Thursday, September 15, 2011

Montgomery Shuffle: Del. Eric Luedtke Weighing District 5 County Council Bid

For the past few weeks, Maryland Juice has been following redistricting developments in Montgomery County, as well as the emergence of candidates in the County Executive's race. If you put those two stories together, you start to see two sources of new candidacies: 1) through officeholders vacating their seats for higher office, and 2) through officeholders living in new political boundaries after redistricting.

For District 14 Delegate Eric Luedtke, it appears that both factors are in play: District 5 Councilmember Valerie Ervin appears to be vacating her seat for a County Executive bid, while the Redistricting Commission's proposed map would move his Burtonsville neighborhood from Council District 4 into Council District 5.

Several people are now saying that if Councilmember Ervin does indeed run for Executive, and if the Council ultimately approves the Redistricting Commission's proposed map, Mr. Luedtke would be interested in the position and is currently taking the steps to weigh a candidacy. Maryland Juice could not get confirmation of these allegations, but the sources are very credible.

Mr. Luedtke is not the first person that Maryland Juice has heard considering the District 5 Council seat, but he is the first elected official. Notably, District 5 has traditionally had a large activist community anchored in the downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park neighborhoods. When positions for public office open, one can expect many non-officials to consider running.

A few of my friends, in fact, have expressed some level of interest in this seat. I suspect that type of chatter may be why we are now hearing Mr. Luedtke's name shouted so publicly, so early. Plus, the fact that council campaigns are becoming very expensive in Montgomery might cause some to seek more time to fundraise. Don't forget that we are facing a shorter campaign cycle in 2014.

One potential advantage that Mr. Luedtke might have is that he is board member at MCEA, the electorally aggressive teachers union. He also previously served as a member of the East County Citizens Advisory Board and as Treasurer to Friends of Nancy Navarro. (Disclosure: I gave some volunteer hours to his campaign last year).
Nevertheless, the new District 5 will be very different than Mr. Luedtke's current legislative district. The Delegate's current State Legislative District 14, in the Northeast part of Montgomery County, includes communities like Ashton, Brinklow, Brookeville, Burtonsville, Calverton, Cloverly, Colesville, Damascus, Fairland, Goshen, Laytonsville, Montgomery Village, Olney, Sandy Spring, Silver Spring, Spencerville and Sunshine.

The new District 5, on the other hand would include East County areas like Burtonsville, but it would still be dominated heavily by the far more urban downtown Silver Spring neighborhoods.

In any case, if Delegate Luedtke makes the jump from State House to County Council, he would join former Delegate Craig Rice in that category. Mr. Rice left Annapolis to take the District 2 County Council seat last year. Maybe the State House leaders need some ice breakers and morale-boosting exercises to stop their talent from jumping ship! 

In all seriousness though, I think that moves like this should not be too surprising given that Speaker Mike Busch appears to be sticking around a bit longer. That means fewer spots will be made available through any leadership upheavals. Delegates who see no way up in the House may begin to look outside of Annapolis.

We don't yet know how this will play out, but I am willing to bet one thing -- this rumor may encourage other people to start looking a little more carefully at these redistricting maps. Remember folks, the primary isn't until 2014!

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