Posted tagged ‘Anthony Brown’

06.05.18 Keith Berner’s biennial voter guide: for the June 26 Maryland Democratic primary

June 5, 2018

Note: I am not endorsing in races outside my district (Maryland D20 & Montgomery County D5), except when I have particular knowledge of the candidates.

Governor: Rich Madaleno
US Senate: anyone but Ben Cardin
US Congress CD6: Roger Manno
US Congress CD8: Jamie Raskin (unopposed)
Montgomery County Executive: Marc Elrich
Montgomery County At-Large:
Definite (in alpha order): Brandy Brooks, Jill Ortman-Fouse, Chris Wilhelm
Pick one of two: Bill Conway or Seth Grimes
MoCo D1: Meredith Wellington
MoCo D3: Ben Shnider
MoCo D5: Tom Hucker
MD Senate D18: Dana Beyer
MD Senate D20: Will Smith (unopposed)
MD Delegates D20 (in alpha order): Lorig Charkoudian, David Moon, Jheanelle Wilkins

Maryland Governor

Rich Madeleno is the most qualified and capable person running for governor — by far. He is also a passionate progressive who will work every day for economic and social justice, environmental protection, and immigrants’ rights. Madaleno’s long service in Annapolis has been remarkable, earning him wide respect for his fiscal expertise. He knows better than anyone else in the field, the people and processes of Maryland government.

In case you’re still wavering, consider Congressman Jamie Raskin’s and District 20 Delegate David Moon’s enthusiastic endorsements. Finally, I watched Madeleno in two Progressive Neighbors (PN) candidate forums and both times he made the strongest, most compelling arguments against Governor Larry Hogan. Remember: that’s who we have to beat in November!

Ben Jealous, former director of the NAACP and proud supporter (and endorsee) of Bernie Sanders, merits consideration in this race. We know that Jealous will be on the right side of issues. But, Jealous has no experience in elected office and one has to wonder if his rhetoric would be matched by results. There is one reason I can think of to choose Jealous over Madaleno three weeks from now: if it appears that he is in a better position than Madaleno to beat Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.

Why does Baker, who has been endorsed by nearly the entire Maryland Democratic establishment, need to be stopped? Consider, first, that this is a center-right bunch (sorry, not even Chris Van Hollen is much of a progressive any more). Consider, further, their record of backing failures, like Anthony Brown in 2014 and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 2002 — it’s not a gang that exactly has its finger on the pulse of Maryland voters. If Baker gets the nomination, look to him to run a lackluster campaign, much like Brown’s, and to get destroyed by Hogan. Finally, consider Baker’s endorsement of liquor salesman David Trone for Congress (District 6) in exchange for $39,000 in campaign contributions.

This rest of the gubernatorial field is so weak and inexperienced that only one candidate bears mentioning at all. Krishanti Vignarajah’s campaign is an insult to all Marylanders. She voted in DC until very recently and never provided service of any kind to our state. Her only “qualification” is having served as an aide to the previous first lady, hardly a policy heavy position. If, by some miracle, she were to pull out a primary victory, the GOP would get her knocked off the ballot in no time, because she has not resided the required five years in Maryland.

US Senate

My only recommendation here is not to vote for Ben Cardin. His domestic policy record isn’t bad, but his foreign priority is to enable the Israeli right. Cardin’s opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran and his attempt to pass legislation curtailing the free-speech rights of Americans who don’t support Israel are utterly disqualifying. It doesn’t matter whether you vote for carpetbagging Chelsea Manning or one of the other token challengers to Cardin, since none of them has the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell. All that matters is your not helping to drive up the senator’s vote total.

US Congress – District 6

Roger Manno’s record in the Maryland legislature can be compared to Jamie Raskin’s. Manno is a principled progressive and labor supporter who provides the leadership needed to turn good ideas into law.

One or two others in the race are not bad ideologically, but Manno is the only one who can beat liquor salesman and GOP-loving gazillionaire David Trone, who is the most pernicious influence in area politics since Doug Duncan’s End-Gridlock slate. Stopping Trone is of equal importance to stopping David Blair’s county exec run (see next section).

Montgomery County Executive

For progressives, this choice is even clearer than the one in the governor’s race (where there is somewhat of a dilemma between Madaleno and Jealous): Marc Elrich is the only candidate you can trust as county exec. Quoting from my endorsement last July:

Elrich is the least ego-driven politician I have ever met. He is not enamored of seeing his name or face in lights or of power for its own sake, but rather gets out of bed every day in order to make a better world, especially for the underdogs. Elrich is also the least corrupt politician in Montgomery County, having consistently refused to take contributions from the politically dominant development industry. While he is able to meet respectfully with all players in county affairs, Elrich is the only member of the council who has consistently prioritized community needs over industry interests.

Further, Elrich is one of the most intelligent and informed public leaders we have. His encyclopedic knowledge of zoning, public education (he was a MCPS teacher for 17 years), and other arcana means he is as prepared to govern as anyone.

Is Elrich perfect? Nope. For one thing he has a tendency stick his foot in his mouth with rash rhetoric, making him seem more extreme than he is. And he is a mite too rigid in opposition to growth and development for yours truly. (I worry about shutting the doors of our wealthy county on the poor who would benefit by coming here.)

But I would far rather err “to the left” on this — electing someone who will never simply do the bidding of the Chamber of Commerce, the development industry, or (deity forbid) the Washington Post — than to take a risk with any of the other, compromised candidates in this race. There is — sadly — little doubt that we will end up with a pro-Chamber county council next year and we need an executive who will check it, not enable it.

George Leventhal is the only other candidate not wholly in the pocket of the county’s bad guys. But I worry about putting anyone in an executive role who has Leventhal’s anger issues and tendency to bully. I do believe that Leventhal has good intentions, much of the time, and there has been no one better than him at constituent responsiveness. On the flip side, Leventhal’s eagerness to tout a substantively empty “compact” between MoCo and PG on preserving affordable housing along the Purple Line betrays a disturbing willingness to claim credit where none is due. Finally, Leventhal recently called for reducing MoCo’s energy tax, which is environmentally and fiscally irresponsible.

Speaking of the Post, this supposed quality newspaper embarrassed itself when it recently endorsed David Blair for county exec. Blair, who has no record of public service, has been drowning the county in mailers since February, as he attempts to purchase the election. The Post loves the millions Blair made in the pharmaceutical business. He is currently being ridiculed as #MoCoPharmaBro on Facebook and is perceived as such a danger to our county that opponent Roger Berliner (who otherwise deserves no respect or support) and Progressive Maryland are going after him with gusto (Berliner’s add compares Blair to Trone, another wealthy amateur). Blair doesn’t even vote consistently, which would eliminate him for me, even without his other flaws.

Montgomery County At-Large (four seats)

There are 33 Democrats running. Just wrap your mind around this for a moment. The most well intentioned political observers cannot possibly have gotten to know all of them. The best we can do is help each other fill in gaps and look at the past records of those candidates who have them.

I am somewhat better informed about the field than most, because I read the questionnaire responses of all 23 candidates who sought Progressive Neighbors’ (PN) endorsement, weeding out any who rejected public campaign financing. Following are my conclusions.

Brandy Brooks and Chris Wilhelm are running together as #TeamProgressive. The two of them are powerful voices for redressing capitalist excesses, improving our flawed democracy, and protecting the environment. Wilhelm, a MoCo public school teacher, has door-knocking and fundraising for a year, with impressive results. He is in sixth place among all the candidates in remaining cash on hand, as of May 15, and has a large ground operation. This puts him among the two progressive candidates with the best chance of knocking off chamber-of-commerce candidates in the primary.

There is some concern about Brooks’s short residence in Maryland (two years). On the other hand, hers was among the most compelling of the PN candidate responses I read, showing not only her philosophy, but also considerable knowledge of policy details. Brooks is not as strong financially as Wilhelm, meaning she is more likely of the two to be helped by the team they have formed.

Jill Ortman-Fouse is the other progressive with a strong chance of success on June 26. Her service as an at-large member of the Board of Education gives her name recognition across the county. Even better, she’s good at making friends: I have yet to hear any criticism of Ortman-Fouse’s character or performance. There is no doubt that our county will benefit from having education experts like her and Wilhelm on County Council. Ortman-Fouse also has worked on behalf of affordable housing, the environment, and other issues.

Pick one: Bill Conway or Seth Grimes

Both Conway and Grimes are the types who wow you immediately with their intelligence and in-depth understanding of policy.

I have witnessed over a decade Grimes’s public service as an activist and city council member in Takoma Park. His service on the board of Shepherd’s Table demonstrates his deep commitment to economic justice. His work on the Safe-Grow initiative, first at the city and then at the county level, makes him one of the strongest environmental candidates in the race.

Conway may be the most moderate candidate I am considering — and I don’t see this as a bad thing. After engaging with him directly and watching him interact with others, Conway has struck me as a no-bullshit realist. He seems to get the real constraints the county’s economic circumstances have on policy better than some of the progressives I’m supporting and he doesn’t pander. Also, it isn’t like Conway is “dangerously” moderate: he supports a minimum-wage increase and his wife, Diana Conway, is one of the county’s most prominent environmental leaders. (I don’t expect her to make policy for him. I do expect her views to be persuasive across the kitchen table.) Finally, Conway’s fundraising totals put him at the top, alongside chamber-of-commerce types like Charles Barkley, Evan Glass, and Hans Riemer. His victory could help send one of them to defeat.

Evan Glass is a nice and smart guy. But, if his hand-in-glove relationship with developers in the 2014 campaign were not enough to scare of you off, this year’s Washington Post endorsement should put the nail in the coffin. The Post’s record of support for big business and pave-it-all development is worse this year than ever. There is no chance they would have endorsed Glass if they weren’t convinced he’d be doing the Chamber’s bidding once in office.

Will Jawando has made strides over the course of his four campaigns for office in the past four years. His grasp of issues and his progressive stances on them are increasingly impressive. On a personal level, he is warm and gracious. But for me, his political ambition is off-putting, at best. I want to vote for people who want to be on County Council, rather than considering it a way station on their path to greater glory. I suspect MoCo will not be getting Jawando’s full attention after a relatively short period in office. In a weaker field, I might take this risk, but I see no reason to do so this time.

Hans Riemer, the sole incumbent running for reelection this year, was never worthy of the votes he has received and nothing has changed this go-‘round. The shame is that he is nearly certain to win.

Danielle Meitiv has managed to garner the love of nearly every progressive organization in the county without ever having done anything substantive to earn it. Before deciding to run for office, the only public thing Meitiv has accomplished was to get arrested for letting her kids walk alone on country streets (for which, she earned the rubrik “Free-Range Mom”). Meitiv is running on that fame and her status as a a climate scientist. This sounds great, but we don’t need a climate scientist in office at the county level — what we need are smart policy makers who know how to reduce county energy consumption on the ground. Meitiv is a nice person and a solid progressive. She just hasn’t earned the attention the progressive community is paying her and there are better candidates on the ballot.

Montgomery County Council – District 1

Progressives’ sentimental favorites in this race are Ana Sol Gutierrez and Bill Cook. Neither has any chance of winning, so a vote for either is as good as throwing your vote away. Gutierrez is relatively well known, but the district she served as state delegate (D18) overlaps only slightly with the county district she is running in.

Among the well-funded candidates with a good chance of winning, Meredith Wellington stands out. When she served on the Planning Board (1999-2007), she was the most consistent skeptic of the development industry. In the current campaign, she vows not to take money from those big-business interests and instead to favor community and the environment. While not all endorsements matter, Marc Elrich’s support for Wellington is telling: he believes she will be his partner on County Council, making sure that our government serves the people, rather than the Chamber. Progressive Neighbors also endorsed Wellington (along with Gutierrez).

Montgomery County Council – District 3

Ben Shnider has run an upstart campaign against Nancy Floreen’s ideological best friend on the current council, Sidney Katz. A Shnider victory over Katz would change the nature of the council profoundly for the better.

Montgomery County Council – District 5

I have been sharply critical of Tom Hucker in the past, mostly for being a bully. This remains a concern for me — as does the fact that he has been unreliable as an ally to Elrich on council. But Hucker does a lot of good work supporting workers, the environment, and economic justice. A very strong case would have to be made for not returning Hucker to council and his opponent this year, Kevin Harris, isn’t making one. Harris is taking a NIMBY position on bus-rapid transit (BRT) along Route 29 and is pandering to development opponents in Takoma Park on a local issue he should have stayed away from.

This is not a bad moment for me to digress to the issues of development and growth, in general. While I am ardently opposed to the political dominance of the development industry in our politics, I don’t believe that nothing should be built anywhere. There is a strong not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) element in the county’s slow-growth progressive community. When NIMBYs refuse to compromise for the greater good, they are no better than Republicans who oppose sharing the wealth. BRT on Rt. 29, for example, may inconvenience those who live in the immediate vicinity. But the benefits for less-wealthy commuters and for the environment outweigh those narrow concerns. 

Maryland Senate – District 18

Dana Beyer is the fearless firebrand we need in the legislature, not only to push progressive policy, but also to take on the Old Guard run by regressives like Sen. Mike Miller. Beyer is also whip smart — she has been a political activist for years and is as good an analyst of public policy, along a wide variety of topics, as you could ever hope to meet.

Beyer looks even better in comparison to her opponent Jeff Waldstreicher, whose voting record is fine, but whose repertoire includes dirty tricks. Seventh State reported today on Waldstreicher’s latest shenanigans: Waldstreicher Fibs His Way Out of Facing His Constituents.

Maryland Delegates – District 20 (three seats)

David Moon and Jheanelle Wilkins are a progressive’s dream come true. Moon’s record of accomplishment in four years as delegate is stunning across a whole range of policies (did you know he got an animal-rights bill passed last session?). Even when Moon loses (his attempt to end the tax exemption for golf courses), he changes the world by raising the issue (and he will win on this next session, mark my words).

Wilkins got a later start than in Annapolis than Moon did, having been appointed to her delegate seat seat two weeks into the 2017 session. (The vacancy was caused by Jamie Raskin’s election to Congress; Will Smith was appointed to that seat, and then Wilkins was appointed to Smith’s.) It has been a joy to watch her grow from being an I’m-on-board progressive to being a leader with substantive legislative accomplishments in the most recent term, on issues nearly as broad as those tackled by Moon.

Lorig Charkoudian is a newcomer only in the sense that she doesn’t have Moon’s and Wilkins’s incumbency. A PhD economist, she is well known locally as an expert on criminal justice reform, food “deserts” (lack of healthy, quality food in poor neighborhoods), and other economic justice issues. Charkoudian’s record of political engagement is such that she will hardly go to Annapolis unprepared: she is experienced in drafting legislation and knows how to get around the halls of the legislature.

Darian Unger is a good man who might stand out in a weaker field. In this one, he lacks the political talent, experience, and effectiveness of the other candidates. Unger has done a lot of public good outside of elective office. I wish he would find fulfillment doing just that — it’s where he shines.

©2018 Keith Berner

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02.14.18 Rushern Baker is dead to me

February 14, 2018

Seventh State reports today that Democratic gubernatorial candidate (and current PG County executive) Rushern Baker has endorsed high-rolling liquor salesman David Trone for Congress in CD6. This is particularly remarkable because no part of CD6 is anywhere near PG! Then again, the Trone family’s $39k gift to Baker’s campaign makes the connection crystal clear.

I have written copiously about how awful Trone is (see the notes on the bottom of my most recent post).

Prior to this endorsement, Baker  had the reputation of being a middle-of-the-road, uninspiring, machine politician. But Baker himself already has the support of big-name Democratic establishment types, like Chris Van Hollen and Ike Leggett, proving yet again that a roto-rooter needs to be taken to this state’s center-right clinging-to-power-at-all-costs Democratic “old guard.”

While David Lublin’s (Seventh State) reporting is helpful, about half his piece today is about how great Aruna Miller is doing in CD6, as if she were Trone’s only rival. (The two progressives in that race are Andrew Duck and Roger Manno, who go completely unmentioned by in the blog post). Lublin fails to state that he has any allegiance to Miller, but it’s apparent he does. This is reminiscent of a flaw from the days when the blog was called “Maryland Politics Watch”: frequent shilling for candidates by cherry-picking facts that favor them, without revealing what side you’re on. (Granted, Adam Pagnucco, Seventh State’s other writer, has been much more transparent about his loyalties, recently.)

Rushern Baker must be stopped. Anyone who would align themselves with David Trone is not only unfit to be our governor, but coupled with Baker’s complete inability to inspire enthusiasm and we might be looking at a repeat of Anthony Brown’s devastating loss to Governor Bruce Hogan four years ago.

I am still undecided in the governor’s race, but my guess as of today is that progressives will need to coalesce behind Ben Jealous in order to send Baker packing.

©2018 Keith Berner

 

08.12.17 Chris Van Hollen: thy name is political cowardice

August 12, 2017

Sorry, Dear Reader, but I’m not about to let go of my outrage over Ben Cardin’s bill to criminalize free speech (S.270).

I have now written three times to Senator Van Hollen via his official campaign website. I have now written three times to his foreign affairs legislative assistant, Afreen Akhter. I have not received a single reply; though I was cc-ed on a reply Ms. Akhter sent to someone else:

Senator Van Hollen has not co-sponsored this legislation. He does not support restrictions on free speech and is reviewing the legislation in light of those concerns.

And here is what I sent to her today:

Ms. Akhter:

During the Reagan years, Act Up responded to the administration’s inaction on AIDS with this slogan: “Silence = Death.”

S.720 is not a matter of life or death, but Chris Van Hollen’s silence regarding our fundamental civil liberties is tantamount to endorsing Ben Cardin’s bill. I played a key role in helping Chris get elected to Congress the first time, something he thanked me for thereafter. I did not work for his election so that I could hear “has not co-sponsored this legislation” as an excuse for silence — this is political cowardice at its worst.

Will you present my views to the Senator? Will he stand up for he First Amendment and explicitly oppose S.270?

I would appreciate the courtesy of a direct reply.

— Keith Berner

Please stand with me in persistent support for civil liberties: please let Van Hollen and the rest of the Maryland congressional delegation* know how you feel.

*These Democrats are shameful cosponsors of Cardin’s pernicious bill:

  • Anthony Brown (MD-4)
  • John Delaney (MD-6), who is now running for president in 2020 (suppress giggles here)
  • Steny Hoyer (MD-5)
  • Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2)
  • John Sarbanes (MD-3)

©2017 Keith Berner

07.31.17 Democrats seek to criminalize free speech (with friends like Ben Cardin, who needs enemies?)

July 31, 2017

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin introduced S.270, the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” on March 23. It attracted little attention until the past couple of weeks.

This blog post is not about where you or I might stand on Israel. I have written plenty on that topic, including how Jewish-American politicians contribute to anti-Semitism through their support for the country.

Rather, I’m writing about free speech, a right enshrined in the First Amendment and a fundamental underpinning of US democracy (indeed of democracy itself). That is the issue at hand here: S.270’s purpose is to criminalize (with shockingly severe penalties) my right to hold political opinions that the bill’s many sponsors happen to disagree with.

As I wrote to Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-8) last week:

Principled opposition to this bill is something quite apart from one’s particular views on Israel.  If you believe in civil liberties, you support them. Our fundamental freedoms should never be sacrificed to the interests of another country (any other country). Once that principle is agreed to, you can have whatever debate you need to about Israel.

Just in case you’re a fan of the ACLU, here’s what they have to say about this pernicious bill: How the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Threatens First Amendment Rights.

Take another look now at the S.270 link and that of HR.1697, the House’s equivalent. There are 46 cosponsors in the Senate and 249 in the house. That is, half of our elected officials are ready to toss aside the First Amendment because they think servitude to Likud and settlers is worth it.

We have become sadly accustomed to GOP assaults on democracy, particularly in the form of voter suppression, but not to exclude theft of Supreme Court appointments and more. But note this: 14 of those cosponsors in the Senate and 71 of them in the House are Democrats, including such “liberal” luminaries as Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand* (NY), Ron Wyden (OR), and Maria Cantwell (WA).

It gets worse, Maryland voters, as our own Hall of Shame is well populated. Apart from Cardin, here they are:

  • Anthony Brown (MD-4)
  • John Delaney (MD-6), who is now running for president in 2020 (suppress giggles here)
  • Steny Hoyer (MD-5)
  • Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2)
  • John Sarbanes (MD-3)

Out of Maryland’s seven Democratic members of the House, only Elijah Cummings (MD-7) and Raskin are not trying to undermine our constitution.

I called Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s and Jamie Raskin’s offices last week to find out where they stand on Cardin’s bill. Both told me that the members were “still considering it.” Here’s what I sent to Van Hollen:

I’m not sure how much study one would need to determine that a piece of legislation like this elevates another country’s temporal interests over our fundamental civil liberties.

I called Van Hollen’s office again today and was told exactly the same thing as last week. It is apparent that Chris Van Hollen is ducking his responsibility to stand up for the First Amendment. This goes beyond political cowardice – since his reelection to the Senate is damn near guaranteed for life. In fact, I can think of no explanation for it at all. I urge you to write him and call him (202-224-4654) to get him to do the right thing.

Because I have a personal relationship with Raskin, I called him directly last Friday and was gratified to hear him denounce the measure unequivocally. When I told him that his staff didn’t know his position, he said he would take care of that promptly and issue a written statement. When I called back today, his staff still didn’t know his stand and had not seen a statement. I urge you to write him and call him (202-225-5341) to get him on the public record.

We learned two years ago, when Ben Cardin and Chuck Schumer were two of only three Democrats to oppose the Iran nuclear deal, that they will always prioritize Likud’s interests over American interests. This is a soft form of treason, in my book, and neither of these men deserves to be in elected office. (They are entitled to their opinions — no one is entitled to be an elected official.) What amazes me this go ‘round is how many additional Democrats are willing to swear allegiance to Benjamin Netanyahu instead of to the Constitution of the United States of America. Please remember this in 2018.

*Kirsten Gillibrand seemed like such a hero in the winter when she led Dems in the number of Trump appointments she voted against. Oh well.

©2017 Keith Berner

10.25.14 Endorsing David Moon & the D20 team + Anthony Brown

October 25, 2014

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

06.15.14 Keith Berner’s Biennial Voters Guide/Primary 2014 (for Takoma Park & Silver Spring, MD)

June 15, 2014

Election Day is Tuesday, June 24. Early voting is underway now.

For a summary that lists my endorsements with minimal annotations, see: 06.11.14 Voters Guide 2014/Primary Edition Summary (for Takoma Park & Silver Spring, MD)

The theme this year is disappointment. Dear Reader, you will see in my commentary below just how unenthusiastic I am about most races and candidates this year. Where I think all the candidates in a race are bad news, I recommend voting against all of them by casting a write-in vote. In other races, I don’t actively oppose all the candidates, but can’t make myself recommend any, either. In those cases, I indicate “no endorsement.” I just can’t fathom how our progressive state and county can’t find more noble human beings and solid progressives to run for office.

In each race, I list candidates in my order of preference. An asterisk before the name indicates my endorsements.

For Maryland Governor

Write in “Mickey Mouse.”

It’s hard to believe that Maryland could not produce a single decent candidate for governor this year. Last year, I felt sorry for Virginia, with its choice between 13th-century theocrat Ken Cuccinelli and venal operative Terry McAuliffe. Well, now ’tis the season to pity poor Maryland.

Heather Mizeur, is an ego-driven politician for whom tactics replace principles. She’s a darling to many on the left this year for staking out positions that most of my readers will agree with. Everything Mizeur does is calculated, though (there’s not a genuine bone in her body). If she thought she could get more attention by running as a centrist, she’d do so in a minute (I dare you to ask her about her support for Lockheed-Martin tax breaks). Mizeur’s blind ambition is demonstrated by her twice abandoning her responsibilities as a public official. The first time was when she quit her two-year post as a city councilwoman in Takoma Park after a year. She had only run in the first place to burnish her credentials. She quit as soon as she thought she had gained enough attention to begin planning her next campaign. The second time was the past two years, when she nearly completely stopped showing up at events related to District 20, where she is still officially our delegate. In fact, her former “dream house” (as she called it) is sitting vacant in Takoma Park, while she spends most of her time at her other house on the Eastern Shore. She’s bored with D20, you see, and this little run for governor is just for her own amusement. I mean seriously, she can’t possibly think that a back bencher with few substantive accomplishments and with no executive experience of any kind is ready to run a state. And she has insulted voters by selecting as a running mate a Prince George’s County preacher who is even less qualified than she is. This race is not about anything other than being in the limelight. Don’t reward the insult by giving Mizeur your vote.

Anthony Brown is an empty shirt whose only significant public accomplishment was completely screwing up Maryland’s health care exchange. He has refused to take positions on controversial issues and has run a nearly completely negative campaign against Doug Gansler (who deserves it), while getting an advance coronation from the entire Maryland Democratic establishment. If this man is able to accomplish a single positive thing as governor, I’ll be surprised. He is currently leading both of his opponents by a 2-to-1 margin, so you might as well get used to him.

Doug Gansler is a frat boy who thinks he’s above the law. The Washington Post exposés last year about his abuse of state police and disregard for traffic laws reveal Gansler as a danger to the public interest. If he already behaves this way, who is to say where the impunity would stop if he were to have executive authority over the whole state? Even worse are Gansler’s right-wing policy positions. A fan of the death penalty, Gansler’s main platform plank this year is a tax cut for wealthy corporations and he hammers constantly on current governor Martin O’Malley’s highly responsible fiscal policies that included (gasp!) tax hikes. Who needs the GOP when you have this crap coming from Dems?

See also:

For Maryland Comptroller

Write in “Mickey Mouse.”

Peter Franchot (incumbent), who is running unopposed, is an arrogant man who long ago gave up on his Takoma Park progressive roots.

For Maryland Attorney General

*Brian Frosh is a principled progressive with a long record of accomplishments in the Maryland legislature. I often disagree with the Washington Post on local politics, but their re-endorsement of Frosh yesterday does more justice to Frosh (while highlighting the flaws of his opponents) than I can possible do. I encourage my readers to give it a close look.

Jon Cardin is best known for improperly commandeering a police helicopter to propose to his girlfriend and, more recently, for missing 121 out of 164 committee votes in the just closed 2014 legislative session. If this man’s uncle weren’t a US senator, he would’t be so much as blip on public radar. Because of his name, though, he could win this race, which would be a disaster for Maryland.

Aisha Braveboy is another 13-century theocrat opposed to gay rights, reproductive freedom, etc. She is now pretending never to have held those views. Yeah, right.

For US Congress – Maryland District 8

No endorsement.

Chris Van Hollen (incumbent) used to be my hero. No more. He lost me when he was among the bad guys on a House bill to rein in NSA spying that failed by only eight votes. Civil liberties are more important to me than nearly any other area of public policy. I cannot support anyone who loves the NSA. I know nothing about about Van Hollen’s two opponents in this race. Neither stands a chance, so you and I might as well flip a coin and vote for one of them to protest Van Hollen’s betrayal. Or, there’s always Mickey Mouse.

For Maryland Senate – District 20

*Jamie Raskin (incumbent) is running unopposed, so I don’t have to spill much virtual ink on him. Just the same, it’s fun to write that this budding national progressive hero is our very own. Raskin is a captivating orator, constitutional scholar, and progressive firebrand. He also knows how to reach out to and defang potential opponents (e.g., the very conservative senate majority leader, Mike Miller, with whom Raskin has a strong relationship) making Raskin not only a moral leader, but a highly effective one. Raskin is also just a great guy: accessible, down-to-earth, and humble. What’s not to love about Jamie?

For Maryland House of Delegates – District 20 (select up to three)

*Sheila Hixson (incumbent) used to be my favorite politician whom I didn’t vote for. She had a record of being disappointingly centrist, a go-along-to-get-along Democrat. This began to change with the disappearance of bad influence Ida Reuben and replacement by Jamie Raskin in 2006. Hixson realized just how progressive her constituents were and responded. She has built a powerful partnership with Raskin and they are quite the dynamic duo, helping each other pass progressive milestone legislation in their respective houses of the Maryland legislature. Hixson is one of the most powerful politicians in Maryland, as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which makes her a rare treasure: How often do progressives get to have not only a representative voice for their views, but one that can deliver? And that partnership with Raskin is so much more than the sum of the parts. Any D20 progressive who doesn’t vote for Raskin and Hixson is a fool and a knave. Why was Hixson always a favorite of mine, even when I wasn’t voting for her? Because she (like Raskin) is another mensch — warm, engaging, and downright fun to be around.

*Jonathan Shurberg and I have known each other since we both worked on Raskin’s 2006 campaign. Talk about smart: Shurberg can discuss articulately the fine points of policy from economic justice, to civil rights, to education. He has spent lots of time in Annapolis writing and promoting legislation. He and his late wife, Rebecca, were major players in the county Democratic Party. My readers know I’m no huge fan of the party, but having elected officials who are plugged in and know everyone is a bonus. Shurberg will balance Will Smith’s inexperience. Last November, I described Shurberg as “the adult in the room” and “a passionate fighter for progressive causes.” I stand by those words.

*Will Smith is a born and bred Montgomery County resident. He is smart as a tack and itching to make a difference in the lives of D20 and Maryland residents. Smith has an impressive record of service in our district, having run Raskin and Hixson’s 2010 campaign, raising substantial funds for local young scholars, and serving with IMPACT Silver Spring and the local chapter of the NAACP. Smith is relatively inexperienced, but the fact that he knows the Annapolis players and has been endorsed by Raskin and Hixson is significant. I expect he’ll be able to hit the ground running, working with his mentors to make a mark in the House. As an African American, officer in the Naval Reserves, and the first in his family to graduate from college (and graduate school), Smith adds much-needed diversity to the D20 delegation. It is high time for this extremely diverse district to send a capable person of color to Annapolis.

Darian Unger was so amateurish at the November D20 forum, that I disregarded him completely in my write up of the event. He has come a long way, baby. I have been blown away by his ability to captivate the public and political observers with a grass-roots, pure elbow-grease campaign. His service as a volunteer firefighter and chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board shows his commitment to the community.  I particularly like Unger’s green credentials: an environmental engineer by trade, he lists “sustainable development and environmental protection” as his top priorities, the only candidate to do so.

David Moon matches Shurberg for smarts, knowledge, and probably has even greater encyclopedic knowledge of county and state politics. Moon is also a fighter — absolutely fearless about speaking truth to power. (I also know Moon from that first, magical Raskin campaign — as campaign manager, Moon gets credit for creating the strategy to beat Ida Reuben by a two-to-one margin.) There may be some concern that Moon’s record of truth telling would make it hard for him to work with the powers that be in Annapolis, but endorsements by Raskin and Hixson provide him with needed cover. If elected, Moon will make his presence felt very quickly.
So, why haven’t I ranked Moon second, just behind Sheila Hixson? Because of his longstanding ties to Valerie Ervin, perhaps the most destructive force in county politics. I believe Moon when he tells me that he won’t let Ervin tell him what to do if he’s elected. But the fact that his first campaign brochure put her picture and quote front and center, concerns me, as does his recent declaration to me that he considers Ervin among the most important local politicians. Make no mistake, Ervin plans to run for county executive, governor, or congress. I would hate to see one of my elected delegates endorsing her pursuit of power. Just the same, Moon looks likes like a winner in this race and I would shed no tears over this result.

Will Jawando deserved the apology I recently issued. He is not a bad guy, by any means. He’s smart, articulate, experienced with (federal) legislation, and — just like everyone else in the race — a solid progressive. But my strongest criticism of him remains valid: though he was born here, he has not provided any direct service to our district, unlike his fellow native Will Smith. If there weren’t so many more captivating choices, I could see getting really enthusiastic about Jawando. But in this fine field, he just doesn’t rise to the top.

See also:

For Montgomery County Executive

No endorsement.

Phil Andrews wins the integrity race easily. He is a class act of the boy scout variety, a politician who is in it for all the right reasons and cannot be bought. Sadly, Andrews has tacked right in the past four years. He was the lone council vote against raising he minimum wage and remains steadfast against indexing the wage to mitigate the impact of inflation. Some of my environmentalist friends are backing Andrews, but insiders tell me he has been less cooperative on land-use issues than he used to be. I had sent “dear neighbor” letters to my precinct in support of Andrews, but have come to regret it because I disagree with Andrews so strongly on key issues.

Ike Leggett (incumbent) is, at best, a big disappointment. I was an enthusiastic supporter when he first ran for executive in 2006, but his opposition to progressive state taxation on millionaires lost me a couple years later. Among the list of Leggett “foibles” is, of course, the misbegotten Silver Spring Transit Center, millions over budget, already more than two years late, and a potential danger to all who use it. Other items include tax breaks for Lockheed Martin, subsidies for Costco, and joyfully accepting bribes contributions from the development industry.

Doug Duncan’s toxic legacy from his tenure as county executive remains with us, in a county woefully short of infrastructure to match growth-without-thought and in our poisonous personal politics. While serving as front-man for the development industry, Duncan also oversaw unsustainable giveaways to MoCo’s public employee unions that worsened the fiscal crisis of 2008-12. Why return to office someone whose dream is to pave everything and enrich the powerful?

For Montgomery County Council – At Large (select up to four)

Marc Elrich and Beth Daly (vote for only two)If you cast a vote for any other candidates, you risk knocking Elrich or Daly into fifth place. That’s why I recommend “bullet voting” (selecting fewer than candidates than there are seats).

I recommend highly Bill Turque’s recent analysis of the MoCo at-large race in the Washington Post. Turque does an excellent job of showing who is in the developers’ pockets and who isn’t.

*Marc Elrich (incumbent) has been serving the public interest and society’s underdogs for decades. He has been the county council’s lone voice against unrestrained development, pointing out that what the other incumbents call “smart growth” is just rhetoric for more traffic on the roads, more school trailers, and more environmentally hazardous runoff from impervious surfaces. What is truly astounding is how Elrich has traveled from being the radical whose very name the Washington Post refused to mention to getting the Post’s endorsement for the second time in a row. Why? Because Elrich is more smart than ideological. His plan for bus rapid transit has won over the Post and even many developers (even while he refuses to accept the developers’ bribes contributions). Elrich is that rare politician who is 100% about public service, not personal glory. Even while he has enough respect to have come in first in the 2010 at-large race, though, he can’t get any respect from the rest of the council incumbents, who not only block him from formal leadership, but also prevent him from forcing discussion about their pave-it-all politics. If only there were some means to throw the rest of the incumbents out. Sadly, the best we can do is to toss one out (please, let it be Hans Riemer!) by putting Beth Daly in office.

*Beth Daly is the real deal: smarts, values, articulateness, and genuine warmth. Daly is as committed as Elrich to sensible land-use policies and protecting the environment. She promises a high level of transparency including (can you believe it?!) voting the same way on final legislation as she does in committee. She also promises to be a second when Elrich raises topics the other council incumbents want to bury and to champion a term for Elrich as president of the council. Daly is the most exciting newcomer to MoCo political campaigns since Jamie Raskin appeared in 2006. But she is no novice, having been an engaged and effective civic activist and creator of legislation for years (see her experience list).

George Leventhal (incumbent) is by far the second best of the incumbents. His constituent service is incredible and he has an admirable commitment to the disadvantaged. I keep wanting to endorse and vote for Leventhal, but I just can’t get there. This year, he’s attacking Marc Elrich and Beth Daly as he continues to serve the developers. Even if he weren’t playing this actively destructive role, it’s just far more important to have Elrich and Daly on the council than to keep Leventhal, so I cannot risk having my vote for him doom the others.

Nancy Floreen (incumbent) is 100% pro-developer, pro-chamber of commerce. At least what you see is what you get with Floreen, which can’t be said of . . .

. . . Hans Riemer (incumbent), who is a perpetual liar and deceiver, a carpetbagger who never belonged in our region’s politics to start with. He lives on taking credit for others’ work and claiming to support policies he doesn’t. The most egregious example of this was when he worked hard to kill last year’s minimum wage bill and then claimed to have led the fight for it. (Watch this must-see 30-second video showing Riemer holding back on the final vote for the minimum wage until he sees that it has the five votes necessary to pass.) He also says he’s an environmentalist, even while he gleefully takes money from the developers. Hans Riemer wins my 2014 award for Most Despicable Politician. This year’s MoCo voters owe future generations a service: stop Riemer’s political career right now, before rises through the ranks to become a lying empty shirt with actual power.

See also:

For Montgomery County Council – District 5

What hope I had when Destructive Force Valerie Ervin got bored with her seat on MoCo council and quit last winter! Sadly, my hopes have been dashed. This race is almost as bad as the one for governor, providing little hope at all for progressives who want good government.

*Terrill North is the only really good human being in the race. He is a solid progressive with experience in almost every area of policy we care about, from serving the poor, to environmentalism, to civil liberties. So why am I not more excited as I repeat my endorsement of North? Because his campaign has never seemed to get off the ground. He has no significant endorsements, beyond Progressive Neighbors (who also endorsed Tom Hucker for the seat). North is not going to win, so voting for him is more of a protest against the others than a practical choice. Sigh.

Tom Hucker is a bully and dirty campaigner. He has voted the correct way on nearly everything while serving as D20 delegate in Annapolis, but he is going to be wrong on everything involving public-employee unions if he serves on MoCo council. Just as most of the other council incumbents would be nowhere without developer money, the same goes for Hucker and the unions. My main concern about Hucker, though, is not about policy (again, he has a voting record any progressive would be proud of). Rather, it is that his bad temper and drive for dominance will eventually make him our very own Chris Christie, imploding and bringing his agenda (and ours) down with him. Hucker will win this race. I can only hope that the few of us speaking out about his flaws will bring about some introspection and humility on his part. If Hucker were to tame his demons, he could be an excellent progressive leader for years to come.

Evan Glass seemed to be the other good guy in the race (in addition to North) until his horrific mailer this week in which he granted himself magical powers to cure all that ails us. He has now shown himself to be just another ball of arrogance, willing to lie to his potential constituents to get a job. What’s amazing is that Glass slipped and revealed his inner truth when he had absolutely no reason do to so. He had already secured some plum endorsements and was running a solid campaign.

Chris Barclay is a petty thief who didn’t even live in the district until the past few weeks. He wouldn’t be wasting our ink and oxygen if Valerie Ervin and her Coalition that Only Cares about Color (Cherri Branson, Nancy Navarro, and Craig Rice) hadn’t foisted him upon us. (See my discussion of race in this race in my original endorsement of Terrill North, who is African American.) After being caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Barclay lost the endorsements of the two largest MoCo public employee unions, so I can’t believe he remains a factor.

See also:

Other Races

In races I don’t follow closely, I’ll let Progressive Neighbors be my guide.

Not My District: Brief Comments on Races Beyond My Neighborhood

  • For Maryland Senate – District 18: *Dana Beyer is not shy. We can count on her to stand up and be counted in Annapolis. I have known and been fond of Beyer for a long time, but still wondered why she — as a transgender woman — was taking on Sen. Rich Madaleno, who championed passage of Maryland’s marriage equality law. The answer? Because Madaleno might as well be a Republican on fiscal policy. Beyer will be a progressive hero in Annapolis, showing us what has been missing from D18 up until now.
  • For Montgomery County Council – District 1: *Roger Berliner (incumbent). I’m not a big Berliner fan; though, he is better than most of the other council incumbents. What compels me to endorse him is just how bad Duchy Trachtenberg is. Her pursuit of personal attention has led her to ditch principle entirely this year, flip-flopping on issues that were previously central to her politics: standing up to developers and public employee unions. If you are still tempted to vote for Trachtenberg, see my recent post about her.
  • For Montgomery County Council – District 3: Marc Erlich’s choice in the race to succeed Phil Andrews is *Ryan Spiegel. Progressive Neighbors has endorsed Tom Moore, but I’m more inclined to follow Elrich’s determination of who can best support his agenda on council than I am any outside observers.

See also: 05.30.14 How your blogger chooses candidates to love (and hate)

©2014 Keith Berner

05.27.14 Just how empty is Anthony Brown’s campaign?

May 27, 2014

It is so empty that his first big mailer (that I have received, anyway), says nothing at all Brown. It is one giant attack on Doug Gansler. Don’t get me wrong, I agree completely with the attack (while find it just a wee bit redundant after a while):

  • “. . .Doug Gansler’s irresponsible corporate tax giveaway” (reason enough to oppose Gansler, all by itself)
  • “. . .Gansler won’t fund universal full day pre-kindergarten for our kids”
  • “. . .reckless and irresponsible”
  • “. . .Gansler’s Repbublican corporate tax giveaway”

Yep, Gansler should be opposed at all cost. But is there anything positive to say about Brown? I guess even Brown himself doesn’t think so.

Poor Maryland: what awful choices for governor.

©2014 Keith Berner