Posted tagged ‘David Moon’

08.05.17 Twenty-twenty

August 5, 2017

The New York Times reports today that the GOP presidential campaign for 2020 is heating up. This is another delightful indication of Trump’s spreading toxicity among even the racists, theocrats, and corporate elites. Here’s hoping 2018 and 2020 bring all-out warfare in the GOP between the Trump and traditional wings of the party, leaving no one unbloodied.

Maryland state Delegate David Moon (D20) asked on Facebook the other day what people (i.e., progressives) think of Al Franken for president. There are a number of intriguing names being bandied about on the Democratic side, including: Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Deval Patrick, Elizabeth Warren, and more. (Apologies to anyone I’ve left out — this was off the top of my head.)

I feel no pressure to pick anyone for a long time. Here are my principles for that race: I am willing to support any Democrat who

  • is not a bigot or misogynist
  • is not a theocrat
  • supports First Amendment rights (that counts you out, John Delaney)
  • is pro-choice
  • CAN WIN!

Of course, I would prefer a candidate who isn’t in bed with Wall Street or in favor of bombing other countries. But we all need to make “CAN WIN” a litmus-test issue above most others, which also means we need to avoid all-out warfare between Clintonites and Berners. It will be a gazillion times better to have a Democratic president with whom we don’t agree on everything than to have any Republican in the White House.

©2018 Keith Berner

12.04.16 David Moon for D20 Senate – deadline is December 7 to contact Central Committee

December 3, 2016

Maryland District 20 voters are thrilled to be sending Jamie Raskin, to Congress to take on the Trumpian forces of darkness. Raskin’s elevation leaves a senate vacancy that will be filled by a decision of the Montgomery Democratic Central Committee (MDCC) when they meet on Wednesday, December 7.

It is unfortunate that state law does not allow us to directly elect Raskin’s replacement: any appointment process is not exactly (small-d) democratic, but this is the process we’re stuck with. It seems to me that the most democratic solution would be to appoint someone who has already won D20 votes, namely one of our three elected state delegates. David Moon and Will Smith are actively campaigning for the seat (while Sheila Hixson has, unsurprisingly, decided to hold on to her chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House of Delegates). Both Moon and Smith have had impressive records as freshmen delegates. Both are strong progressives and have worked well with Hixson and Raskin.

I am endorsing Moon for Senate mostly because I see him as a determined progressive fighter in Raskin’s tradition, while Smith is somewhat more of a go-along-to-get-along Democrat that is more common in the MD legislature. Also, I have been significantly more impressed with Moon’s responsiveness to and engagement with district residents than Smith’s. (Smith has made several appointments to meet with me and broken every single one at the last minute.)

I urge you to write to all members of the MDCC immediately to indicate your endorsement. See below for more details.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the issues Moon has taken on:

  • Special elections to fill statewide vacancies: Just as D20 voters are frustrated by the lack of a chance to vote on Raskin’s replacement, so would we be if there were vacancies for US Senate, Attorney General, Comptroller. Under law, the governor would have had the right to name replacements, but Moon successfully got the issue on this year’s ballot (as Question 1) and it passed easily, meaning future vacancies will be filled by voters.
  • Helping homeless residents obtain birth certificates
  • Reining in mass incarceration and generally opposing the disastrous “war on drugs”
  • Early release of sick inmates
  • Protecting women’s pay equity
  • Reforming the investigative process in cases of police brutality
  • Reducing carbon emissions
  • Promoting transparency in rape investigations
  • Working to welcome refugees in Maryland
  • Fighting to maintain Metro service hours.

An argument has been floated that neither Moon, nor Smith should be appointed because it would give the selected individual incumbent power in the 2018 election. Those touting this position claim it would be more democratic to appoint someone for a two-year period who has not ever won an election in our district. I don’t buy it – as imperfect as the current system is, I believe the only way to respect voters is to select someone they have already supported.

If Moon or Smith is selected this week, that will open a D20 seat in the House of Delegates and the MDCC appointment process will start all over again. The following people should not be considered for that seat:

  • Valerie Ervin quit her last public office (MoCo Council D5) two years early because her ambition and arrogance led her to believe she would be a shoo-in for the county executive race (Ike Leggett’s decision to run again in 2014 killed her plans). Then she dropped out of an abortive race against Raskin for Congress after only two months, with a bitter attack on a political process she felt was uniquely stacked against her. She blamed everyone but herself, while a healthy number of other candidates made it all the way to April. Ervin has a record of anger and divisiveness, including a willingness to attack local progressives. If Ervin were appointed to represent us, we could count on her spending most of her time in office figuring out how to move up the political ladder.
  • Will Jawando has run twice for local seats (for state delegate in 2014 and against Raskin for Congress), losing badly each time. He has never done any on-the-ground work in our area and seems to think that his brief service as a White House staffer makes up for having no local record. I’d love to see Jawando work on something that benefits district residents before he tries again for political office.
  • Jonathan Shurberg is a very capable local lawyer who has done a ton of work for progressive causes and individuals in need. Just the same, he must have set a record for dollars spent per vote in his unsuccessful race against Moon and Smith for delegate in 2014. I endorsed his run at that time, but he did so badly in the final result that any appointment to office would be in violation of district voters’ clear preferences. Most recently, Shurberg used his blog to attack Raskin’s candidacy for Congress, while carrying water for megabucks, pro-corporate Kathleen Matthews and David Trone.

Please write to all members of the MDCC to support David Moon and to oppose appointment of anyone who has not previously been elected in our district. You do not have to write an essay – simply stating your view is enough. Here’s the list to write to:

©2016 Keith Berner

 

 

 

07.02.16 County Council repeals employee benefits for domestic partners

July 2, 2016

An open letter to regressive Montgomery County Council members. . .

To: George Leventhal, Nancy Floreen & Hans Riemer:

I am extremely disappointed that you voted (and George led the effort) to strip county employees’ domestic partner benefits. In order to save about $1.98, you have placed MoCo firmly on the side of regressive social policy. Sure, domestic-partner benefits were often created to get around discrimination against same-sex couples. But these benefits also took government out of any role in judging the shapes of love and families. As for some of the where-do-you-draw-the-line/where-does-does-it-ever-stop complains I’ve seen on Facebook, this is not rocket science. My nonprofit employers allows staff to designate one domestic partner, without any demand to see a marriage certificate. The fact that Marty Ittner and I live at the same address is good enough for them — why shouldn’t it be good enough for the county?

I congratulate Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, and Craig Rice for being on the correct side of this issue. But I’m also disappointed that they didn’t warn their constituents in advance of this misguided action so that public pressure could have been brought to bear. (And I congratulate MD Delegate David Moon for alerting me and many others to the issue on Facebook.)

—Keith

©2016 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

06.22.14 Bigotry in MD D19

June 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kramer responded by saying:

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

“A particular issue”?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ungar replied:

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

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

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

Good Shabbos

Ira Ungar

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

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

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

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

©2014 Keith Berner

06.21.14 Darian Unger’s grassroots bonafides

June 21, 2014

Last week, I asked whether Darian Unger (candidate for MD D20 delegate) is as grassroots as he appears, after I received five mailings from him in five days. Unger sent me a note pushing back. Among other things, he pointed out to me:

  • He is the only candidate doing $5 per person ($15 per family) fundraisers, while refusing corporate donations
  • He had planned to do eight mailers over three months, but the post office botched up that distribution by dumping all the mail pieces at once (that is a standard hazard of bulk-mail)
  • He is being massively outspent by others.

Unger is correct in raising these points. Among the viable candidates (Hixson, Jawando, Moon, Shurberg, Smith, Unger) Unger’s campaign is certainly near the bottom in expenditures and near the top in terms of mobilizing small donors. (I’m going on gut sense here. Unger pointed me to the Board of Elections site to research the actual data, but I tried and can’t make any sense of what I found there. This is a symptom of why Maryland is among the worst states nationally for campaign finance transparency and good governance.)

©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 &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.

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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