Friday, September 04, 2009

MoCo Primaries to Watch, Part Three

By Marc Korman and Adam Pagnucco.

You can stop that panting now. Marc and Adam are back to break down the Final Four!

4. District 19 Madness (Rumored)

It is too early to know exactly what is going on in District 19. Based on all the rumors, Delegate Hank Heller may retire, Delegate Roger Manno may run for Senate, and Delegate Ben Kramer could do anything. The result could be a 100% turnover in the delegation. It will also mean a vast field of Democratic primary candidates rivaling the eight who ran for the two open Delegate seats in 2006. Among the potential names, repeat candidates Tom DeGonia and Alec Stone are rumored, as well as first time candidates Jay Hutchins and Sam Arora.

This was once the most stable district in the county, as Senator Len Teitelbaum and Delegates Heller, Adrienne Mandel and Carol Petzold held office from 1994 to 2006. Then Mike Lenett blew it all up, first knocking out Teitelbaum and then defeating Mandel and Petzold for the Senate seat.

Nowadays, watching this district is like watching a pro wrestling Battle Royal. All kinds of wild and woolly action will take place as bodies are thrown over the top rope!

Lenett and Manno do not get along, a sentiment that dates back at least to their introduction of competing gun bills in 2007. Each man would not mind seeing the other one gone and that by itself may provoke a rip-roaring race. On the Delegate side, in addition to DeGonia, Stone, Hutchins and Arora, we hear that 2006 candidate Paul Griffin might return. He lost to Kramer in the primary by just 307 votes. And former MCEA President Bonnie Cullison is rumored to be interested in the seat. If Cullison runs, MCEA will try to clear the field for her but they will not be able to chase everyone out. If there are two open seats, we believe Hutchins will be very competitive for the Apple Ballot because he is African-American and works for the state’s Department of Labor. If there are three open seats, everyone and their grandma will move into the district to try to snag one.

3. District 39 Senator Nancy King vs. Delegate Saqib Ali (Rumored)

Based on his one-sided “discussions” here at MPW, it is obvious that Saqib Ali is at least considering a run at Nancy King, whom he ran against when she was appointed by the central committee in 2007. Ali ran a great campaign in 2006 to oust an incumbent delegate and had an impressive $87,000 in January, compared to $40,000 for King. But King will have far more institutional and organizational support, which may not bring votes but will bring money and credibility on many of the issues Ali has been trying to distinguish himself on. If Ali gets in the race, expect an exciting primary. Full disclosure, I voted for Ali in the 2007 central committee appointment process.

This race is a blogger’s dream and a potential nightmare for Senate President Mike “Big Daddy” Miller. If Big Daddy thought Comptroller Peter Franchot tested his patience, wait until he has to deal with Saqib! Nancy King has many advantages: two terms of service in the district, the support of the other two Delegates, support from the unions and the business community and lots of help from Annapolis if she needs it. But Saqib Ali knows more about how to run a campaign than most political consultants and cannot be counted out. This would be a VERY entertaining race if it happens.

2. District 14 Senator Rona Kramer vs. Eric Luedtke

Luedtke, a county teacher, union member, and civic activist among other things, is just starting to explore a campaign run against Rona Kramer. Should he run, how exciting this race gets will depend on how much funding Luedtke has. He will not be able to outspend Kramer and will have to win the race at doorsteps, but if he can make a good financial showing he will have a chance. His union ties should be a big help. Full disclosure, I donated to Luedtke’s campaign.

Eric Luedtke has a lot of things going for him. He’s a board member of MCEA, an activist with the Sierra Club, has helped on numerous political campaigns and was a damn good lefty blogger when he was in the business. He will also benefit from Kramer’s poor labor and environmental records, as well as the adulation she receives from right-wing kooks. But Luedtke faces a stature hurdle. He is only 27 and looks like the kid who mowed your lawn last week. He needs to convince voters that he has the gravitas to butt heads with Mike Miller and he needs to convince the progressives that despise Kramer that he can actually beat her. If he can accomplish those things, Luedtke can win.

Rona Kramer has been coasting for awhile now. After winning her seat by just 469 votes in the 2002 primary, she ran unopposed in 2006. Ominously, she only won three of the sixteen precincts in both District 14 and Council District 4 for her brother Ben in the special election. In fact, Ben Kramer was wiped out by 15 points in those precincts even after blanketing them with mailers containing Rona’s picture. But if we have learned anything by watching the Kramers, it is that they will fight like hell when threatened and spend whatever it takes to win. Rona Kramer will not go down easy. Lefties beware!

1. District 17 Senator Jennie Forehand vs. Former Delegate Cheryl Kagan

In my view, Kagan’s decision to run kicked off the local 2010 campaign season. As a former Delegate with deep local ties, Kagan will make Forehand work harder than she ever has before to keep her seat as she seeks to knock off the longtime incumbent. Expect this to be an expensive, noisy, and exciting race. But unlike other entrenched incumbents, few people are rubbed the wrong way by Forehand so Kagan will have her work cut out for her convincing voters a change is needed. However, of the three state senate races expected in 2010, Kagan is the challenger with the most extensive record to run on and network to tap into.

Are there two candidates in this race? Cheryl Kagan is everywhere, holding meeting after meeting with constituents and power brokers, knocking on doors and holding a big sweet-tooth fundraiser, no doubt with more to come. But aside from her re-election campaign announcement, we have seen very little from Jennie Forehand. She really needs to get started.

Forehand’s advantages look like Nancy King’s. She has a united slate of Delegates behind her, will get most of the institutional support and can draw on help from Mike “Big Daddy” Miller if she needs it. In fact, Kagan accused Big Daddy of sending out a pro-Forehand mailer the last time she considered running for Senate. Kagan, a two-time former Delegate, is no ordinary challenger. She makes the Energizer Bunny look like a snail in molasses and cannot be fended off with an air war alone. If Forehand picks it up, this will be a top-tier race. Otherwise, Kagan will run amok.

Some spies speculate that Forehand may drop out, just as District 19 Senator Len Teitelbaum did when facing a vigorous challenge from Mike Lenett. If that happens, look for Delegate Luiz Simmons to run against Kagan and a horde of challengers led by Young Gun Ryan Spiegel to come out for the open Delegate seat. That means more work for us bloggers and more fun for you junkies!