Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Primaries to Watch III, Part Three

By Marc Korman and Adam Pagnucco.

Here are races Six and Five!

6. District 19 Delegate Open Seats
Prior Rank: #5 as “District 19 Madness”

With Hank Heller’s retirement, the first of what could be as many as three open Delegate seats has emerged. Many of the candidates in the mix have been running for at least a year, with Sam Arora, Bonnie Cullison, Hoan Dang, and Jay Hutchins leading the way. Interestingly, thus far none of the non-incumbent candidates ran in the crowded 2006 race where eight Democrats ran. Tom DeGonia recently announced his intention not to run.

It is too early to determine all of the dynamics of this race. Cullison is a shoo-in for the Apple Ballot and has the support of Doug Duncan. Sam Arora’s cash on hand of over $100,000 should frighten his opponents because that translates into a lot of mail and he has already knocked on hundreds of doors. This will be a horserace that is won at the mailbox and door step.

With Delegate Roger Manno moving up to challenge Senator Mike Lenett, Ben Kramer is the only incumbent Delegate left. Kramer may just run for County Council. If he stays put, he will almost certainly win re-election. He is a self-funder, has run for office four times and wiped out Nancy Navarro in Leisure World last year. A Manno-Kramer team in District 19 would be troublesome for Lenett.

The other candidates have strengths and weaknesses. None of them are well-known in the district. Cullison and probably Hutchins will get the Apple Ballot, but neither reported a lot of money in January. Sam “Hunk of the Hill” Arora has LOADS of money and energy but may not have a lot of institutional support. Hoan Dang has some money but needs to market himself to the entire district. The good news for all of them is that a growing number of open seats creates more opportunity to snag one of them.

Finally, Cullison’s campaign is memorable for the reason that it has had the worst website rollout in this cycle, bar none. MPW has had an active link to her site for a more than a week and here is what the voters have seen.

5. District 14 State Senate Challenge
Prior Rank: None

Delegate Karen Montgomery seems to have adopted the Herman Taylor attitude of move up or move out (the political ladder). She is challenging her district’s senator, Rona Kramer, from the left. Many left leaning interests have shopped for a challenger to Kramer, finally getting one with Montgomery after being turned down by several others and seeing Luedtke withdraw.

While Montgomery’s views are distinct from Kramer’s on issues like the death penalty, it remains to be seen how hard Montgomery is ready to run. She had a respectable $58,000 cash on hand in January, but she will need a lot more to keep up with Kramer. This could be a barn burner if Montgomery is willing to put the work in and draw some sharp distinctions from her opponent.

Liberals despise Senator Rona Kramer for her labor, environmental and business/regulatory records and have finally found someone to run against her. Montgomery is a credible challenger. She has served in the district just as long as Kramer. She will have plenty of progressive support. And our sources tell us that she has made the rounds of the district more than Kramer and has knocked on more doors than her in the past.

But this is Rona Kramer we’re talking about. She is one of the toughest members of a rich and ruthless family that has bullied its way through county politics for decades. Rona will chew on asphalt just to spit out the chunks at her enemies. And she has already previewed her campaign message to the Gazette, which will be, “I was fighting for you during the special session while Karen Montgomery was in China and missed every vote.” You can write this down in blood: Rona Kramer will fight like hell and spend more money than you can imagine to keep her seat. Montgomery and the liberals will have to bring it – HARD – if they want to have a chance at beating her.

We’ll have races Four and Three tomorrow.