Political Notes: Campaign Staff Unionizes, Embry Enters Delegate Race, Changes at GBC
Brandy Brooks, a Democratic candidate for Montgomery County Council at-large, announced this week, along with her staff, that they have signed a contract governing wages, benefits, and working conditions on the campaign. The campaign staffers have joined the Campaign Workers Guild, a five-year-old organization that bargains on behalf of workers on campaigns and at political party organizations, consulting firms, and political action committees.
“I am really excited that we were able to work together with this dedicated, capable team to agree on a great contract for moving forward in solidarity to improve Montgomery County,” said Brooks, a progressive activist and educator making her second run for an at-large seat. “I strongly support the right of my staff and all workers to form a union and believe wholeheartedly in the duty of employers to recognize that right and to bargain in good faith. I am convinced that, together with our amazing team, we are setting an important precedent for well-run, worker-friendly campaigns that resoundingly win elections.”
Tyler Wilkinson, a Campaign Workers Guild representative, said Brooks and her staff are “transforming the industry for future campaign workers. We believe all workers deserve a union and a voice at the table. These workers raised theirs and won protections, wage increases, and better working conditions.”
Frankie Santos Fritz, a Brooks campaign staffer, said she and her colleagues “are excited to work for a unionized campaign that is showing candidates around Maryland how we can support campaigns and movements for justice while also boldly advancing worker’s rights to bargain for dignity and respect on the job.”
Embry enters District 43 race
Elizabeth Embry, who gained statewide recognition in 2018 as a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, announced a bid to represent District 43 in the House of Delegates on Thursday.
Embry, a special assistant to Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D), is one of three candidates seeking an open seat in the district.
The district is currently represented by Democratic Delegates Curt Anderson, Maggie McIntosh and Regina T. Boyce.
Boyce, who has represented the district since 2019 and lives in the city, has filed for re-election in the district.
McIntosh has announced her retirement at the end of this term. And the contours of the district are likely to change later this year, stretching beyond the city border to include Towson in Baltimore County. If the boundaries are approved, two delegates would be chosen within the city portion of the district, and one from the county portion.
Two other city residents have filed formal candidacy paperwork to run in the Democratic primary in the 43rd: Reginald Benbow filed with the State Board of Elections in September and Logan Endow entered the race in December.
Though she hasn’t formally filed to get on the ballot, Embry has restarted a campaign finance committee and began soliciting donations Thursday.
“District 43 is a community with a tradition of outstanding leadership, service and vision, and if elected, I will be proud to carry on that tradition,” she wrote in a letter to supporters on Thursday.
Embry’s campaign account, originally opened in 2015 to support an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Baltimore, has been largely dormant recently. In late November, she gave the campaign $2,500, which was used to pay Nicholas London for political consulting. Her campaign account retains $694 in cash.
Endow has had an open campaign finance entity since 2019. He retains a $55,060 cash balance, much of that — $50,467 — from loans he’s made to the campaign since January 2020.
Benbow opened a campaign finance account last spring. On Thursday he reported raising $31,800.18, all from individual contributors. His campaign spent a little over $8,400 over the past year and retains $23,354 cash on hand.
Boyce’s campaign raised more than $39,000 last year and retains more than $73,000 in the bank.
Legislative preview at a changing GBC
The Greater Baltimore Committee is holding its annual legislative preview virtually on Monday morning — two weeks after the legislative session kicked off.
Five lawmakers are scheduled to speak: Del. Stephanie M. Smith (D), chair of the Baltimore City House delegation; Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery); Sen. Christopher R. West (R-Baltimore County); Del. Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. (R-Carroll), the new House minority whip; and Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles), the new House Economic Matters Committee chair. Keiffer J. Mitchell, chief legislative officer for Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), is also on the program. Jeff Salkin, the host of Maryland Public Television’s “State Circle,” will serve as moderator.
The GBC, a leading regional business and civic group, is about to enter a period of transition: Donald C. Fry, who has been president and CEO for almost 20 years, will retire on June 1. He took over the organization in November 2002, after serving 3 1/2 years as executive vice president and general counsel. He is just the fifth GBC leader since the organization was launched in 1955.
Prior to his time at GBC, Fry was a Democratic member of the state Senate and House of Delegates representing Harford County.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute at the GBC and am very proud of our work during my tenure,” Fry said.
Calvin Butler, the Exelon executive and chair of the GBC Board of Directors, said the board would launch a national search for Fry’s successor, with a goal of having a successor in place by the time Fry leaves.