District 18 candidate Dana Beyer Credit: Image via Danabeyer.com

Major local union to endorse Beyer in District 18 Senate primary

SEIU Local 500, which claims more members in Montgomery County than any other local union, has decided to endorse political activist Dana Beyer of Chevy Chase in June’s Democratic primary for the open District 18 Senate seat, according to sources.

The decision, expected to be announced shortly, is a setback for three-term Del. Jeff Waldstreicher of Kensington, who is also seeking to succeed Sen. Richard Madaleno, a candidate for governor.

However, another SEIU unit, 32BJ, which represents property service workers in the Washington area, is expected to throw its support behind Waldstreicher next month, sources said. 

SEIU Local 500, which claims 13,500 members in Montgomery County—including the support staff of the county’s school system—has endorsed Waldstreicher in past campaigns.

“I’m honored to be endorsed by SEIU, one of the most important labor unions in the state,” Beyer said in a statement. “I’ve long supported their efforts on behalf of their members.”


Waldstreicher issued a statement that did not address the Local 500 move, but noted other endorsements he has received, including unions representing the county police and firefighters—Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 and IAFF Local 1664, respectively.

“They’re supporting our campaign because, as state senator, I’ll continue standing up for our community’s progressive values, resist the Trump administration at every turn, and fight without apology for our brothers and sisters in labor,” Waldstreicher declared.

In the contest among seven non-incumbents taking aim at the seats now held by Waldstreicher and Del. Anna Sol Gutierrez, who is running for County Council, SEIU Local 500 is endorsing Mila Johns of Chevy Chase and Emily Shetty of Kensington.


Shetty, who also ran in District 18 in 2014, is vice chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. Johns is a former project manager at the University of Maryland. District 18 extends from east Bethesda through Chevy Chase to Silver Spring, and includes Garrett Park, Kensington, Wheaton and part of Rockville.

Meanwhile, another influential local union—the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), which represents teachers in the county school system—issued its first round of endorsements through its parent organization, the Maryland State Education Association.

The MCEA this week endorsed 18 incumbent Montgomery County senators and delegates seeking re-election. However, noticeably absent from the endorsement list were the incumbents from Gaithersburg/Rockville-based District 17—Sen. Cheryl Kagan and Dels. Kumar Barve and Jim Gilchrist—and District 19 Del. Marice Morales of Silver Spring.


The MCEA’s decision to leave Morales off the list comes in the wake of what sources said was a contentious interview during the endorsement process—in which Morales and MCEA officials were at odds over the county school system’s English For Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program.

In District 17, the MCEA decided to delay its endorsements after the surprise decision of Del. Andrew Platt not to seek re-election earlier this month. Among those seeking Platt’s seat is county Board of Education member Rebecca Smondrowski.


Montgomery County state legislative districts. Via Maryland General Assembly website


Leggett aide Lily Qi jumps out to early fundraising lead In District 15 delegate race

Lily Qi

Lily Qi, a top aide to County Executive Ike Leggett, has jumped out to an early fundraising lead among the seven Democratic primary contenders taking aim at the District 15 seat now held by Del. Aruna Miller.

Qi, a North Potomac resident who is an assistant chief administrative officer for the county, has collected $76,550 in contributions since late September, according to reports filed late last week with the state Board of Elections. Qi, who had nearly $67,800 in her campaign treasury as of Jan. 10, has been formally endorsed by Leggett in the District 15 contest.

Meanwhile, one of her rivals, Kevin Mack of North Potomac, will be endorsed by his boss, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, at an event in Rockville on Feb. 5. Mack is the director of Delaney’s district office.


Miller is leaving the General Assembly in an effort to succeed Delaney, who is not seeking re-election to the 6th District seat to pursue a bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Mack, who began raising funds in late October, lagged well behind Qi in the latest fundraising report. He raised a little more than $19,000, including a $3,000 donation to himself, and had about $16,100 in his campaign treasury.

Another contender, Andrew Van Wye—a former legislative researcher for Washington-based CQ/Roll Call—reported raising nearly $31,500 since mid-September, including $6,000 from his own pocket. Van Wye had more than $24,200 in his campaign treasury.


District 15 extends from Bethesda through much of Potomac north to the Frederick County line.

Also in the contest are Anis Ahmed of North Potomac, who works for the Montgomery County Office of Human Rights; education consultant Jaye Espy of Potomac; political consultant Hamza Khan of Bethesda; and party activist Tony Puca of Gaithersburg.

Ahmed and Puca both filed affidavits last week saying they have so far raised and spent less than $1,000. Espy did not file her candidacy until after the deadline for submitting the latest reports; Khan is scheduled to announce this weekend.


Qi’s fundraising lead was fueled by strong support from within the Asian-American community—22 percent of District 15 residents are of Asian heritage, according to Census Bureau data—and from within Leggett’s inner circle. Included were Leggett’s campaign treasurer, Lawrence Rosenblum, who donated $1,000 to Qi. Mack, however, received support from long-time Leggett aide Joy Nurmi, who contributed $250.

Qi also received contributions from several prominent local real estate developers: Robert Buchanan donated $1,000, while Lerner Development and Soltesz gave $500 each.

Two of the three District 15 delegate seats up for election this year are held by incumbent Democrats Kathleen Dumais of Rockville and David Fraser-Hidalgo of Boyds, who are seeking re-election. Two Republicans have filed to run in the fall: former state Board of Education member Laurie Halverson and attorney Harvey Jacobs, both Potomac residents.



Delaney, Raskin come down on different sides in vote to reopen federal government


Rep. Jamie Raskin, left, and Rep. John Delaney. Provided photos.

This past Sunday, the two members of Congress who represent the bulk of Montgomery County — Democratic Reps. John Delaney and Jamie Raskin—stood together at Delaney’s Potomac home.

The event was a fundraiser for the Democracy Summer Leadership PAC—an expansion of an initiative Raskin launched last year to teach organizing techniques to several hundred college and high school students, and deploy them to battleground states in this year’s congressional election.


But a day later, as the House voted to reopen the federal government after a three-day shutdown, the differences between Delaney—a centrist who is leaving Congress to pursue a longshot presidential bid—and Raskin, an increasingly visible member of his party’s progressive wing, were on display.

Delaney joined with another Maryland Democratic centrist, Baltimore County Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger—as well as the state’s two senators, Democrats Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen—in voting for the three-week funding bill that sent federal employees back to work.  

Meanwhile, Raskin—whose 8th District is home to about 80,000 federal workers—voted against the bill, joining three other Maryland Democrats: Prince George’s Rep. Anthony Brown, House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer, and Rep. John Sarbanes, whose district includes part of eastern Montgomery County.


Delaney and Raskin did agree on one thing: The short-term “continuing resolutions” that have kept the government in business in recent years are no way to run the federal bureaucracy. What divided them was their degree of faith that the Senate compromise that facilitated the government reopening would lead to a long-term resolution when the current short-term funding bill runs out next month.

“I don’t know precisely what promises have been made in the Senate, but in the House, there have been no promises made to us to pass a real budget for the American people, much less to provide long-term funding for America’s community health centers or to resolve the situation of the 800,000 DREAMers who are twisting in the wind as the GOP leadership plays political games,” Raskin said in a statement afterward.

His reference was to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which benefits undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children—and whose renewal was at the heart of the partisan standoff that led to the shutdown.

Delaney took a more optimistic view of what the future may bring. “Voting yes gets the government back open, locks in [Children’s Health Insurance Program] funding for six years and gets the negotiations going again on a bipartisan deal to save DACA and protect the Dreamers,” he said in a statement.

And, underscoring his position as a pragmatist who has reached cross the political aisle, he noted: “Congressional Republicans have – at least temporarily – moved from a hyper-partisan approach to actually negotiating with Democrats and I think that’s a good thing…So let’s take this up in good faith, and if they back out in three weeks, we hold them accountable.”


Field of contenders in District 16 delegate race thins as Hennessey ends campaign

Joseph Hennessey of Chevy Chase announced this week he was ending his bid for an open delegate seat in Bethesda-based District 16, just three months after announcing his candidacy.

His move leaves civic activist Jordan Cooper, writer/consultant Nuchhi Currier, attorney Sara Love and high school teacher Samir Paul pursuing the opening created by Del. Bill Frick in this June’s Democratic primary. Frick is running for county executive.

Hennessey, whose Friendship Heights law practice specializes in international litigation, threw his support behind Love.

“Sara Love is a fellow attorney who has dedicated her professional life to protecting civil liberties,” Hennessey said in a statement. “Given this fact, I am endorsing Sara Love … and am immediately suspending my campaign in anticipation of formally withdrawing from the race.”

Love, of Bethesda, was most recently public policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland; she is also a former general counsel for NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Hennessey—whose withdrawal came several days after the release of fundraising reports showing him lagging well behind Love and Paul in contributions and cash on hand—said he had been inspired to enter the contest after participating in last year’s Women’s March on Washington.

“Ever since the election of Donald Trump … I have advocated for citizens to ‘come out of the spectator seats and take the field’,” he said. “The federal government is being pilfered by an administration that lacks all respect for the rule of law. We need powerful advocates in state government with the knowledge and skill required to create a bulwark of protection for the citizens of Maryland. Sara Love is such a person.”

Hennessey’s statement came the same day as Paul, a Bethesda resident, sought to highlight his endorsement by the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), to which he belongs.

“In a chaotic political environment, we have to reaffirm our commitment to public schools as a place where we give every young person a shot,” MCEA President Chris Lloyd declared in a news release. “Samir is the perfect steward of that bold vision.”

While the MCEA endorsement of Paul, a computer science teacher at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, is hardly a surprise, it guarantees him a spot on MCEA’s “Apple Ballot” that has been influential in local elections.

Meanwhile, the District 16 incumbents seeking re-election—Sen. Susan Lee and Dels. Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman—announced a series of neighborhood “Meet and Greets” over the next three months. 

Lee, Kelly and Korman are running as a slate, although, in contrast to incumbents in a couple of neighboring districts, they have so far opted not to ask any of the candidates for the open seat to join the slate.

The upcoming gatherings at which the three incumbents will appear include:

  • Jan. 27: 81st Street (Cabin John) hosted by Peter Bross and Vicky Gray Bross
  • Feb. 24: Old Stage Road (North Bethesda, Farmland, Luxmanor) hosted by Susan Weinmann
  • Feb. 25: Ridge Road (Bethesda) hosted by Jennifer Martin
  • March 4: Parkston Road (Westbard) hosted by Mike Beland
  • April 23: Glenbrook Road (Edgemoor, Battery Park) hosted by Nancy Greenspan
  • April 24:  New London Drive (Potomac) hosted by Tazeen Ahmad
  • April 25:  Somerset House (Friendship Heights) hosted by Margie Sonnenfeldt

More information about the gatherings can be found by emailing D16DemTeam@gmail.com.