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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Political Notes: Eckardt Girds for Primary, Krebs Retiring, Peroutka Runs for AG, and More

A sunny day at the State House. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Sen. Adelaide C. Eckardt (R-Middle Shore) has heard the chatter — that she’s likely to be challenged in the Republican primary by Del. John F. “Johnny” Mautz IV in the June 28 GOP primary.

Mautz hasn’t said anything publicly yet — or filed to run for any office. But the general consensus is that there will be a member vs. member contest, with Mautz making the case that Eckardt’s record isn’t sufficiently conservative. Mautz did not immediately respond to a message left at his legislative office Friday.

Eckardt, who won the Senate seat by ousting then-Sen. Richard Colburn in the 2014 Republican primary, after serving in the House for 20 years, is clearly not thrilled at the prospect of running in a race against Mautz. But she’s trying to be philosophical about it.

“Whatever it is, it is,” she said. “It’s just politics, and that’s what we all get into. I did it myself [against Colburn].”

Eckardt said she was eager to serve four more years in order to finish the work she has been focusing on, from island restoration in the mid-Chesapeake Bay to restoration of oyster beds to shoring up health care and child care services on the Eastern Shore.

“I think we can have a transition after that,” she said. “I’m a hands-on, frontlines kind of person and I stay close to my communities.”

Eckardt serves on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, the panel with perhaps the most bipartisan spirit in the legislature. Asked about the possibility that she’ll be attacked from the right, Eckardt said she preferred to “focus on the issues that we all agree on” and lamented the increasing prominence of “the extremes in both parties.”

Krebs announces she won’t seek re-election

Del. Susan Krebs (R-Carroll), who was first elected to the General Assembly in 2002, announced this week that she won’t seek re-election in 2022.

“This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made – I love representing my Carroll County constituents in the Maryland General Assembly,” Krebs wrote in a message to constituents. “I have been so blessed to have had so much support over the years, from family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, businesses, non-profits and all of you who have written, phoned or flagged me down in the grocery store (I really do not mind).”

Krebs is the second incumbent in Carroll County’s District 5 to announce she wont seek re-election; Del. Haven Shoemaker (R), the House minority whip, is running for Carroll County State’s Attorney in 2022.

The third delegate representing the district, April Rose (R), has filed to run for re-election. Also running in the district are three other Republicans: Dennis E. Frazier, Sallie B. Taylor and Chris Tomlinson.

Before coming to the legislature, Krebs served one term on the Carroll County Board of Education.

“I am not sure what the future holds for me after 2022, but after twenty-four years of public service I will continue to remain actively involved in our community and I encourage you to do the same,” Krebs wrote.

Peroutka AG bid could scramble statewide political picture

The news that former Anne Arundel County Councilmember Michael Peroutka (R) filed this week to run for state attorney general cannot make pragmatic Republicans happy.

Peroutka, who served on the council from 2014 to 2018, has been a lightning rod for controversy. He has ties to the League of the South, an organization that has been labeled as a hate group, stumped for Roy Moore, the controversial Republican former U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, and in 2004 was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party, preaching about the teachings of the Bible and calling for extremely limited government.

In an email this week to The Washington Post, Peroutka said he wanted to run for attorney general in part to protest the COVID-19 health and safety measures imposed under Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).

“No governor, in any state, has the authority to suspend the Constitution,” he said, according to the Post. “And any attempt by a Governor to suspend Constitutional rights is an act of lawlessness and a violation of his/her oath of office. I am seeking the office of Attorney General of the State of Maryland because, like millions of Marylanders, I want these abuses of power and the violations of the liberties of Marylanders to cease.”

In the Republican primary, Peroutka will compete against James F. Shalleck, a former prosecutor who has run unsuccessfully for Montgomery County executive and state’s attorney. With Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) retiring after two terms, U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown and retired judge Katie Curran O’Malley are seeking the Democratic nomination.

The winner of the Democratic primary is likely to be the heavy favorite. Maryland Republicans last elected an attorney general in 1952.

Even if there’s little chance of a Republican winning the race, Republican strategists and leaders who are trying to project a moderate front to Maryland’s electorate cannot be happy about the prospect of Peroutka as their nominee. As of Jan. 12, Shalleck had just $1,268 in his campaign account. Peroutka has just opened a new campaign committee, Patriots for Peroutka. A previous campaign account, Friends of Peroutka, reported being $268,000 in debt to the candidate as of January 2020, the last time a report was filed.

Hogan-aligned group has its say after Dems weigh in on redistricting lawsuit

Fair Maps Maryland, the anti-gerrymandering group with ties to Hogan, wants the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s request to intervene in a lawsuit against Maryland’s new congressional maps thrown out.

That lawsuit was brought by Republican voters from all eight of Maryland’s congressional districts, who charge the new map violates the state constitution by diluting their votes, and is supported by Fair Maps Maryland.

The DCCC, the campaign arm of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit last month. Attorneys for the committee argued in that motion that the organization “will suffer direct injury because the districts their members of Congress have run in previously, and will run in again in 2022, will be changed.”

Maryland law allows individuals and groups to intervene, or become a party to, cases that directly affect their interest.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued in a motion released Thursday by Fair Maps that a DCCC intervention would “unduly delay this litigation” and that the committee wouldn’t be directly affected.

“Plaintiffs simply seek an order prohibiting the use of congressional districts designed to unlawfully ensure or make likely victory by Democratic candidates,” the plaintiffs’ motion reads. “Plaintiffs do not seek the creation of congressional districts where Democratic candidates are not competitive.”

Attorneys for the DCCC, including prominent Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias, argued in their motion to intervene that state officials who are currently defendants in the lawsuit don’t adequately represent the committee’s goal to elect Democrats to Congress.

“The existing Defendants are state officials who have an undeniable interest in defending the duly enacted laws of Maryland and conducting elections under those laws,” the motion reads. “Defendants do not share [our] interest in ensuring its members of Congress have an opportunity to compete in and win congressional elections in properly constituted districts.”

CASA in Action candidates

CASA in Action, the political affiliate of CASA, the immigrants’ rights group, made a raft of endorsements for state and local offices this week.

“Every election cycle our members focus squarely on electing leaders who will fight for their families and represent the beautiful diversity of Maryland,” Gustavo Torres, CASA in Action president, said in a statement. “The candidates that we endorsed are the thought leaders and changemakers that share our values of respect for all Marylanders.”

The full list of endorsements includes many Democratic incumbents, especially for state legislative seats. The list of nonincumbents winning the CASA in Action nod for legislative races are: Del. Karen Lewis Young, who is seeking to move up to the state Senate in Frederick County’s District 3; Ruben Amaya and Jennifer White, who are running for House seats in Baltimore County’s District 10 (White is running on a ticket with House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones); former Del. Saqib Ali, who is running for a House seat in Montgomery County’s District 15; Joe Vogel, an immigrant from Uruguay who is running for a House seat in Montgomery County’s District 17; Ashanti Martinez, a CASA research and policy analyst who is running for the House in District 22 in Prince George’s County; Alexis Solis, Christopher Stevenson, and LaTasha R. Ward in Prince George’s County’s District 24 House race, where only one incumbent is running; Logan Endow, running for House in the new District 43A in Baltimore City; Aletheia McCaskill, running for a House seat in Baltimore County District 44B; Mark Edelson, running for the House in Baltimore City’s District 46; and Prince George’s County Councilmember Deni A. Taveras, who is running for a House seat in District 47B.

In local races in Montgomery County, CASA in Action’s nonincumbent endorsements are: Brandy Brooks for a County Council at large seat; William Roberts for a council seat in District 2; Takoma Park Mayor  Kate Stewart for a council seat in District 4; Fatmata Barrie for a council seat in District 5; Natali Fani-Gonzalez for a council seat in District 6; Dawn Luedtke for a council seat in District 7; and Perry Paylor, who is running for state’s attorney.

In local races in Prince George’s County, CASA in Action’s nonincumbent endorsements are: former state Sen. Victor Ramirez for a council seat in District 2; former Councilmember Eric Olson for his old seat in District 3; Wala Blegay for a council seat in District 6; and Krystal Oriadha for a council seat in District 7.

CASA in Action has also endorsed Robbie Leonard, who is challenging Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger in the Democratic primary. CASA in Action previously announced endorsements of Tom Perez for governor, Anthony G. Brown for attorney general, and Brooke E. Lierman for comptroller. Perez is a former president of the CASA board.

Anne Arundel officials back Mizeur 

With Maryland’s 1st Congressional District newly redrawn to cross over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and include parts of Anne Arundel County with the Eastern Shore, Democratic contender Heather R. Mizeur announced endorsements from several Anne Arundel officials this week.

County Executive Steuart Pittman Jr. (D) and Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley (D) endorsed Mizeur, alongside several state lawmakers who represent parts of the county: Sens. Pamela G. Beidle, Sarah K. Elfreth and James C. Rosapepe, and Dels. Heather Bagnall, Benjamin Barnes, J. Sandra Bartlett, Dana Jones, Mary Lehman and Joseline Peña-Melnyk. Anne Arundel County Clerk of the Court Scott A. Poyer is also on the list.

The new 1st District loops north of downtown Annapolis to include the area around Severna Park, and heads as far west as Maryland City to include more than 200,000 Anne Arundel County voters.

On the High road

High Street Strategies, a government affairs and communications firm with a regular presence in Annapolis, has added Jarryd Hawkins and Norah Carlos to its roster of strategists.

Hawkins joins High Street as a senior associate after working for U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and will be based in the firm’s Annapolis office. He has worked with non-profit organizations, small businesses, municipalities, and government agencies to access federal funds, and also served on the transition team of Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D).

Carlos joins the firm from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and has worked for environmental nonprofits for the past eight years. She will be based out of the Washington, D.C., office.

“Together, they bring tremendous skills and experience to the firm and are a perfect fit for our work and our team,” said Matt Mullin, the firm’s president and CEO.

Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.

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Political Notes: Eckardt Girds for Primary, Krebs Retiring, Peroutka Runs for AG, and More