Lily Qi, left, and Kevin Mack, right Credit: photos via Linkedin

Aides to Leggett and Delaney take aim at open delegate seat in District 15

Aides to County Executive Ike Leggett and U.S. Rep. John Delaney are poised to run for the Democratic nomination for state delegate in District 15, where a seat will be open in 2018 due to Del. Aruna Miller’s bid to succeed Delaney in Congress.

Lily Qi, who has worked for Leggett for five years—most recently as an assistant chief administrative officer—will formally announce her candidacy Sunday afternoon at the Potomac Community Center. The event, which comes a day after Qi’s 54th birthday, features Leggett as a “special guest.” It was not clear if the retiring county executive will offer a formal endorsement of Qi’s candidacy.

Meanwhile, Kevin Mack—Delaney’s district director since early 2013—on Friday filed with the state Board of Elections to run in District 15, which extends from Potomac to the Frederick County line.

Both Mack and Qi are North Potomac residents.

As he campaigns, Mack, 48, plans to keep working for Delaney, who is leaving Congress at the end of 2018 to pursue a 2020 presidential bid.


Also planning to run in next June’s Democratic primary is another North Potomac resident, Andrew Van Wye, until recently a legislative researcher at Washington-based CQ/Roll Call. Van Wye, 26, a former intern to U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, plans to formally announce by Thanksgiving.

At least three other Democrats are considering running: Anis Ahmed, who works in the county’s Office of Human Rights; federal employee Amy Frieder, who has been active in the Montgomery County Young Democrats, and Hamza Khan, a political operative who recently moved back into District 15 after a brief stint as a delegate candidate in neighboring District 39.

Another potential candidate, Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee member Tim Whitehouse, said Thursday he has decided against running. Two incumbents in the three-member district—Dels. Kathleen Dumais and David Fraser-Hidalgo—are expected to seek re-election.


Louis Peck


Van Hollen endorses Baker


U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Kensington resident, is endorsing Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker in Maryland’s gubernatorial race.

Baker’s campaign announced Thursday that Van Hollen was to formally endorse Baker at a Friday morning event in Landover. The endorsement comes a year and a half after Baker made a somewhat controversial move in his home county by endorsing Van Hollen over former Rep. Donna Edwards, of Prince George’s County, in a competitive Democratic primary for the Senate seat previously held by Barbara Mikulski.

Baker said in a statement that he was proud to receive the endorsement.


“I have known and worked with Chris for nearly 30 years and am proud to call him not only a colleague but a friend,” Baker said. “Chris’ sterling reputation as a budget and policy wonk is only matched by his compassion and dedication to his constituents in Maryland.”

Baker is running for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018 against Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, state Sen. Richard Madaleno, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, former Michelle Obama aide Krishanti Vignarajah, Baltimore attorney James Shea and policy consultant Maya Rockeymoore Cummings.

Andrew Metcalf



CASA targets Berliner, Katz on social media ahead of minimum wage vote

The Montgomery County Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the latest version of the $15 minimum wage bill it has been considering for the past year and half.


This week, the Latino and immigrant advocacy organization CASA has been using its Twitter account to encourage Council President Roger Berliner and Council member Sidney Katz to approve the bill.

The council has been split on the issue. It voted 5-4 in January to approve a bill to increase the county’s minimum wage to $15 per hour—a measure later vetoed by County Executive Ike Leggett. Both Berliner and Katz voted no at the time.

Berliner has publicly said multiple times he would like to approve a $15 minimum wage during his council presidency and his one-year term is scheduled to end next month.


Berliner voted for a compromise bill in committee in October, which would require large businesses to implement the $15 wage by 2022 and small businesses to do so by 2024. However, the bill’s sponsor, Marc Elrich, supports a faster timeline and could introduce an amendment to implement the minimum wage sooner.

On Twitter, Casa has been tagging Berliner’s and Katz’s accounts with posts that feature videos of people saying they support the minimum wage.

Kim Propeack, the director of CASA’s political advocacy organization, CASA in Action, said Thursday the group focused on Katz and Berliner because they’re both in contentious election fights. Katz is facing a primary challenge from Rockville resident Ben Shnider, who is casting himself as more progressive than Katz.

“One is facing a very contentious race for council and the other is facing a very competitive race for county executive,” Propeack said. “So they seem like good people to apply pressure to. We’re hoping that next Tuesday, we have a 9-0 vote on the County Council and our great county executive [Ike Leggett] finishes off many, many years of distinguished public service by making sure people in Montgomery County make enough money to raise their families.”


Shnider is also applying pressure to Katz. He’s been circulating an online petition that asks Katz to support a $15 minimum wage bill with a faster timeline than the current amended version.

Andrew Metcalf



Haffner, treasurer of MoCo Democratic Committee, might join crowded council at-large race

Add yet another familiar name in local Democratic circles to the mix for County Council at-large, where there are already more than two dozen contenders filed or announced to run in next June’s Democratic primary.

Julian Haffner of Gaithersburg, the treasurer of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, confirmed Thursday that he is considering running.


“I have been talking to people and gotten a lot of positive feedback,” said Haffner, who is affiliated with the Bethesda-based law firm of Longman & Van Grack, adding, “It’s not that often we have three open seats.” The openings are the result of last year’s term limits referendum.

Haffner, also currently vice president of the Association of Black Democrats of Montgomery County, is married to Laurie Ann Sayles, a former president of that group and a candidate for Gaithersburg City Council in Tuesday’s election.

“Right now, I have been focused on my wife’s race and trying to get her over the finish line,” said Haffner, 41, adding he hopes to make a decision on his own political future “not too long after” the Gaithersburg election is over.


“We do a lot of work with the council in our volunteer capacities, and we’re often kind of beating at the door trying to get their attention,” he said. “To the extent we can be the people making those decisions, I think it is truly attractive—and definitely something I am interested in pursuing.”

Haffner said that, if he runs, he is not sure if he would opt into the county’s new public campaign finance system. “I’m not certain it would benefit me in terms of my fundraising,” he said. “But I’m definitely a proponent of it, and am considering it.”

Louis Peck


Berliner not supporting soda tax idea

Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, who is running for county executive, said during a press briefing Monday that he wouldn’t support a tax on beverages with added sugar when asked about his stance on the issue. Two County Council members—Hans Riemer and Tom Hucker—are exploring whether a tax on the beverages could generate money to expand pre-kindergarten education programs in the county.

Berliner said that while he supports expanding pre-K in the county, he doesn’t believe a new tax would be the best way to do it.

“I think there’s a sense out there of tax fatigue and this would only compound that dynamic,” Berliner said. “I would also say there are communities that have passed a similar measure, only months later to repeal it in light of public outrage.”

Berliner specifically referred to Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, where the county board repealed a tax of 1 cent per ounce on sweetened beverages in the county two months after it went into effect in August due to public backlash.

Two other Montgomery Council members who are also running for county executive have taken a stance on the issue. George Leventhal said he wouldn’t support it due to the controversy it could generate, while Marc Elrich said he’d support it, but only if the funds the tax generated were solely used for early childhood education.

Andrew Metcalf