Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Whispers of the At-Large Race, Part Three

Today we will begin looking at rumored candidates for the at-large race. Some are actual candidates, some are potential candidates and others probably will not run. We examine them in three parts, all in alphabetical order, and supplement our remarks with comments from our all-seeing spy network.

Jane De Winter, Kensington

De Winter is the former President of the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations. She has been a civic and education activist in the county for over a decade. Her position with the PTAs gives her access to other education activists throughout the county, a thorough understanding of one of the county’s premier political issues and an acquaintance with the school unions (including the ever-critical MCEA).

De Winter has not run for office before, has not contributed to other state or county candidates and is not known to be affiliated with one wing or the other on the existing council. Her advantages are intelligence and experience. Her fundraising capability is a question. De Winter is running now, with an appearance at Valerie Ervin’s recent fundraiser and an early version of a campaign website online.

Spy: Jane will have an advantage of name recognition county-wide, at least with the PTAs, which will help her some. She has a Ph.D. in Economics from UPenn and could really be an asset on the council as someone who truly understands the economic impact of decisions (and looks at things through this lens). She could really help on the MFP Committee, as well.

Spy: She is off and running and is lining up the MCEA folks - she hopes. She kicked off in February with an exploratory committee. Does not have the repartee needed nor the easy way with a crowd - but her PTA experience and Rolodex could well pay off.

Spy: I don’t know her personally, but she has made no secret of her desire to run. She has been attending D16 events, the Spring Ball, etc. She is ready to go.

Spy: Could also be a strong contender if she sharpens her message and targets one or two specific incumbents and their records. Will be very competitive for the Apple Ballot endorsement.

Spy: Jane De Winter generated some buzz earlier this year, when her name was floating around. That seems to have died down and most political insiders have moved on. She has no name recognition, no known fundraising prowess, and unless she can muscle together some support from incumbents, she will have little chance. The Apple Ballot could provide a lifeline, but it will likely be unavailable unless one of her other cons changes (ie: incumbent suport or money). A strong bid by Jane De Winter could, however, pose problems for other women running at-large.

Pete Fosselman, Kensington

Fosselman has been the Mayor of Kensington since 2006. He ran for Delegate in District 18 in 2002 and finished last of seven candidates in the Democratic primary. He is a principal of Rodgers Consulting and has owned more than one small business in Kensington.

Fosselman is a popular Mayor, has many friends (including your author) and is a major player in District 18. He would be a favorite for any open Senate or Delegate seat in the district. He is also one of a very small number of Montgomery politicians who backed Martin O’Malley for Governor when Doug Duncan was still running. His job at Rodgers and experience as a business owner could help him raise money from the business community. But the Town of Kensington, with its 768 households, is a very small base for an at-large campaign. Fosselman would need a lot of help to compete county-wide. He is not a confirmed candidate for any office other than his current one.

Spy: Nice guy, very approachable and would bring a mixture of common sense and pragmatism to the Council.

Spy: I would describe him as “universally liked and respected.” He has a great temperament for governance.

Spy: He shows up in many places - attended a forum on how to run a campaign in January; could be the first gay candidate for council - but I think he is more Delegate inclined. But what has been his showcase in Kensington - a hot bed of controversy? Street lights were the only thing I can think of - the Safeway and the flower pots on Connecticut - come on - what could he run on?

Spy: He has shown he can actually govern, but the last time he ran for anything larger than the Town of Kensington he came in last. Does a county wide campaign make sense? On a personal note, I really like the guy and he is a great supporter of the county party.

Spy: Pete is energetic, likeable, very popular in Kensington and could pull gay support away from Duchy Trachtenberg.

Spy: Would make a great Councilman. Unknown outside of Kensington. Can raise some $ but enough?. Works hard. In my very humble and unsophisticated opinion he could win but only with a lot of $ and work. I also don’t think the desire is there.

Spy: Pete Fosselman has been spotted around town more times than Elvis. This can only mean that he is at least considering running for another position. At-large council is what seems to come up the most. He definitely has going for him that he's photogenic and sometimes even mistaken for our Governor. Nevertheless, his name recognition is probably not high, and his fundraising prowess is not yet clear either. Most importantly, it is difficult to comment on Fosselman without knowing more about his politics and where he fits in the County political spectrum. Some consider him a protege of Sen. Madaleno, but the only evidence we've seen of this is his opposition to the Purple Line. Does he have backers on the Council? Not that I have heard, but let's wait and see.

Larry Giammo, Rockville

Giammo is the former Mayor of Rockville. We speculated last December that he might be running against District 3 County Council Member Phil Andrews. Since that time, we have heard very little about him. Giammo has been a longtime Independent who, along with Fosselman, supported O’Malley against Duncan. Mayors of Rockville tend to be big players in county politics, but Giammo’s silence indicates he may not be in the 2010 mix.

Spy: Never seemed content to just be Mayor of Rockville - I would guess he has a campaign in his future but he has been quiet since he left office; was never quiet in his disagreements with Duncan - could he be thinking about a county Exec run some time down the line? I don't see him anywhere - so if he is a candidate - he must be doing it in stealth mode.

Spy: Wasn’t Larry Giammo a Republican until recently? I have to believe that the days of party-switching opportunists easily winning seats might be over -- but only so long as his opponents are willing to raise that fact in a primary. If so, it would be a deal-breaker for many Democratic primary voters. The one thing that might save him from this is that it is unclear if people will use resources to call out a challenger on something like this. In any case, I thought Giammo was considering challenging Phil Andrews. If so, he might be more at home in that race, since Andrews seems to be imitating Republicans lately with his anti-collective bargaining, anti-early voting, fiscal conservative positions.

Spy: He is almost invisible outside of Rockville, where I think he is running his business.

Spy: Has support and necessary $ if he wants to raise it. I don’t think the desire is there but I for one will certainly urge him to jump in now that I know his name is in circulation.

Spy: Larry has to decide whether or not he is a Democrat. If he is not, he can’t get elected to the Montgomery County Council in 2010. If he re-registers as one, he needs to explain why he was registered Independent for so long. This will not be a trivial problem in a Democratic Primary. He has a strong base in Rockville and would be very competitive for the Gazette and Post endorsements.

More tomorrow!