Thursday, September 03, 2009

MoCo Primaries to Watch, Part Two

By Marc Korman and Adam Pagnucco.

Marc and Adam are back with commentary on three more primaries that will captivate MoCo political junkies from Burtonsville to Bethesda.

7. Dana Beyer vs. District 18 Delegates

Although still in the exploratory stage, Dana Beyer has given some early indications she is running for delegate in District 18 again. For example, she still maintains her campaign website. Beyer ran in 2006 and started to run in the 2005 and 2007 District 18 central committee appointment process (ultimately won by Jane Lawton and Al Carr), before pulling out. Beyer has made her mark as a candidate, Duchy Trachtenberg staffer, and activist with a particular focus on transgender rights. She is a relentless campaigner who does not mind telling people what she thinks. At the least, first termer Waldstreicher and appointee Carr will need to work hard to keep their seats. Full disclosure, I have donated to the District 18 slate and Al Carr, who I voted for in the 2007 appointment process.

Dana Beyer is one of Montgomery County’s great characters. She is smart, opinionated, tough and more than willing to duke it out with the forces of evil. She never took down her campaign website after finishing fifth in the 2006 primary and even kept up a campaign ad in the Forest Glen Metro station for a year afterwards. But Dana is running uphill. While she has a lot of support from national GLBT activists, she has much less from prominent people inside the district. When the District 18 incumbents held their slate fundraiser last year, the vast majority of the district’s movers and shakers signed up as co-sponsors. (Disclosure: I am the Treasurer of the District 18 Democratic Team.)

6. Congresswoman Donna Edwards vs. Delegate Herman Taylor (Rumored)

Rumor has it that Herman Taylor is going to run against Donna Edwards, though similar rumors existed in 2006 when Al Wynn was still in the race. Anything can happen, but Taylor will really have to distinguish himself to get primary voters to turn on Donna Edwards, who they have rallied around for two elections as they sought to knock off the longtime incumbent Wynn (Edwards ran in a third election, the Special Election to replace Wynn, but was nominated by central committees and not in a primary). There have been a few below the radar complaints about Edwards locally, but most of the flack she has received has been from business and pro-Israel interests with little sway in the progressive district. If Taylor officially announces and raises the hundreds of thousands needed to even compete, this race may move up.

Donna Edwards body-slammed political boss-man Al Wynn last year. If Herman Taylor is foolish enough to challenge her, she will eat him alive. Glenn Ivey, the current Prince George’s County State’s Attorney, would be a far more formidable candidate if he decided to run for this office.

5. County Council At-Large

Adam did a great job presenting the broad array of candidates lined up to run for the at-large County Council seats earlier this year. How vulnerable the current at-large incumbents are is a matter of debate, but with so many candidates at least rumored to run there will be some excitement. Jane DeWinter and Gulled Kassim have already started their campaigns and many of the other candidates Adam wrote about are ready to go too. This will be an expensive free for all, even if the incumbents come out on top.

Incumbent Marc Elrich has no money. Incumbent Duchy Trachtenberg has no money and few friends. Elrich can raise some money, although he is always handicapped by his refusal to take developer contributions. That is one reason why his legions of true believers will never desert him. Some believe that Trachtenberg will be able to raise huge amounts of out-of-state money because her former Chief of Staff was just elected President of the National Organization for Women. We believe that will help her, but only to a point. Why should a NOW activist in South Dakota care who is on the Montgomery County Council? And it’s probably too late for Trachtenberg to regain some of the friends she has lost since 2006, especially in the labor community.

Now let’s look at the challengers. Marc is right that DeWinter and Kassim are in. We believe Becky Wagner will run and she will be a strong candidate. We have seen no sign that Hans Riemer is getting in. Ben Kramer looks like he may be running, but he has a habit of entering campaigns late so there is no way to be sure. Here’s the hot new rumor: multiple spies are reporting that Roz Pelles, the AFL-CIO’s Director of Civil Rights, is thinking about getting in. Pelles is African-American, has great labor cred and has worked on campaigns for Marc Elrich (in 1990) and Valerie Ervin (in 2004). She is also the nicest person in politics you will ever meet. But she is 60 years old and has never run in an election herself. Is she ready for the at-large meat grinder?

One more thing: the poor state of the economy will make it hard for everyone to raise money. That may push at least some candidates into slates.

We’ll have the Final Four tomorrow!