Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Primaries to Watch IV, Part Two

By Marc Korman and Adam Pagnucco.

Here are races Eight and Seven!

8. District 14 Delegate Open Seats
Previous Rank: #8

The dust is still settling in District 14 where eight candidates are running for three seats. The safe money seems to be on two term incumbent Anne Kaiser returning to Annapolis. She even worked hard in 2006 when there was little primary suspense. Confidence is high for Craig Zucker as well, who is slating with Kaiser and State Senator Rona Kramer.

As I wrote previously, there has been a strong push for an African American candidate in District 14 (Ike Leggett’s home district). Kramer, Kaiser, and Zucker are adding 2006 County Council candidate Bo Newsome to their team. Newsome received 7.56% of the vote in District 14 when he ran for Council, a distant sixth. Though he did do better in District 14 than he did Countywide, where he registered 5.91%. However, Newsome did get the Washington Post endorsement and ran what was considered a credible campaign. Being on the slate will be a big boost for Newsome, but it does not give him a free pass by all of the other candidates in the field.

Those other candidates are led so far by Eric Luedtke. Luedtke has been running hard for months, bringing home endorsements, and most importantly knocking on lots and lots of doors. Others in the field include Jodi Finkelstein, Vanessa Ali, Neeta Datt, and Gerald Roper.

Full disclosure, I donated to Kaiser, Luedtke, and Zucker. Neeta Datt’s son and I attended high school together.

Kaiser and Zucker are going to win, so the question in this race applies to the remaining Delegate seat. I am a bit puzzled about why Kaiser and Zucker chose to align with Newsome. It makes sense for Rona Kramer, who would like to have African-American votes in her race against Karen Montgomery. It also looks like payback by Kramer against Eric Luedtke, who briefly explored a run against Kramer last fall. But Kaiser and Zucker do not need Newsome, or even a slate of any kind, to win. And since Luedtke is a favored son of many parts of the county’s progressive community, there has been pushback against what is perceived by some as an attempt to keep him out of Annapolis.

But in the end, the slate’s actions probably don’t matter all that much. Luedtke has the endorsements and is doing the work necessary to win. The other third-seat Delegate candidates have not put together solid campaigns yet and it’s getting late – maybe too late.

7. District 19 Delegate Open Seats
Previous Rank: #6

With Delegate Ben Kramer opting for reelection, District 19 had to settle for two open seats. Most of the five non-incumbents running have been hustling for months. Hustle is what they will have to do from now until September 14th. There is no favorite in this race and each candidate brings their own strengths and weaknesses.

If I had to give one candidate the edge, it would probably be Sam Arora due to his resources and door knocking thus far. I do not live in District 19, but I have not heard of any of the challengers doing as much as Arora yet. That said, Cullison and Hutchins have the Apple Ballot and Hoan Dang has been out and about for months. If you live in District 19, expect to hear your doorbell a lot.

Full disclosure, I donated to Sam Arora.

Ben Kramer will go back to the statehouse because of his name recognition from last year’s special election, his twin base in Leisure World and Kemp Mill, his famous surname and his family fortune. That leaves three competitive candidates for two seats.

Bonnie Cullison has lots of endorsements, is the only woman in the race other than late filer Vivian Scretchen and is a good speaker with a personality that should appeal to voters. She is the only candidate in the district who can claim to be a leader on the county’s number one issue – education. Her campaign took a long time to come together but we hear she is now out on the doors. Additionally, MCEA will be heavily invested in sending its former President to Annapolis. Jay Hutchins is a very likable person with a good biography and lots of endorsements, including the Apple Ballot. But some think he is not yet working hard enough to fend off Sam “Hunk of the Hill” Arora, who is coming on with a real head of steam. Arora has bundles of money, a whole bunch of campaign savvy and is out-hustling everybody. Any two of these three could win. One question still lingers: how will the intensely competitive Senate race affect the Delegate race?

More tomorrow!