Tag Archives: public campaign financing

School Board Campaign Finances, October 18

By Adam Pagnucco.

The school board candidates’ last campaign finance reports prior to the general election were submitted to the state on Friday. The table below shows money raised and spent for both the primary and the general.

There are a number of things I could point to here, such as Sunil Dasgupta’s financial edge over Lynne Harris (although that has declined in the general) and the fact that incumbents Rebecca Smondrowski and Shebra Evans don’t seem to be taking their challengers very seriously. (Smondrowski’s opponent, Michael Fryar, has raised no money but was still endorsed by the Washington Post. MCEA has not endorsed in that race.)

But the big story is what I wrote the last time I looked at these reports: these candidates are basically all broke. And that is particularly striking given the fact that at least a half-million people are probably going to vote in the general election this year. It’s impossible to reach that many people on a $20,000 budget (or less).

To MoCo’s state delegation: school board candidates desperately need public financing. Please introduce legislation enabling that to happen.

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Will the Council Make Public Financing More Expensive for Taxpayers?

By Adam Pagnucco.

As MoCo faces a crippling financial shortfall projected at $190 million this year and a billion dollars over the next six years, the county council will be considering increased spending in legislation tomorrow – on political campaigns. The issue at hand is a change in public financing matching formulas that would send more taxpayer dollars into politicians’ campaign funds.

As currently written, the county’s public campaign finance law sends matching funds to participating campaigns for individual contributions made by county residents up to $150. The current formulas appear below.

County Executive candidate

First $50 of individual contribution: matched by 6 public dollars for each dollar collected from a resident.
Second $50 of individual contribution: matched by 4 public dollars for each dollar collected from a resident.
Third $50 of individual contribution: matched by 2 public dollars for each dollar collected from a resident.

County Council candidate

First $50 of individual contribution: matched by 4 public dollars for each dollar collected from a resident.
Second $50 of individual contribution: matched by 3 public dollars for each dollar collected from a resident.
Third $50 of individual contribution: matched by 2 public dollars for each dollar collected from a resident.

In the current system, individual contributions are capped at $150 so no matching funds are made available for contributions greater than that amount. Individuals from outside the county may contribute up to $150 each but such donations are not eligible for matching funds. Contributions from entities other than individuals (like businesses and PACs) are prohibited for candidates in public financing. Self-funding of up to $12,000 from a candidate and spouse combined is permitted. Future contribution limits will be updated in future election cycles for inflation.

Bill 31-20, a package of changes to the public financing law, is on the council’s agenda for action tomorrow morning. For the most part, the bill makes a series of benign tweaks to the law. But it does one thing that increases the cost of public financing: it raises eligible individual contributions from $150 to $250 and creates a dollar-for-dollar public match to the hundred dollar increase. So for a candidate accepting a maximum individual contribution, the matching funds formula would be:

County Executive candidate

Old system: $150 individual contribution, $600 public matching funds, $750 total.
New system: $250 individual contribution, $700 public matching funds, $950 total.

County Council candidate

Old system: $150 individual contribution, $450 public matching funds, $600 total.
New system: $250 individual contribution, $550 public matching funds, $800 total.

How much more would this cost the taxpayers? That’s hard to estimate. The bill’s fiscal note assumes that everyone who gave the maximum $150 contribution in 2018 would give a $250 contribution if allowed and uses the 2018 election as a baseline. (Those are big assumptions, but the fiscal note is what it is!) Using those criteria, the fiscal note estimates that matching funds for $250 contributions would have generated an extra $487,034 in taxpayer costs in 2018, or a 9% increase.

Now let’s not set that number in stone. First, 2018 saw a genuinely contested county executive general election, a very rare event in MoCo politics. Second, there is no guarantee that 2022 will see as many candidates as last time primarily because there may be only one open at-large seat following three open at-large seats in 2018. Third, if Question C (which adds two district seats) passes, there will be more open seats, more candidates and more costs. So if passed, the bill’s extra costs could be higher or lower than the fiscal note’s estimate. But there will be extra costs compared to the current regime.

Why does the bill increase both the maximum individual contribution and the matching funds? There is no reason to believe that public financing levels are inadequate. Six of the nine sitting council members and the county executive used public financing two years ago. All of them faced opponents using traditional financing and still won. The winning candidate for county executive, Marc Elrich, raised $1.9 million in public financing combining the primary and general elections. Four council at-large candidates in public financing (Will Jawando, Evan Glass, Hans Riemer and Bill Conway) raised more than $300,000 each, which is comparable to past totals of leading candidates in the traditional system. Two more (Gabe Albornoz and Hoan Dang) raised more than $250,000. Jawando raised more than $400,000. Again, there is no shortage of money here.

As part of its process in considering the bill, the council surveyed eleven candidates who used public financing in 2018 on their views of necessary changes. Just three candidates recommended increasing the public matching amount and only two candidates recommended increasing the maximum donation. There was little demand for this cost increase. Nevertheless, it somehow made it into the bill. All three members of the Government Operations Committee supported raising the maximum donation from $150 to $250. Sidney Katz and Nancy Navarro voted in favor of a dollar-for-dollar match for the difference between $150 and $250 while Andrew Friedson voted against a funding match for the new hundred dollar increment.

Arranging for what could be a substantial cost increase in public financing – an increase that would be even larger if Question C passes – while at the same time adding council staff, refusing to fund collective bargaining agreements and perhaps making program cuts in the near future would not be a good look for the county council. The council is also being closely watched by advocates of Question B (which would cap property tax growth) and Question D (nine council districts), all of whom will use spending increases for politics to bolster their messages. Raising the contribution limit is one thing; it costs taxpayers nothing. But the council should hold off on changing funding formulas to spend more taxpayer money on their political campaigns.

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Will Jawando, A Man with Options

By Adam Pagnucco.

Several astute readers noticed something interesting about last week’s post on Council Member Will Jawando’s fundraising email – it led to a website allowing contributions up to $2,500. Here is what the donation page looks like.

It’s perfectly legal for Maryland candidates for state and county office to collect contributions that large, so why is this interesting? The answer is that Jawando used public campaign financing two years ago, and that permits individual contributions up to a $150 maximum. On June 23 of this year, Jawando established a traditional campaign account listing himself as chair, his wife as treasurer and his council chief of staff as campaign manager. This account allows him to accept contributions from individuals, business entities, unions and other political committees (like PACs) of up to $6,000 each per cycle. Because it’s a traditional account, its contributions are ineligible for county matching funds under MoCo’s public financing program.

Two years ago, Jawando was hugely successful in public financing. He raised a total of $422,571 for both the primary and the general elections, including $304,084 in matching taxpayer funds. Both of those figures easily led the field of council at-large candidates in 2018. In the Democratic primary, Jawando finished second behind the race’s sole incumbent, Hans Riemer, in the race for four at-large seats. Jawando finished first in Legislative District 20 (where he ran a strong but unsuccessful campaign for delegate in 2014), first in Council District 5 (which overlaps with District 20) and first in Takoma Park, Downtown Silver Spring, Glenmont/Norbeck and the Silver Spring East County zip codes (20903, 20904 and 20905). He also finished first in majority-minority precincts and in precincts where African Americans comprised at least 25% of the population.

So if he was so successful in public financing, why switch to traditional financing? Traditional accounts offer numerous advantages to those who use them, including access to PAC and union money (both in-state and out-of-state), contribution limits of $6,000 and unlimited self-funding. (Public financing accounts limit self-funding to $12,000.) Best of all, traditional accounts can be deployed to any state or county race in Maryland. Jawando can raise money for this account, survey his opportunities and then use it to run for county executive, governor, lieutenant governor or for reelection to his current seat. In contrast, public financing candidates are limited to county office and must declare which office they are seeking because executive, council at-large and district council races have different matching funds formulas and thresholds. Traditional accounts are the way to go for a candidate keeping his or her options open.

Is Jawando going to pay a price for eschewing public financing? The answer is a big fat NO. District 5 Council Member Tom Hucker used traditional financing in his 2018 election and blew out a rival who used public financing. Ben Shnider attracted huge progressive institutional support in his unsuccessful 2018 challenge to District 3 Council Member Sidney Katz despite using traditional financing. (Katz used public financing.) District 2 Council Member Craig Rice and District 1 open seat candidate Andrew Friedson both used traditional financing and won. On top of all of this, Jawando’s record on the council is unquestionably progressive as he has been a key leader on police reform and civil rights. However one feels about public financing, it’s hard to argue that Jawando doesn’t deserve progressive support – an argument that applies equally well to Hucker.

Jawando’s decision to use traditional financing is one of the most interesting developments in the embryonic 2022 campaign. He has always been a complete package as a candidate, combining good looks, excellent speaking skills, charisma, a knack for getting press, affiliation with Barack Obama (his former employer) and work ethic – and now he has a progressive record in office. How high could he go and when? That question is now on the minds of LOTS of people in MoCo politics.

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School Board Candidates Need Public Financing

By Adam Pagnucco.

This week, MoCo’s school board candidates reported their campaign finances through August 18. The results for the cycle are below. Here’s a three-word summary: they’re all broke.

Let’s put this in perspective. In 2018, seven candidates for county council at-large raised $200,000 or more to communicate with a Democratic primary electorate which ultimately totaled 134,212 voters. That means they had $1.50 or more per voter.

This year, 272,697 people of all parties voted in the MoCo primary. That was the universe of folks with whom school board candidates had to communicate. But unlike council at-large candidates, school board candidates who win primaries also have competitive general elections. In 2016 (the last presidential year), 483,429 people voted in MoCo’s general election. This year, it will be well over 500,000 voters. If the leading school board fundraiser, at-large candidate Sunil Dasgupta, is able to raise $50,000 this cycle – a very big if! – he would effectively have 6 cents per voter counting both the primary and the general.

It’s basically impossible to run an effective campaign with that little money available for that many voters.

School board races take a back seat to gubernatorial, state legislative and county races in mid-term years, to presidential races in presidential years and to congressional races in all years. The result is that candidates can’t run real races and the outcomes are driven by factors like incumbency, the Apple Ballot and the Washington Post endorsement. Holders of all three of those advantages win MoCo school board races more than 90% of the time. Hardly anyone knows these candidates at election time but the ones who win go on to oversee a $2.8 billion school system.

Public financing has pluses and minuses and we learned a lot about it in 2018. But let’s be clear. Because of the presence of other more attention-getting (and much better funded) races on the ballot, school board candidates will probably never be able to raise adequate money in the traditional system, particularly since all of them (even the district members) are elected at large. Without change, they will continue to be heavily reliant on influential endorsements and even the alphabet(!) to get elected.

And so, if we are going to have public financing for county executive and county council elections, we should definitely have it available for school board.

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Is Ficker Using Public Financing to Promote His Law Practice?

By Adam Pagnucco.

County Executive candidate Robin Ficker is enrolled in the county’s public financing program and has announced that he has qualified for $231,185 in public matching funds.  Those funds are supposed to be used to finance his campaign for office.  But his Facebook ads raise the question of whether he is also using them to promote his law practice.

Ficker has run at least three political Facebook ads from his Robin Ficker Law Offices page.

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The content of the ads is unquestionably political.  But the Facebook page is a mixed bag.  It advertises his services as a criminal defense lawyer and has his business phone number.  It also offers a combination of political content and promotion of Ficker’s legal work.

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To be fair, Ficker’s ads do not advertise the legal posts.   But whenever a voter sees one of his political ads, they see “Robin Ficker Law Offices” at the top.

Maryland COMAR 33.13.10.03 prohibits the use of campaign funds for “the personal use or the personal benefit of a candidate.”  Montgomery County COMCOR 16.21.01.05 prohibits the use of public financing funds for “personal use.”  Whether Ficker is running afoul of these regulations is a matter for the authorities.  But if he wants to avoid this issue entirely, Ficker should establish a political Facebook page that is separate from his business.  That’s what other candidates do and Ficker should do the same.

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What We Learned About Public Campaign Financing

By Adam Pagnucco.

This past primary saw the first use of public campaign financing in local elections in Maryland.  Many people both inside and outside Montgomery County have been watching the system’s performance.  For the benefit of both MoCo policy makers as well as those in other jurisdictions who are considering adoption of this system, here are the things we have learned about public financing.

Public financing was heavily used and helped attract a record number of candidates.

Thirty-three candidates enrolled in public financing.  Four of them ran for Executive, nineteen ran for Council At-Large and ten ran in Council Districts.  Of these candidates, twenty-three qualified for matching funds – all four Executive candidates, twelve Council At-Large candidates and seven District candidates.  That’s a 70% qualification rate.  MoCo has never had as many candidates for county office as it had this year – not even close! – and public financing was partially responsible for that.  Several candidates told your author that they would not have considered running if public financing had not been available.

Candidates in public financing can win.

Of ten county-level seats, six – Council District 3, Council District 4 and all four Council At-Large seats – were won by candidates in public financing.  Three of these winners were incumbents and three were not.  The County Executive seat may also be won by a publicly financed candidate pending absentee and provisional ballot counts.

But did public financing change the outcome?

The three incumbents who used public financing and won did not need the system to win.  Of the three non-incumbents who won while using it, we predicted that two – Council At-Large candidates Evan Glass and Will Jawando – would be strong contenders more than a year ago because they had run credible races before.  The third non-incumbent public financing winner, Council At-Large candidate Gabe Albornoz, would have at least been a viable candidate in the traditional system because of his endorsement by the Washington Post and his networks in the party, the community and among Ike Leggett supporters.  The leading Executive candidate in public financing, Marc Elrich, has long outperformed his fundraising and benefited from significant outside progressive support.  In no instance can we point to public financing as THE reason a candidate who was otherwise not viable became a winner.  In fact, if all candidates had used the traditional system, it’s possible that the exact same group of them would have won.

It was cheaper than expected.

The county set aside $11 million in its public election fund on the assumption that there would be many new candidates and that a lot of them would max out in public matching funds.  Yes, there were a lot of candidates, but only four – Council At-Large candidates Evan Glass and Will Jawando, Council District 1 candidate Reggie Oldak and Council District 3 incumbent Sidney Katz – maxed out.  Two more Council At-Large candidates – incumbent Hans Riemer and Bill Conway – came close and County Executive candidate Marc Elrich was not far off.  As a result, the county spent $4 million in matching funds distributions through the end of June – waaaaaay less than the $11 million in the public election fund.

Incumbents did well in the system.

In his 2014 race, Council At-Large incumbent Hans Riemer raised $271,817.  Four years later in public financing, Riemer raised $326,866 through June – a 20% improvement.  Council District 3 incumbent Sidney Katz raised $135,589 in 2014.  Four years later in public financing, Katz raised $176,265 through June – a 30% improvement.  Council incumbent Marc Elrich, who ran for Executive, raised $851,602 through June, a higher total than he had raised before and enough to let him compete with a multi-million-dollar self-funder.  Fellow council incumbent George Leventhal, who also ran for Executive, had decent fundraising with $628,426 but his campaign was hurt by front-loaded spending and few endorsements.

The system did not produce credible challenges to district incumbents.

Council District incumbents Craig Rice, Nancy Navarro and Tom Hucker blew out little-known challengers.  In the latter case, Hucker’s challenger actually qualified for matching funds and sent out two negative mail pieces but was still wiped out by 45 points in early and election day voting.  In the only competitive district race, District 3 incumbent Sidney Katz used public financing to defeat Ben Shnider, who ran in the traditional system.  The lack of competitiveness in district races is a long-standing trend that public financing has not changed.

Public financing was administratively challenging.

While no users of public financing told your author that they regretted participating in the system, all of them complained about its cumbersome administrative requirements – especially showing proof of residency to obtain matching funds and dealing with filing issues in the state’s software.  The State Board of Elections has every right to verify in-county residency before authorizing release of public funds, but the system’s ease of use should be reviewed by the next County Council.

Raising money in public financing takes a long time.

We wrote about this during the campaign.  Because the system relies on a large volume of small contributions, contacting those MANY small contributors takes a long time to pile up serious cash.  Late entrants into public financing like County Executive candidate Rose Krasnow and Council At-Large candidate Jill Ortman-Fouse were unable to match competitors in fundraising who also used public financing.  The lesson here is if you are going to use this system, start running early.

Self-funders did not overwhelm the system.

In the County Executive race, public financing candidate Marc Elrich fought self-funding David Blair, who gave his campaign at least $2.9 million, to a virtual draw.  In Council District 1, Meredith Wellington – who gave her campaign $78,000 – is on her way to finishing fourth behind public financing candidates Ana Sol Gutierrez and Reggie Oldak.  Self-funding was not a major factor in the Council At-Large race.

Public financing did not stop interest group participation in the election.

Interest groups may not have been able to contribute large individual, corporate and PAC checks to candidates but they still played.  They spent significant amounts on TV and mail in the Executive race and some progressive groups canvassed for their candidates.  Just as importantly, institutional endorsements mattered as much as ever.  Marc Elrich could not have come close in the Executive race without them.  District 1 candidate Ana Sol Gutierrez benefited from them to finish second even though she had lackluster fundraising.  District 3 candidate Ben Shnider had many and came closer to winning than most people initially believed.  And all four winning Council At-Large candidates (incumbent Hans Riemer, Will Jawando, Evan Glass and Gabe Albornoz) had lots of them.  Candidates who lacked interest group support, like Executive candidates Rose Krasnow and George Leventhal and Council At-Large candidates Hoan Dang, Bill Conway and Jill Ortman-Fouse did not come close to winning.  Savvy interest groups can exploit public financing by helping candidates of their choice raise money inside the system while using their own money to finance PAC and independent expenditure activity.  Here’s a prediction: all of the above will happen again.

Most women using public financing did not win.

Much has been said about the next County Council having just one female member.  District 4 incumbent Nancy Navarro used public financing to defeat a no-name challenger.  But no other woman in public financing came that close to winning.  In early and election day voting, Gutierrez trailed traditionally financed candidate Andrew Friedson in District 1 by seven points.  Krasnow finished third in the Executive race by fourteen points.  And the highest-performing woman in the Council At-Large race was Marilyn Balcombe, who used traditional financing to finish fifth.

There are numerous reasons to explain these finishes.  Gutierrez’s primary voter base was in Wheaton, which is outside District 1.  Krasnow and Council At-Large candidate Jill Ortman-Fouse raised money quickly but started too late to raise a lot of it.  Council At-Large candidates Brandy Brooks and Danielle Meitiv were unknown in county political circles before running so they could not tap into preexisting donor networks.  We believe that female candidates can succeed in the system, but we admit that this cycle presents little evidence of that.

Public financing amplified the influence of the Democratic Crescent.

We have written before about the Democratic Crescent, the region of the county stretching along the Beltway from Takoma Park in the east to Cabin John and Bethesda in the West.  This area has a disproportionate number of Democratic activists, voters and political contributors and sent Jamie Raskin to Congress two years ago.  Back in March, we found that the Crescent accounted for a majority of public financing contributions to Executive and Council At-Large candidates and waaaaay out-paced contributions from Upcounty.  If we were to repeat that exercise today, we have little reason to believe that the result would be significantly different.

The impact of Crescent participation was clearly seen in the Council At-Large results.  Riemer, Glass and Albornoz live in the Crescent.  Jawando lives outside it but much of his base in Legislative District 20 is inside it.  All four oppose M-83, the Upcounty highway demanded by many in Clarksburg.

There has only been one At-Large Council Member from Upcounty since the current council structure was created in 1990.  That person – Gaithersburg resident Mike Subin – has an asterisk since he was originally elected in District 2 in 1986 and shifted to an at-large seat when the new structure was put in place four years later.  And so the trend of not electing Upcounty residents to at-large seats was well established prior to this year but we wonder if public financing will lock it in.

We have spent $4 million on public financing so far.  Was it worth it?

We laid out the pluses and minuses above.  Readers, this question is for you to answer!

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McGee Files for Matching Funds… And Then There is Ficker

By Adam Pagnucco.

Update: Council District 5 candidate Kevin Harris has also filed for matching funds on May 15, claiming $12,400 in qualifying contributions from 176 in-county residents.

Original Post: Council District 1 candidate Jim McGee filed for public matching funds on May 15.  His filing claims 157 qualifying contributors and $36,580 in qualifying contributions, above the respective thresholds for a district race of 125 and $10,000.  Two other District 1 candidates have qualified for matching funds, including Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez and Reggie Oldak, who has already applied for the maximum amount ($125,000) available under the program.

On Monday, we wrote that county law stated that the qualifying period for matching funds ended 45 days before the primary, which this year fell on Saturday, May 12.  That is true.  But at the time, we did not know that the State Board of Elections had allowed candidates to file as late as May 15 with only qualifying contributions received by May 12 eligible for matching funds.  A reader brought that to our attention and we updated the post.  But we are gonna own this one: we screwed up.  Your author apologizes to Jim McGee and Seventh State readers.

Then there is Robin Ficker, who is running for Executive in the public financing program.  Ficker registered his public account on 2/8/17 and so far has not qualified for matching funds.  (The other Executive candidates in public financing – Marc Elrich, George Leventhal and Rose Krasnow – qualified some time ago.)  Ficker told Bethesda Magazine that he was unaware that he was subject to the 45-day qualifying period because he has no primary opponent.  In order to qualify for matching funds, Executive candidates need 500 contributions from individuals living in the county totaling at least $40,000.  Ficker then sent an application for matching funds on May 15 but it asked for… zero dollars.

Can anyone figure this out for us?  Because we admit it – we can’t!

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These Public Financing Candidates Are Done

By Adam Pagnucco.

Update: Even though the deadline is May 12, the State Board of Elections said on March 30 that they will allow a candidate to file for matching funds as late as tomorrow (May 15) provided that all qualifying contributions were received by May 12.  We will see if any of the above candidates file reports by tomorrow night.

Original Post: According to Montgomery County’s public campaign financing law, candidates have until 45 days before the primary election to qualify for public matching funds.  Since the primary is on June 26, the qualifying period ended on Saturday, May 12.  According to filings with the State Board of Elections, the following candidates did not qualify for matching funds by then and will not be receiving them.

Rosemary Arkoian – At-Large

Richard Banach – District 1

Craig Carozza-Caviness – At-Large

Bill Cook – District 1

Robin Ficker – County Executive

Lorna Phillips Forde – At-Large

Richard Gottfried – At-Large

Neil Greenberger – At-Large

Kevin Harris – District 5

Kenge Malikidogo-Fludd – District 5

Jim McGee – District 1

Melissa McKenna – At-Large

Darwin Romero – At-Large

In addition, Bethesda Magazine reported that these candidates were ruled ineligible for matching funds because their submissions to the State Board of Elections did not meet the thresholds of either in-county contributors or in-county money received to qualify.

Shruti Bhatnagar – At-Large

Loretta Garcia – At-Large

Paul Geller – At-Large

Michele Riley – At-Large

Tim Willard – At-Large

These eighteen candidates represent almost half of the thirty-eight active candidates in public financing.  Starved of resources and unable to get their messages out, none of them will be elected.

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Public Financing Geography, Part Five

By Adam Pagnucco.

We conclude with the remaining five Council At-Large candidates who have qualified for matching funds in public financing.

Chris Wilhelm

Wilhelm, an MCPS teacher, is becoming a progressive darling of the Council At-Large race with endorsements from MCEA, the Laborers, Progressive Maryland and the Democratic Socialists.  His contributions are heavily tilted towards the very liberal areas of Downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park.  The question for Wilhelm is whether he can hang with the other strong competitors going for those same votes, especially Hans Riemer, Evan Glass, Will Jawando, Danielle Meitiv and Seth Grimes and find a way to break into the top four.  Wilhelm is a smart and passionate campaigner so don’t count him out.

Will Jawando

Jawando is the leading fundraiser in Silver Spring East County, which we define as zip codes 20903, 20904 and 20905.  This area overlaps with the section of District 20 in which he performed best in his 2014 race for Delegate.  Jawando has put together a long list of institutional endorsements that exceeds even the race’s sole incumbent, Hans Riemer, and includes the Apple Ballot.  (He was also endorsed by the Laborers Union shortly after we published the latest list.)  Now Jawando has to raise enough money to get the word out and finish the job.  If he does, he will become just the second Council Member of color to win an At-Large seat after Ike Leggett left in 2002.

Danielle Meitiv

Meitiv, the famous Free Range Mom, is so far the only female at-large candidate who has qualified for public matching funds.  (Shruti Bhatnagar came close but has been ruled ineligible by the State Board of Elections.  Brandy Brooks says she has enough contributions to qualify but has not yet filed with the state.)  Meitiv’s contribution geography resembles the all-candidate average and is largely based in the Democratic Crescent that is so critical to winning countywide elections.  If she continues to raise money, her status as one of the few competitive at-large women will help her in a primary electorate that is nearly 60% female.

Mohammad Siddique

The good news is that Siddique is the second-leading fundraiser in Gaithersburg ($5,515) after George Leventhal ($6,808).  The bad news is that he has a minimal presence in Democratic Crescent areas like Chevy Chase, Downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park that are critical to countywide performance.

Seth Grimes

Grimes, a former Takoma Park City Council Member, has collected a majority of his contributions from the city with relatively little money coming from elsewhere in the county.  Takoma Park is not a big enough base from which to win a countywide election by itself.  Grimes needs to pick it up elsewhere to have a chance for victory.

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Public Financing Geography, Part Four

By Adam Pagnucco.

Let’s start looking at the Council At-Large candidates who have qualified for public matching funds.

Hans Riemer

Riemer, who is finishing his second term, is the only incumbent in the at-large race.  His contributions are heavily based in Downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda, the twin poles of Democratic Downcounty politics.  He is weaker in places like Rockville and Upcounty.  Riemer’s fundraising reflects his smart growth, urban-focused brand and fits the Democratic Crescent nicely.  Our hunch is that he will finish first in both Bethesda and Silver Spring en route to his third term in office.  (Disclosure: the author was once employed by Riemer.)

Bill Conway

Here is an amazing fact: in a public financing system that includes multi-term incumbents like Riemer, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, first-time candidate Bill Conway is the number one fundraiser in both Potomac and Chevy Chase.  He has also done well in Bethesda.  Conway could use more exposure in Silver Spring.  If he gets that, he could combine a top two or three performance in Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac with a smattering of votes in other areas and get a ticket to the County Council.

Evan Glass

Second-time candidate Evan Glass, who almost won the District 5 seat four years ago, has a decade-long history of civic leadership in Downtown Silver Spring which is reflected in his fundraising.  Glass has raised almost as much money there ($18,573) as has Marc Elrich ($20,763).  Glass needs to grow his base, with the logical targets being other areas in District 5 like East County Silver Spring, Burtonsville, Takoma Park and Forest Glen as well as western parts of the Crescent.  As it is, he has a good shot to win.

Hoan Dang

Dang is also a second-time candidate, having finished fifth of six candidates in the 2010 District 19 Delegate race despite doing a good job in fundraising.  Dang has done pretty well in public financing but he is not dominating anywhere and has not shown a lot of strength in the Crescent.  He could use some institutional backing and more support in places like Bethesda and Downtown Silver Spring to increase his chances of victory.

Gabe Albornoz

County Recreation Department Director Gabe Albornoz is by far the leading fundraiser in Kensington, where he has a large base of family and friends.  Other than that, he is not among the fundraising leaders in any of the county’s Democratic strongholds.  Albornoz has three useful networks: his professional network from his day job, the contacts he has accumulated during his service on the county’s Democratic Central Committee and the supporters of County Executive Ike Leggett, who has endorsed him.  Albornoz needs to continue to monetize those networks and get a couple key endorsements, like the Washington Post.  If he can do that, he has a path to victory.

We will finish looking at the Council At-Large qualifiers tomorrow.

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