Friday, April 30, 2010

Primaries to Watch III, Part Five

By Marc Korman and Adam Pagnucco.

Here are the Final Two!

2. District 39 State Senate Challenge
Prior Rank: #4

The second of the three delegate/senator challenges. Saqib Ali may have finally declared his intentions to run against Senator Nancy King, but his efforts to unseat her have been ongoing since she was appointed to the State Senate in 2007. He has been relentless in challenging her on the issues and a bit personally as well, criticizing her after she made her own negative comments about Ali in the Gazette. I would not put much stock in the poll Adam highlighted. One Montgomery County Delegate told me they thought the name ID of all the state legislators , including their own, was well under 10% in their districts. That means at this point, a poll does not mean much. The poll questions were also not released.

Ali is a great politician and he beat an incumbent to get elected to the House in 2006. But unlike that race, he will likely have to do without the Apple Ballot and most other institutional support this go around. On the other hand, he will have his political skills and work ethic. I saw that work ethic in action at a recent event, as Ali mined the crowd for voters, giving them the "Johnson treatment," while King mostly chatted with elected officials.

The incumbent needs to get her campaign going and should not take this Ali challenge lightly. She hoped against hope that Ali would not run, but now she needs to get serious. One advantage she will likely have is the full weight of Senate President Mike Miller, and all the resources he possesses, to beat back Ali. That cannot win the race for her, but it will help.

Saqib Ali is a blogger’s best friend. He creates lots of things to write about, drives tons of traffic to this site and others and is NEVER, EVER boring. And now he is giving us the best present of all: a hell of a Senate race. Thanks, Saqib!

Unlike Lenett-Manno, this is a race of polar opposites. Ali is an enormously talented candidate who has mastered cyber-campaigning. He is progressive, charismatic and has a group of young volunteers who will run through walls for him. He also has tons of money. Ali is detested by the Annapolis establishment (which may help him) and his repeated public goading of King has turned off some party activists in his district. He is unlikely to get institutional support but won’t need it to run a high-quality campaign.

Nancy King is a steady Eddie who has patiently climbed up the ranks from the School Board. She is a moderate, friendly woman who is utterly without pretense and plays well in one-on-one contact with voters. She will have plenty of money, plenty of endorsements and will benefit from the support of the district’s Delegates. If Ali thinks King will react to his challenge with the hysterics of Ida Ruben or the inactivity of Jennie Forehand, he is mistaken. King is smart and shrewd and knows the district well. This will be a superb contest for voters and MPW readers alike.

1. District 17 State Senate Challenge
Prior Rank: #1

This race is actually getting a little boring because Cheryl Kagan has been doing the same thing the entire time: working hard, knocking on doors, meeting with people, and raising money. Of all the State Senate challenges, this looks to me like the most likely win for a challenger. As I have said before, the incumbent and Kagan seem to be running different races. Some key questions will be how much energy the District 17 slate and the Senate leadership put into this race. Forehand will need a big showing from both to withstand Kagan’s onslaught.

Cheryl Kagan is the county’s best challenger. Jennie Forehand is the county’s most complacent incumbent. Kagan never stops campaigning and Forehand has never really started. The lack of a Delegate challenger means that incumbent Delegates Kumar “Bad Boy” Barve, Luiz Simmons and Jim Gilchrist are likely to spend the summer lounging at the beach rather than passing out slate literature at the doors. Forehand will get the Apple Ballot, but unless she starts running a serious race, it may not matter much. If I don’t see more fight from the incumbent, I am going to demote this contest in our next review.

That’s it for now, folks!