Tuesday, April 9, 2013

JUICE: Jay Hutchins Not Running Against Sam Arora, Kagan Attacks Del. Simmons, Councilmembers Leventhal & Rice Spar

Below Maryland Juice highlights a few notable items from the last week, including some interesting points of conflict between politicos.

JUICE #1: 2010 RUNNER-UP JAY HUTCHINS DECIDES AGAINST REMATCH WITH SAM ARORA - The candidate thought for months to be most likely to challenge freshman Del. Sam Arora has now announced he will not seek office in 2014. Indeed, many had presumed that Jay Hutchins (the runner-up to Arora in the 2010 Democratic Primary) would take another shot at a now mortally wounded Delegate Arora. After all, progressive advocates and LGBT activists have promised to back a candidate to replace Arora after the Democrat broke a promise to support marriage equality. But a few days ago, Hutchins posted a message on his Facebook page announcing his decision not to seek office in 2014:
JAY HUTCHINS: Friends, After serious consideration, I have made the decision not to run for elected office in this upcoming election cycle. I will continue to be an active voice in the district, county and state. I cannot express deeply enough my gratitude for your ongoing support. Jay

Hutchins' departure from the District 19 race in 2014 creates a wide opening for another ambitious progressive candidate to challenge Sam Arora. Maryland Juice is aware of a few candidates who have been mulling over the race for the past few months, but it remains to be seen who among them will emerge as the strongest contender. More soon on the new crop of District 19 challengers!

JUICE #2: D17 RIVALRY IN 2014? // FORMER DELEGATE CHERYL KAGAN JABS AT DEL. LUIZ SIMMONS - Maryland Juice recently highlighted comments from former Delegate Cheryl Kagan questioning Del. Luiz Simmons' commitment to passing new gun regulations in Maryland. The controversy emerged after The Washington Post published an editorial suggesting Simmons was open to exempting AR-15 rifles from the state's new assault weapons ban. Kagan blasted Simmons on Facebook, prompting the District 17 lawmaker to host a town hall meeting reaffirming his support for new gun regulations. Maryland Juice previously speculated that we could be witnessing a preview of the 2014 Democratic Primary for State Senate in District 17. Kagan notably lost the 2010 race for State Senate by only a few hundred votes and Simmons is now rumored to be eyeing the same office.

Cheryl Kagan further commented on the matter through a pair of Facebook messages last week, and her additional musings included new jabs at Delegate Luiz Simmons:
CHERYL KAGAN: Following the blog posts and flurry of emails and messages yesterday, several questions occur to me this morning:

1) Why can't a former elected official (me) express opinions about pending legislation without folks jumping to conclusions about intent?

2) Why would a current legislator (Del Luiz Simmons) have surrogates contact me... but not reach out to a constituent directly?

3) How is it that any significant representative could have absolutely no presence on any social media as another method of communicating his/her views?

4) Will Del Simmons ever decide to comply with campaign finance and ethics laws and actually use authority lines in his robo-calls (he again failed to do it in yesterday's call) and taxpayer-paid mailers???

I'd love hear some answers to these questions, but I need to go to work now!
The message above was followed soon after by a comment from Kagan about Delegate Luiz Simmons' telephone town hall on gun control:
CHERYL KAGAN: Ah, the power of Facebook! For 10+ years, Del Luiz Simmons has delivered robo-calls and taxpayer-funded mailings with no required authority line ("Paid for by..."). After posting about that issue issue here, he actually added one to his phone call tonight! Now, let's see if he'll finally do right on the issues of gun control, domestic violence, and other pending legislation!
Maryland Juice concedes Cheryl Kagan's point that she ought to be able to express thoughts about legislation without folks jumping to conclusions. But even still, a hunch is a hunch, and my gut tells me I'm right to think we haven't seen the last of Kagan on the campaign trail. We may know soon enough!

JUICE #3: MOCO COUNCILMEMBERS GEORGE LEVENTHAL & CRAIG RICE TRADE SHOTS OVER WALMART LOBBYING - Maryland Juice sources recently flagged a testy exchange between Montgomery County Councilmembers George Leventhal and Craig Rice over a proposed new Walmart in Aspen Hill, Maryland. Below we provide a bit of background about the controversy, along with video footage of the amusingly feisty debate.

Here's some brief background on the issue: Walmart is trying to open a store in Aspen Hill, Maryland, but the county isn't scheduled to revise zoning in that neighborhood for a few more years. Walmart is therefore pushing aggressively to expedite the rezoning discussion, and Leventhal highlighted the activities of Walmart's lobbyists on Twitter last week:

But when Leventhal arrived at a County Council hearing about expediting rezoning for Walmart's Aspen Hill location, he was upset to see audience members holding pre-printed signs supporting the plan. Check out the following report on the incident from The Sentinel (excerpt below):
SENTINEL: Even debating whether or not to build a Wal-Mart in Aspen Hill brought about one of the most heated arguments in recent memory to the County Council this week.... More than 30 members of the Aspen Hill and Leisure World communities were in attendance and they came with signs printed with the phrase: “What’s the wait? Give Aspen Hill a chance!...”
The development group, led by President Bruce Lee, owns several other properties in Aspen Hill and has looked to revitalize the area. Unable to find takers for a lease, Lee said he wants  the property rezoned for retail....

Councilmember George Leventhal (at-large) said his concern with the mini master plan is there is an existing agreement between Lee’s group and Wal-Mart to have Wal-Mart become the tenant for the property and build a store there. Leventhal said he is worried about the county council becoming susceptible to manipulation and lobbying by developers and corporations....

Leventhal said the audience members holding signs were holding signs printed by consultants hired by the Lee Development Group and Wal-Mart. In fact, Lee said his group provided transportation to the county council meeting and the signs which were created by a consultant....
Leventhal's comments about the attendees holding pro-Walmart signs triggered an angry rebuke from Councilmember Craig Rice (a supporter of the Walmart plan).  

Below you can see video footage of the heated exchange:


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