Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Primaries to Watch III, Part Two

By Marc Korman and Adam Pagnucco.

Here are races Eight and Seven!

8. District 14 Delegate Open Seats
Prior Rank: #6

The incumbents in District 14 do not lack for ambition as demonstrated by Herman Taylor’s quixotic run for Congress and Karen Montgomery’s decision to take on Rona Kramer (more on that later). Their decisions create two open seats.

Craig Zucker appears to be close to a sure thing for one of them. He has been running for eight years, has raised lots of money, and appears to have broad support. A second opening upsets his apple cart because folks who ruled out fighting him for one open seat are taking a second look.

The most public candidate thus far is teacher, occasional MPW guest blogger, and activist Eric Luedtke. We last saw Luedtke at the end of 2009 when he pulled the plug on a challenge to Kramer before it really started. What made him an attractive candidate then still holds true and he has the benefit of not challenging a self financing incumbent. Others will likely get into the race. As I have written before, the desire for a candidate that brings more diversity to District 14 is strong.

Full disclosure, I donated to Eric Luedtke.

Two open seats and two credible candidates. Yawn… I have nothing more to say about Craig “Lock” Zucker since he reported more than $50,000 in the bank before even formally starting his campaign. MCEA Board Member Luedtke will work hard and get lots of progressive backing for the other seat. Even though this district has the largest concentration of African Americans in the county along the US-29 corridor, I am hearing nothing to indicate that any candidate of color is getting in yet. Can someone wake me up if there’s another credible candidate of any kind?

The only interesting thing about this Delegate race is how it will interplay with the Senate race. I could see Zucker and Delegate Anne Kaiser supporting incumbent Rona Kramer and Luedtke supporting challenger Karen Montgomery. Or maybe not. Come on, people, give us something spicy to write about! Don’t make Saqib Ali do all the work!

7. District 16 Delegate Open Seat
Prior Rank: #8 as “Oldak vs. District 16”

Bill Bronrott’s resignation creates the fifth legislative vacancy in Montgomery County during this term. All indications are that the Central Committee will appoint a caretaker (that is certainly how my vote will be cast) and will let candidates for a four year term run without an incumbent in the fall.

It looks like two of the bigger name candidates, Reggie Oldak and Don Mooers, are taking a pass. But lots of hats are already in the ring including 2006 District 18 candidate Dan Farrington, Montgomery County Young Democrats president Scott Goldberg, Obama campaign guru Kyle Lierman, and possibly many others including Lise Van Susteren.

Another wrinkle in District 16 is that Bill Frick faces the same problem as Kirill Reznik in District 39: he will be before the voters for the first time. Frick has had strong fundraising and worked the district hard over the past three years, but he will have to work much harder than had all three incumbents run together.

Full disclosure, I am a Montgomery County Democratic Central Committeemember from District 16, cast a vote to appoint Bill Frick in 2007, and have donated to him.

Oldak’s decision not to get in deprives this contest of a top-tier challenger with a record of getting D16 votes. She received the Post endorsement last time and almost knocked off long-time incumbent Marilyn Goldwater, whose retirement created the opening for Frick. Now we have to look at everyone else.

The early favorite is Dan Farrington, who ran a great race in District 18 in 2006. Farrington received the Post and Gazette endorsements but lost narrowly to Jeff Waldstreicher, who had the Apple Ballot, for the open Delegate seat. The two were the hardest-working candidates in a good field and Farrington raised FAR more non-self-financed money than anyone else. I found Farrington to be so impressive that I sent him a $100 check immediately after seeing him at a campaign coffee that year. One problem he has is his opposition to the Purple Line’s proposed rail alignment, a position that helped him finish second in the Chevy Chase precincts but will not be so helpful in Bethesda. Still, if Farrington goes into high gear, the other candidates will have to bust their behinds to keep up.

As for the incumbents, Bill “Stud of the Statehouse” Frick will finish first and Susan Lee will finish second. Don’t prove me wrong, Bill!

We’ll have races Six and Five tomorrow.