Political Notes: Georgia on Our Minds

Three states held primaries Tuesday night – and there were runoff elections in Texas – and at least one Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland was watching the results closely. Former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie L. Ervin must have liked what she saw in Georgia. There, former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams won the Democratic gubernatorial primary resoundingly. Abrams, who is African-American and progressive, beat her white and more politically moderate primary foe, former state Rep. Stacey Evans, by a 3-1 margin. Like so many Democratic primaries around the country, the Georgia race was being watched for clues about the future direction of the party. Will a candidate like Abrams, with an unvarnished liberal agenda who preaches bringing new and different voters to the polls, succeed in a state where moderate Democrats have failed over multiple election cycles? Are there any lessons for Maryland Democrats, who traditionally take a top-down view of the political order? For what it’s worth, the Democratic establishment suffered a small embarrassment Tuesday in a Kentucky congressional district, where the hand-picked candidate of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, lost by 8 points to an insurgent, military veteran Amy McGrath, whose videotaped appeal for campaign funds went viral and brought in more than $2 million. The district leans Republican, but party strategists now consider McGrath a strong challenger. So there could be lessons for Maryland Democrats there as well.  Stacey Abrams, the newly minted Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Georgia

Frick on the air House Majority Leader C. William Frick Jr. (D) on Tuesday became the latest Democratic candidate for Montgomery County executive to hit the airwaves. Frick began airing a 30-second ad that criticizes the County Council for inaction – three of his opponents in the June 26 primary are term-limited County Council members – and lays out his priorities. Part of the ad is shot in front of the Council building in Rockville, in case anyone had any doubts about Frick’s contention that he’s prepared to offer new leadership. Frick said the ad is scheduled to run on cable stations throughout most of the county and will circulate more widely if funding permits. Meanwhile, one of the councilmen Frick is running against in the six-way primary – Marc B. Elrich – began airing a biographical spot of his own this week. It plays on Elrich’s somewhat exaggerated reputation as a revolutionary, featuring him talking about his activist past (“I was there for it all”) and saying he became a teacher because he wanted to bring the revolution home to Montgomery County. It then quickly lays out his accomplishments and priorities. A third Democrat, self-funding businessman David Blair, has been on both broadcast and cable TV for several weeks. Councilman George L. Leventhal launched a humorous video that has won widespread praise – but isn’t up on TV yet. The other two Democratic candidates, Councilman Roger Berliner and former Rockville mayor Rose G. Krasnow, also have yet to hit the airwaves.

El Jefe

As the leading Democratic candidates in the 6th congressional district roll out a wave of endorsements, this one seemed worth mentioning: state Del. Aruna Miller (D) has just won support from Denis McDonough, President Obama’s former chief of staff. “I know first-hand what it takes to get things done in Washington,” McDonough said in a statement Tuesday. “Right now, we need experienced leaders who will stand up and fight for our values.” Miller praised McDonough for defending the Affordable Care Act during his time in the White House, and promised to do the same if she gets to Congress. McDonough lives in Montgomery County – though not in the 6th District.

Local 500 behind Edwards 100%

The Service Employees International Union Local 500 on Tuesday announced that it has endorsed former U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D) for Prince George’s County executive. Without naming her, Local 500’s political director, Mark McLaurin, took after Edwards’ principal opponent in the primary, State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks. “For years, working families have had to take a back seat to developers who controlled the way our county does business,” he said. “In the face of impossible odds, Donna stood up to the establishment and she’s always stood with us. This is the first election in many years where working people are coming together to fight back. Developers have their candidate. Working people finally have ours in Donna Edwards.” Edwards had previously been endorsed by another SEIU local, 32BJ, and several other unions. But Alsobrooks also has significant labor support, including, last week, an endorsement from the American Federation of Government Employees.  Pass the Twizzlers Anjali Phukan, the Republican challenging Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D), reported just $314 in her campaign account as of mid-May compared to $1.5 million for the incumbent. Between mid-January and mid-May, Phukan reported $100 contributions from William Campbell, who ran unsuccessfully against Franchot twice, and Robin Ficker, the Montgomery County gadfly. The $1,046 her campaign took in during the reporting period included in-kind contributions from the candidate herself for, among other things, Twizzlers and “Meditation Bracelet materials.” [email protected]

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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