Credit: via YouTube

Leventhal unveils superhero-themed county executive ad

Democratic Montgomery County executive candidate George Leventhal is showing his lighter—and stronger—side in a new superhero-themed digital ad that has him flying like Superman, landing like Iron Man and standing up to the “Orange One”—President Donald Trump.

The 90-second “Avenger: MoCo” ad—a play on the Marvel Comics movie franchise—has already generated significant publicity for Leventhal since he released it Wednesday. WAMU lumped the new ad in with several other “memorable” ads from regional campaigns in a report Friday. On his campaign Facebook page, users overwhelmingly responded with positive comments about the ad—one wrote, “this is how all political advertisements should be.”

On Friday, Leventhal said he worked with political ad director Julian Mulvey, who previously directed presidential campaign ads for Sen. Bernie Sanders, to create the ad.

YouTube video

The ad, dubbed by a narrator with a cinematic deep voice, also highlights Leventhal’s accomplishments during his 16 years on the County Council, such as working to establish the Montgomery Cares health care program as well as advocating for and voting for a $15 minimum wage. It also notes he’ll support mass transit, fight for equal pay for equal work and push to establish universal pre-kindergarten if elected.


One scene shows Leventhal kicking his leg above his head superhero-style. Leventhal said the move wasn’t the most difficult part about filming the ad—that was the scene that involved him landing like Iron Man.

“I used a lot of muscles I hadn’t used for a while,” Leventhal said.

He said the ad was filmed during “a long, hard day” and he was surrounded by friends and family during the process. They can be seen wearing fake black moustaches—in a nod to Leventhal’s own moustache—in one scene.


“I am very serious about the issues, but I’m not overly serious about myself,” Leventhal said about the ad. “I want people to know that side of me. I understand I have this reputation of being a policy wonk, which is true, and I do take policy very seriously, but this plays on that reputation and turns it upside down in an amusing way.”

Leventhal said he plans to use the ad mostly in paid internet advertising.

Leventhal is facing off against Democrats David Blair, Marc Elrich, Roger Berliner, Rose Krasnow and Bill Frick in the June 26 primary.


—Andrew Metcalf


Several County Council candidates fail to qualify for public campaign funds; Ficker’s status remains unresolved


Several Democratic at-large and district County Council candidates failed to qualify for public campaign financing before the May 15 deadline. Their failure to qualify means they won’t be able to receive multiples of matching county funds for each contribution of $150 or less they receive from a county resident.

The at-large candidates who did not file paperwork with the state Board of Elections requesting public funds by May 15, which resulted in them failing to qualify, were Rosemary Arkoian, Craig Carozza-Caviness, Richard Gottfried, Melissa McKenna, Darwin Romero and Neil Greenberger. The candidates had previously opened accounts with the intention to use the public campaign financing system.

At-large candidates must receive at least 250 contributions of $150 or less that total at least $20,000 to qualify for county matching funds. The board set a deadline of 40 days before the June 26 primary to qualify and gave candidates until May 15 to file the paperwork required to request matching funds.


At-large candidate Lorna Phillips Forde, a Germantown travel service owner, reported May 15 receiving $21,305 from 265 qualifying contributions and requested public funds, but the board has yet to approve the contributions. The board has 10 days to review a request for public funds after a candidate submits it for approval.

In Bethesda-based District 1, Bethesda resident and employee benefits manager Jim McGee filed paperwork reporting he raised $10,907 from 157 qualifying contributions—enough to meet the threshold for district council candidates of at least $10,000 raised from a minimum of 125 county residents. One of McGee’s Democratic primary challengers—small business owner Bill Cook—did not file the paperwork by the deadline and reported having about $2,000 in his campaign account.

In Silver Spring-based District 5, Democrat Kevin Harris, a consultant who is challenging incumbent Democrat Tom Hucker, reported raising $12,400 from 176 contributors, enough to meet the threshold. Harris announced that he met the threshold in a press release in which he wrote the milestone “reflects residents’ enthusiasm for our grassroots campaign in District 5.” Another District 5 Democratic candidate, Kenge Malkidigo-Fludd, did not meet the qualifying deadline.


Meanwhile, Robin Ficker, a Boyds attorney who is the only Republican running for county executive, filed paperwork indicating he had only raised about $26,000 in qualifying contributions—well under the $40,000 required to receive matching funds as a county executive candidate. However, Ficker told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday that his paperwork is incorrect and that his campaign did raise about $49,000 in qualifying contributions. Ficker’s assertion appears to be correct based on his previous filings, which show he raised about $50,000 in contributions and currently has about $49,000 in cash on hand.

Ficker said he understands he has 10 days to amend the filings to indicate the correct value of qualifying contributions he received.

“I know we have enough qualifying contributors and enough qualifying money. Whatever that paper says we’ll have to amend it and make sure it’s proper,” Ficker said.


Earlier this year, several council candidates were also found ineligible for public funds because they requested matching funds before reaching the required thresholds.

—Andrew Metcalf



In final pre-primary endorsements, SEIU Local 500 snubs two state legislative incumbents

Dels. Al Carr, left, and Jim Gilchrist, right (via Maryland General Assembly website)


A major local union this week released its final round of endorsements prior to the June 26 primary—and passed over two current members of the county’s state legislative delegation.

SEIU Local 500, which represents 12,000 members of the support staff of the Montgomery County public schools, declined to endorse District 17 Del. Jim Gilchrist of Rockville and District 18 Del. Al Carr of Kensington. Gilchrist is running for a fourth term in Annapolis, while Carr is seeking a third full term after being appointed to fill a vacancy in 2007.  

On top of its earlier endorsement of Gaithersburg attorney Julian Haffner in District 17, the union opted to back veteran Del. Kumar Barve of Rockville and Board of Education member Rebecca Smondrowski of Gaithersburg for the other two delegate seats. The other current District 17 incumbent, Del. Andrew Platt of Gaithersburg, opted not to seek re-election.


Another major local union—the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), which represents teachers in the county school system—earlier also declined to endorse Gilchrist, while backing Barve and Haffner. However, the MCEA endorsed Rockville City Council member Julie Palakovich Carr rather than Smondrowski for the third delegate opening.

In District 18, SEIU Local 500 added Leslie Milano of Chevy Chase, a public health group official, to its list of delegate choices, after earlier endorsing Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee Vice Chair Emily Shetty of Kensington and former University of Maryland researcher/analyst Mila Johns of Chevy Chase. Al Carr was previously endorsed by the MCEA, which is also backing former congressional aide Jared Solomon of Chevy Chase—while still deliberating on its choice for a second open delegate seat in the district.

Local 500 did not comment on why it had passed over Carr and Gilchrist, but the union appears to be seeking a more aggressive legislative style in Annapolis: Carr and Gilchrist both have a reputation as low-key members of the county’s 24-member House of Delegates contingent.


In the county’s remaining six legislative districts, Local 500 announced the following House of Delegates endorsements this week:

—District 14: Dels. Anne Kaiser of Silver Spring, Eric Luedtke of Burtonsville and Pamela Queen of Olney.

—District 15: Dels. Kathleen Dumais of Rockville and David Fraser-Hidalgo of Boyds. Kevin Mack of North Potomac, an aide to outgoing U.S. Rep. John Delaney, had previously been backed for the seat now held by Del. Aruna Miller, who is running for Congress.


—District 16: Dels. Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman, both of Bethesda. Local 500 already had endorsed teacher Samir Paul of Bethesda to succeed Del. Bill Frick, a candidate for county executive.

—District 19: Dels. Bonnie Cullison of Aspen Hill and Marice Morales of Silver Spring, in addition to its previous choice of labor attorney Marlin Jenkins of Silver Spring. Jenkins is taking aim at the seat now held by Del. Ben Kramer, who is running to succeed Sen. Roger Manno—another congressional aspirant.

—District 20: Dels. David Moon of Takoma Park and Jheanelle Wilkins of Takoma Park, on top of a prior endorsement of Howard University professor Darian Unger to succeed retiring Del. Sheila Hixson.

—District 39: Dels. Kirill Reznik of Germantown and Shane Robinson of Montgomery Village. Local 500 previously endorsed labor union organizer Gabriel Acevero of Montgomery Village, who is eyeing the seat of Del. Charles Barkley, a candidate for County Council.

—Louis Peck