Amy Frieder, an applicant for a vacant state delegate seat in District 15, has accused the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee of “using its power” to help a rival — county party chairwoman Linda Foley, who is pursuing the same seat.
On Twitter, Frieder complained that the public notice the Central Committee issued last week did not give potential candidates “a fair shot of winning the nomination due to critical information the party has chosen to omit from this notice.”
The “critical information” included notice for a Nov. 22 “public candidate’s forum” that Frieder said she knew nothing about.
But Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee Vice Chair Marjorie Goldman said the forum was organized by the District 15 Democratic Caucus, a separate entity.
“This is not something we are doing,” Goldman said.
The vacancy in District 15 occurred after Gov. Larry Hogan named Del. Kathleen Dumais to a Circuit Court judgeship. That touched off a process by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee to recommend someone to fill out the rest of her term, which ends in January 2023.
When such a vacancy occurs in Maryland, the party of the most recent state senator or delegate recommends a successor and Hogan has 15 days to approve or reject the recommendation.
Since Foley has applied for the seat, she has recused herself from the appointment process.
Former Del. Saqib Ali is also interested in filing the vacancy.
Goldman believes that no one besides Foley, Ali and Frieder has filed an application.
District 15 includes Barnesville, Poolesville, Clarksburg, Darnestown, Germantown, Rockville and Potomac.
In its announcement, the Central Committee said it will meet on Nov. 30 to interview candidates and recommend one to Hogan, who makes the appointment and often approves of a central committee’s choice. It will be a public meeting on Zoom, with a public vote.
The announcement said candidates must submit a cover letter and resume to the Central Committee by 5 p.m. Nov. 29. It also said all applicants must be registered Democrats, live in District 15 and be at least 21 years old.
But Frieder said the notice did not explain that there would be a public forum for these candidates on Nov. 22 and those who want to attend must file their applications for the delegate’s seat by Nov. 19.
“Anyone who sees the public notice (about the vacancy) would not know about this,” Frieder said in an interview.
The District 15 Democratic Caucus is a separate entity from the Central Committee. It lists Central Committee members Foley, Goldman and Tony Puca — a 2018 candidate for a District 15 seat — as “liaisons.”
“This public forum will give District 15 residents the opportunity to hear directly from the candidates seeking the appointment, and, if so desired, express their candidate preference to the MCDCC,” the notice of the forum said.
Goldman said the notice was sent to “active Democrats.”
Frieder has also criticized the Central Committee because it did not provide her contact information on Tuesday when a Bethesda Beat reporter requested it and said it did not know how to reach her — even though she already had expressed interest in the seat.
“Party officials — even if not the chair herself — used their power to benefit the chair’s candidacy,” Frieder said.
Last week, the District 15 Democratic Caucus sent “voter forms” to its dues-paying members and to District 15 state legislators. The forms, meant to get a sense of the preference of its members, included the names of Foley and Ali, but not Frieder, even though she had submitted a formal application — a resume and cover letter — days earlier.
The vote was going to be a straw poll among members and not binding.
“… One of the things we should consider is how our members in the district feel,” Goldman said.
The caucus withdrew that voting form after Frieder complained.
“The Executive Committee of the District 15 Caucus is committed to fairness and transparency in its process for holding a public forum and a vote for a candidate to replace former Delegate Kathleen Dumais,” the caucus said in a followup statement to its members. “In the interest of those goals we have made the decision to retract the current voting form and to change the time at which the voting form will be sent and when it will be due to be returned. Any votes that we have already received will not be counted.”
“I breathed a sigh of relief that the ballot was retracted,” Frieder said.
A message from the caucus to its members on Tuesday says the straw poll period now will be Nov. 22 to 28, and will include anyone who applied for the seat by Nov. 19.
Frieder, 28, of Rockville, is a research assistant at the U.S. Department of State, enrolled in the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program and a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
She came in fourth out of nine candidates seeking the District 15 seat in the 2018 Democratic primary.
Dumais, Lily Qi and David Fraser-Hidalgo finished ahead of Frieder and were elected to the district’s three seats. Puca finished ninth.
Foley, 66, of Potomac, is a former journalist. She is also a former president of the Newspaper Guild and a former vice president of the Communications Workers of America.
Ali, 46, of North Potomac, represented District 39 as a state delegate from 2007 to 2011. He lost in a 2010 Democratic primary to Sen. Nancy King for her seat in District 39.