Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Primaries to Watch V, Part Two

By Marc Korman and Adam Pagnucco.

Here are races Eight and Seven!

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

Incumbent Anne Kaiser and 2002 candidate Craig Zucker are widely considered locks for two of the three Delegate seats. Zucker should probably be sweating a little just because of the uncertainty created by two open seats.

For the third seat, the crystal ball is a little cloudy. Eric Luedtke continues to chug along with door knocking and many solid endorsements. I have heard anecdotally that Jodi Finkelstein is impressing lots of people, including the Washington Post of course. Bo Newsome’s campaign had a late and real slow start, but benefits from being on the slate of incumbents plus Zucker.

It is hard to say with any certainty who breaks through here. I give the edge to Luedtke who started early when he was planning a State Senate run and is hitting so many doors, but I am probably biased.

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

Kaiser is definitely a lock. Zucker has been a smart pick for nearly a year. Of the remaining candidates, Luedtke has the best combination of money (although not much), endorsements, door-knocking and mail. Bo Newsome may be technically on a slate with Rona Kramer, Kaiser and Zucker, but they are effectively letting him sink or swim on his own. The other candidates’ financial performances are truly woeful. One candidate whose fundraising record is unknown is Vanessa Ali, who never sent in her August 10 report and has racked up $150 in late fees.

7. District 14 State Senate Challenge
Previous Rank: #5

From where I am sitting, which is far, far away from District 14, Delegate Karen Montgomery is not picking up the momentum she needs to topple Rona Kramer despite a steady stream of door knocking. The incumbent State Senator is taking Montgomery seriously, has formed a full slate, and has the full-throated support of Ike Leggett and others as a result. To win, the challenger will need to rapidly amp up her campaign to try and demonstrate why Kramer is out of touch with primary voters.

Both candidates are working hard at crunch time. Both are mailing, both are knocking and both have allies. The unions have stepped up to help Montgomery with the first of what could be multiple independent mailers, but Kramer can always write checks to herself to counter them.

Kramer is holding an ace that has not yet been seen. It is widely known that Montgomery was in China during the critical 2007 special session and missed votes on tax hikes, slots and the budget. But it appears that she missed the 2006 special session too. She was recorded as having an “excused absence” on the only two bills to make it to the House floor during that session: a bill to crack down on sex offenders and a bill to limit increases in electricity rates. Given the recent problems with Pepco, that latter missed vote could make for a damaging mailer.

Our informants are split down the middle on this contest and many are calling it a toss-up. But when the incumbent holds the money advantage, these kinds of races usually go in their favor.

More tomorrow!