Friday, June 18, 2010

Trachtenberg Fails to Support Qualified Female Candidate – Again

Council Member Duchy Trachtenberg, who has built her political career as a former official of Maryland NOW and an advocate for women’s issues, has for the fifth time in a row failed to support a credible female candidate for office. Is this really how a self-proclaimed champion for women should behave?

Duchy Trachtenberg has a long history with NOW and as a women’s advocate, which was part of her claim to legitimacy as a candidate in 2002 and 2006. Just last week, she participated in a conference forum entitled “Women and the Politics of Possibilities, What Have We Made Possible, What Could We Dare to Do?” But since being elected to the County Council, she has failed to back no fewer than four qualified female candidates who have run for County Council positions or the state legislature.

1. Praisner Over Navarro
In the 2008 special election, Trachtenberg supported Don Praisner, who had never run for office before, over Board of Education President Nancy Navarro. Praisner won but passed away a year later.

2. Kramer Over Navarro
In the 2009 special election, Trachtenberg supported Delegate Ben Kramer (D-19) over Navarro and even appeared in his mailers praising him for his “bold and courageous leadership” on women’s issues. Her support came despite Kramer’s vote for a bill that would have allowed accused domestic abusers to expunge their court records. Kramer voted for that bill no less than three times – once in committee and twice on the floor. Kramer later co-sponsored the infamous “Hump or Dump” bill allowing spouses to rid themselves of their partners for not having sex. Navarro won the special election.

3. Berliner Over Floreen
Last year, when Nancy Floreen ran for Council President over Roger Berliner, Trachtenberg voted for Berliner and harshly condemned Floreen’s supporters. Floreen won the vote.

4. Berliner Over Hopkins
Trachtenberg has endorsed Berliner over challenger Ilaya Hopkins, who is supported by an all-star cast of women in her district.

5. Lierman Instead of Kelly
According to a Sunday press release, Trachtenberg is supporting Kyle Lierman – who is 23, fresh out of college and has no work experience other than campaigning for Barack Obama – instead of Ariana Kelly for the open District 16 Delegate seat. Kelly is the former Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and has a LONG record of working for women’s groups. Kelly, as was Navarro, is backed by NARAL.

Some of the above decisions are quite reasonable. Berliner has been an ally of Trachtenberg’s on the council and he has a ton of endorsements. And plenty of people believed that Floreen’s leapfrog over then-Vice-President Berliner for the council presidency was an unwarranted break with tradition. But Trachtenberg’s opposition to Navarro was driven by her succession plan to be Council President. And Trachtenberg’s support for Lierman over Kelly is inexplicable for anyone who wants to encourage women to run for office. Trachtenberg is the only elected official in the county to have supported the male candidate over the qualified female candidate in every single one of these contests.

Furthermore, many outstanding female leaders are currently running for office without Trachtenberg’s support, including Council Members Valerie Ervin, Nancy Navarro and Nancy Floreen; Senator Nancy King (D-39); Delegates Susan Lee (D-16) and Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-18); Senator Jennie Forehand (D-17) and her opponent, former NARAL staffer Cheryl Kagan; and former MCEA President and District 19 Delegate candidate Bonnie Cullison. Those are just the candidates who have announced endorsements. We can find no record of Trachtenberg endorsing any other female candidates so far in 2010.

Happily, we predict that this unfortunate streak will soon come to an end. Because Duchy Trachtenberg is bound to discover the one female candidate who deserves her support.