By Josh Kurtz
Our Maryland, the newish progressive multi-issue education and advocacy organization, is hosting its initial conference – billed as a politics and policy summit – on Monday in College Park.
The purpose of the event is to bring together activists, donors and stakeholders from across the progressive spectrum to talk about strategies for winning policy and political battles in 2018. It will focus on issues for the upcoming legislative session in Annapolis and how to chart a course for the general election.
Headlining the sessions are state Attorney General Brian Frosh (D), House Appropriations Chairman Maggie McIntosh (D), former Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello, who ran an insurgent campaign for governor this year, and former South Carolina state Rep. Bakari Sellers, a well-known progressive strategist and commentator.
At least four of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates will be speaking: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, state Sen. Rich Madaleno, attorney Jim Shea, and former Obama administration official Krish Vignarajah. Leaders from progressive organizations including Color of Change, Black Girls Vote and the Job Opportunities Task Force are also on the program.
Democratic pollster Margie Omero and TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier will make presentations on Maryland electoral data and trends.
Sponsors of the event include the Maryland State Education Association, Service Employees International Union Local 1199, the Maryland/D.C. State Council of SEIU, AFSCME Maryland, and The Hatcher Group.
“You can’t move an electorate until you understand it,” said Pat Murray, a former executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, who is organizing the event. “The summit is an opportunity to learn about where this electorate is and where it can go in 2018. It’s also an opportunity to hear about what’s working in other states, so we’re employing battle-tested tactics coming into 2018.”
The daylong summit takes place at the College Park Marriott and Conference Center, adjacent to the University of Maryland campus. Ticket prices are $79.
The pace of endorsements is starting to pick up in the six-way Democratic primary for Montgomery County executive. A few that rolled in this week struck us as noteworthy.
County Councilmember Roger Berliner announced that he had picked up the support of 10 current and former municipal officials from around the county. The ones that stuck out most were former Takoma Park mayors Bruce Williams and Kathy Porter and outgoing City Councilmember Fred Schultz.
The Takoma contingent is significant because two of Berliner’s Democratic primary opponents – County Councilmembers Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, are longtime Takoma Park residents. Elrich, in fact, served on the City Council with Williams and when Porter was mayor.
Leventhal, meanwhile, picked up the endorsement this week of state Del. Sheila Hixson (D) – for whom Leventhal worked as a campaign staffer in 1986.
“With George as County Executive, you’ll see results,” Hixson wrote in an email. “He knows how to engage community leaders and other elected officials in ways that benefit you, me, and our children.”
John Fiastro, one of several Republicans running for a House of Delegates seat in Baltimore County’s District 42B, found a creative way to campaign on Thanksgiving Day.
At the Turkey Bowl, the annual Thanksgiving football game between Calvert Hall and Loyola Blakefield high schools, Fiastro distributed about 4,000 palm cards with the rosters of both teams – complete with a picture of himself with his fiancée and dog, another with Gov. Larry Hogan (R), and another with a reminder that he is being endorsed by Del. Chris West (R), who is running for Senate in the district.
Calvert Hall won the game, at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium, 27-6. Considering 9,300 people showed up, Fiastro got pretty good visibility.