Updated – 4:15 p.m. – Longtime community activist Hamza Khan will run for an open state delegate seat in Germantown-based District 39.
Kahn announced Monday he will pursue the position being vacated by Del. Charles Barkley (D-Germantown), who has said he will run for a County Council seat in 2018.
Kahn, founder and former president of the Muslim Democratic Club of Montgomery County, has worked in Democratic politics since 2012—including three years as a strategist in Democratic races across the country. He is currently the executive director of The Pluralism Project, a PAC he founded that trains Muslims to run for office.
“I have decided to run for public office because the challenges we are facing today as a state and country require us to build bridges and seek to bring together our entire community to achieve a progressive future for our children and generations to come,” Khan, 29, of Potomac said in a statement.
Khan joins a growing Democratic field vying for the seat that includes local labor union organizer Gabriel Acevero, former sales professional Bobby Bartlett and communications professional Lesley Lopez.
In announcing his run, Khan sent out a press release noting he had secured the endorsement of several current legislators. However, later in the day Khan said at least two of the elected officials mentioned in his press release–Montgomery County state Sen. Will Smith and Del. Eric Luedtke–were not ready to formally endorse him.
“It was a terrible mistake on our end,” Khan said. “I regret the error.”
Khan previously ran unsuccessfully for the District 15 seat vacated by Brian Feldman in 2013 when Feldman was appointed to the state senate. If elected, he said he plans to support a progressive agenda in Annapolis by pursuing increases in the minimum wage and free tuition at community colleges, and advocating for organized labor.
Khan, an alumnus of Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore County with a degree in political science and a minor in Jewish studies in 2009.
Khan, a Muslim, said he took the minor because he “wanted to learn how to fix the rift between Muslim and Jewish communities.” In college, he also served as president of the fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi.
Barkley has not decided whether he will run for an at-large council seat or for the District 2 seat currently occupied by Craig Rice. Rice may run for an at-large council seat or possibly for county executive in 2018.
There are four openings on the council in 2018 as District 1 council member Roger Berliner and at-large members Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Marc Elrich must step down because they are subject to term limits approved by voters in November.
Barkley is scheduled to reveal more details about his plans at a June 3 breakfast and fundraiser in Rockville.
Post updated to include new information about endorsements.