Somber from Week's Headlines, Dems Get Fired Up at Unity Rally

Democratic activists who came together in Montgomery County on Thursday night may have needed some solace. Their gathering, a quadrennial “Kiss-and-Make-Up” event that occurs after hotly contested primaries like Tuesday’s, occurred as police in Annapolis were investigating the nation’s latest mass shooting, a grisly attack on journalists at a local newspaper.  It also came at the end of a week that brought Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement announcement — and the seeming likelihood of a more conservative Supreme Court for decades to come — along with fresh court rulings against unions and immigrants. Fortunately for the more than 200 candidates — successful and otherwise — and party activists who crammed into the ballroom at the Pooks Hill Marriott in Bethesda, party stars like Rep. Jamie Raskin and U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, and the cleanup hitter, newly-minted gubernatorial hopeful Benjamin T. Jealous, succeeded in getting the crowd whooping and fired up. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Benjamin T. Jealous at a party unity event in Bethesda Thursday night. Photo by Bruce DePuyt   It fell to Raskin to set the tone, and he gave a rousing address. After talking about the massacre in Annapolis, the need for “common-sense gun reforms” and the threats posed by climate change and President Trump, he acknowledged: “These are tough times.” “But we are Democrats,” he said. “We are the heirs to the civilizing movements of the last century. We are the heirs to the labor movement, and the civil rights movement, and the women’s movement, and the LGBT movement, and the environmental movement!” After opening with pain, he closed with Paine. “Everyone who stands with us now will win the love, and the favor, and the affection of every man and every woman for all time.” Cardin declared that many landmark Supreme Court rulings “are at risk” because of the retirement of Kennedy, a frequent swing vote. In robust remarks, the usually soft-spoken Cardin exhorted Democrats to focus on November. “We need unity and energy moving forward! I am excited about Ben Jealous and [his running mate] Susie Turnbull,” he said to cheers. “They have my complete support. We’re going to be working together in a unity team for Maryland and the nation.” Businessman David J. Trone, winner of the congressional primary in the 6th district, heaped praise on his former rivals, one of whom, physician Nadia Hashimi, was in the room. Likewise, Jealous singled out each of his primary opponents, including two who were present, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. and for Obama administration official Krishanti Vignarajah. He also reminded the crowd about the strength of personality that the late Baltimore County executive Kevin B. Kamenetz brought to his brief gubernatorial campaign. “The only reason that we did not win [the race for governor] four years ago is that we did not show up,” he said. “Kevin Kamenetz is somebody who always showed up. Let us make sure that we lead and we win in a way that would make him proud.” “We have an opportunity not just to beat Larry Hogan but to wallop him,” Jealous said. Meanwhile, the race for Montgomery County executive remains unresolved because the top Democratic primary vote-getters, Councilman Marc B. Elrich and businessman David T. Blair, are all but tied [see related story].  Elrich appeared in person, using his remarks to urge election of a General Assembly that will provide Montgomery County the school construction funding it needs. Blair appeared by video. Two other vanquished candidates for county executive, Councilman George L. Leventhal and House Majority Leader C. William Frick also attended.  But that race seemed like an after-thought on a night when concerns were elsewhere. Though many in the room were weary from the long, just-concluded primary, one that didn’t appear to excite many voters, party Chairwoman Kathleen Matthews had an urgent, practical message: “No summer vacations. We’ve got to be out there organizing and talking [and] listening to voters. Listening to those Larry Hogan voters.”   And perhaps not surprising in a community where more people follow national politics than what happens in Rockville or Annapolis, Matthews drew the loudest cheers of the night when she declared: “Maryland is going to be a state with eight Democratic members of Congress. … We’re going to pick up the First Congressional District on the Eastern Shore and get rid of [Republican incumbent] Andy Harris!” [email protected]

Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent more than two decades on local television, including 14 years as host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the D.C. metro region. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County, as well as a reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. Bruce also is the host of the weekly The Bruce DePuyt Podcast.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here