Democratic Central Committee bars dual candidacies, amid protests from one aspirant
The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) this week voted to bar an individual from seeking a seat on the panel while simultaneously running for public office. The move was a reversal of an earlier recommendation by the MCDCC’s Rules Committee—and prompted strong protests by an affected candidate.
Jordan Cooper, who filed last month to run for both state delegate and the MCDCC in Bethesda-based District 16, charged in a statement the committee’s action showed “contempt for Democratic voters in Montgomery County who are now being denied the opportunity to determine who, among the willing candidates, will represent them in their local Democratic Party.”
Elected public officials sitting on local party committees “is long established in Maryland and is currently the practice with numerous members of the state legislature from other jurisdictions outside of Montgomery County,” Cooper contended.
But such a practice has long been outside the political norm in Montgomery County, noted MCDCC Chair Dave Kunes.
“It’s not something that’s been done in Montgomery County, as far back as I can tell,” said Kunes, adding, “I think the concern is that it is a conflict.”
The MCDCC’s vote came as it also approved a conflict-of-interest policy aimed at sitting committee members who decide later to seek elected office. A decision on what penalties should apply to those who violate the policy was put off until the committee’s March meeting. “We’d encourage public feedback on that,” Kunes said in a phone interview.
A half-dozen committee members are running for public office in this June’s primary, at the same time as the entire MCDCC is up for election. No current committee member seeking public office has filed to retain his or her MCDCC seat—the practice that would be barred under the newly passed rule.
According to Kunes, the MCDCC had been discussing such a rule since December, prior to Cooper filing for delegate and central committee. The MCDCC’s Rules Committee took up the matter last week, after Cooper had filed. It recommended putting off action until after this year’s primary, so as not to be perceived as taking aim at a particular candidate.
But the full MCDCC, by a vote of 16-6 with five abstentions, voted this week to immediately implement the rule.
With 10 days to go until the candidate filing deadline for the June primary, it remains unclear whether the rule will have an effect this year—particularly since the state Board of Elections had previously set a Dec. 1, 2017, deadline for local party committees to alter their ballot procedures.
Cooper said Thursday he does not plan to file to have his name withdrawn from the ballot for MCDCC. “I will continue to run to represent District 16 in the … House of Delegates and will take no further action with regards to the MCDCC or the Board of Elections,” he said.
It raises the possibility that, absent action by the Board of Elections, Cooper’s name could remain on the ballot for a MCDCC seat in District 16. Cooper, a health care professional, is currently one of three candidates who has filed for that slot. The others include retired federal employee Brian Doherty and health care advocate Hrant Jamgochian—with whom Cooper previously competed when both sought a nomination for delegate in 2014.
The current District 16 legislative delegation—Sen. Susan Lee and Dels. Bill Frick, Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman—have endorsed Jamgochian’s bid for MCDCC, as have U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin and Kunes.
Maryland Attorney General Frosh files for re-election
Brian Frosh, who represented the Bethesda area in the General Assembly for nearly three decades before being elected the state’s top prosecutor in 2014, filed to run for re-election Thursday. Over the past three years Frosh, a 71-year-old Democrat, has pursued lawsuits against President Donald Trump and his administration’s policies as well as overseen major criminal cases and civil lawsuits in the state.
“We have brought violent criminals to justice, stood up for our most vulnerable citizens, shut down sham charities and rip-off schemes, and we have held unscrupulous companies accountable with fines and judgments,” Frosh said in a statement. “Much work remains to be done, which is why I filed this morning to run for re-election. I want to continue to be the ‘people’s lawyer.’ ”
No other Democratic candidate has filed with the state’s Board of Elections to pursue the seat. Republican Craig Wolf of Howard County however, has filed to run for the position. Wolf is a former Allegany County prosecutor who now works as chief counsel for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.
Brian Frosh photo via brianfrosh.com
Maryland League of Conservation Voters backs Waldstreicher for open Senate seat
Three days after receiving the backing of the Maryland Sierra Club, state Del. Jeff Waldstreicher of Kensington has garnered the endorsement of another state environmental group.
The Maryland League of Conservation Voters (LCV) on Thursday endorsed Waldstreicher for the District 18 seat now held by Sen. Richard Madaleno, who is running for governor.
Waldstreicher faces competition from political activist Dana Beyer of Chevy Chase in the only contested Senate race in Montgomery County in this June’s Democratic primary. District 18 extends from east Bethesda through Chevy Chase to Silver Spring, and includes Garrett Park, Kensington and Wheaton as well as a portion of Rockville.
Waldstreicher, who has served three terms in the House of Delegates since his first election in 2006, has a 98 percent lifetime voting score from the LCV. “I pledge to fight for renewable energy, stand up for the restoration of our beloved Chesapeake Bay, and resist President Trump at every turn as he seeks to undo decades of environmental protection,” Waldstreicher vowed in a statement accompanying the endorsement.
In December, the LCV endorsed all incumbent senators and delegates from Montgomery County who are seeking re-election this year with the exception of two—District 14 Del. Pamela Queen of Olney and District 20 Del. Jheanelle Wilkins of Silver Spring.
Queen and Wilkins were left out of that round because they had been appointed to their posts in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and had not previously served in the Maryland General Assembly. On Thursday, the LCV added Queen and Wilkins to its list of endorsements.
Besides the slot for which Waldstreicher is vying, the only other open Senate seat in the county this year is in District 19, which extends from Silver Spring to the outskirts of Rockville and Gaithersburg.
Del. Ben Kramer of Derwood, who faces no opposition in the primary with 10 days until the Feb. 27 filing deadline, was endorsed by the LCV in December to succeed Sen. Roger Manno. Manno is running for the seat of departing U.S. Rep. John Delaney.
The LCV has yet to make endorsements in primary contests for eight open House of Delegate seats throughout Montgomery County—those contests involve situations where incumbents are either retiring or seeking other office. Another round of LCV endorsements is expected in the next couple of months.
Jeff Waldstreicher image via General Assembly website
Building association makes endorsements in local races
The Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington, which represents owners of commercial and multifamily residential properties in the region, released endorsements for candidates in Montgomery County Council races this week.
The association endorsed incumbent and current council President Hans Riemer and first-time candidate Marilyn Balcombe, CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, in the at-large council race. The two Democratic candidates are running for one of the four at-large seats against a field of more than two dozen others.
In the council’s District 3, the association endorsed incumbent Sidney Katz, a former Gaithersburg mayor. He is running against a younger challenger, Ben Shnider, 28, who was previously a political director for J Street. In District 2, the association endorsed incumbent Craig Rice, who does not have a challenger.
Miller rolls out endorsements from colleagues in Annapolis
State Del. Aruna Miller (D-Darnestown), who is running for Maryland’s 6th District congressional seat, announced Wednesday she has been endorsed by Dels. Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County), Sheila Hixson (D-Silver Spring), Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), Anne Kaiser (D-Silver Spring), Kumar Barve (D-Rockville), Shane Pendergrass (D-Howard County), Joe Vallario (D-Prince George’s County), Kathleen Dumais (D-Germantown), Tawanna Gaines (D-Prince George’s County) and Ariana Kelly (D-Bethesda).
She also reminded voters that she has been endorsed by House Speaker Mike Busch, who previously endorsed her in October.
Miller is facing off in the race against Democrats including Potomac businessman David Trone, the co-owner of Total Wine & More, state Sen. Roger Manno (D-Silver Spring), Potomac pediatrician Nadia Hashimi and veteran Andrew Duck of Frederick. They are pursuing the seat of departing incumbent Rep. John Delaney, who is running for president.
Earlier this week, Trone was endorsed by Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. The two cited their mutual support to fund efforts to fight Alzheimer’s Disease. Trone and members of his family contributed more than $20,000 to Baker’s campaign.