Friday, March 7, 2014

CAMPAIGN JUICE: Brown & Gansler Launch TV Ads, Hucker v Barclay, Kagan v Simmons, D13 & Analysis of MoCo Exec Race

Below Maryland Juice has a few quick updates regarding campaigns of interest to politicos:

JUICE #1: GUBERNATORIAL AD WARS BEGIN // WATCH ANTHONY BROWN & DOUG GANSLER'S FIRST TV SPOTS - Begun the ad wars have. Gubernatorial candidates Anthony Brown and Doug Gansler are beginning to unload their multi-million dollars war chests on the television airwaves. Below you can see their first ads in the race for Maryland Governor:

HEADLINE UPDATE: Notably, these early ads are soft and fluffy. But I fully expect the tone of future ads to take a downward spiral, based on the headlines of recent press releases I've been receiving. See a few examples below:
  • DOUG GANSLER:  Lt. Gov. Brown Says, “Leadership is About Inspiring People to Achieve Goals” – Really?
  • HEATHER MIZEUR:  Mizeur Questions Gansler’s Commitment to Middle Class Families
  • ANTHONY BROWN:  Doug Gansler yet to explain why he refuses to support funding full-day Pre-K for all Maryland children

JUICE #2: TOM HUCKER VS. CHRIS BARCLAY // DUELING UNION ENDORSEMENTS IN MOCO COUNCIL DISTRICT 5 - With the filing deadline closed, the race for Montgomery County Council District 5 is beginning to take shape. Board of Education President Chris Barclay received an endorsement from MoCo's teachers union, while Delegate Tom Hucker received the support of the MoCo government employees union. Check out the MCEA Tweet and MCGEO press release excerpt below:



Praises his work as state delegate advocating for women, children, and working families

Silver Spring, MD. - Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1994 MCGEO announced its enthusiastic support of Tom Hucker for the vacant seat in the Montgomery County Council District 5 race. Key to the endorsement, said Local 1994 President Gino Renne, was “Tom’s tireless work to protect and fight for legislation that protects our most vulnerable residents – our working moms, our children, our seniors....” MCGEO plans to make the District 5 race its top priority this election season, and will launch a robust political program including weekend door knocking and phone banks.

JUICE #3: ENDORSEMENTS IN DISTRICT 17 SENATE RACE BETWEEN CHERYL KAGAN AND LUIZ SIMMONS - Two new endorsements have been announced in the District 17 State Senate slugfest between Delegate Luiz Simmons and former Delegate Cheryl Kagan. Kagan received the support of retiring D17 Senator Jennie Forehand, while Simmons was endorsed by the MoCo government employees union MCGEO. See press release excerpts below:

Statement by Senator Jennie M. Forehand

My friends and supporters have been asking me which Senate candidate I believe should represent District 17. I am proud to announce my enthusiastic endorsement of my former colleague, Cheryl Kagan, who will best reflect my views and priorities in the State Senate.

... I am delighted to endorse Cheryl Kagan for State Senate. Cheryl is the clear choice, and I look forward to campaigning together toward victory in the June 24th Democratic primary. I strongly urge my friends and neighbors in Rockville and Gaithersburg to join me in supporting Cheryl.

Montgomery County Public Employees Endorse Simmons for State Senate

Simmons is UFCW 1994 MCGEO First Legislative Endorsement of 2014 Political Cycle
Rockville, MD – Today, Del. Luiz Simmons received the endorsement of UFCW 1994 MCGEO, the Montgomery County Public Employees, in his run to be the next State Senator for District 17.  The support of Simmons is MCGEO’s first legislative endorsement of the 2014 political cycle.  MCGEO represents 8,000 public employees in Montgomery County and beyond.

Gino Renne, President of UFCW 1994 MCGEO released the following statement praising Simmons for his hard work on behalf of Maryland working families, “Delegate Simmons has proven himself time and again to be a strong advocate for working families in Montgomery County and beyond.  I am confident that as a state senator, Luiz will continue to fight and address the problems plaguing our poor and middle class....”

JUICE #4: POLITICAL CHESS IN DISTRICT 13 DELEGATE RACE - David Lublin, who has rebooted the Maryland Politics Watch blog at, has an interesting write-up about the political chess match in District 13's Delegate race (excerpt below):
SEVENTH STATE: Long story short, a husband and wife both filed for delegate as did an uncle and his niece. The wife, School Board Member Janet Siddiqui, withdrew at the last minute to refile for School Board but her husband, Nayab Siddiqui, stayed in the race.

Both Vanessa Atterbeary, formerly a candidate in District 18, and her uncle, incumbent Del. Frank Turner filed and neither dropped out. Del. Guy Guzzone, who is running for Senate, originally planned to form a slate with incumbent Del. Shane Pendergrass, Del. Frank Turner, and Janet Siddiqui.

Now, Guzzone, Pendergrass, and Turner have decided to put Vanessa Atterbeary on their ticket as its third candidate for delegate after a series of interviews with the prospective candidates. Nayab Siddiqui and Vanessa Atterbeary both had inside knowledge that someone was going to drop out–or else why on earth would they have filed? And now Team 13 has added the niece of an incumbent delegate to the slate....

JUICE #5: MY THOUGHTS ON THE RACE FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY EXECUTIVE - There are a few months left to go until the June Democratic Primary for Montgomery County Executive. After the January campaign finance filings, incumbent Exec Ike Leggett had a sizeable cash advantage over challengers Doug Duncan and Phil Andrews:
  • County Executive Ike Leggett (incumbent) = $971,159.00
  • Former County Executive Doug Duncan = $330,120.86
  • Councilmember Phil Andrews = $118,805.41
Between the power of incumbency and the heft of his war chest, Leggett may be sitting in a decent spot right now. But it is worth noting that even after the campaign finance reports came out, Duncan picked up endorsements from the MoCo police and firefighters unions. Meanwhile, a few major groups have yet to weigh in on the race, and Duncan may have decent residual name id from his previous terms as County Executive.

On the financial front, history also demonstrates that money is not decisive in these races. When Leggett first won in 2006, he was heavily outspent by rival candidate Steve Silverman ($770,000 to $1.9 million according to The Gazette). Even still, there is likely a threshold amount of spending a countywide candidate needs to meet in order to get their basic message out. Perhaps recognizing these challenges, in recent campaign debates Duncan has attempted to draw sharp contrasts with his rivals (Leggett especially) by criticizing their records on school construction funding and other issues.

DUNCAN JABS: In the latest bout of sparring, Duncan has taken to attacking Leggett for the stalled opening of the Silver Spring Transit Center. Though I can't speak for the rest of the parts of the county, I've spoken to lots of voters in the downtown Silver Spring area, and it is true that they frequently raise the Transit Center as an issue of concern. For those interested in further details on the Silver Spring Transit Center delays, the Action Committee for Transit has a chronology of news coverage at its website. In any case, the key question at hand is whether this and other issues like school funding will come to define the race, and whether any blame will be pinned on Leggett. Perhaps that's why Duncan held a press conference this week to raise questions about county officials' roles in the Transit Center controversy (excerpt below):

Duncan Urges Completion of Silver Spring Transit Center;
Calls on County to Provide Answers, Plan of Action

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – Standing on the site of the long-delayed Silver Spring Transit Center, Democratic candidate for County Executive, Doug Duncan, today called on Montgomery County officials to stop making excuses, offer up a plan of action, and move swiftly to complete a critically important transportation hub that serves thousands of Washington area commuters. Duncan, who, as County Executive, oversaw the successful revitalization of downtown Silver Spring[1], said taxpayers deserve to know when the transit center will open – and how much more it will cost to complete it.... The Silver Spring Transit Center is currently two and a half years overdue and tens of millions over budget....

Duncan called on the County Executive and County Council to promptly give the public answers to these questions. "It’s time for answers.  Silver Spring residents and community leaders fought too long and hard for a vibrant downtown to have to wait for this mess to be cleaned up, before they have access to the state-of-the-art transit center they were expecting," said Duncan. "This failure on the part of the County government to get the job done here leaves pedestrians at risk, commuters frustrated and hurts the economic vitality of Silver Spring.  The people of Montgomery County deserve better."
LEGGETT HITS BACK: Patrick Lacefield, a spokesperson for Ike Leggett, responded in turn with the following statement:
PATRICK LACEFIELD: This is nothing more than the previous County Executive playing politics by seeking publicity for his campaign. If he had been following this issue, he would know that we are awaiting warmer temperatures to resume the remaining work on the private contractor’s faulty concrete work. All other things being equal, the facility could be completed, turned over to WMATA and opened by the summer. The detailed plan to fix it is embodied in the KCE Report made public last year and discussed by the Council. The cost for the concrete overlay is estimated at $2 million, costs which the County will ensure would be borne by the private parties at fault for construction, design and inspection flaws, not by County taxpayers.

The County continues to work with WMATA and the designer about the possible need to further strengthen interior beams and girders, as was discussed with the County Council last November.  Again, the County would work to ensure that any additional costs for fixing flaws would be borne by the private parties responsible.

It is heartening that the former County Executive is interested in the safety of the facility since previously he had expressed the view that he would simply have covered over the faulty workmanship and moved on, notwithstanding the more profound safety flaws that were discovered by KCE, with findings endorsed by three independent engineers. The County Executive has stated that he will turn over to WMATA a structure that is both safe and durable and that he will not let politics get in the way of safety, period.
The interesting thing about Duncan raising the Transit Center controversy is that he worked for one of the parties involved in its construction. The Washington Post's Bill Turque reported on the connection yesterday (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Duncan has worked as a consultant for Foulger-Pratt, the general contractor on the project. KCE held the firm responsible for the absence of reinforcing steel in two critical 10-foot-by-40-foot slabs in the center of the bus roadway. Foulger was also accountable for unacceptably thin concrete covering in some portions of the building, KCE said. Duncan said that contractors and engineers “did not perform as expected,” but declined to criticize Foulger directly.
THE PHIL ANDREWS EXPERIMENT: While Doug Duncan and Ike Leggett take turns punching each other, Councilmember Phil Andrews is embarking upon an interesting political experiment. He is essentially testing whether a candidate can win a countywide race in MoCo almost entirely by door-knocking. It seems clear at this point that Andrews will be outspent (heavily perhaps?), but in his literature (scanned below) he claims that he's knocked 17,000 doors in the last year or so. By comparison, there were 104,979 votes cast in the 2006 Democratic Primary when Leggett received 64,382 votes to Steve Silverman's 37,279. Notably, my wife reports that some of her co-workers (who are not plugged in to local politics) report having spoken to Phil Andrews personally when he canvassed their neighborhoods. In any case, you can read Andrews' literature below (click on the images to expand them):

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