The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee chose a sitting member, Aaron Kaufman, to replace outgoing Del. Al Carr on the ballot in the District 18 House of Delegates race during a virtual forum Tuesday night.
Kaufman, 35, is a political organizer and former legislative staffer in Annapolis, who has been a longtime advocate for people with disabilities. He works for the Jewish Federations of North America as a senior legislative associate, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has also served on Maryland’s Developmental Disabilities Council and as a public policy specialist with The Arc Maryland, a disability rights nonprofit.
Kaufman has cerebral palsy and has said he thinks he would be the first state legislator with a physical disability.
Nine Democratic candidates ran for nomination to the vacancy. They were:
- Cecily Baskir (Chevy Chase)
- Carlos Camacho (North Bethesda)
- Marla Hollander (Kensington)
- Aaron Kaufman (Chevy Chase)
- Marc Lande (Chevy Chase)
- Jose Ortiz (Kensington)
- Joel Rubin (Chevy Chase)
- Ron Sachs (Silver Spring)
- Michael Tardif (Chevy Chase)
The 24-member committee conducted two rounds of voting Tuesday night. In the first round the vote totals were as follows:
- Kaufman: 10 votes
- Tardif: 5 votes
- Rubin: 4 votes
- Ortiz: 1 vote
- Four abstentions
In the second round, the votes were:
- Kaufman: 16 votes
- Rubin: 3 votes
- Tardif: 2 votes
- Two “no” votes
- One abstention
A tenth candidate, Leslie Milano, of Chevy Chase, had also originally put her name into the nomination process, and participated in a forum Monday night hosted by the central committee.
Milano, who was the president of the Women’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County, ran for a District 18 delegate seat in 2018 and finished in fourth place. She posted on Facebook Tuesday that “In the end, I’ve decided that it’s not the right time for me to run for another political seat but I truly appreciate your support,” and wrote that she would support Kaufman instead.
“Aaron is an excellent advocate and will bring a strong focus to disability rights like no one else can,” she wrote in the post. “This is the perfect opportunity for him and I know he will do great work in the Maryland General Assembly.”
Milano could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
Carr, a Kensington Democrat who has served in the House since 2007, announced on Friday that he would not run for reelection in the July’s primary, and would instead run for the newly created County Council District 4 seat. That seat includes North Bethesda, Kensington, parts of Silver Spring and Takoma Park.
District 18 incumbent Dels. Emily Shetty (D-Kensington) and Jared Solomon (D-Chevy Chase) are running for reelection in the Democratic primary. George Cecala is the only candidate who has filed in the Republican primary.
Carr announced his decision not to run for reelection just hours before Friday’s 9 p.m. filing deadline.
State and local laws allow the central committee to nominate someone to fill his spot on the primary ballot because the filing deadline had passed. The central committee had until Wednesday to nominate someone.
Kaufman said during Tuesday’s forum that it was an emotional day for him, noting that he had attended a funeral for his grandmother earlier in the day after she died last week.
“I won’t let you down. … I am truly honored and humbled to be your nominee,” he said.
Kaufman must officially file his paperwork and pay fees to be placed on the ballot for the July 19 primary. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 8.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org