Sunday, February 3, 2013

HEAD START: Howard County Pols Launch Campaigns for 2014 // Candidates Enter County Exec, Council & State House Races

BACKGROUND: Maryland Juice has been somewhat surprised to see a surge in recent activity from a few politicians representing Howard County. Indeed, it seems that several would-be 2014 candidates are already aggressively launching campaign operations. Below we highlight a few items that came across our desk.

KEN ULMAN'S DEPARTURE FROM TRIGGERS HOWARD COUNTY DOMINOES: First, it is worth noting the circumstances that may be driving much of the political activity. There are several reasons for the early campaigning in HoCo. First of all, term-limited HoCo Executive Ken Ulman is off running for Governor right now, making his office available to ambitious politicians in the area. Political observers expect some number of the five HoCo Councilmembers to enter the County Exec race, which is going to trigger dominoes further down the political ladder. Indeed, it already appears that the County Exec jockeying could be causing folks to eye the soon-to-be-vacated HoCo Council seats.

Last June, The Baltimore Sun's "Explore Howard" website noted that Republican State Senator Allan Kittleman was gearing up for a 2014 run for County Executive. They also noted his likely Democratic competitors (excerpt below):
EXPLORE HOWARD: Asked if there were any other Republicans interested in running for county executive, [HoCo GOP Chair Loretta] Shields said: "No one has stepped forward to say they're interested."

In addition to the many people who have encouraged him to run, Kittleman said he commissioned a poll.... The poll showed Kittleman 20 points ahead of both Del. Guy Guzzone and County Council member Courtney Watson, widely considered the two most likely Democratic candidates.

"The results of that poll show that someone who's pro-business, a fiscal conservative and supports individual freedom can win in Howard County, even with an 'R' next to their name," Kittleman said....
A couple weeks ago, HoCo Rising blogger Tom Coale highlighted the status of fundraising for key Howard County politicians:
HOCO RISING: With many thanks to our local politicians for filing early, here are some of the more interesting fundraising totals for Howard County elected officials:
Courtney Watson -- $254,410 Raised; $374,457 On Hand
Guy Guzzone -- $61,600 Raised; $227,475 On Hand
Calvin Ball -- $85,425 Raised; $190,384 On Hand
Mary Kay Sigaty -- $753 Raised; $21,120 On Hand
Allan Kittleman -- $170,655 Raised; $184,194 On Hand
It is not insignificant that right now Kittleman does not have a challenger in the 2014 Republican Primary, whereas Democrats appear to be headed into a contested primary. Nevertheless, Democratic HoCo Councilmember Courtney Watson has banked almost twice as much cash as Kittleman so far.

SEN. ALLAN KITTLEMAN ON THE ISSUES: HoCo Rising also noted recently that Sen. Kittleman is now promoting a good government agenda in Annapolis, ahead of his run for County Executive. Notably, Kittleman was also named Maryland Juice's 2011 "Marylander of the Year" after he stepped forward as the only GOP State Senator to support marriage equality, during the era of the Tea Party. This year Kittleman is also co-sponsoring the non-discrimination bill against transgender residents, and he is weighing whether to support repeal of the death penalty in Maryland. This issue positioning makes sense, given that Kittleman is running for office in an increasingly liberal county. Sadly, some of Kittleman's Democratic colleagues in the state legislature seem to be less savvy about electoral math.

LOOMING STATE HOUSE BATTLES: Turning our attention to HoCo's state legislative campaigns,  much of the action is being generated by the departure of progressive Delegate Liz Bobo from her HoCo-anchored District 12 House seat. Last September, Bobo announced she would be retiring at the end of her current term. A number of area politicos are expected to wage campaigns for her seat in 2014, but Bobo's retirement is only one of the factors drawing in new challengers. After all, in the last round of state legislative redistricting, two of Howard County's State House districts were merged into an at-large 3-member district. This could create unpredictable dynamics for the D12 incumbents, given that candidates running for Bobo's open seat will now also be challenging incumbent House members Steve Deboy and Jim Malone (both Democrats from the Baltimore County part of D12).

PRIMARY DEL. STEVE DEBOY: Notably, as Sen. Allan Kittleman is noticing, Howard County has become increasingly liberal and Democratic in its voting behavior. But Democratic elected officials like Delegate Deboy still voted against both marriage equality and the Dream Act. Maryland Juice would not be surprised to see this voting record become in issue in a 2014 Democratic Primary, especially with a flood of new voters in Deboy's redrawn district. After all, politicians like Deboy (a former cop) make advocates waste gobs of effort trying to persuade them to do the right thing. What an unnecessary waste of our time.

Here are a few bits of juice about Howard County politicians lining up for the 2014 battles:

JUICE #1: HOCO COUNCILMEMBER COURTNEY WATSON HIGHLIGHTS FUNDRAISING RESULTS - As noted above, HoCo Councilmember Courtney Watson is currently the fundraising leader in the race for 2014 Executive. A couple weeks ago, she put out the following press release touting her success (note: photo added by Juice):

Howard County Councilmember Courtney Watson Releases Fundraising Results

Courtney Watson
Ellicott City, MD.  Howard County Councilmember Courtney Watson is filing the annual Campaign Finance Report to the Maryland Board of Elections today and will show $254,000 raised during the past year with a $374,000 bank balance.

“I am working hard to make Howard County an even better place to live and work.  We should all be proud of the progress we are making.  Our schools continue to perform at the highest level, we are providing new recreation opportunities, and have attracted our first Whole Foods to Columbia’s downtown.  I am committed to continuing this progress in Howard County”.

Watson surpassed her fundraising goal this year and said she was particularly pleased that nearly 70% of the 574 contributions were of $250 less.  Watson was elected to the Board of Education in 2002 and was twice elected to the County Council in 2006 and 2010.


JUICE #2: FORMER DISTRICT 9A HOUSE CANDIDATE JON WEINSTEIN LAUNCHING CAMPAIGN FOR SOMETHING - Maryland Juice was recently invited to the campaign kickoff of former District 9A House candidate Jon Weinstein. In 2010, Weinstein was one of two Democrats nominated for the D9A race, but he came in fourth place against two Republicans and a fellow Democrat. His upcoming event is titled simply, "Jon Weinstein for Howard County," and doesn't specify what he is running for:

Notably, Weinstein no longer lives in House District 9A, as redistricting placed him in the new District 9B -- currently represented by GOP Delegate Susan Krebs. Weinstein does however live in Sen. Allan Kittleman's District 9 -- and as we noted above, that is likely to be an open seat in 2014. Moreover, Weinstein also lives in Courtney Watson's HoCo Council District 1. Which office is he running for?

JUICE #3: CLARENCE LAM CAMPAIGNING FOR DISTRICT 12 HOUSE SEAT - Previous rumors indicated HoCo Councilmember Mary Kay Sigaty might run for Liz Bobo's open House seat, and if that happens, there would obviously be another open seat on the County Council. Notably, Councilmembers face a three-term limit, while State House members have no term limits.

But in the meantime, HoCo Democratic activist Clarence Lam is already up and running with an exploratory campaign for Liz Bobo (and Steve Deboy's) District 12 House seats. On his campaign website, Lam describes himself as an President of the HoCo Young Democrats and co-director of the Maryland Dem's Asian American Outreach. He has also been sending out email blasts touting his early campaign organizing (see one example below):

Dear Friends,

Thank you to all of you who have supported me over the last few weeks as I explore a run to serve as your delegate in District 12 of the Maryland General Assembly.  Our event on Monday has been an overwhelming success, with over 120 attendees, a tremendous outpouring of diversity including many new faces, and a great deal of genuine excitement and enthusiasm.  Through your generous support, our campaign has exceeded our interim fundraising goal by raising over $15,000 in just a few short weeks.  I’m proud that our efforts so far have led a prominent local blogger to conclude, “Clarence Lam’s candidacy bears watching as time goes on.”

But there’s still much work left to be done, and here are a few things you can do to help:

1) Talk to your friends and neighbors about our campaign.  If you know of others who live in West Columbia, Elkridge, Catonsville, or other key constituency groups, please make them aware that we want to hear from them.
2) Reach out to your communities and contact me with any organization’s events or meetings that you would like me to attend so that we can continue our outreach efforts.
3) Organize house parties and meet & greet receptions in order to increase the awareness and visibility of our campaign.
4) Please consider making a donation at  While we’re off to a great start in fundraising, your continued support is needed to ensure that we can run a successful campaign.

I hope to be able to count on your support as we work together in launching this campaign for District 12!

Thanks so much to all of you, and stay tuned for upcoming announcements,

More on HoCo's 2014 battles soon!

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