Posted tagged ‘Chris Van Hollen’

01.29.17 To Chris Van Hollen: You voted for Ben Carson?!

January 29, 2017

This is what I just sent to our supposedly progressive senator:

Dear Chris:

I’m outraged to discover that you voted for Ben Carson to serve as HUD secretary. I don’t care if you think he is less bad than other potential nominees (the excuse Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown have given). Every single time a Democrat votes for a Trump appointee, the Democratic Party takes partial ownership for resulting policy. (I’m also disappointed by your votes for Sec. Def. and UN ambassador.) If the people of Maryland cannot trust you to do the right thing, whom can we trust? And if you will not stand firm against all GOP appointments and legislation, we have no hope of taking back our country.

—Keith

I note that even the more moderate Benjamin Cardin did not vote for Carson.

©2017 Keith Berner

04.27.16 Schadenfreude (election wrap-up)

April 27, 2016

Before I go negative, I want to acknowledge Jamie Raskin’s extremely important victory yesterday. His win not only sends a substantively excellent man to Congress. It also demonstrates that – at least in this district and this year – money can’t purchase victory. Passion, vision, and grassroots organizing won the day. Everyone in MD-8 can be proud of this result!

Now to my Schadenfreude* list:

  1. Washington Post: Both the editors and MoCo political correspondent, Bill Turque, did their best to discredit Raskin as a left-wing extremist. It’s downright fun to annoy the big-business-obsessed Post by voting for progressives who scare them.
  1. David Trone: The man spent over $12-million to sully the electoral process in our district, after he went around the country delivering over $150k to right-wing Republicans in order to “buy access” (his words), ala Donald Trump. It’s sad to think that he didn’t bankrupt himself in the process of this campaign, but one can hope he’ll never try this again.
  1. Kathleen Matthews: Without a public-policy or community-service background, this corporate shill became the most heavily PAC-funded congressional candidate in the country. After having overseen Marriott’s opposition to labor and $1-3/4 million in contributions to Republicans, Matthews tried to play on her husband’s connections (Chris Matthews is the star of Hardball) and her gender to steal our district. Her distant third-place finish should send her right back to the corporate world.
  1. Jonathan Shurberg of Maryland Scramble: The overwhelming majority of Shurberg’s posts are “just the facts”: links to primary sources, scans of candidate mailings, and the like. These are generally offered without commentary and make Scramble is a very useful blog, indeed. It’s the less frequent commentary that deserves criticism. In this race, Shurberg:
  • Excused Matthews’s and Trone’s lack of legislative background by pointing out that lots of members of Congress don’t have any (and what a great job they’re all doing, eh?). In defending the two moneybags, he also purposely ignored opponents’ arguments that neither had any background of public service.
  • Declared the money from one’s pockets or from corporate PACs to be no dirtier than money raised in small dollar amounts from inside Maryland and our district. Shurberg went after Matthews’s opponents for citing the difference and, thereby, demonstrated a (newly found?) love of big money in politics.
  • Forgave Matthews’s responsibility for Marriott contributions to GOP candidates and office holders
  • Explained away Matthews’s money from Hardball guests
  • Repeatedly attacked Raskin and his supporters in a tone that can only be described as mocking, gleeful, and morally superior. It is well known the Shurberg has never forgiven Raskin for the 2014 state delegate race, when Raskin didn’t endorse Shurberg. It was still remarkable that Shurberg couldn’t suppress his contempt borne of personal hurt.
  • Huddled with Kathleen Matthews during the entire J Street annual gala last week.

Clearly Shurberg wanted Raskin not only to lose, but to be embarrassed. He seemed to want Matthews to win (he certainly found ways to excuse nearly everything about her that progressives objected to) but wasn’t honest enough to come right out and endorse her. If Shurberg used to be a progressive, he sure sold out those values in this race and most likely did so in a fit of personal pique. The Progressive Neighbors Steering Committee should take note and remove him from their membership.

  1. The giant PACs and bigwigs who funded Matthews’s campaign: Money down the drain. Hah-hah! (sound file)
  1. Emily’s List: Sorry, gender isn’t everything. I get why Emily’s list doesn’t fund men. But they ought to be selective about the fights they pick. This year in Maryland, their outsized support of Kathleen Matthews and Donna Edwards put them on the wrong side of two men (Raskin and Chris Van Hollen) who have impeccable records on women’s issues. Again, money down the drain. And – in this case – money that could have better used elsewhere.

I’m really sad about how poorly Kumar Barve did in yesterday’s election (a little over 2%). In a race where all the oxygen was not sucked up by Trone and Matthews, this serious, accomplished legislator would have gotten a lot more attention. I still would have endorsed and worked for Raskin, but Barve was my clear second choice and I hope he will continue serving the public good. (I also feel sad for Ana Sol Gutierrez [5.5%], another good person.)

I can’t quite put Will Jawando (<5%) on my Schadenfreude list, because he’s not a bad guy (except for that Big Pharma money he took). But it would be nice if he would do some work in our area before he decides to run for another seat (he ran for state delegate in 2014 and lost badly). Simply having a story that is superficially similar to Barack Obama’s doesn’t really qualify him for office.

Final comment: If one accepts the probability that Trone and Matthews were fighting against each other for the same set of pro-business, moderate Democrats, we can thank Trone for helping Raskin win.

*My writing Schadenfreude with a capital “S” is not a symptom of the widespread disease I call “Random Capitalization Syndrome”; rather it is true to German grammar, where all nouns are capitalized. For more random linguistic tips or a dose of severe grammatical discipline, feel free to contact your blogger any time.

©2016 Keith Berner

04.16.16 Chris Van Hollen for Senate

April 16, 2016

This is a long piece. If you don’t know Chris Van Hollen well and have not been following the story of Donna Edwards’s lies about his record, you’ll learn by reading all of it. Otherwise, the executive summary is clear: Chris Van Hollen is an unusually effective progressive leader. Donna Edwards is unusually ineffective and lacks the character to be in public office.

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-8) is a superstar. He offers a rare combination of deep progressive values, legislative expertise, and being part of the Democratic Party leadership. His talent is demonstrated by the fact that it took very few years after his election to Congress in 2002 to become a member of the leadership and that he did not have to become a corporate sellout to do so.

There have been times when your blogger has disagreed with Van Hollen. Two instances I recall were when he floated a potential unilateral concession to the GOP during budget talks several years ago, a move that I found distressingly similar to Barack Obama’s long period of negotiating with himself, while the GOP gave nothing. Another instance was when he briefly sided with the anti-privacy Senator Diane Feinstein regarding the NSA.

Otherwise, Van Hollen has been a champion of almost everything progressives hold dear: the environment, political reform (more on that, below), gun control (more on that, below), women’s rights, gay rights, Wall St. reform, responsible foreign policy. You name it, our congressman has been far more than a sidelines cheerleader. Rather he has provided real leadership over and over again.

Part of leadership is seeking compromise in service to the public good. Guess what? You cannot move legislation (or negotiate an arms control treaty), without giving up something to get agreement with the other side. There are limits to what concessions moral leaders can make. But ultimately, good compromise means calculating that what you’re winning is worth more than what you’re giving up.

Which brings us to Chris Van Hollen’s sponsorship of a campaign finance reform package in 2010 in the wake of Citizens United. The bill would have forced transparency regarding contributions to and expenditures by PACs. In order to gain support from red-state Democrats, the bill exempted the NRA (and, to appease other Dems, the Sierra Club) from its provisions. Most pro-gun-control Democrats supported the measure (which ultimately passed the House, but failed in the Senate) because the finance transparency to be gained was far more important than the potential lost insight into the NRA, whose agenda and actions were hardly a secret to start with.

Fast forward to the Maryland Senate campaign of 2016. For weeks, Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-4) has been portraying Chris Van Hollen as being in bed with the NRA, based on the 2010 bill, which had nothing to do with gun control. Given Van Hollen’s “F” rating from the NRA (which Edwards shares), your blogger considers this beyond distortion: it is an outright lie. Edward’s own advertising has featured this libel.

This past week, Edwards’s libel gained national attention, as a heretofore little-known PAC called Working for US, featured Obama’s image in a new ad making the same spurious claim about Van Hollen. The ad implied (1) that Obama opposed to the 2010 campaign-finance bill (he did not) and (2) that Obama had endorsed Edwards (he had not).

The President does not usually intervene in primary races between Democrats. But, the PAC’s ad (as put by the Washington Post in an April 14 editorial) was “beyond the pale.” Barack Obama publicly called for the ad to be pulled. In short order, House and Senate Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) followed suit. (Van Hollen is part of Pelosi’s and Reid’s team. Would they be likely to work with Edwards now?)

If Donna Edwards had not already been spouting the same lie as the PAC promoted, she might have been able to distance herself from it. She can’t and, in fact, has reasserted it in recent days.

Party because the 2010 campaign-finance reform bill didn’t become law, it’s not easy to understand a PAC’s inner workings. Nonetheless, John Fritze at the Baltimore Sun reported on April 14 that the major funder of the noxious ad was a Maine-based hedge fund manager, S. Donald Sussman. (Kudos to Jonathan Shurberg at Maryland Scramble for pointing me to the Sun article.) Fritze writes:

Van Hollen’s campaign found irony in the fact that the ad was paid for a hedge fund manager. The Edwards campaign has said for months that Van Hollen is too cozy with Wall Street.

“Chris Van Hollen has been leading the fight to close the loophole that lets hedge fund managers pay less in taxes than working people,” Van Hollen spokeswoman Bridgett Frey said. “That she claims to take on Wall Street is clearly the height of hypocrisy.”

Your blogger worked hard to get Chris Van Hollen elected in 2002. I have remained a fan over the years, but entered 2016 also positively inclined towards Donna Edwards. Her voting record is nearly identical to Van Hollen’s and she offers the bonus of adding much-needed diversity to the overwhelmingly white, male US Senate. What Maryland progressive would not be proud to be represented by an African-American woman?

At the same time, I was disturbed by the pervasive stories of Edwards’s apparent inability to get along with others. Her lack of support in this race from the Congressional Black Caucus or many Prince George’s County political leaders has been striking. Various analyses have deemed Edwards among the least effective members of Congress, in terms of legislation passed or contributed to.

Nonetheless, I flirted with political neutrality in the contest between Van Hollen and Edwards. Van Hollen’s effectiveness is highly compelling. So is Edwards’s stated commitment to principle – I don’t mind having some progressive bomb throwers in power.

Edward’s despicable campaign decisively ends my flirtation. She is a hypocrite on campaign finance. Her claimed purity about the NRA helped damage an effort to do something about the issue.

It’s worse: her inability to get along with anyone makes her not a Bernie Sanders figure (who is rather pure, ideologically, but has a record of being able to work with those who don’t agree with him on everything). No, Donna Edwards is the Ted Cruz of Maryland progressive politics. Bomb-throwing that inspires a movement can be laudable. Alienating produces no value for anyone. The mendacious, hypocritical campaign Edwards has run saps any remaining attractiveness from her candidacy.

Your blogger feels almost guilty for toying with a decision not to endorse Chris Van Hollen. Racial and gender balance are important objectives. But they cannot outweigh the substantial differences between candidates for a single seat. Chris Van Hollen has the character, the skills, and the record of accomplishment Maryland needs in its next senator.

©2016 Keith Berner

04.26.15 Heather Mizeur: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out

April 26, 2015

Almost all politicians are ambitious. At least in the back of their minds, they ponder their route to the White House or – at least – the next higher available seat. There is nothing wrong with this per se, except when a line is crossed and the politician’s priority is serving oneself, rather than a greater cause or “the people.”

Heather Mizeur is just such a politician. As a staffer in Sen. John Kerry’s office, she moved to Takoma Park, MD in the early aughts, at least in part because it was an easy place for a progressive to launch a political career. In many city wards, one needs only a couple hundred votes to win and you don’t even have to quit your day job to make one-evening-per week city council meetings.

Having won her seat, Mizeur promptly lost interest in it half-way through her two-year term. Her attendance rate at council meetings tanked and part-way through that second year, she resigned. Her ostensible reason was that she and her wife had found their “dream house” in another Takoma Park ward. In fact, Mizeur was done with city council: she considered her political bona fides sufficiently established for her to turn her attention to the national Democratic Party (running Kerry’s 2004 Maryland campaign and winning a seat on the Democratic National Committee). She also began plotting her run for the Maryland House of Delegates from District 20 and won that seat in 2006.

I heard no complaints about Mizeur during her first four-year term as D20 delegate. But, after that, Mizeur again lost interest in her current job. By 2012, neighbors to that “dream house” started reporting that weeks or months would pass without any sign of activity there. (She was already spending all her time at her new dream house on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.) Legislative insiders said that it also became increasingly difficult to get Mizeur to show up for D20 events and activities, whether in Annapolis or closer to her dark and lonely Takoma Park house.

Mizeur’s eyes were on the next prize: the governorship! Notwithstanding having served only a term-and-a-half as a backbencher and having no record of having run any enterprise larger than her one-staff delegate’s office (and the MD part of Kerry’s awful 2004 campaign), Mizeur considered herself fit to run the state. Shortly after declaring for governor, the candidate announced to a Washington Post reporter that if she didn’t win the race, she would be “done with politics.” Yeah, right. Mizeur came in a distant third in the June 2014 Democratic primary against two lousy alternatives.

Fast forward to last week, when Mizeur had someone post a good-bye letter to Takoma Park community listservs. (It seems that Mizeur had been absent from Takoma Park for so long that she no longer belonged to any of the listservs herself.) Here is the text of her letter:

Dear Neighbors,

It is with mixed emotions that Deborah and I share with you the news that we are putting our house in Takoma Park up for sale this week. We have made the difficult decision to move to the Eastern Shore full-time where our work to create an organic herbal medicine farm to support Deborah’s clinical practice is in full swing in Kent County.

This was not an easy decision for us. We love this community deeply. We have always described Takoma Park as a utopia for progressive activists and change agents and one of the best places on Earth to live. We have never felt more loved and embraced by any other community.

Following the Governor’s race and years of sacrifice by Deborah to fully support my political work as a City Councilmember and State Delegate, it is my turn to give back to her. The work on the farm is as incredibly rich and satisfying as it is demanding. We simply need to be there all the time, especially during this start-up phase.

And so while we are bursting with excitement and enthusiasm about this next adventure in our lives, we have a heavy heart to leave a home and a community that we love so dearly. We take comfort knowing that we will be visiting often and that friendships know no distance.

Thank you, Takoma Park, for the lovely memories, the charismatic passion you display, and the opportunity you have given me to serve. I look forward to our pathways crossing again real soon. This is not goodbye.

All the best,

Heather (and Deborah) Mizeur

Here is my response to the listservs:

No surprise here. Mizeur never cared about TkPk – she moved here to jump-start her political career by running for a city council seat and then serving only until it became inconvenient (not even a full term). Then as our District 20 delegate, she stopped showing up in our district as soon as she became interested in running for governor.

We need political leaders who share Mizeur’s progressive agenda, but we also need them to be genuine and truly committed to the constituents they serve. Mizeur’s pursuit of grandeur rendered our little corner of the world insignificant to her. As for her open letter, it is artificial and self-serving, as so many of Mizeur’s public announcements  have been.

Perhaps Mizeur will indeed miss Takoma Park. Takoma Park won’t miss her.

Keith Berner

Mizeur closed her letter by saying “this is not goodbye.” Vis-à-vis Takoma Park, her remark is completely disingenuous. She is done with Takoma Park for good, since we no longer serve any purpose for her.

But is this limelight-craving politician done with politics? Is she really fulfilling her promise to that Post reporter to pick up her marbles and ride off into the sunset if she didn’t land in the governor’s mansion?

C’mon! It’s sweet that Heather is giving Deborah a chance to do her thing. But Mizeur has proven how easily she gets bored. It wont be long before she gives up herb farming for her next political run. Sadly for Mizeur, though, her new district on the Eastern Shore sends Republicans to Congress. And, since Maryland will have two young(ish), energetic Democratic senators (assuming Chris Van Hollen wins Barbara Mikulski’s seat and Ben Cardin doesn’t get abducted by aliens), that door will be closed, too.

So, look for Mizeur to abandon her “dream farm” for greener pastures: a state with a winnable House or Senate seat. At that point, she will indeed pay Takoma Park another visit, hat in hand.

 ©2015 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 &amp; 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

06.11.14 Voters Guide 2014/Primary Edition Summary (for Takoma Park & Silver Spring, MD)

June 11, 2014

With early voting beginning tomorrow, I want to get my picks out the door. I’ll provide a fully annotated version in a few days. Note that I only cover my home districts. For other districts, I suggest Progressive Neighbors’ recommendations.

For MD Governor: Write in “Mickey Mouse”
None of the declared Mickey Mice deserves your vote.

For MD Comptroller: Write in “Mickey Mouse”
Peter Franchot, who is running unopposed ditched his Takoma Park progressive roots long ago.

For MD Attorney General: Brian Frosh

For US Congress MD District 8: No endorsement.
Chris Van Hollen no longer gets my vote because he supports NSA surveillance. I don’t know a thing about the other two candidates.

For MD State Senator District 20Jamie Raskin

For MD House of Delegates District 20 (select up to three): Sheila Hixson,  Jonathan Shurberg, Will Smith

For Montgomery County Executive: No endorsement
Phil Andrews wins on integrity, but is too conservative to support a decent minimum wage. Ike Leggett is at best very disappointing. Doug Duncan must be stopped!

For Montgomery County Council At-Large (select up to four): Marc Elrich and Beth Daly only
Do not vote for any additional candidates: your vote for one of them could be the vote pushes Elrich or Daly into fifth place.

For Montgomery County Council District 5: Terrill North

For Montgomery County State’s Attorney: John McCarthy

For Clerk of the Circuit Court: Alan Bowser

For Montgomery County Board of Education At Large: Jill Ortman-Fouse

Other races: no position

See previous relevant posts:

©2014 Keith Berner

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

May 30, 2014

Dear Readers, you may just be wondering what happens in the mind of your blogger, as he writes about candidates for public office. Some of you might be surprised that much is going in there at all. Anyway, I do indeed have some criteria for selecting good guys and bad guys in politics.

  1. Ideology and values. If you’re not a progressive, at least in a substantial part of your agenda, you cannot win my love. (I’m not going to define “progressive” here — most of you know pretty much what I mean.) On the county level, I go for environmentalists over developers. Thus do Doug Duncan, Nancy Floreen and 99.9% of Republicans lose my consideration. Oh yeah, those who run on tax-cuts for the wealthy (that’s you, Doug Gansler) also get no love from me. Chris Van Hollen — NSA lover — also no longer gets my vote.
  2. Relevant knowledge and competence. Does the candidate know anything about the issues at play, the other players, and the process? I’m sorry, you can’t just show up suddenly in Rockville or Annapolis and be a hero, without knowing anything. By the same token, you can’t declare yourself ready to run a state, when the largest previous operation you have ever run is a political campaign: sorry Heather Mizeur.
  3. Previous service to the community. Don’t show up here suddenly demanding glory if you haven’t paid some dues. I want to see a resume of engagement — a record of caring about this place and its people. This is where Hans Riemer (the Liar) lost me at the start of his quest for glory — he hadn’t even lived here long enough to know anyone’s name when he declared his first run for office. This remains a valid criticism of Will Jawando, who certainly has experience, but not serving our area.
  4. Diversity. I don’t think diverse communities should be served by a non-diverse set of elected officials.
  5. Tempered ambition. I get that nearly all politicians are ambitious. Heck, your blogger is ambitious in his day job. But I want to vote for people who intend to do the job they’re running for, rather than plotting their next advancement from Day 1 in office. Empty ambition, thy name is Heather Mizeur.
  6. Putting power in perspective. Power is necessary for the accomplishment of anything. Power ought never be the end in itself. Beware these cynics for whom power is the only thing. If your fundamental political views are malleable and subservient to your pursuit of power, you won’t get my support — sorry, Duchy Trachtenberg (more on this soon!). And Valerie Ervin is the poster child of a power-hungry pol.
  7. Ability to work with other elected officials. If you and those you’ll be serving with can’t get along, this is a black mark against you.
  8. Stopping the worst of two evils. Sometimes, I do the pragmatic thing and vote primarily out of disgust with the other guy (rather than love for mine). When I vote for Democrats at the federal level in general elections, this is usually what I’m up to. That’s what I’ve decided not to do in MoCo D5 this year (Hucker vs. Barclay).
  9. Character. If you behave with impunity (Doug Gansler), steal from the public (Chris Barclay), or treat people badly  (Tom Hucker), you have a hill to climb with me.
  10. Personal. If I know you personally and like you, it certainly helps drive my support for you. Great examples include Sheila Hixson, Jamie Raskin, Marc Elrich, and Terrill North. But they are not the only ones — in a year of depressing politics, I have met some really nice people who are running for office.

So, am I 100% consistent in applying these criteria? Yeah, right. As you have previously accustomed yourself to, Dear Reader, your blogger is flawed. But he takes comfort knowing that those who criticize inconsistency are hoboglined by little minds, or some such.

©2014 Keith Berner