachusetts or New York.

Check out her issues page and her Facebook page. Almost everything her campaign discusses is a national issue. There’s nothing inherently wrong with talking about national issues.  Congress is a federal institution and deals with national and international matters. Gun control, the environment, education, the Middle East, women’s health and more are all important and she’s right to discuss them

The problem is that there’s almost no locally relevant content to go along with it. It feeds the vibe that her campaign is planned and executed by national-level, D.C.-connected operatives with no understanding of Montgomery, Carroll and Frederick Counties. And this is particularly surprising given the fact that Kathleen Matthews covered local issues as a journalist for twenty-five years.

Want to go local? Here’s how.

1. Metro

It’s impossible to understate the frustration that Metro riders have with WMATA. And how can one miss the drumbeat of local press coverage–assuming that one actually READS local press coverage? Riders want a fix and Members of Congress can play a big role. But Metro is buried in the Environment section of Matthews’ issues page.

Delegate Kumar Barve, one of Matthews’ opponents, gets it. Here is one of his many statements on Facebook about it. “METRO NEEDS TO BE FIXED!” blares Barve, echoing a sentiment with which few CD8 voters would disagree. Freshman Delegate Marc Korman made WMATA arguably his number one issue in 2014 and defeated a better-funded opponent with the Apple Ballot in Bethesda, an area where Matthews needs to do well. (Does any member of Matthews’ campaign staff know what an Apple Ballot is?)

Barve WMATA

2. Other Transportation Issues

Transportation and education have been the two most important issues in Montgomery County since, well . . .  no one here remembers when they weren’t the Big Two. But Matthews’ issues page has no transportation section. All of the key transportation solutions on the table required big federal bucks: the Purple Line, getting money for the Corridor Cities Transitway, remedying congestion on I-270, dealing with the American Legion Bridge and getting financing for Montgomery County’s proposed bus rapid transit system are all appropriate issues for federal involvement.

3. Immigration

This issue is both national and local and it is another no-show on the Matthews issues page. Many CD8 communities, including Takoma Park, Silver Spring and Wheaton, are filled with first- and second-generation immigrants of many nationalities. Barve and Delegate Ana Sol Gutiérrez are talking about this a lot and most CD8 candidates are addressing it. Is Matthews?

4. Localize National Issues

There are ways to talk about national issues while rooting them firmly in local affairs. Take a look at Senator Jamie Raskin’s issues page. He touches on many of the same matters as Matthews, but he discusses them in Maryland-specific terms while touting his specific accomplishments. Here are two more examples of Raskin discussing education and the environment employing a local frame. Whatever one may think of Raskin, he is definitely running in Maryland!

Raskin schools

Raskin environment

5. Meet the Neighbors

This is Raskin’s great strength. His campaign has deployed one of the best local field operations in recent memory and openly brags about its success. Raskin’s supporters extend beyond the establishment types (who can sometimes be a mixed blessing) and go down into the ranks of grass-roots activists–the kind of people who provide ground energy for campaigns. Some of his solicitations have so many names on them that even the most diligent reader can’t make it to the end. Does the Matthews campaign have lists of precinct officials, PTA officers, civic association board members and religious leaders to contact? How many of these local leaders have been asked to meet the candidate? Matthews is by many accounts an impressive person capable of making a good impression. How much is that strength being utilized?

6. Know Our History

The Annapolis establishment is mostly with Raskin, and the rest of it is with Barve. That’s not necessarily a problem for Matthews, as there is a certain segment of the electorate that dislikes political “bosses” and they respond well to perhaps her most important supporter, Comptroller Peter Franchot. So what does her campaign do? It lumps in news of Franchot’s endorsement with endorsements by two U.S. Senators with no connection to Maryland as well as former Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Anyone with any knowledge of Maryland politics would know that Townsend was responsible for one of the most humiliating defeats in state Democratic Party history, the loss of the Governor’s seat to Republican Bob Ehrlich, and it all began when unknown retired retail clerk Bob Fustero got more than 20% of the vote in the Democratic primary. The Franchot endorsement is a big deal.  It can be used to good effect with fiscally moderate Democrats, especially in Carroll and Frederick Counties, and it can be used to fuel a similar anti-establishment narrative to the one used by now-Congressman John Delaney in 2012. But announcing the Townsend endorsement at the same time sent a signal to anyone acquainted with state politics that Matthews’ campaign has little understanding of our history or current political scene.

One more thing. Where  is former County Executive Doug Duncan?  He may be Matthews’ most prominent local supporter other than Franchot and he has a sizeable following in Montgomery County. He was a key early backer of John Delaney. But he is not mentioned at all on Matthews’ website.

7. Come Out Strong on a Hot Local Issue

Speaking of the Comptroller, he has a knack for latching onto hot local issues that help him build his base. For example, what do air conditioners in Baltimore County Public Schools have to do with the Comptroller’s core duties of tax collection and regulation of alcohol and tobacco? Absolutely nothing. But Franchot and Governor Larry Hogan are using the issue to bedevil a common adversary, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, and are fortifying their support in one of the state’s key jurisdictions.

The counterpart issue in Montgomery County is the county’s notorious liquor monopoly, on which the Comptroller has been a resolute opponent. David Lublin has written of the substantial opportunities available to any politician who dares to challenge the county employee union and call for open competition. Even if you disagree with me on the issue (and I am its organizer), consider three facts:

First, a substantial number of Democrats want the alcohol laws to be reformed. Second, if just one candidate in a multi-candidate race agrees with that position, those voters will flow towards that one candidate and away from the others, creating an advantage. And third, the monopoly’s principal defender, the county employee union, would never endorse Matthews no matter what since there are several other candidates in the field with long pro-labor voting records. So Matthews has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Why not call for Ending the Monopoly and pick up some votes?

Look, folks.  Kathleen Matthews is a top-tier candidate and she could definitely win. But if she doesn’t, this is why: so far, her campaign does not believe that All Politics is Local. Or really, that Any Politics is Local at All.

Share

Barve Touts Asian American Support

The following is a press release from the Barve campaign:

ASIAN AMERICAN LEADERS UNITE BEHIND BARVE

Members of Congress, Maryland Leaders Endorse Congressional Campaign

Rockville, November 5, 2015 – Kumar Barve for Congress announced today the endorsement of Asian Congressional and Maryland leaders for his campaign for Congress.

“Kumar Barve is a leader in the innovation and technology sectors and is a proven job creator. He is a fighter for the middle class and working families,” said U.S. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA). “His family history is the American immigrant success story and I would welcome him as a partner in Congress”.

“The AAPI community is united behind Kumar Barve in Maryland”, stated U.S. Rep. Grace Meng. “Kumar is a fighter for social justice. AAPIs are underrepresented in Congress and Delegate Barve has been a long been a national leader in promoting and protecting the civic and political rights of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities”.

“Kumar Barve rose through the Montgomery County Public School system to become a groundbreaking leader in our community. His story – from his grandfather’s fight for citizenship to his historic election as the first Indian American state legislator – is our story” said Delegate Aruna Miller, who represents state legislative District 15 which is included with the 8th Congressional District. “Kumar has been a great mentor to those of us who have followed in his path”.

Barve is one the headliners tonight of the Maryland Democratic Party’s Mid-Autumn and Diwali Celebration in Gaithersburg that will gather AAPI leaders throughout the state. AAPIs, comprising about 8-9% of the population, represent a growing and increasingly active community within the 8th District of Maryland. Since his historic election in 1990, Barve has worked to increase the participation of the AAPI community in the civic and political life of their communities.

List of Endorsements
U.S. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. Madeline Bordallo (D-GU)
U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
Norman Mineta, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and Member of Congress
Maryland Delegate Mark Chang
Maryland Delegate Clarence Lam
Maryland Delegate Aruna Miller
Maryland Delegate Kriselda Valderrama
Virginia Delegate Mark Keam
Tufail Ahmad
Alan Cheung, former Member, Montgomery County Board of Education
Ed Chow, former MD Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Suresh Gupta
Rajan Natarajan, former MD Deputy Secretary of State
Farook Sait
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Leadership PAC
Asian American Action Fund

Share