Tag Archives: Tom Hucker

County Council Hopping Mad Over DLC Price Hike on Special Order Wines

Montgomery County Councimembers Tom Hucker and George Leventhal have objected vehemently to the Department of Liquor Control’s 10% price hike on special order wines.  Both have been staunch defenders of the County’s liquor monopoly and amazed that the DLC is taking exactly the opposite approach advocated by the County earlier this year.

Here is George Leventhal’s email to DLC Acting Director Fariba Kassiri:

Dear Fariba,

Last year, the County Council unanimously recommended that special order beer and wine sales should be handled by the private sector. County Executive Leggett initially agreed to this recommendation, but then changed his mind and our state legislative delegation deferred to his wishes, so no change occurred to beer and wine sales in Montgomery County. Now, according to your message below, the county has decided that because special order beer and wine sales cost DLC substantially more to process, DLC will impose a substantial price hike on licensees for these products. This decision was made without informing the County Council ahead of time and without the benefit of any advice from a Task Force on Liquor Sales, which Mr. Leggett promised to appoint but has yet to appoint.
Once again, DLC is acting in a manner that is adverse to the interests of the county’s restaurants and retail sector. I am disappointed in this decision and even more disappointed by the failure of the executive branch to take this issue seriously. The County Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Liquor Control delved into the issue and came up with a compromise last year that would have preserved significant revenue to the county while freeing restaurants and retailers from the most onerous challenges of working with the county-controlled system. I am done apologizing for the failure of the executive branch to handle liquor sales responsively and efficiently. The responsibility for this failure rests squarely with Mr. Leggett.
With great concern,
George Leventhal
Montgomery County Councilmember

Councilmember Tom Hucker issued a press release and also posted this on his Facebook page:

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Who are the Most Progressive Members of the House of Delegates?

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Blue Indicates Reelected Delegate

The above table contains a list of the 84, or 60 percent, most progressive delegates going into the 2014 elections, according to Boris Shor and Nolan McCarty’s measure of state legislator ideology. Remember that the lower the score (i.e. the more negative or left on the number line), the more progressive the legislator.

Interpreting the Scores

Two key caveats need to be remembered when interpreting the table. First, two legislators–David Fraser-Hidalgo and Steven Arentz–were appointed too recently to have scores and are not included. (Unlike for the Senate, scores are also unavailable for newly elected legislators; most new senators were former delegates.)

Second, the the tradition of the House is that legislators vote with their committee on the key second reading of bills that have emerged from their committee. The basic rationale is that legislators should not have a second bite at the apple and go along with the results of their committee. Adherence to this tradition would alter a legislator’s score if they would have otherwise voted differently.

As a rough cut, the top four deciles, or 40% of the House, are all solid progressives or liberals (pick your favorite) on most issues. The fifth and sixth deciles, who formed the middle 20% ideologically of the old House, were more center left with legislators becoming more moderate as the scores get closer to zero.

Departure of Moderate Democrats

Liberalism appears somewhat related to the likelihood that a legislator from the old House will return in the new one. Consider that 11, or 26%, of the 42 most progressive legislators (i.e. the top three deciles) will not return in 2015. But among the 42 next most progressive legislators (i.e. the fourth through sixth deciles), 17, or 40%, will not serve in the new House.

(The numbers indicate the same conclusion if one divides the two groups between the third and fourth deciles. In the top four deciles, 29% of the 56 won’t return, as compared to 43% of the 28 delegates in the fifth and sixth most progressive deciles.)

The 13 most moderate Democrats are not shown in the table. Perhaps most tellingly, 8 or 62% of them will not be coming back. And none left because they moved to the Senate. As detailed in Friday’s post, many lost reelection to Republicans in the “Massacre of the Moderates.”

The Speaker and His Caucus

Notice that Speaker Michael Busch was slightly left of center in his old caucus (remember 13 Democrats are not in the tables). He seems likely to be slightly right of the center in his new caucus, as more moderates were defeated. Moreover, it seems quite possible that newly elected legislators will be more left wing than the delegates who preceded them in office.

The Most Progressive Returning Legislators

Interestingly, the three most progressive returning legislators according to the Shor-McCarty measure sat in the Senate: (1) Rich Madaleno, (2) Paul Pinsky, and (3) Roger Manno. However, the next two were members of the House: (4) Susan Lee, and (5) Bonnie Cullison, though Lee is moving from the House to the Senate when the new General Assembly convenes.

MCGEO Paves the Way for Alcohol Reform

[UPDATE at the end of this post.]

During his campaign for the Democratic nomination in Montgomery County District 5, Evan Glass pushed hard for liberalization of Montgomery’s antiquated monopoly on the sale of alcohol in the County. Despite his narrow defeat, the next four years presents the best opportunity for reform in ages.

MCGEO, the union that represents the employees at County owned liquor stores, bet disastrously on the wrong candidates in the recent Democratic primary. The attempt by MCGEO under the leadership of Gino Renne to flex its muscle and become the leading force among unions and possibly in County politics backfired and earned the union far more enemies than friends.

Montgomery County Council
Let’s look first at County Council races. In District 1, MCGEO endorsed Duchy Trachtenberg’s bid to return to the Council in a challenge to incumbent Roger Berliner. Duchy even hired MCGEO’s former executive director as her campaign manager. Trachtenberg lost with 21% of the vote. MCGEO didn’t just lose; it looked puny and ineffectual.

The big race in District 3 went no better for MCGEO, Gaithersburg Mayor Sid Katz defeated their choice of Ryan Spiegel, who won less than one-quarter of the vote. In Districts 2 and 4, MCGEO did not endorse either incumbent in the primary even though they were unopposed. No relationships built there.

Tom Hucker, who was expected to win by more, limped home to the District 5 nomination in his battle against newcomer Evan Glass. While MCGEO should have a friend in Hucker, his narrow victory hardly impresses and its not clear yet how much weight this new member of the Council will carry with his colleagues.

In the at-large races, MCGEO supported incumbent Marc Elrich so a bright spot for them there. However, they also supported Beth Daly, the most serious challenger to the other incumbents, who all won reelection. No real reason for Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal, or Hans Riemer to prioritize MCGEO’s interests. And Hans has already expressed public interest in alcohol reform.

General Assembly
MCGEO played it safer in the General Assembly but surely has teed off the three incumbents whose opponents it supported in District 18. It gave $1000 to Sen. Rich Madaleno’s opponent. Madaleno won despite being heavily outspent by his self-funding opponent who dumped over $300K in the attempt. Unfortunately for MCGEO, he is already one of the more influential insiders on the Budget and Taxation Committee.

While MCGEO supported Jeff Waldstreicher, it also gave $1000 to Natali Fani-Gonzalez, which certainly cannot especially please incumbents Al Carr and Ana Sol Gutierrez. The two incumbents romped home easily with Fani-Gonzalez placing sixth out of seven candidates.

The Results
MCGEO spent a lot of money and political capital in an effort to look strong but made its weakness apparent. Its ill-conceived campaign to plant friends on the Council and instill respect of its power has left it vulnerable. Montgomery officials can move ahead with alcohol reform. They know they have nothing to fear.

UPDATE: MCGEO made another terrible investment in the District 17 Senate race. They donated $6000 to Del. Lou Simmons, another heavy self-funder. Despite having a clear financial advantage, Lou lost the nomination to former Del. Cheryl Kagan by 9 points.

AFL-CIO Disses MoCo Council Incumbents

MD AFLIn the Democratic primary, the AFL-CIO endorsed incumbent Marc Elrich as well as challengers Beth Daly and Vivian Malloy for the at-large seats. Only Elrich won the nomination. The AFL-CIO did not endorse incumbents Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal, or Hans Riemer. They have now decided not to endorse any of these three (or anyone else) for the general election.

The AFL-CIO have also made no endorsement in District 1 (Roger Berliner), District 2 (Craig Rice), or District 3 (Sidney Katz). They had endorsed unsuccessful candidates Duchy Trachtenberg (District 1) and Ryan Spiegel (District 3).

District 4 Incumbent Democrat Nancy Navarro is their only new endorsed candidate. They had already endorsed Tom Hucker in District 5–their only other Montgomery County Council winner besides Marc Elrich.

So two-thirds of the new Council will have the election without the endorsement of the AFL-CIO in either the primary or the general election–7 out of 9 if you include the primary.

MD-08 Tea Leaves

Chris Van Hollen probably ain’t going nowhere. He has a lot to lose and very little to gain by running for US Senate. In the House, he’s got a solid shot at the Speakership (if Team Blue ever regains control of the chamber). Even if he falls short, he’ll likely advance into some lower tier of leadership–and being Majority Leader or Caucus Chairman ain’t bad. Perhaps he ends up in some lofty post in a theoretically Biden Administration (the Vice President is very close to CVH). But hey, many a down county pol dreams of the day this seat will open up . . . so let’s speculate.

Here are some politicians, who without having asked them, I’d wager would seriously consider it:

State Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20): Jamie represents about 20% of MD-08 and would carry with him a rabid base of progressive activists. I believe he would be able to tap into a substantial network of national “net roots” small donors as MD-04 Congresswoman Donna Edwards was able to in 2006 and 2008. He’d also be able to raise money from national progressive donors. I think he could raise betwixt $1,000,000 and $1,600,000 for this bid.

State Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18): Rich would likely attract substantial backing from a large community of national LGBT donors. He also represents 1/5th of MD-08 currently and presents a more practical blend of progressivism than Senator Raskin. I believe he could raise between $700,000 and and a million dollars.

Delegate Bill Frick (D-16): I discussed Delegate Frick’s congressional fortunes in my post on MD-06. He represents a much larger portion of MD-08 than MD-06 so he might have a stronger showing here.

County Council Member At Large Hans Riemer: Hans has the distinct advantage that he represents the vast majority of Democratic Primary voters in this district. He’d also be a nice Obama spin off Congressional Candidate. Perhaps by the time MD-08 is open the President will be ready to stump for the alumni of his historic campaigns. I think Hans could put together $500,000-$650,000. He also has the opportunity to a great deal of constituency building due to his county wide position.

District 5 County Council Member Tom Hucker: It is my opinion that Tom Hucker espouses a slightly different brand of progressive rhetoric than Jamie Raskin. Jamie is the liberal law professor while Hucker is a fiery labor organizer. I believe Hucker would be labor’s choice and could come up with between $350,000 and $600,000.

Former Delegate Heather Mizeur (District 20): This is the seat Heather was born to run for. Unfortunately, I think Raskin would cut her electoral base out from under her. This is very different than her donor base and I believe she could rake in between two and three million dollars for her bid. Weirdly, I hear her mentioned more frequently for MD-01 (where she owns a vacation home, in Kent County).

My Analysis
In a field likely to be chock full of dynamic progressive elected officials (think Raskin, Hucker and Mizeur) vying to be the farthest of the far left a slightly more pragmatic liberal (think Madaleno, Frick or Riemer) could break through. It even opens the door for a real moderate (!) self funding businessman to flood the race with money and cruise to victory.

Outlook: Toss Up

Did I miss someone? Am I off base? Shoot me an email at johnga.ems@gmail.com.

 

It’s Official: MCEA Drops Barclay

Interestingly, this decision leaves MCEA without an endorsed candidate in Council District 5. Unlike SEIU, they did not make the jump from Barclay to Hucker.

From MCEA’s Website:

Delegates attending today’s monthly meeting of the MCEA Representative Assembly have voted to rescind their recommendation of Christopher Barclay in the race for the District 5 seat on the Montgomery County Council. MCEA President Doug Prouty issued the following statement:

“As teachers and childhood educators, we hold ourselves to the highest of standards. It is what our community expects of all those in public service. We also believe that Chris Barclay has been – and we hope will continue to be – an important voice for our county’s neediest students, schools and neighborhoods.  Nevertheless, we regretfully withdraw MCEA’s recommendation of Mr. Barclay in the June 24th primary election for the vacant County Council District 5 office. We look forward to continuing to work with Chris as a member of the Board of Education. We believe that he – and we – can continue to be strong partners in focusing resources and attention on the challenge of closing student achievement gaps and narrowing the growing income gaps in our community. We believe Chris can have a good future in public service in the county. But in light of the recent news and financial disclosures, we cannot recommend him in this race at this time”.

The Representative Assembly consists of elected MCEA representatives from schools and worksites across the county. Approximately 130 MCEA Representatives participated in today’s discussion and decision. This action, like all candidate recommendations, required approval of a super-majority (58%) of those voting.

Approval of this motion by the MCEA Representative Assembly leaves the Association with no position in the Council 5 race.

 

SEIU Local 500 Switches Endorsement to Tom Hucker

SEIU Local 500 is dropping it’s endorsement of embattled School Board Member Chris Barclay and instead endorsing State Delegate Tom Hucker in the open seat contest in Council District 5.  Press release is below.

SEIU Local 500 Endorses Tom Hucker for Montgomery County Council District 5
Hucker’s experience and progressive record cited as reasons for the endorsement

 (Gaithersburg, MD) SEIU Local 500 changed their endorsement to Tom Hucker in Montgomery County Council District 5 primary.

“For as long as our members have known and worked with Tom Hucker, he has been a steadfast supporter of our schools, our children and our community,” said Merle Cuttitta, President of SEIU Local 500. “Whether it was marriage equality, the Dream Act or funding education, Tom stood with us – and more importantly, he stood with the people of Montgomery County.  He is an experienced leader on progressive issues and he has a track record of getting things done. We have no reservations about endorsing him for the Montgomery County Council.”

Concerns that recent disclosures have become a distraction prompted Local 500 to withdraw their endorsement from Christopher Barclay and put their full support behind Tom Hucker, who has been an outspoken progressive leader in the Maryland House of Delegates.

“Christopher Barclay has been a strong advocate on behalf of our members and for education in our community,” said David Rodich, Executive Director of SEIU Local 500. “Unfortunately, recent developments have become a distraction and raised serious concerns about his electability. Our members’ number one issue in District 5 is having a progressive County Councilperson who will stand up for social and economic justice. Our members are not prepared to leave that outcome to chance. Tom Hucker has the experience and he is ready to be the progressive Councilperson District 5 needs.”

SEIU Local 500 represents over 20,000 people across Maryland and the District of Columbia, including supporting services employees in Montgomery County Public Schools and part-time faculty at Montgomery College.

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Effects Bargaining and Endorsements

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MCGEO is the Municipal and County Government Employee Organization. FOP is the Fraternal Order of Police. AFL is the MD-DC AFL-CIO. IAFF is the International Association of Fire Fighters. There might be additional endorsements than those recorded here, particularly for the IAFF.

The government employee unions are placing heavy bets behind candidates who favor effects bargaining despite its repudiation by the voters, especially Duchy Trachtenberg and Tom Hucker. In a recent debate, Duchy speculated that the decline in police morale resulting from the removal of effects bargaining had caused crime to increase. Except that crime has declined–as Ike Leggett loves to remind us–which renders the theory untenable.

Ryan Spiegel has positioned himself as extremely pro-labor despite his unwillingness to revisit effects bargaining. And the unions don’t have a pro-effects bargaining choice in District 3. Ryan is clearly their candidate for the Rockville-Gaithersburg district.

In ultra-liberal District 5, Evan Glass has staked out a position as the only candidate opposed to overturning the will of the voters unless it proves to cause problems for voters. Not a bad idea since he was never going to outbid Hucker for union support.

Marc Elrich is the only incumbent councilmember to receive an endorsement from any of these four unions. At-Large Candidate Vivian Malloy is pro-effects bargaining but is not perceived as a viable challenger by these unions.

Not So Progressive Neighbors

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Last Friday, I explained how Progressive Neighbors just isn’t attracting the love from incumbent Democrats. A majority of incumbent legislators didn’t even return their candidate questionnaire.

They aren’t the only ones.

Anthony Brown and Ken Ulman didn’t fill one out either. The MO of this campaign has been to seek aggressively virtually every endorsement around the State, so their decision to decline to seek that of Progressive Neighbors speaks volumes.

Surely, the lack of interest from the man who may be the State’s first African-American governor must have caused some navel gazing in this progressive organization even if the policies of Heather Mizeur and Delman Coates better fit their profile.

Brown-Ulman are not the only ones who appear to have made a calculated decision to give PN a pass. Is anyone really surprised that Council President Craig Rice did not bother to fill out the questionnaire when his 2010 opponent–a perfectly nice woman in my experience–sits on the Steering Committee that votes on endorsements?

One major reason for the antipathy expressed by many for Progressive Neighbors’ endorsement process is that 5 of the 19 members of their Steering Committee are running for either the state legislature or the county council. Boards often have a member seeking office but I’ve never heard of five at once.

Not only that but the PN endorsement questionnaires were unbelievably sent out by one of these candidates–even to her opponent. Progressive Neighbors views this as a minor hiccup that was corrected less than a week later after it was pointed out. But it is far more than an oopsy daisy.

Portions of the questionnaire attack corporate cronyism and call for public financing. How can people so concerned about inappropriate influence on politics think it was a good idea for a candidate to send a questionnaire to her opponent?

PN’s endorsement questionnaire goes on at great length about transparency:

Progress has been made in improving transparency in the General Assembly over the past four years, with greater access to online tools for the public, the posting online of committee votes, and increased audio and video coverage of legislative deliberations. Much still remains to be done, however, including posting of subcommittee votes, committee amendments and votes, and the institution of a system to allow constituents to sign up to testify online the day before a committee hearing so they don’t have to spend all day in Annapolis waiting to testify. Do you support these improvements, and do you have others you’d like to offer? Are you willing to support special elections to fill legislative vacancies? Do you support stripping the party central committees of the power of appointment, which ultimately lies with the Governor?

But the structure of the organization and its endorsement process is less open than might appear at first glance. The PN Steering Committee is elected by . . . the Steering Committee. The same committee–the one with five members running for office–also controls the endorsement process.

In this process, PN doesn’t model the open behavior it would like to see in the General Assembly:

The Steering Committee may choose to have a secret ballot on certain concerns and some meetings may be closed. Steering Committee members will be encouraged to keep individual Steering Committee members’ votes in confidence.

Surprisingly, the Steering Committee did not endorse two of their own members. In News of the Weird, Jonathan Shurberg and Will Smith were progressive enough to serve on the Steering Committee but not to be endorsed. I imagine that PN would argue that it somehow proves the integrity of their process but it is also just odd since both are credible, progressive candidates.

Other choices seem as bizarre. In District 18, Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez has long been a stalwart staunch progressive. How on earth can she, the first Latina elected to public office in Montgomery County who passionately favors left-wing policies to reduce economic inequality, not be progressive enough?

On the other hand, the organization endorsed both Steering Committee Member Terrill North and Del. Tom Hucker for the open District 5 County Council seat. Apparently, PN decided to give Hucker, generally viewed as a solid left winger, a pass on his recent vote against indexation of the minimum wage in the House (Gutiérrez along with Mizeur and Ivey voted yea) despite having pressed that the County adopt this stand.

Progressive Neighbors has a nice sounding name and provides another decal that endorsed candidates can stick on their literature. Beyond that, especially outside of District 20, they cannot provide anything meaningful with the endorsement. As one liberal legislator explained to me, “Nobody fills out their questionnaire because they demand extreme positions and offer nothing of value.”