Thursday, April 29, 2010

Primaries to Watch III, Part Four

By Marc Korman and Adam Pagnucco.

Here are races Four and Three!

4. Council At-Large
Prior Rank: #3

In 2006 there were thirteen candidates for County Council at-large, three of them incumbents. So far, there are just seven candidates with four of them incumbents.

Since we last wrote, Hans Riemer has entered the race and, I would argue, been the dominant challenger. He has been picking up lots of endorsements, holding events around the County, and creating lots of buzz. But Becky Wagner is still a potentially potent force despite her lackluster fundraising. Having Doug Duncan actively supporting her could be an influential endorsement. Jane de Winter also continues to make the rounds around the County. This race is about volunteers and mail because no individual can knock on the doors countywide.

Full disclosure, I am a public supporter of Hans Riemer and donated to him.

Let’s start with the incumbents. Nancy Floreen and George Leventhal are coming back. Both are proven vote-getters with plenty of money and almost certain access to the Apple Ballot. Marc Elrich has little money, good grass-roots support, union backing and probably no Post endorsement. Duchy Trachtenberg has LOTS of money, no grass-roots support, no union backing and will probably get a Post endorsement. I would take Elrich’s mix of strengths and weaknesses over Trachtenberg’s, but reasonable people could disagree.

The next big hurdle in this race is which challenger gets on the Apple Ballot along with Floreen, Leventhal and Elrich. Riemer is running the best campaign at the moment, but Wagner is a better public speaker and has a much longer track record of activity inside the county. Jane de Winter is probably not doing enough to match them. Whoever impresses the teachers as the most viable candidate will get the Apple and be in position to grab a seat in September.

3. District 19 State Senate Challenge
Prior Rank: #5 as “District 19 Madness”

Roger Manno and Mike Lenett have a personality clash that has exploded into a political one with Manno challenging Lenett. Both are hard working and have the ability to self-fund to some extent, so this race should be a political battle royale.

The question for Manno is how does he convince many of his supporters, who also voted for or supported Lenett in 2006, to turn on the incumbent? Most special interest groups and voters tend to stick with incumbents unless they have a real good reason not to. What good reason is Manno offering?

This is one of three districts where a sitting Delegate is challenging a sitting Senator of their own party. Although this seems like a natural enough move, the last time anyone I spoke to recalled it occurring was when District 18 Delegate Chris Van Hollen defeated incumbent Senator Patricia Sher in 1994.

Senator Mike Lenett is a white, forty-something lawyer from New York who has worked on the Hill and has been a down-the-line progressive. Delegate Roger Manno is a white, forty-something lawyer from New York who has worked on the Hill and has been a down-the-line progressive. What a choice for the voters!

This will be a GREAT race between two top-tier candidates, but each has a message problem. Lenett is accusing Manno of disloyalty to the party because he is challenging a sitting Democratic Senator, but Lenett did the same thing four years ago. Manno needs to explain why he is running against an opponent whose issue and voting record is nearly identical to his own. This could easily mutate into one of the nastiest contests the county has seen since, well, 2006.

We’ll have the Final Two tomorrow.