Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Elrich and Navarro Exchange Endorsements

In a move that defies conventional perceptions of the County Council, Council Members Marc Elrich and Nancy Navarro have endorsed each other for re-election. Navarro and long-time ally Valerie Ervin are also supporting each other. Surprised? Just see the graphic below, sent out by an email blast from the Navarro campaign.

Elrich endorsed Don Praisner over Navarro in the 2008 special election, but sat out the 2009 special in which Navarro barely defeated Delegate Ben Kramer (D-19). Since Navarro’s election, she has worked with Elrich on a pair of Zoning Text Amendments concerning EZStorage in Burtonsville and Sandy Spring and teamed up with him to defeat a proposal by the Planning Board to increase the threshold of allowable school crowding. Steady growth in the working relationship between their two offices paved the way for a mutual endorsement.

At first glance, the two appear to be something of an odd couple. Elrich made his early name in politics by rejecting developer money and criticizing rivals who accepted it. Navarro was slammed by Don Praisner’s supporters for not adhering to similar standards (even though Marilyn Praisner never did.) Navarro’s signature campaign strategy was her effort to reach out to new voters. Elrich, a 60-year-old MoCo native who has held elected office in the county for more than twenty years, does not seem to fit that profile.

But the first glance is insufficient to understand some important commonalities between the two. Navarro ran on a smart growth platform and opposed the ICC. Elrich has been fighting the ICC since Moses came down from the Mount, and his BRT system plan is the leading smart growth initiative in the county. Furthermore, that proposal would benefit Navarro’s East County district, which would get BRT lines on US-29 and New Hampshire Avenue, possibly more than any other part of the county. Both Navarro and Elrich will draw significant labor support this year. And most importantly, each has reached the conclusion that any differences between the two are more than overshadowed by the benefits of cooperation.

Of all the mutual council endorsements that could have kicked off 2010, this one generates more surprise than most. Now the other candidates will have to adjust, react and respond.