Martha McKenna responds to yesterday’s item on Kathleen Matthews

Although I was disappointed after reading the first few lines of Josh’s column about the next Democratic Party chair, I was seeing red by the time I finished. As the chair of Emerge Maryland, a statewide organization dedicated to recruiting and training Democratic women to run for state and local office, I’ve never experienced Kathleen Matthews as trying to “dazzle” anyone with any kind of “glitz” or “glamour.”

Even if the author had reason to believe that Kathleen Matthews was “out-of-touch,” an assertion I would disagree with, he’d have been wise to include “hard-working” alongside it.

After her run for Congress, she volunteered for Emerge Maryland’s board, immediately putting her shoulder to the wheel to help with press, curriculum, recruiting and fundraising. Kathleen is a shot of adrenaline to the organization — a hard, hard worker. She has never missed a meeting, she engages one-on-one with the participants and she has brought a positive, creative political perspective to each Emerge action.

Her political acumen will serve Maryland Democrats well; since she joined the board of Emerge Maryland in July, the organization has raised more money, earned more press, and trained more women than in any other 8-month period since our founding.

The unpaid job of Democratic Party chair is a thankless and challenging one – and is even more important today given a Donald Trump presidency. Josh’s column made few points of policy, but also focused on Kathleen’s personal attributes.

I know that the strong network of women who volunteer their time and money to support Democratic women in politics in Maryland will agree with me that negative attacks like this won’t slow us down, they only add fuel to our fire. In the age of Trump, women in public life expect to be subjected to personal attacks about our motivations, our work ethic, and our clothes.

Because I know her, I know Kathleen will not be deterred. She’s tough, smart, hard-working, and dedicated to our Democratic Party values: inclusion, justice, and an equity of opportunity. She’s just the resilient fighter that Maryland Democrats need right now.

Martha McKenna is chair of Emerge Maryland, an organization dedicated to electing more women to public office. 


  1. I consider myself fortunate to have been selected to join Emerge Maryland’s class of 2017 – with 23 students, we are the largest class in the organization’s history so far. And I’m grateful to strong, dedicated women like Kathleen Matthews who helped make this opportunity possible. There’s little glitz, and less glamour, in public service than some seem to think. Those of us who choose this path are inspired by the courage, intelligence and effective leadership of women like Ms. Matthews.

  2. I’m sure that Josh feels appropriately dismayed that he offended women readers of this new website. Perhaps he could respond?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here