Thursday, December 3, 2015

BREAKING: Maryland Senator Karen Montgomery To Step Down // Delegate Craig Zucker Favored for Appointment

Multiple sources confirm that Senator Karen Montgomery (D-14) will resign prior to the start of the 2016 General Assembly session, thereby triggering a vacancy appointment by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.

Montgomery, 80, was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2002 - one of the first persons to represent District 14 within Montgomery County. In 2010 Delegate Montgomery defeated incumbent Senator Rona Kramer in the Democratic primary by just over 100 votes. She was strongly supported in that race by the teachers (MCEA), SEIU, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club and Progressive Maryland.

Should the District 14 Senate vacancy materialize, the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) will  have 30 days to make a recommendation to Governor Hogan on who should complete the remainder of Senator Montgomery's term.

Many insiders believe Delegate Craig Zucker to be the favorite to fill the vacancy.  Zucker, 40, was elected to the House of Delegates in 2010 and reelected in 2014. He sits on the House Appropriations Committee and was recently named the Vice Chair of Capital Budget Subcommittee by Speaker Mike Busch. Prior to his election, Zucker worked for a number of public officials including Senator Bill Bradley, Senator Barbara Boxer and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

If Zucker is appointed to the State Senate, his departure will trigger yet another MCDCC vacancy appointment, and a scramble to fill his Delegate seat. Among the names being mentioned for the potential Delegate vacancy include Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee member Chris Bradbury, Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee member and Morgan State Professor Pamela Queen, and former Deputy Secretary of State Dr. Rajan Natarajan. Other names are sure to emerge, including past candidates like Jodi Finkelstein and Tom Degonia.

Van Hollen Gets Important Backing From SEIU // One Union Says Edwards "Has Turned Her Back Toward Labor"

Today, at an announcement at in Baltimore, Representative Chris Van Hollen will accept the endorsement Maryland’s Service Employees International Union (SEIU) locals, including 1199, 32BJ, Local 500, Local 400, NAGE and Local 722. This is the biggest endorsement to date for Van Hollen and a body blow to Congresswoman Donna Edwards, who many originally expected to win the strong backing from organized labor.
BALTIMORE SUN: Van Hollen "has a record of standing with labor and workers," said Ricarra Jones, with 1199 SEIU. "We're going to go with a person who is going to best represent our interests in the Senate."
WASHINGTON POST: We feel like she has turned her back toward labor,” said Ricarra Jones, political organizer for Local 1199, the largest SEIU chapter in Maryland, which has about 9,000 members. “We think that Van Hollen will do a much better job.”
PAINT THE STATE PURPLE: The Maryland SEIU locals represent nearly 45,000 members, and their endorsement ensures the Van Hollen campaign will receive significant union support, including member-volunteers who will knock on doors and make phone calls in Baltimore City and other key Democratic jurisdictions.

Relaxed campaign finance rules post Citizens United not only allows SEIU to spend more heavily on advertising but also to ramp up voter contact efforts to non-union workers. In 2012, SEIU was the top outside spending on Democratic campaigns - spending $70 million on donations, television ads and GOTV.

SEIU has increasingly played a very active role in many important elections and legislative battles through both member outreach and paid media efforts. In 2014, SEIU backed and invested heavily in Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and more than 80 other candidates in the Democratic primary. The vast majority of these endorsed candidates prevailed.

Nationally, the 2 million member SEIU - the fastest growing union in the United States - endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Notably, SEIU has supported and increased awareness of the ‘Fight for $15’ campaign, and has successfully persuaded local leaders in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

DISAPPOINTING FOR DONNA: Labor in the past has strongly supported Edwards, which likely makes today’s endorsement that much more painful. SEIU and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) strongly supported her bid to unseat Rep. Al Wynn in 2008 - spending more than $1 million on her successful campaign. Unions also circled the wagons and effectively scared Glenn Ivey into dropping a primary challenge in 2012.

Earlier this year observers thought Edwards had the inside track with labor, and would earn the financial and organizational resources to make up for Van Hollen’s fundraising edge. Instead, Van Hollen and Edwards have traded endorsements and the AFL-CIO declined to choose sides.

It is unlikely that any union that currently supports Edwards can match the resources SEIU can bring to bear. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

EMILY'S List Pumps $1 Million Into Edwards Campaign // SuperPAC Ads To Target Women, African American Voters

Christmas came early for Representative Donna Edwards.

With dwindling resources and a new poll showing the Prince George’s Congresswoman behind by double digits, the Edwards campaign desperately needed a game changer. And they got one.

EMILY’s List - the influential Democratic organization that supports pro-choice women - announced that they will spend more than $1.2 million on television, radio and online ads for Edwards predominantly in the Baltimore region. As reported by John Fritze in The Baltimore Sun:
BALTIMORE SUN: The group will spend $875,000 on cable and broadcast ads alone, plus another $146,000 on radio and digital spots. The ads will run over six weeks and will target African American women. The ad campaign is paid for through WOMEN VOTE!, the group’s super PAC, which spent more than $12 million in the 2014 election cycle.
A MUCH NEEDED BOOST: EMILY's List ad buy - assuming the entire amount is spent - represents more than 3x the total amount of money the Edwards campaign has on hand, and allows her to finally respond to Representative Chris Van Hollen - who has been airing television ads unchallenged for the last month. Without this national bail out, it was likely Edwards’ path to victory could have become non-existent going into the homestretch.

DIGGING OUT OF A DEEP HOLE: Full crosstabs from the Baltimore Sun/University of Baltimore poll, shows the big hole that Edwards finds herself in, and why she needed EMILY's List to intervene now. She's losing women by 8 points (with 1 out 4 undecided), and doesn't even earn majority of African American support.

Men      Women
Van Hollen 51% 42%
Edwards 25% 34%
Other/Undecided      23% 25%

White      African American
Van Hollen
57%
28%
Edwards
21%
49%
Other/Undecided     
23%
22%

The impact of Edwards's lack of traction in Baltimore shows. She's only attracting a quarter of the vote in a region where more than 40% of Democratic electorate reside. 

Balt City    Balt Co    Balt Region    MoCo    PG      WestMD    SoMD    Shore
Van Hollen 44% 46% 49% 75% 23% 29% 49% 25%
Edwards 29% 24% 25% 12% 63% 16% 22% 24%
Other/Undecided    27% 29% 26% 13% 15% 55% 16% 42%

A POWERFUL PATRON: EMILY's List is a well resourced ally who has helped elect 19 Senators. In the first half of 2015, the organization raised $10.5 million from 60,000 donors - the most it has raised in an off-year. Jumping into the Maryland Senate primary is a signal that they are not abandoning Edwards -  a candidate they supported early and raised money for - in her time of need .

What may give some of EMILY's List supporters pause, are questions regarding whether they are spending their resources wisely with 2016 shaping up to be a historic year for women candidates. Putting aside Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign (which the group has said they will raise and spend $20 million for), there's New  Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, Rep. Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, former Nevada AG Catherine Cortez Masto, Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick and former Pennsylvania Environmental Secretary Katie McGinty facing off in competitive Senate races critical to Democratic chances to retaking the upper chamber. Every dollar spent in Maryland, is one less attacking Donald Trump, Mark Kirk or Pat Toomey. 

HOW EFFECTIVE WILL IT BE? The positive biographical ad supporting Edwards touts her humble roots and pushes the progressive fighter image (though the bright flashes throughout the ad have been called "jarring"). But there's a few things to note.

First, it is cheaper for candidates to advertise on television than for super-PACs. The rate EMILY's List is paying could be 1.5 or 2 times (or even higher) what the Van Hollen campaign paid. This price differential will only become greater as we approach the primary. More money for fewer ads. 

Second, advertising over the next 6 weeks puts the flight in the middle of the shopping season, the holidays and when most broadcast channels are playing reruns. This likely means fewer people are paying attention. Van Hollen's ads meanwhile played during November sweeps. 

Third, there's no guarantee that super PAC ad spending will be effective. Just ask Jeb! Bush. His Right to Rise super PAC has spent $28.9 million on TV ads, with no recognizable change to his numbers. Add to that the inability to officially coordinate with the official campaign, sync messages or film the candidate - makes this a tricky and costly enterprise.