Wednesday, September 02, 2009

MoCo Primaries to Watch, Part One

By Marc Korman and Adam Pagnucco.

There may or may not be a competitive Democratic primary at the statewide level, but there will certainly be competitive primaries in Montgomery County. Here’s a list of ten potential and actual races we are watching in rough order of what interests us at the moment. This subject is too juicy for just one of us, so for once, Marc and Adam will both comment on each race. As we learn more, we will revisit these races periodically and update with all the latest intel!

10. District 14 Open Delegate Seat (Rumored)

Presuming Herman Taylor runs for Congress, District 14 will have its first vacancy since 2002. The contours of this race are not yet known, though 2002 candidate Craig Zucker would be a likely bet for a candidate. No doubt others will emerge for an open seat and there could be particular interest in finding an African American candidate, since without Taylor the only African Americans in the Montgomery County Annapolis delegation would be Craig Rice (D-15) and Al Carr (D-18).

I think Zucker is the early favorite for three reasons. First, he only lost the third Delegate seat in the 2002 primary by 327 votes. Second, he benefits from the fact that his employer, Comptroller Peter Franchot, seems to have found his pacifier and has been (relatively) quiet for a year. And third, unlike many first-time candidates who lose, Zucker has never gone away. He remains active, shows up at lots of events and makes the rounds. He even has a website up that does not state his intended office. Yes, there will be other candidates, and the district has a large black population, but Zucker’s potential rivals need to show some game.

9. District 39 Open Delegate Seat (Rumored)

As with the District 14 opening, this depends on whether an incumbent runs for higher office. But even without an open seat, District 39 is viewed by some as competitive because a current incumbent, Kirill Reznik, was appointed in 2007. These factors just mean uncertainty in the district for now. Potential candidates include Montgomery Village Foundation Board President Bob Hydorn, 2006 Council Candidate/2007 legislative appointment candidate Hugh Bailey, and Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee Member Shirley Rivadeneira. Much will depend on whether there is an opening. Full disclosure, I am Kirill Reznik’s campaign chair.

Hydorn has been around a long time and has a big base in Montgomery Village. Bailey did not do that well the last time he was a candidate, finishing seventh in the 2006 County Council at-large primary. Shirley Rivadeneira has the buzz factor. She worked for Barack Obama’s campaign in Nevada and Georgia, volunteered for Nancy Navarro and is an attorney at the U.S. Department of Labor. She is also a 32-year-old Latina in a county that has almost as many Latinos as the rest of the state combined.

Here’s what I wonder about. If Saqib Ali continues to provoke Nancy King, will he be thrown off the District 39 slate and replaced with someone else? Senator King is a patient woman but no one can be patient with such public goading forever!

8. Reggie Oldak vs. District 16 Delegates (Rumored)

As a District 16 central committee member, I may be too close to this one to properly assess it. There is a persistent rumor, first reported on MPW way back in December of 2007, that Oldak was assembling a slate to run. Oldak was a candidate in 2006 and ran a great race against three incumbents. She also ran in the crowded 2007 District 16 appointment process, where she lost to Bill Frick. Oldak has a background in tax policy from working at the IRS, has been especially active on women’s issues in the county, and had great local exposure as Roger Berliner’s Chief of Staff. If she runs, she will be a formidable candidate with at least the potential to upset any member the District 16 slate. However, she would start a campaign with $12,000 of debt in her campaign account, based on her January filing. Full disclosure, I voted for Bill Frick in the 2007 central committee appointment process and have donated to his campaign, as well as the campaigns of other District 16 officials.

Bill Frick is firmly entrenched in his Delegate seat and ranked high in our Young Guns series. Delegates Susan Lee and Bill Bronrott have not done anything to cause their constituents to want to get rid of them. And the leader of their slate, Senator Brian Frosh, is a potential future Senate President and is probably invulnerable in the district. I’ve been hearing the Oldak rumors for almost two years and have not seen any action. It’s hard to see how she breaks through.

We’ll have races seven, six and five in Part Two!