Political Notes: Caucusing ‘With the People of Maryland’ and Post-ing Up

U.S. Senate candidate Neal Simon gathered enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot this November as an independent. His team submitted more than 17,000 signatures last month. Late last week, he was informed by the state Board of Elections that at least 10,000 of them, the minimum for statewide races, met the agency’s criteria. Simon, the CEO of Bronfman Rothschild, a Rockville-based wealth management firm, is hoping to unseat two-term incumbent Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D).  Neal Simon  Simon enters the race with more than $1 million in his campaign account, making him potentially a more serious threat to Cardin than Republican Tony Campbell, whose most recent fund-raising report showed him with less than $7,000 cash on hand. In an interview on WAMU’s “Kojo Nnamdi Show” on Friday, Simon said he’s running against the “polarization” that dominates national politics.  “We have the far left and the far right that have co-opted control of our government,” he said. “They go to work every day trying to win an argument, trying to win a news cycle.” Asked if he would caucus with the Democrats or the Republicans if elected, Simon replied neither – that he’d “caucus with the people of Maryland.” The Senate currently has two independent senators – Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucus with the Democrats.   Simon praised Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) Jr., who signed one of his nominating petitions. “Gov. Hogan has been helpful to us and we’re very appreciate of it.”  Steve Crim, the architect of Hogan’s 2014 upset win over then-Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), has been hired to run Simon’s campaign. Crim’s Annapolis-based consulting firm, Main Street Strategic Advisory Group, has been paid $40,000 so far, according to Simon’s campaign finance report. Seven names will appear on the Senate ballot. In addition to Campbell, Cardin and Simon, voters will also find Libertarian Arvin Vohra, Green Party candidate Mia Mason, and independents Steve Gladstone and Michael B. Puskar.  Democrat Lih Young, a perennial candidate, is running as a write-in.  Post Time The Washington Post had a very thorough, measured and thought-provoking article Sunday on the ideological and generational changes taking place among Maryland Democrats. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t already read it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/a-surprising-grass-roots-upheaval-is-shaking-marylands-democrats/2018/08/11/a95c9482-9a68-11e8-843b-36e177f3081c_story.html?utm_term=.9f474a92e850 There were many insights in the piece, but one of the most noteworthy was a quote from U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives who is the epitome of the Democratic establishment – on Capitol Hill and in Maryland. In the article, he praised the potential of Benjamin T. Jealous, the Democratic nominee for governor, to attract new voters to the polls. “Ben has worked hard to increase voter participation in Maryland, and . . . has brought fresh ideas to the gubernatorial race,” Hoyer said. Relatedly, and also noteworthy, is the Post editorial board’s continued hostility to one of the advancing progressive leaders mentioned in the article – Montgomery County Councilman Marc B. Elrich, the Democratic nominee for county executive. The Post on Sunday dedicated an entire editorial to excoriating Elrich for his ties to public employee unions.  The Post, for all its liberal reputation, has long been hostile to organized labor, especially public sector unions in Maryland. And it cast doubt on Elrich’s political loyalties – though not his intellect – throughout the Democratic primary for county executive. Just another powerful entity red-baiting the veteran local official.  We will make a bold prediction here: The Post will wind up endorsing Elrich’s fellow County Council member, Democrat-turned-independent Nancy M. Floreen, whose campaign for county executive is being propelled by real estate interests, in the general election. [email protected] [email protected]

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