Political Notebook

Amanda Fiedler is favored to win a seat on the Anne Arundel County Council.

Pink Wave in Anne Arundel County

The Anne Arundel County Council has been without a woman member since late 2010, when Republican Cathleen M. Vitale, now a Circuit Court judge, left to join the House of Delegates.

But after the November election, thanks to retirements and two primary defeats, the seven-member County Council could well have a female majority – or even more.

Women are guaranteed to win in two districts: The 1st, where Kimberly M. Burns (R) and Sarah Lacey (D), both attorneys, are in a tight race, and in the 5th, where Republican Amanda Fiedler, a nonprofit founder and GOP media buyer, is favored over Democrat Dawn Myers, who works at the University of Maryland.

In the 6th District, Democrat Lisa Brannigan Rodvien, a public school teacher and lawyer, is favored to win an open seat. In the 7th District, Republican Jessica Haire, an attorney and wife of Maryland GOP Chairman Dirk Haire, is favored to win an open seat. So that looks like four women on the Council right there.

In the 2nd District, where Republican Councilman John J. Grasso is term limited and running for a state Senate seat, some Democrats believe Allison Pickard, a member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, can beat Republican Tom Gardner, a military veteran and former state transportation official. A longer shot, in the 3rd District, is Democrat Debbie Ritchie, a registered nurse who is running against Nathan Volke, former county GOP chairman.

No matter what, that’s quite a transformation.

If You’re Going to San Francisco…

Former NAACP president Benjamin T. Jealous, the Democratic nominee for governor, will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser Sunday in San Francisco, according to an invitation obtained by Maryland Matters.

The fundraiser will be held at the home of Roy Bahat, who runs a venture capital firm, and his wife, Sara Fenske Bahat, an economics professor. The host committee features several people with ties to Kapor Capital, the venture capital firm where Jealous has worked.

The list includes Meena Harris, a lawyer and Uber executive who is the niece of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); Bradley Horowitz, a Google executive; Jerry Nemorin, the founder of a debt restructuring company; Ellen Pao, an investor and nonprofit executive and activist; Ana Diaz Hernandez, an executive of an investment firm; Taylor Ahlgren, a technology executive; Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor, executives at Kapor Capital.

Dial E for Elections

A Maryland elections call center is expecting thousands of phone calls this week, as Tuesday marks the end of the voter registration period for the General Election.

At one point Monday morning, an automated message informed a Maryland Matters reporter of 57 people in the queue. The call center — which accepts redirected elections-related calls from the city of Baltimore; Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Prince George’s counties; and two lines from the Maryland State Board of Elections — opened Monday and will run until a week after the election. About two dozen call-takers accept the calls to help voters with issues like verifying their registration status or finding a polling place, said Donna J. Duncan, the assistant deputy for election policy for the state board.

The state has used such a center since 2012 to help some larger jurisdictions field phone calls.

In 2014, about 740 calls were made to the center on the day before voter registration closed, Duncan said. About 1,400 calls were made on the day of the voter registration deadline.

Duncan said newscasts about the impending voter registration deadline and growing pains may have contributed to a backup in the morning, but she said the lines had cleared by the afternoon.

“I’ve just checked in with them,” Duncan said around 2:30 p.m. “There’s nobody on hold at this point.”

The deadline to register to vote on Election Day is 9 p.m. Tuesday. Same-day registration is available during early voting, but not on Nov. 6, when voters will face a ballot question about whether to amend the state’s constitution to allow same-day registration on Election Day.

A Party on the Left

Anne Arundel County Del. Meagan Simonaire, who dramatically came out as bisexual during this year’s General Assembly debate over a bill to ban conversion therapy, announced Monday that she is switching parties and becoming a Democrat.

Simonaire, who is completing her first term in the legislature but is not seeking reelection in a Republican-leaning district, said that she came to believe the Democratic Party more closely fits her values and is fighting for her top priorities, including protecting homeless youth and human trafficking victims, protecting the Chesapeake Bay, and retire security for seniors.

“It is important for me to stand with the party that is fighting for equality for all Americans, for minorities, for members of the LGBTQ community, victims of domestic violence, immigrants, women, Americans of all faiths, and communities being affected by climate change,” Simonaire said at an Annapolis news conference, flanked by a handful of Democratic officials. “President Trump regularly attacks minorities, women and anyone who does not agree with him. I can no longer be a member of a party that condones his rhetoric. It is reprehensible.”

Simonaire’s party-switch is as much about her own personal and political journey as it is about any broader political narrative. But with many Democrats jumping ship to support Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s reelection, Democrats could be forgiven for crowing a little.

“I know it wasn’t an easy decision for you, but I know it’s what’s drawing a lot of people to the Democratic message,” said Kathleen Matthews, the state party chairwoman.

During this year’s General Assembly session, Simonaire recounted to colleagues how her parents tried to enroll her in a Christian conversion therapy program after she came out to them as bisexual. It was a powerful and emotional moment and helped convinced lawmakers to ban the practice in Maryland.

Simonaire’s father is Sen. Bryan W. Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel). Father and daughter are both graduates of Bob Jones University, a Christian institution.

[email protected]

[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.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here