Tuesday, September 18, 2012

SAMPLE BALLOT WAR: Gov. Martin O'Malley & MoCo Executive Ike Leggett Lobby Democratic Precinct Chairs on Referenda

UPDATE: Two readers have pointed out an error in the article below. I incorrectly speculated that MoCo's Democratic precinct officials were limited in what recommendations they could make. But it turns out that the precinct officials can take whatever positions they want when they vote on the various referenda Wednesday night. After they vote, the Central Committee members will not be able to overturn the recommendations of these precinct officials. The MCDCC would, however, have the option of neutralizing any recommendations by deciding to instead take no position on the issue. See our two readers' comments below:
READER #1: The precinct org can take ANY position they want. It is only MCDCC that is bound (to either agree or take no position) by the precinct org (three step process).
READER #2: I may be wrong, but as I understand the process, it is the Central Committee that cannot overturn a recommendation of the precinct officials (but can move to a no position).  Tomorrow night the precinct officials can reach a different conclusion on Question B than the Ballot Question Advisory Committee (BQAC) did (7-6-1, I think).  The Central Committee's final decision will stem from the precinct officials' vote, not from the BQAC's.
BACKGROUND: Maryland Juice recently reported that a battle was brewing over the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee's (MCDCC) upcoming sample ballot mailing. The MoCo Dems typically send a sample ballot with recommendations to the nearly 250,000 registered Democrats in their county. But as we noted earlier, party leaders are split on which of the referenda to support in their mailing. In Montgomery County, there appears to be Democratic unity behind supporting marriage equality and the Dream Act -- but other measures like redistricting and gambling are proving divisive.

MOCO DEMOCRATS SPLIT ON REFERENDA ENDORSEMENTS: Specifically, a committee of MoCo Democrats affiliated with the MCDCC met last month to vote on recommendations for the sample ballot. The committee nearly unanimously approved a "vote for" marriage equality and a "vote for" the Dream Act. But a supermajority of these MoCo Dems also recommended a "vote against" Maryland's new Congressional districts, while a majority also recommended a "vote against" gambling expansion and a "vote against" reducing MoCo police bargaining rights. These recommendations generated protest from a couple of Montgomery County lawmakers, who threatened to withhold funding from the MCDCC for the mailing if the recommendations weren't altered.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT // MOCO DEMOCRATS VOTE ON SAMPLE BALLOT ENDORSEMENTS: The controversial recommendations are now due to be voted on by the dozens of Democratic precinct officials from Montgomery County. The Gazette recently reported that the vote will take place Wednesday night (excerpt below):
GAZETTE: Montgomery County Democratic leaders might call for local party members to oppose a congressional district map drawn and approved by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly at a meeting Wednesday. They also have recommended the party oppose an expansion of gambling....
Calling the map, which was approved by the General Assembly last October, “highly gerrymandered,” the ballot committee’s report said the map splits communities and dilutes Montgomery’s congressional representation by dividing the county between the sixth, third and eighth congressional districts.

Gambling’s negative social consequences and the vocal opposition of citizens in Prince George’s County were cited as reasons to oppose the measure.

Democratic Central Committee leaders are scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. in Rockville....

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY LOBBIES MOCO DEMS FOR SAMPLE BALLOT ISSUES: The lobbying over the MoCo sample ballot mailing is now heating up. Governor O'Malley is emailing Democratic precinct officials advocating that they endorse a "vote for" redistricting, gambling, marriage equality and the Dream Act. See a copy of his email below:
From: Martin O'Malley
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 3:26 PM
Subject: Stand with me


As a Montgomery County Democrat, you play a critical role in our Party. In addition to organizing and helping elect more Democrats at every level, you spread our message of creating jobs and expanding opportunity to voters throughout Montgomery County.

This Wednesday’s vote on Maryland’s statewide ballot questions is just one example of the important role you will play. I need your help to make sure that we keep moving forward and protect the progress we’re making to treat everyone fairly, expand access to higher education, create jobs and invest in our public schools.
I need you to stand up with fellow Democrats and Vote for Question 4, 5, 6 and 7.

We are a stronger state when we expand opportunity to greater numbers of people, rather than fewer. That's why I signed the DREAM Act here in Maryland, and now with President Obama's bold leadership, we have new momentum as we seek to become the first state in America to successfully defend DREAM legislation at the ballot box. Please vote FOR Question 4.

Montgomery County has the unique opportunity, to help fire the tea-party Republican Congress and elect a new Democratic Majority. How?  By electing John Delaney to Congress.  But for John to win, we have to beat back a last ditch Republican effort to overturn the new Congressional map – a fair, bipartisan map that reflects our diversity, creates more competitive districts and was upheld by the US Supreme Court. Please vote FOR Question 5.

For a free and diverse people of many faiths, the way forward is always found through  greater respect for the equal rights of all; for the human dignity of all. Together, let's be the first State ever to defend dignity at the ballot box by voting for marriage equality. Please vote FOR Question 6.

Since 2007, we have increased our investments in public education in Montgomery County by 72% - a larger percentage than any other jurisdiction in Maryland.  We have also increased the investment we make in Montgomery County school construction by $242.3 million – also the most of any jurisdiction in Maryland.  

Question 7 gives us the opportunity to protect these investments in Montgomery County schools, and in schools throughout our state.  It will give us the opportunity to create more than 12,000 good-paying jobs, and it will keep Maryland dollars in Maryland (so we don’t have to watch Maryland dollars pay for schools, roads, and bridges in other states).  Please do not let the flood of out-of-state dollars from out-of-state interests persuade you otherwise: Question 7 is a good deal for Maryland.  Please join me in voting FOR Question 7.

Progress is a choice. Job creation is a choice. Whether we move forward or back is a choice - that is what this election is all about. I hope on Wednesday you will stand with me to expand opportunity for our families, and choose to vote FOR questions 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Thank you for your dedication and service to our party. I look forward to continuing to work with you as we elect Barack Obama, Ben Cardin, and Maryland Democrats in November. 

Warmest Regards,
Martin O'Malley

IKE LEGGETT LOBBYING PRECINCT OFFICIALS OVER POLICE BARGAINING RIGHTS: County Executive Ike Leggett's aides are also contacting MoCo Democratic precinct officials, but they are focusing on a local matter instead. They are urging Democratic officials to support a "vote for" Question B, which would eliminate certain police union bargaining rights. Leggett's aides are sending around the following email with the attached flyer made from a Washington Post article:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bigler, Donna <Donna.Bigler@montgomerycountymd.gov>
Date: Fri, Sep 14, 2012 at 2:39 PM
Subject: Question B - Post editorial

Dear Democratic Precinct Official,

Please see attached the Washington Post editorial from Wednesday, September 12 urging County residents to vote FOR Question B, sent at the request of the County Executive.

Patrick Lacefield
Director of Public Information
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett's Washington Post Flyer Opposing Police Union

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