Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MCDCC Picks 2 New Members: Tamika Bennett & Jonathan Prutow // PLUS: Herman Taylor Endorses Saqib Ali for D15

Below Maryland Juice provides two interesting tidbits of information regarding the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC). The first news item is an announcement of two new members of the MCDCC, while the second item is a sign that the race for a District 15 Delegate vacancy is already underway.

JUICE #1: MOCO DEMOCRATIC CENTRAL COMMITTEE ELECTS TWO NEW MEMBERS - Tonight Maryland Juice attended a meeting of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. You may ask what the occasion was because the MCDCC is not due to vote on a replacement State Senator for Rob Garagiola's District 15 vacancy until September 10. In fact, the MCDCC members called a meeting tonight to vote to fill two vacancies on their own body, but these new members will be among those who will choose candidates to replace the outgoing District 15 elected official(s).

MCDCC Chair Gabe Albornoz Thanks Candidates Seeking the Vacant Seats
Here is a bit of background for the uninitiated: When a state legislative vacancy occurs, the party central committee of the outgoing legislator submits a name(s) to the Governor to select a replacement. As the Maryland State Archives note: "In recent times, an important function of state central committees has been to name those who will replace General Assembly members who have died, resigned, refused to act, or been disqualified, expelled, or removed from office.... Although the Governor makes the appointment to fill a vacancy in the General Assembly, the Governor must select the person nominated by the state central committee of the party with which the vacating legislator had been affiliated...."

The MCDCC had two vacancies to fill -- one in District 17 and one in District 20 -- and tonight the incumbent members selected replacements for both positions. Below we provide brief background information on both new Central Committee members:

MEET NEW D17 MCDCC MEMBER JONATHAN PRUTOW - Jonathan Prutow was previously serving as a non-voting member of the MCDCC, and tonight he ran unopposed for the District 17 vacancy. I first met him when he volunteered for Hans Riemer's County Council campaign in 2010, while also working at the Fair Elections Legal Network. I can honestly say that Jonathan Prutow is a true work-horse for the party, because when I later went on to run GOTV in Montgomery County for the Maryland Democrats, the MCDCC Chair at the time (Karen Britto) was in a jam to find someone to help run the Democrats' early vote program in Montgomery County. Based on what I had seen from his work ethic and desire to get involved, I suggested Jonathan Prutow and connected him with Britto. Apparently it all worked out, since Prutow's colleagues on the MCDCC promoted him to a voting position.  Prutow's (now dated) bio on the MCDCC website notes:
MCDCC: Jonathan Prutow was first appointed to the MCDCC in December  2010. Mr. Prutow is a Gender Balance State Member and lives in District 17.  He currently serves on the Early Voting Committee, Issues Committee, and  Board of Elections Committee. He also was also appointed to the Committee to  Study Compensation of the County Executive, County Council, Sheriff, and  State’s Attorney. Mr. Prutow chaired the Early Voting Committee during the  2012 Primary Election. In addition to his work with the Montgomery County  Democratic Central Committee, Mr. Prutow has been involved with Organizing  for America and Obama for America (OFA) in several capacities since 2009. He  was a Community Organizer and Neighborhood Team Leader with OFA in the Rockville area and also worked as a Regional Voter Protection Director with OFA-Florida from  August 2012 to November 2012. He currently serves as the Statewide Press Lead  with Organizing for Action-Maryland. Mr. Prutow received his JD and Master of  Public Administration degrees from American University’s Washington College  of Law and School of Public Affairs in 2008, and he is licensed to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
New District 17 MCDCC Member Jonathan Prutow

MEET NEW D20 MCDCC MEMBER TAMIKA BENNETT - The second MCDCC vacancy was in my home turf of District 20, and unlike the District 17 race, there were four candidates for the D20 slot: Tamika Bennett, Alan Bowser, Justin Chappell and Arthur Jackson. The MCDCC members overwhelmingly chose Tamika Bennett, giving her 19 votes votes to Alan Bowser's 4 votes. In recent weeks, I've gotten to meet and learn more about Tamika Bennett and discovered that her family has a bold political backstory. In South Carolina in the 1950's, Tamika's family was involved in the petition to desegregate public school services, which resulted in the famous Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Needless to say, these political activities lead to threats of violence toward those involved, with one person fleeing to New York while hiding in a casket. As Wikipedia notes: "Although Brown resulted in a legal victory for the NAACP, it was a hollow victory for those associated with [the Briggs family]. Reverend Joseph De Laine, the generally acknowledged leader of Summerton [South Carolina's] African-Americans at the time, had his church burned and he moved to New York City in 1955 after surviving an attempted drive-by shooting. Harry and Eliza Briggs, on behalf of whose children the suit was filed, lost their jobs. Harry spent more than a decade working in Florida to support the family. Eliza eventually joined her children in New York."

In any case, like Jonathan Prutow, Tamika Bennett was previously serving as a non-voting member of the MCDCC and is the secretary of the East County Citizens Advisory Board.

New District 20 MCDCC Member Tamika Bennett

JUICE #2: FORMER DELEGATE HERMAN TAYLOR ENDORSES SAQIB ALI FOR A POTENTIAL DISTRICT 15 DELEGATE VACANCY - One of the first tasks facing the two new MCDCC members will be to join their colleagues in electing a new State Senator for District 15. Incumbent Senator Rob Garagiola's surprise resignation has led to a vacancy that is likely to be filled by Delegate Brian Feldman (now that challenger Bilal Ayyub has dropped out of the race). We predicted on Monday that this meant that Feldman's lack of competition would also likely trigger another MCDCC appointment process for the D15 Delegate seat in October. It appears that the race to succeed Del. Brian Feldman is now officially underway. An anonymous source forwarded Maryland Juice an email sent by former Delegate Herman Taylor to members of the MCDCC endorsing former Delegate Saqib Ali for the D15 Delegate slot:
From: Herman Taylor
Date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Subject: Re: Letter of Support

Dear Esteemed members of the MCDCC,

It was my privilege to serve in the Maryland House of Delegates for 8 years and represent the area in which I grew up (District 14). I want to recognize your service to the Democratic Party and the great responsibility you have to fill the vacant Senate seat in District 15.

If Delegate Brian Feldman is elevated to the State Senate, Saqib Ali would make an excellent choice to replace him.

I was Ali's legislative colleague for four years in the House of Delegates (I always refer to him by his last name). More importantly during that time we shared a single office suite. I was able to observe Ali's daily interactions with his staff, colleagues, constituents and lobbyists. I can tell you without any doubt that he was a hard-working, conscientious and capable legislator. He treated everybody with fairness and respect. He is a person of character and integrity with an intense devotion to serving others. I am proud to call him my friend.

Therefore, I am honored to support Saqib Ali and respectfully ask for your consideration of his candidacy for District 15 Delegate.

Best regards,

Herman L.Taylor, Jr.

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