10.25.14 Endorsing David Moon & the D20 team + Anthony Brown

Posted October 25, 2014 by Keith Berner
Categories: Maryland

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Washington Post  is scared of forceful progressives. For years, they refused to so much as to print Marc Elrich’s name in their reporting. (That they have come to see Marc as effective, rather than dangerous, is credit to Marc’s enormous skill.) Last week, the Post didn’t even mention David Moon in their endorsements for Maryland District 20 and endorsed Dan Robinson (running as a Green) instead. The Post’s fright should be fuel for D20 progressive voters!

David Moon, a Takoma Park resident, has been active in Maryland and Montgomery County politics for years. He has a proven record of speaking truth to power. He knows all the players, processes, and committees in Annapolis. And he is the closely allied of the rest of our Democratic D20 team: Jamie Raskin, Sheiia Hixson, and Will Smith. Electing them together will create a D20 dynamo with impressive power for our values and our region.

David Moon and Dan Robinson agree on policy 90% of the time (David is at least as green as Dan), except that David likely to be more progressive  on economic justice issues. 

Dan, also a Takoma Park resident, is a nice guy with a record of community involvement (including a term on city council), but it not as prepared for this job as David. Since he has not built relationships with Jamie, Sheila, and Will, he will lessen their effectiveness if he is elected.

I urge D20 voters to support the entire Democratic D20 team: Jamie Raskin, Sheila Hixson, David Moon, and Will Smith.

PS. You must vote in this election. Medieaval Republican Larry Hogan is dangerously close to Anthony Brown in the race for governor. Every progressive and Democrat who sits this race out moves our state closer to the 13th century. Don’t let that happen — early voting has already stated and election day is November 4.

©2014 Keith Berner

06.25.14 Close races: Hucker vs. Glass in MoCo D5 & Morales vs. Crutchfield in MD D19

Posted June 25, 2014 by Keith Berner
Categories: Maryland, Montgomery County, Uncategorized

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I am following two very close races:

  • MoCo Council D5, where Tom Hucker leads Evan Glass by 217 votes (out of 18,609 cast)
  • MD D19 Delegate, where Maricé Morales leads Charlotte Crutchfield by 399 votes (out of 26,854 cast)

These races are not over, because MoCo Board of Elections (BoE) still has not processed about 2100 provisional ballots. These ballots result from registration discrepancies found when voters sign in at the polling place. The voters are allowed to vote, but their registrations have to be investigated and validated before their votes are actually counted. The BoE will start gong through these tomorrow.

So, do the candidates who trail by 200 or 400 votes actually have a chance at this point? Unlikely and here’s why:

  • The approximately 2100 provisional ballots are county wide. (The BoE could not tell me in advance of processing them how many fall into which districts.) With eight state districts in the county and five county districts, and assuming a relatively smooth distribution of provisionals across the county, that would mean approximately 263 provisionals per state district and 420 per county district.
  • An unknown number of these provisional ballots will be disallowed, meaning that the actual number counted will be lower than these estimates.
  • So, for Crutchfield to overtake Morales would require her to win more than 100% of the outstanding votes; that is, her only chance is if for some reason D19 has a huge surplus of provisional ballots and then she would have to win virtually all of them. Forgeddaboutit!
  • For Glass to overtake Hucker, he would have to win 51.6% of the provisionals. Given Glass’s 37.44% of votes already counted, this is a stretch, but by no means impossible. With the likelihood that some of D5’s provisionals will be disallowed, the road for Glass to climb becomes that much steeper. Partisans of the two candidates in this race will be on pins and needles for days to come.

For all of those who stayed home this election, you have only yourselves to blame for not being among the handful of votes to decide these two squeakers.

Though I did not endorse Hucker in D5, I am rooting for him as hard as I can. Given the victories by the pro-development forces in the rest of the county (except for Marc Elrich’s first-place finish in the at-large race), Hucker would be the only potential moderate-growth progressive to partner with Elrich.

As I came out of my polling place yesterday, Glass approached me politely to say that he thought I (and the Post’s Bill Turque) had treated him unfairly by lumping him in with the developers. Of course, I first turned sour on Glass based on his horrific mailing about the transit center debacle. Only after that did Turque’s piece about the developers’ embrace of Glass come out. Anyway, I was mulling Glass’s point as I was on my way to Elrich’s victory party last night. Just then, I drove past Developers’ Row, the Lee (big developers) property at the corner of Colesville and East-West Highway, where they put up huge signs for their best pals. There stood a mega Glass sign, right next to Nancy Floreen’s and George Leventhal’s. One doesn’t get these gifts from developers without being in their pockets. I stopped wondering then and there whether Turque and I had been unfair to Glass in any way.




Full disclosure: I ended up voting for Hucker, notwithstanding my endorsement of Terrill North. I knew that the Hucker-Glass race would be very close and that my friend Terrill didn’t stand a chance.

I am delighted to see Morales beat Crutchfield in D19, given Crutchfield’s association with Ben Kramer and Alec Stone.

©2014 Keith Berner

06.23.14 Vote!

Posted June 23, 2014 by Keith Berner
Categories: Maryland, Montgomery County, Politics

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In my view, any US citizen who does not vote is betraying the few billion human beings who don’t have the right to. As broken as our political system is, it is the only means we have to change our society. Even if your vote is only one in a hundred million at a presidential level, real change starts locally. It is in our own community where we have the privilege to get to know candidates and office-holders directly and personally. We owe it to ourselves, to our neighbors, and — ultimately — to the world to stand up and be counted.

I’m happy that Maryland affords us the right to vote at our convenience over an extended period. Just the same, I choose to go to my polling place on Election Day. My participation — along with my neighbors — energizes me, makes me feel a part of the community and of something truly important. Because I know so many neighbors and even so many candidates, showing up and waiting in line becomes a unique social experience. I wouldn’t miss it for the world, even when I’m less than thrilled about many of the choices that await me on the ballot.

Please join me tomorrow to make a small difference in our little part of the world.

Now, back to politics. . .

Must-Vote Candidates (my favorites of my favorites)

  • Brian Frosh (Attorney General)
  • Jamie Raskin (D20 Senator)
  • Sheila Hixson (D20 Delegate)
  • Dana Beyer (D18 Senator)
  • Marc Elrich (MoCo Council At-Large)
  • Beth Daly (MoCo Council At-Large)

Don’t-Vote Candidates (the worst of the worst)

  • Doug Gansler (Governor)
  • Jon Cardin (Attorney General)
  • Doug Duncan (MoCo Executive)
  • Hans Riemer (MoCo Council At-Large)
  • Nancy Floreen (MoCo Council At-Large)
  • Chris Barclay (MoCo Council District 5)
  • Duchy Trachtenberg  (MoCo Council District 1)
  • Ben Kramer (D19 Delegate)
  • Charlotte Crutchfield (D19 Delegate)

For a summary of my endorsements.

For my fully annotated endorsements.

See Progressive Neighbors, for races I don’t cover.

PS. Thanks to all who have taken the time to read my musings this political season. From a tiny start six years ago, this blog has really taken off in 2014. By tomorrow, over 600 people will have visited my site in the past week and viewed about 1,600 pages on this site. This pales in comparison to many other blogs, but it’s plenty for me! Your interest is a big honor!

©2014 Keith Berner

06.23.14 Still more on Kramer, Crutchfield, and Stone

Posted June 23, 2014 by Keith Berner
Categories: Bigotry, Maryland, Montgomery County

Tags: , ,

A check of the Maryland Board of Elections website reveals that Ben Kramer is being honest about his own campaign chair. But it shows that Alec Stone is indeed chair of Charlotte Crutchfield’s campaign and of the Kramer/Crutchfield slate. Now, if any of you Dear Readers thinks for a minute that Kramer was not involved in putting Stone on top of the two other campaigns, I have some land in Florida I’d like to sell you.

So, while Kramer was technically telling the truth in his email to me this morning, he was parsing the truth to avoid my main point: that he is in bed with a man who tosses around anti-Semitism accusations like little trifles.

I repeat my call for Ben Kramer and Charlotte Crutchfield to denounce Alec Stone. And if all this is not enough to convince my readers not to vote for Crutchfield, I can’t imagine what would be.

©2014 Keith Berner


06.23.14 Franchot’s arrogance

Posted June 23, 2014 by Keith Berner
Categories: Maryland

Tags: ,

Peter Franchot is running unopposed to be reelected as Maryland Attorney General comptroller. I have advocated a vote for “Mickey Mouse” in this non-race, largely because of Franchot’s extraordinary arrogance. Here’s a nice anecdote from LHV reader Thomas Kenny that backs me up:

Quick story about Franchot – when he was first running for Comptroller, he was personally campaigning outside the entrance to the Takoma Park Metro a few days before the primary. I was heading into the metro when he placed himself directly in front of me, stuck out his hand and, with a big smile, said “Hi, I’m Peter Franchot and I’m running for State Comptroller”, to which I replied apologetically, “Good luck, but I can’t vote in the primaries, I’m registered unaffiliated”.  He literally yanked back his hand and turned his back on me without another word. I was stunned. I told my daughter (now 18) about this later that day, and she still remembers this story to this day every time we see his name somewhere.

©2014 Keith Berner

06.23.14 Follow-up to D19 post from yesterday

Posted June 23, 2014 by Keith Berner
Categories: Bigotry, Maryland, Montgomery County

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1. I have heard from several people wondering why I skipped mentioning Paul Bardack, another candidate for D19 delegate, who is not on either slate and was endorsed by Progressive Neighbors. It was an oversight.

I have heard nice things about Bardack, except that he is a wee bit too centrist on fiscal policy. Anyway, here is LHV reader David Fishback’s comment on my post (I am reposting it here, because I know that many readers miss others’ comments on the blog):

Thank you for making public the disgusting story about bigotry in District 19. I am a strong supporter of Bonnie Cullison’s, and am appalled at the absurd charges of anti-Semitism leveled against her. But in articulating the race to replace the unrepentant Sam Arora as a contest between a flawed Marice’ Morales vs a flawed Charlotte Crutchfield, you omitted the candidate many, many of us prefer, Paul Bardack. Paul, for years, has been a marriage equality and transgender rights activist well respected county-wide for his work; he is endorsed by Progressive Neighbors; he is the only challenger endorsed both by The Washington Post and The Gazette; and not only has he opposed the despicable effort to smear Bonnie as being anti-Semitic, for exactly the reasons you do in your article, but in his campaign literature and candidate debates Paul has consistently gone out of his way to mention Bonnie, and to do so positively. Unlike Morales, he cannot be accused of being a carpetbagger — Paul has lived in the district for thirty years. And unlike Crutchfield, his campaign is not being advanced by hate-filled whispering campaigns. I think D19 would be well served to vote for both Cullison and Bardack, two outstanding candidates for delegate.

2. Here’s more on Ben Kramer’s love for Sam Arora. He has circulated a blast email in support of Charlotte Crutchfield that begins:

– As you know, our good friend and my fellow Delegate from District 19, Sam Arora, is leaving the legislature at the end of the year, and the Democratic primary election to select his successor is underway. . . Our community needs another fighter, and Sam and I agree that there is one candidate with the commitment to serving our community and the experience to be ready to get to work for us on day one: Charlotte Crutchfield [emphasis mine].

I dunno, but it seems to me that a bigot and liar like Sam Arora ought not be called “a good friend” nor should his agreement be sought on the best replacement for him. C’mon, Kramer — is this really the right person to tie yourself to?

3. I also have word this morning that Kramer is out campaigning for Jon Cardin for attorney general. As I have written, Cardin is a scofflaw and absent public official, while Brian Frosh is the obvious choice for the position. Again, you just have to wonder why Kramer is making these kinds of choices.

4. Kramer wrote to me this morning denying that Alec Stone is his “campaign manager.” I had information that Stone is his campaign chair  (a different position than manager) and also for the Kramer/Crutchfield slate. In his email to me, Kramer conveniently avoided the topic of Stone’s libel against Bonnie Cullison. I wrote back and said, regardless of Stone’s position in the campaign, I still expected Kramer to denounce the smears. We’ll see if that happens.

5. I have heard from others that Stone trots out accusations of anti-Semitism on a regular basis when he disagrees with others on politics or policies. For shame!

©2014 Keith Berner

06.22.14 Bigotry in MD D19

Posted June 22, 2014 by Keith Berner
Categories: Bigotry, Maryland, Montgomery County

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Buckle yourself in, Dear Reader, as I weave a trail of political intrigue in Maryland District 19, as related to me by some insiders there only today. I warn you up front that I am relating the story as I’ve heard it, from people I consider to be highly trustworthy; however, with the election looming on Tuesday, I do not have as much time to research it as I would like. I think this is a story worth telling, just the same, and I invite feedback from anyone who might have more perspective than I.

District 19 has been represented the past four years by Senator Roger Manno (who beat Mike Lenett in 2010 after Lenett invoked anti-Muslim hysteria and Nazi boxcars in the campaign), and delegates Sam Arora, Bonnie Cullison, and Ben Kramer.

This story starts with Arora, who infamously campaigned as a supporter of marriage equality in 2010 and betrayed the voters and human dignity by switching sides after he was elected. Arora’s substantive flip-flop was bad enough. What made things even worse was his lying about the issue. When he switched sides, he first tried to hide from the media and constituents. Then he claimed that he had never seriously thought about the issue before 2011, even though there is abundant evidence that he had — he had backed marriage equality, in writing, more than once. In other words, Sam Arora turned out not only to be a bigot, but also a liar. (See David Moon’s great coverage of this story.) Apparently it was God who told Arora to be a liar and a bigot.

Manno, Cullison (and legions of others — the story got national attention) rightly took huge offense at Arora’s actions. (Cullison is married to a woman, for what that’s worth.) They determined then and there that they would not form a slate with Arora in 2014 and that they would seek someone else to slate with in order to knock Arora out of office. Part of the story I learned today is that Kramer, who shows no signs of being anti-gay himself, was lonely in his defense of Arora. As reported by Maryland Politics Watch, D18 Senator Rich Madaleno spoke about Arora’s betrayal in 2011:

“I think Sam Arora distinguished himself as someone not to be trusted, and I don’t think he will have a long career in the House of Delegates,” said Madaleno (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington, the Senate’s only openly homosexual member.” . . .

“When you co-sponsor a bill where the lead sponsor is the majority leader from your county who worked very hard to get you elected and you change your mind on the day of the vote, you damage, potentially fatally damage, your credibility,” he said.

Kramer responded by saying:

“I do think that Sen. Madaleno saying that in a public forum was inappropriate and unnecessary,” he said. “I can understand that Sen. Madaleno has a perspective based on a particular issue, but I don’t think that it is accurate or reflective of Del. Arora’s abilities or potential in the legislature.”

“A particular issue”?!

I got a similar response from Kramer when I spoke with him today. He described Arora as a “big boy” who “made a political decision” and knew there would be political consequences. Kramer said that Arora was reponsible for “some good political initiatives” and that the latter’s position on gay marriage was “his own business.” Three individuals I spoke with today separately remembered Kramer’s saying at the time that Arora’s bigoted vote was just one of 400 that Arora had cast and had been blown out of proportion; however, no one (including me) could find that quote anywhere online.

This is enough, though, for me to consider Kramer to be soft on bigotry. (I absolutely am not calling Kramer a bigot.) For me, bigotry is among the very few human attributes that is always, completely condemnable. I don’t care how much good work you may have done on other issues, if you are a bigot, I not only have no room for you in my life, but I also feel an obligation to name your behavior publicly. Further, I give no pass to0 bigots who claim a religious exemption. I don’t give a shit if your version of god has ordered you to hate or discriminate against gays. I don’t give a shit if you think Muhammad has ordered you to hate Jews or vice versa. I am extremely disturbed that Kramer felt Arora’s actions were mundane.

In any case, Manno and Cullison were determined to find someone willing to run as delegate, whether or not Arora was seeking reelection. As it turns out, Arora dithered on his decision to run until last November 1, when he finally pulled out of the race. Meanwhile, Manno and Cullison settled on Maricé Morales, who had been working as a legislative aide to Manno, to run with them. Morales is very young and did not even live in the district at the time. (She lives there now.) The two incumbents seem to be extremely impressed with Morales, but insiders also say the two had tried and failed to find anyone else willing to take Arora on.

Ben Kramer and others were incensed that a carpetbagger had been selected by his D19 teammates, whom he had already agreed to slate with. I get Kramer’s point — I have been on record opposing both Chris Barclay (running for MoCo Council D5 without living there until recently) and Hans (The Liar) Riemer, who declared his candidacy for MoCo council before the paint was dry on his first East Coast domicile. (See Point 3 of my criteria for evaluating candidates.)

Apparently, quite a feud developed between Kramer, on the one hand, and Manno/Cullison on the other, even though they were still ostensibly campaigning as a team. For what it’s worth, no formal slates (PACs in support of a team of candidates) had been formed as of a few weeks ago. Manno/Cullison were providing assistance to Morales, but their alliance wasn’t formal and neither was their alliance with Kramer. Just within the past few weeks, though, Kramer formed a slate with Charlotte Crutchfield.

My calls today revealed positive feelings about Crutchfield, even on the part of some who are supporting Manno/Cullison/Morales. But, it has also been revealed to me that (1) Crutchfield  considered Arora’s anti-gay vote understandable, on religious grounds and (2) when she had been approached by Manno/Cullison, she refused to run against Arora. She did not enter the race until after Arora declared he would not run. (Again, I have not heard a hint that Crutchfield is anti-gay, herself.)

But wait, it gets even uglier. There is a man named Alec Stone who is widely considered the leader of D19’s large Orthodox Jewish community. Stone took at least as much umbrage at Morales’s presence in the race as Kramer had. After deciding himself not to run this year, Stone became chair of Kramer’s reelection campaign. He began promising people that he would destroy Morales by running another minority candidate against her. Crutchfield (who is African American) was his weapon of choice and Stone became chair of the Kramer/Crutchfield slate. Some suggest that Stone’s level of outrage is largely about his having been accustomed to calling the shots in D19 and that he felt insulted by Manno’s/Cullison’s having rebuffed his efforts to determine outcomes this year.

Roger Manno is running unopposed for reelection, so no matter how angry Kramer and Stone may be at him, they saw no point in going after him. But they saw Cullison as vulnerable. Stone — along with other  associates — has been hitting back at Cullison with a whisper campaign accusing the latter of being an anti-Semite.

I mentioned that Cullision is married to a woman. Well, it turns out said woman is Jewish and the two of them were married in a Jewish ceremony. If Cullison is an anti-Semite, she’s an odd one, indeed. In fact, even as Stone has been smearing Cullison as an anti-Semite, one person I spoke with today accused her of the exact opposite: carrying water for the Orthodox Jews in the district.

This past week, Stone made the mistake of putting his smear campaign in writing. Responding to a Cullison campaign email in support of Morales, Stone wrote the following email to Ira Ungar, Cullison’s legislative aide:

On Jun 20, 2014, at 3:23 PM, Alec Stone <alec@alecstone.com> wrote:

For shame, for shame. You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself. You are working for an anti-Semite, but in addition, this proves that Bonnie has no integrity at all with this endorsement [of Morales]. And now we all know that neither do you.

Ungar replied:

From: Ira Ungar
Date: June 20, 2014 at 4:03:43 PM EDT
To: Alec Stone <alec@alecstone.com<mailto:alec@alecstone.com>

Subject: Re: Support Maricé Morales for Delegate in District 19!

I am very proud to support Bonnie and the support she’s given this community. I completely deny your charge of antisemitism against her. It’s absurd.  Be concerned with your own integrity Alec.

Good Shabbos

Ira Ungar

Now, I consider false charges of anti-Semitism to be a form of bigotry. As a Jew, I am very sensitive to anti-Semitism, wherever it rears its ugly head (like in France, where anti-Semitism is sweeping the country). When Jews frivolously toss this accusation around, they not only serve to muddy the real cases of anti-Semitism that abound, they also discredit all Jews, everywhere.

When I spoke to Kramer this afternoon, I had heard about Stone’s libel, but had not yet seen the email. I asked Kramer: “If you knew that Alec Stone were falsely accusing Bonnie Cullison of anti-Semitism, would you be concerned?” Kramer answered, “Absolutely.” I forwarded Stone’s email to Kramer at around 3:30pm this afternoon. It is nearly 10pm now and I have heard nothing back.

Regarding Crutchfield vs. Morales, my feelings are mixed. On the one hand, if I lived in D19, I would be suspicious about someone so new to the district running for office. On the other hand, I’m offended by Crutchfield’s giving Arora a pass on the latter’s bigotry and her refusal to enter the race until he got out (which was, at best, cowardly). I do note that Progressive Neighbors has endorsed Manno, Cullison, and Morales (but not Kramer) and I have been a  Manno fan for years, ever since Jamie Raskin and Marc Elrich sung his praises to me. Were I a D19 voter, those factors would probably sway me Morales’s way.

I do not think it is sufficient for public figures simply not to be active bigots. I think they have a moral responsibility to condemn bigotry wherever it is found. It is clear to me that Ben Kramer has failed this moral test, at least vis-a-vis Sam Arora. It remains to be seen whether Kramer is willing to denounce his own campaign chair in the waning hours of the campaign.

©2014 Keith Berner


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