A union representing Montgomery County Public Schools teachers has endorsed more than two dozen state lawmakers representing the county for re-election.
The list that the Montgomery County Education Association released is the first wave of its “Apple Ballot” selections for this year.
It includes 25 of the county’s 32 current state legislators. However, those who were left out still could end up with MCEA endorsements, according to Dustin Jeter, the chair of the union’s PACE Committee. PACE stands for political action and community engagement.
Candidates might have been excluded from the initial round of endorsements for reasons not related to qualifications — for example, not yet turning in a questionnaire or going through the interview process, Jeter said. He was not sure of the specific reasons that any current office holders were not on the list.
In its first round, MCEA endorsed the election or re-election of all current Montgomery County state lawmakers except:
• Del. Anne Kaiser in District 14
• Dels. Linda Foley and Lily Qi in District 15
• Del. Sara Love in District 16
• Del. Charlotte Crutchfield in District 19
• Sen. Will Smith in District 20
Del. Jim Gilchrist in District 17 also is not on the list, but he is not running for re-election.
Every other incumbent state lawmaker currently representing Montgomery County was named on the MCEA endorsement list:
• District 14: Sen. Craig Zucker and Dels. Eric Luedtke and Pam Queen
• District 15: Sen. Brian Feldman and Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo
• District 16: Sen. Susan Lee and Dels. Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman
• District 17: Sen Cheryl Kagan and Del. Kumar Barve and Julie Palakovich Carr
• District 18: Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher and Dels. Al Carr, Emily Shetty and Jared Solomon
• District 19: Sen. Ben Kramer and Dels. Vaughn Stewart and Bonnie Cullison
• District 20: Del. Lorig Charkoudian, David Moon and Jheanelle Wilkins
• District 39: Sen. Nancy King and Dels. Kirill Reznik, Lesley Lopez and Gabriel Acevero
MCEA on Wednesday initially issued a list with 27 state lawmakers it supports, then sent an amended list of 25 on Thursday, indicating that Love and Crutchfield were not supposed to be included.
Montgomery County will have 35 state lawmakers in the 2023 General Assembly session. Through redistricting, District 9A, largely in Howard County, was extended into upper Montgomery County, which will gain one more senator and two more delegates after the next election.
The initial MCEA list also is limited in that the union only considered lawmakers who previously received its endorsement — which automatically excludes any challenger new to public office. Challengers will have a chance to earn endorsements in the next round, Jeter said.
So far, five of Montgomery County’s eight state legislative districts before redistricting have contested races for delegate, with more candidates running than there are seats. Those are Districts 14, 15, 17, 19 and 39.
Similarly, there are contested primary races for state Senate so far in four of the eight Montgomery County districts — 14, 18, 20 and 39.
Jeter said the first round of endorsements is a list of “friendly incumbents,” indicating support for like-minded legislators, and not necessarily a message not to vote for someone else.
Asked if the union, between incumbents and challengers, might support more candidates than there are seats, Jeter said it’s possible.
An MCEA press release described the candidates it supports as having “an extensive record of accomplishment of serving students, educators, and our communities.”
The union says those incumbents “marched in solidarity with MCEA in support of wage increases for public education workers, while collaborating to solve workload and staffing issues within Montgomery County Public Schools and are proven champions for social and economic justice.”
Every Montgomery County incumbent state lawmaker is a Democrat. Most challengers in the primaries this year are Democrats, too, other than one Republican apiece in the District 14, 17 and 19 delegate races.
MCEA expects to make endorsements at the county level in March and April, Jeter said.
The filing deadline for candidates in all county and state races is March 22. The primaries will be held June 28 and the general election on Nov. 8.
MCEA’s endorsement process starts with an interview panel, which recommends choices to the union’s board of directors. Then, the representative assembly, with about 550 members from buildings and sites throughout the school district, makes the final decision on endorsements on behalf of the union, which has about 14,000 members.
There must be a vote with at least 58% in favor at each step in the process for a candidate to win an endorsement.