Tag Archives: Marylin Pierre

The Top Twenty Seventh State Posts of 2020, Part Two

By Adam Pagnucco.

Yesterday, we listed posts 11 through 20 in terms of page views for the year 2020. Here are the top ten.

  1. Volcano in Rockville

In the wake of former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Andrew Kleine’s admitted ethics violations, County Executive Marc Elrich wanted him to stay in his job. But the county council was outraged by the scandal and exploded in public fury. The council’s anger wound up forcing Kleine out and opened the door to the ascension of the new CAO, former county budget director and state senator Rich Madaleno.

  1. Repeal the Linda Lamone for Life Law

The problems with the 2020 primary election prompted this historical post summarizing why the state has a law protecting its elections administrator, Linda Lamone, from accountability. Comptroller Peter Franchot and Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford called for Lamone’s resignation but she survived for the thousandth time. Thankfully, the general election was a smoother affair than the primary.

  1. Sitting Judges Get Temporary Restraining Order Against Pierre
  2. Progressive-Backed Judge Candidate Courted, Donated to Republicans
  3. Judge Candidate on Floyd Cops: “Lock Em Up”

It’s fitting that these three posts finished back-to-back-to-back because they all concern the nastiest judicial election in recent MoCo history: the challenge by attorney Marylin Pierre to four sitting judges. This one had a LOT going on: partisanship, charges of racism, charges of lying and even a temporary restraining order. The whole thing cast a foul odor over the ballot box and led me to conclude that judicial elections should mostly be abolished.

  1. Harris Blasts MCEA Over School Reopening

School board elections are mostly sleepy affairs in which candidates agree at least 90% of the time and the only difference between them is which ones are endorsed by the Apple Ballot and the Post. Not this year! MCPS’s boundary study dominated the primary and school reopening took the spotlight in the general, with Lynne Harris (the Post’s candidate) blasting the teachers union for allegedly resisting reopening. Harris told Blair High School’s Silver Chips newspaper that the teachers “were obstructionist, inflammatory, and just said ‘no’ to everything.” That provoked a furious response and the teachers are unlikely to forget it.

  1. What’s More Important? The Liquor Monopoly or a Thousand Bartenders?

Early in the COVID crisis, Governor Larry Hogan gave counties discretion to allow restaurants to offer takeout and delivery of mixed drinks. Many other states and the City of Baltimore allowed it, but MoCo’s liquor monopoly did not. The issue prompted a mass revolt by restaurants and consumers and the county ultimately allowed it.

  1. IG Investigates “Overtime Scam” in the Fire Department

County Inspector General Megan Davey Limarzi blew the lid off county government with her landmark report on an overtime scam in the fire department. The scandal involved more than $900,000 of overtime which exceeded limits set by the fire chief and was scheduled outside of the system usually used by county public safety agencies. Readers were all over this but I have not heard of anyone being disciplined for it. As of this writing, this is the sixth most-read post in the history of Seventh State measured by page views.

  1. Restaurant: My Staff Will Not Wear Face Masks

Last July, The Grille at Flower Hill in Gaithersburg posted this on Facebook: “Let me be very clear…my staff will not wear face masks while working here at the Grille. If that bothers you then please dine elsewhere and please try to find something more important to occupy your time such as volunteer at a nursing home or soup kitchen. Whoever you are that filed the complaint, you need to take a good look in the mirror and try to find some real meaning in your life.” The post provoked a huge firestorm from irate customers resulting in the permanent closure of the restaurant four days later. As of this writing, this is the fifth most-read post in the history of Seventh State measured by page views.

  1. MoCo Democrats Issue Statement on Ballot Questions

This post reprinted the Montgomery County Democratic Party’s statement on the four ballot questions. It was originally published on September 17 and initially attracted little site traffic. But it started to pop in early and mid-October and dominated page views in the latter part of the month. Most of the traffic was generated by Google searches. This provided valuable intel: thousands of people were seeking out what the Democratic Party had to say about a group of arcane and confusing ballot questions. And if they were coming to Seventh State, they were no doubt also visiting other sites with similar information like news outlets and the party’s own site. In the end, it seems likely that the party was the dominant force in driving voter reaction to the ballot questions as its positions carried the election by double digits. It was also a huge boon to us as this post ranks third in page views in the history of Seventh State.

On to 2021!

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Top Seventh State Stories, November 2020

By Adam Pagnucco.

These were the top stories on Seventh State in November ranked by page views.

1. Will MCPS Reopen?
2. MoCo Democrats Issue Statement on Ballot Questions
3. MCPS Reopening Looks More Unlikely
4. Who Has the Edge in the At-Large School Board Race?
5. Elrich Extends Response Deadline for Public Information Act Requests
6. Council Drops the Other Purple Penny
7. Sitting Judges Get Temporary Restraining Order Against Pierre
8. Does Downcounty Pick the At-Large Council Members?
9. Scandal: County Employees Got COVID Pay They Were Not Entitled to Get
10. Winners and Losers of the Ballot Question War

Three of these stories were leftovers from the election and dominated the first week. Of the rest, two of the top three relate to whether and how MCPS will reopen – a huge issue that has yet to be resolved. Parents may disagree on exactly what MCPS should do, but all of us (I’m one of them!) are intensely interested in the outcome.

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How Many More Votes Will be Counted?

By Adam Pagnucco.

As of right now, here is the status of key election results in MoCo.

School Board At-Large: Lynne Harris 53%, Sunil Dasgupta 46%

School Board District 2: Rebecca Smondrowski 60%, Michael Fryar 39%

School Board District 4: Shebra Evans 66%, Steve Solomon 33%

Circuit Court Judge: Bibi Berry 23%, David Boynton 21%, Michael McAuliffe 21%, Christopher Fogleman 20%, Marylin Pierre 14%

Question A (Authored by Council Member Andrew Friedson, freezes property tax rate with unanimous council vote required to exceed): For 62%, Against 38%

Question B (Authored by Robin Ficker, would limit property tax receipt growth to rate of inflation and remove council’s ability to exceed): For 42%, Against 58%

Question C (Authored by Council Member Evan Glass, changes county council structure to 4 at-large seats and 7 district seats): For 61%, Against 39%

Question D (Authored by Nine Districts for MoCo, changes county council structure to 9 district seats): For 42%, Against 58%

You can see the latest results here for school board and judicial races and here for ballot questions.

But all of this is subject to a HUGE caveat: not all the votes have been counted. How many more remain?

Three batches have yet to be counted. First are the remaining election day votes. As of right now, only 3 of 40 election day vote centers in the county have reported 80% or more of their results. At this moment, 6,474 election day votes have been cast for president. That suggests tens of thousands of votes more could come in.

Second are the remaining mail votes. According to the State Board of Elections, MoCo voters requested 378,327 mail ballots. At this moment, 177,628 mail votes have been cast for president. This suggests that roughly 200,000 mail votes are out there. Not all of them will ultimately result in tabulated votes but it’s still a lot.

Third are provisional ballots. How many are out there is not known right now. However, this will be by far the smallest of these three categories and they will make a difference only in tight races.

So let’s put it all together. At this moment, 312,452 total votes for president have been tabulated. (I don’t have an official turnout number, but since the presidential race has the least undervoting, this figure is probably reasonably close to turnout so far.) This suggests – VERY roughly – that 55-60% of the votes have been counted, with the vast majority of outstanding votes coming from mail ballots.

What does that mean for the results above? To determine that, we need to examine how different the election day votes and the mail votes were from the total votes tabulated so far since those two categories are where most of the remaining votes are coming from. And of those two categories, mail votes will be far larger than election day votes.

President

MoCo’s votes for president (as well as Congress) are not in doubt but the differential results by voting mode are suggestive of a pattern affecting other races. Former Vice-President Joe Biden has received 79% of total votes as of this moment. However, he has received 51% of election day votes, 65% of early votes and 90% of mail votes. That illustrates a strong partisan pattern associated with voting, with election day votes most friendly to Republicans and mail votes most friendly to Democrats. Keep that in mind as you proceed to the races below.

Circuit Court Judges

Challenger Marylin Pierre has so far received 14% of early votes, 14% of election day votes, 15% of mail votes and 14% of total votes. Each of the incumbent judges cleared 20% on all of these voting modes. This is a non-partisan race so the partisan pattern noted above has minimal effect here. With little reason to believe that the next batch of mail votes will be different than the mail votes already tabulated, it’s hard to see Pierre pulling ahead.

School Board

The district races are blowouts. Let’s look at the at-large race between Lynne Harris and Sunil Dasgupta. Harris has so far received 53% of early votes, 60% of election day votes, 53% of mail votes and 53% of total votes. These are not big leads but they are fairly consistent. For Dasgupta to pull ahead, he would need to pull at least 55% of the outstanding votes yet to be counted, more than flipping the outcome of the existing votes. Unless the next batch of votes – especially mail – is somehow fundamentally different from what has already been cast, it’s hard to see that happening.

Ballot Questions

There are two things to note here. First, none of these results are close at this moment. Second, while these are technically non-partisan, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party endorsed in opposite directions and both sides worked hard to make their views known. The partisan split seen in the presidential election had an impact on the ballot question results.

First, let’s look at election day voting. Judging by the presidential race, this was the most favorable voting mode for the GOP. Here is how election day voting (so far!) compares to total voting (again, so far).

Question A For Votes: Election day 51%, total 62%
Question B For Votes: Election day 60%, total 42%
Question C For Votes: Election day 52%, total 61%
Question D For Votes: Election day 60%, total 42%

This looks like good news for supporters of Question B (Robin Ficker’s anti-tax question) and Question D (nine districts). After all, there are probably tens of thousands of election day votes yet to be counted.

However, the big majority of outstanding votes are mail ballots. Joe Biden received 90% of mail ballot votes tabulated so far, a sign that Democrats dominated this voting mode. Here is what the mail votes (so far) look like.

Question A For Votes: Mail 68%, total 62%
Question B For Votes: Mail 34%, total 42%
Question C For Votes: Mail 65%, total 61%
Question D For Votes: Mail 33%, total 42%

The mail votes uphold the winning margins of Questions A and C and depress the results for Questions B and D. That’s not a surprise if 1. Democrats voted disproportionately by mail and 2. Democrats stuck with their party’s position on the ballot questions. Indeed, we know here at Seventh State that this post on the Democrats’ statement on the ballot questions got huge site traffic.

As a matter of fact, one could even go so far as to say that once the ballot questions turned partisan, it may have been the beginning of the end.

Plenty of votes remain to be counted so let’s respect that. We may know a lot more by the weekend.

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Pierre Trailing in Challenge to Incumbent Judges

Based on the report run just after midnight, progressive challenger Marylin Pierre is trailing in her bid to unseat one of the four incumbent judges.

These are incomplete results but they show Pierre with a substantial deficit of over 50,000 votes behind Christopher Fogleman in fourth place.

Note that the number of under votes, the people who cast ballots but chose not to vote in the contest, is far higher than the number of votes received by an of the judicial candidates. There are no partisan cues and most people don’t know the candidates.

Pierre has run a spirited challenge, winning a slot in the general election by defeating one of the incumbents in the Democratic primary. She won some noted endorsements, including one from Prince George’s State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy the other day.

At the same time, Pierre’s campaign made several missteps. Previously, the progressive-backed candidate had donated to Republicans. Her twitter account suggested wrongly that burden of proof was on accused police in the George Floyd case to show that they are not guilty. Pierre blamed the misstep on a volunteer who failed to follow guidelines in managing the Twitter account.

The incumbent judges proved ready to capitalize aggressively on these errors, even to the point of getting a restraining order against Pierre for a campaign volunteer who inaccurately portrayed her as Judge Pierre. These problems combined with a very different electorate that of the Democratic Primary appear to have left Pierre short last night with the incumbent slate of four judges returning to the bench in Montgomery.

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Top Seventh State Stories, October 2020

By Adam Pagnucco.

These were the top stories on Seventh State in October ranked by page views.

1. MoCo Democrats Issue Statement on Ballot Questions
2. Sitting Judges Get Temporary Restraining Order Against Pierre
3. Harris Blasts MCEA Over School Reopening
4. Progressive-Backed Judge Candidate Courted, Donated to Republicans
5. Teachers Respond to Lynne Harris
6. Elrich Vetoes WMATA Property Tax Bill
7. State Audit: Thousands of MoCo Homeowners Overcharged on Property Taxes
8. Reopening Plans – MCPS is Behind
9. Why Montgomery County Ballot Questions B and D Are Truly Bad Ideas You Should Vote Against
10. Ballot Question Committee Scorecard

The number one post by far was MoCo Democrats Issue Statement on Ballot Questions. In fact, that post was one of the most well-read in the history of Seventh State. Most folks who saw it probably found it through Google – and that’s a meaningful piece of intelligence. If people are googling terms like Montgomery Democrats and ballot questions, then not only are they finding content here, they may find similar content at Bethesda Beat, the Democratic Central Committee’s website, the various ballot issue websites and elsewhere. This means that MoCo voters want to know what the county Democrats think about the ballot questions. That’s good news for supporters of Questions A and C and not such good news for supporters of Questions B and D.

The two posts about circuit court judge candidate Marylin Pierre and her opponents, the sitting judges, are being aggressively circulated on social media. This is the fiercest MoCo judicial race in a loooooong time. Can Pierre break through?

One story that was big with readers and off the radar of politicians was State Audit: Thousands of MoCo Homeowners Overcharged on Property Taxes. It’s a massive scandal that state math errors resulted in overcharging of property taxes for thousands of MoCo homeowners and that the state is refusing to offer refunds. In addition to Seventh State, Fox 5 and WMAR (ABC) Baltimore covered it. As far as I know, no state or county politician has made a public statement about this. Maybe I will ask them!

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Pierre Responds to Sitting Judges

By Adam Pagnucco.

Yesterday, the sitting judges slate filed for and were granted a temporary restraining order against the campaign of their opponent, Marylin Pierre, after they alleged that one of her volunteers inaccurately told voters that she was a judge. Pierre sent us the following response.

*****

Mr. Pagnucco,

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the allegation.

Let me be clear, I have never referred to myself as an incumbent judge at any time during this campaign or during my previous campaign. I am proudly a candidate for Circuit Court judge in Montgomery County and have endeavored to conduct this campaign with the highest standards of professionalism and civility appropriate to the office.

Instead of engaging voters on the issues that I have raised during this campaign, my opponents have resorted to uncivil personal attacks and frivolous legal intimidation tactics to try and win the race. This allegation and their social media and television ads seek to damage my reputation and call into question my professional experience and service to the bar and our community.

The other candidates made a choice. They could have reached out to my campaign to let us know a volunteer misspoke. Instead, they are using litigation to harass & intimidate while wasting taxpayer money.

Montgomery County deserves judges who will do what is best for our community, use the taxpayer’s resources wisely, and show dignity and respect for all.

While my opponents continually attempt to smear me and my 30 years of experience, I know who I am. I am a dedicated lawyer, a former military police officer in the United States Army, a former chair of the Montgomery County Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission, a winner of the Leadership in Law Award, a three-time winner of Maryland’s Top100 Women Award, and a winner of numerous other community service and pro bono awards.

I am the only candidate endorsed by Progressive Maryland, Progressive Neighbors, Progressive Legacy, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC, the Association of Black Democrats of Montgomery County, Our Revolution Maryland, Our Revolution MoCo, MoCo Students for Change, the Montgomery County Green Party (MD), and Mayor Jeffrey Slavin.

I am a progressive and compassionate candidate for judge.

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Sitting Judges Get Temporary Restraining Order Against Pierre

By Adam Pagnucco.

Here’s something you don’t see every day in MoCo: a group of candidates obtaining a temporary restraining order against an opponent. As strange as that might be, the details are even stranger.

The incident that gave rise to the temporary restraining order occurred on Monday, October 26. According to a complaint filed in circuit court, sitting judge and candidate Bibi Berry and one of her volunteers encountered a volunteer for Marylin Pierre, who is running against the sitting judge slate, at the Silver Spring Civic Building. The civic building is an early voting location and Monday was the first day of early voting. Berry and her volunteer allegedly heard Pierre’s volunteer tell voters that Pierre was “the only progressive judge on the ballot.” Berry then claims to have corrected Pierre’s volunteer, telling voters (accurately) that Pierre is not a judge. According to the complaint, Pierre’s volunteer “continued to repeat the same phrase to prospective voters, ‘Ms. Pierre is the only progressive judge on the ballot’ louder and with greater conviction.” The sitting judges then filed for a temporary restraining order against Pierre’s campaign prohibiting her and her surrogates from referring to her as a judge. Judge Julia Augusta Martz-Fisher granted the temporary restraining order today.

This is the third strange incident involving Pierre that has been reported on Seventh State. The first occurred when Pierre tweeted that the defendants accused of killing George Floyd in Minnesota should be locked up with the burden of proof placed on them to show their innocence, a clear departure from basic criminal law. Pierre blamed the tweet on a volunteer. The second incident occurred when the former chair of the county Republican Party alleged that Pierre told GOP leaders in 2018 “she would be a ‘law and order’ judge who would be tough on bail.” Pierre is running as a progressive this year. Pierre admitted to attending GOP events and to contributing to the GOP but did not specifically address the allegations about what she said to party leaders.

Appearing below are the excerpt from the sitting judges’ online case file (accessible here) showing the issuance of the temporary restraining order as well as both the motion for temporary restraining order and the complaint filed by the sitting judges.

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Top Seventh State Stories, September 2020

By Adam Pagnucco.

These were the top stories on Seventh State in September ranked by page views.

1. Free-For-All
2. Why Montgomery County Ballot Questions B and D Are Truly Bad Ideas You Should Vote Against
3. Harris Blasts MCEA Over School Reopening
4. Harris Apologizes for Comments on School Reopening
5. Progressive-Backed Judge Candidate Courted, Donated to Republicans
6. Changing the Reopening Timeline: A Recipe for Confusion and Anxiety
7. Ballot Question Committee Scorecard
8. Post Editorial: Vote Against All Charter Amendments
9. Judge Candidate on Floyd Cops: “Lock Em Up”
10. Why Progressives Should Support the Friedson Amendment

Free-For-All, which called into question the county’s strategy for dealing with the police department, was the runaway leader this month. That suggests that there is considerable unease about the county’s approach to MCPD which goes far beyond the groups the county hears from regularly. School board candidate Lynne Harris’s criticism of MCEA, for which she later apologized, produced a flood of site traffic. The two posts about circuit court judge candidate Marylin Pierre were circulated by her opponents on the sitting judge slate. The rest of the posts were mostly about MoCo’s charter amendments, on which voting has already begun.

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Pierre Responds to Bush

By Adam Pagnucco.

Circuit court judge candidate Marylin Pierre, who is backed by a number of progressive groups, has responded to an article by former county GOP chairman Alexander A. Bush describing her efforts to court Republicans. Pierre’s response appears below.

*****

Thank you, Mr. Pagnucco, for the opportunity to comment on this article. I am proud to be a candidate for judge in the Montgomery County Circuit Court in the 2020 Presidential election. As you know, the election for Judge of the Circuit Court is non-partisan, and I have and will, continue to seek the support of all voters — Democrats, Republicans, third-party voters, and independents.

My conversations with the MCGOP members were about me appearing on the Republican primary ballot. I was reaching out to voters in both parties because I am running for a position where I would appear on both the Republican and the Democratic ballot in the primary. I paid to attend some events that were sponsored by the Republican party. I also paid to attend some events that were sponsored by the Democratic party.

As a United States Army veteran with more than 28 years of legal experience practicing civil and criminal law in Montgomery County, past President of the J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association, and former Chair of the Montgomery County Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission, I have been recognized for my work by the Montgomery County Bar Association, the Montgomery County Bar Foundation, the Daily Record, and the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. Let me be clear, I am committed to excellence, dignity, and justice for members of all parties who would come before me as a judge.

Marylin

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Progressive-Backed Judge Candidate Courted, Donated to Republicans

By Adam Pagnucco.

Marylin Pierre, whose insurgent campaign for circuit court judge is backed by some progressive groups, has courted the county Republican Party for support. At least that’s what the former chairman of the MoCo GOP is claiming. And he has a picture and campaign finance records to prove it.

Maryland judicial elections are strange birds. In most elections, candidates run in partisan primaries to get their party nominations. The party nominees then face off against each other along with any write-in or unaffiliated petition candidates in a general election. In elections for circuit court or orphan’s court judges, candidates may run in any party primaries, including more than one party at a time, and whoever wins those primaries appears on the ballot in a non-partisan general election. For the most part, judicial candidates are those who emerge from a rigorous vetting process by judicial nominating commissions and receive temporary appointments to the bench pending election. However, other candidates who are age 30 or older, have been a state resident for 5 years and are a member of the Maryland bar may also run for judge.

Pierre has tried but failed to make it through the state’s vetting process before. Nevertheless, she has run for circuit court judge as is her right under state law. This year, four seats are on the ballot, each occupied by a vetted appointee (a sitting judge) seeking election. In the Republican primary, all four slots were won by the four sitting judges. In the Democratic primary, Pierre won one of the slots with three of the four sitting judges taking the others. Pierre is now facing the four sitting judges in a contentious general election. The top four vote-getters will win.

This is not the first time Pierre has run for judge. She ran in both the Democratic and Republican primaries in 2018 too, losing both and failing to advance to the general election. In evaluating Pierre’s current campaign, former MoCo GOP chairman and current central committee member Alexander A. Bush wrote an article on the party’s website recalling Pierre’s 2018 campaign. Bush wrote:

For a judicial candidate to get their name on the November General Election ballot, they must win in either the Republican or Democratic Primary election. Historically, insurgent candidates have focused on trying to win in the Republican Primary, because our primary has only about 15% as many voters as the Democratic Primary. It’s simple math: the campaigning necessary to win among 12,000 Republicans is a lot easier than the campaigning necessary to convince 75,000 Democrats.

And in 2018, that is exactly what Marylin Pierre attempted to do.

In January that year, Mrs. Pierre and her treasurer came to our candidate training event and assured those running the event that she would be a strongly conservative judge and asked for the party’s support in the 2018 Primary. Mrs. Pierre came to one of our fundraising dinners in early February to ask for our votes again, as campaign finance records will show. And later that month she came to our yearly convention, and proudly posed for a photo with the current county chairwoman for the Trump for President Campaign.

Bush ran this photo as proof.

State Board of Elections records also support Bush’s account, showing Pierre making two $70 contributions to the county Republican Party. One of those contributions (on 2/14/18) was made during the 2018 cycle. The other (on 2/5/19) was made after the 2018 election and occurred during this cycle.

Bush’s reaction to all this is scathing. He wrote:

Mrs. Pierre lost in both parties’ primaries in 2018. In fact, she did worse in the Republican Primary. Obviously, she has decided to change her strategy, and has remade herself into whatever she thinks will help her win.

If this doesn’t convince you, regardless of your political views, not to vote for Marylin Pierre, then nothing will.

After writing his article, Bush later told me directly, “At the candidate training, she asked for MCGOP’s support, claiming she would be a ‘law and order’ judge who would be tough on bail.”

This time around, Pierre is running as anything but a Republican. She has participated in Progressive Maryland’s candidate training program and has been endorsed by Progressive Neighbors, Our Revolution and Town of Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin, one of the most progressive elected officials on Planet Earth. What would they have thought if they knew that she had been courting and donating to Republicans?

There is more. In a video on Facebook, Pierre criticized her opponents because a Trump supporter sat on one of their nominating commissions. Showing the person at a pro-Trump rally, Pierre said, “This woman was on the commission that recommended almost half of the Montgomery County judges to the governor. Does she share your values? Will the judges she recommended take Montgomery County in the direction you want to go?”

And so Pierre goes after her opponents because a Trump supporter sat on one of their nominating commissions after she herself gave money to the county GOP – twice.

I have asked Pierre for comment on Bush’s story and I will print it when I receive it.

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