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Election 2022

Political Notes: Franchot Field Staff Unionizes, the Johnny O-Tom Perez Connection, Mfume Cuts an Ad for Moore

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels.

The gubernatorial campaign of Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) announced Friday that 14 of its campaign workers — mostly members of the field staff — have voted to unionize.

In a “proactive move,” the staffers will be joining the Campaign Workers Guild, campaign spokeswoman Jordan Bellamy said. She said the movement came about “organically,” with support from Franchot and campaign leaders, and was not the product of a hostile negotiation.

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While the campaign did not discuss the terms of the bargaining agreement, it likely evolved from spiking inflation, guaranteeing that the workers will be sufficiently compensated for travel expenses and other costs incurred while moving around the state. Bellamy called the field staff “the heartbeat of our campaign.”

“The campaign has created an atmosphere of being intentional about ensuring that everyone is represented — and not as a symbolic or performative gesture, but by empowering everyone to share their perspective,” said Dwaine Thomas, a Franchot campaign organizer in Prince George’s County. “This union is a concrete reflection of those efforts, and will have tangible outcomes that will continue to make worker’s rights and voters’ issue a focal point.”

In separate statements, Franchot, Campaign Manager Ben Smith and Field Director Sean Ford said they were “proud” to be part of the agreement.

“This exemplifies what it means to live out our value system, to prioritize results over rhetoric,” Franchot said. “Maryland must be a leader in building a thriving economy that works for everyone. It is critical to our ability to attract and retain a thriving workforce as we build the economy of tomorrow.”

But AFSCME Local 3, which represents thousands of state workers and has endorsed one of Franchot’s Democratic opponents in the gubernatorial primary, Tom Perez, did not seem impressed with the announcement.

“Well this is a change from when he fought AFSCME members unionizing the Comptrollers office,” the public employee union tweeted. “We remember him going to the General Assembly leadership in an effort to prevent the Comptrollers office be covered by Collective Bargaining.”

Ties that bind?

It was never clear that Baltimore County Executive John A. Olszewski Jr. (D) was going to endorse a candidate for governor in the upcoming Democratic primary. But it seemed likely that if he was going to endorse, Perez, a former U.S. Labor secretary, would be the logical choice.

Not only do both men consider themselves “getting stuff done” Democrats, but both come from working class communities — Olszewski in Dundalk, Perez in Buffalo, N.Y. And, as Perez said Friday, both were raised with the admonition that “you never forget where you came from and you make sure the ladder’s always down.”

Not only that, Perez and Olszewski have staffers in common. Perez’s campaign staff features two veterans of Olszewski’s 2018 campaign and his administration: senior adviser Tucker Cavanagh and communications guru Sean Naron. And Olszewski’s current communications director, Dori Henry, has worked for Perez at three different stops.

Still, Perez said Friday at the International Union of Operating Engineers union hall in Dundalk, “this fourth quarter lift that he is giving us is undeniable,” noting that basketball games “are won and lost in the fourth quarter.”

Olszewski said he was moved to endorse Perez because, “As I watched this race unfold in a field of very qualified Democrats, I feel that Tom has established himself as the one with the best ability to lead our state in the years ahead. Above all else, we need good, seasoned, caring people in government.”

Olszewski said that not only does Perez have the best credentials in the Democratic field, “he’s the most-battled tested.”

Olszewski became the second county executive to endorse Perez this week: On Monday, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner (D) threw her support to Perez, and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) did so months earlier. Author and former nonprofit CEO Wes Moore has endorsements from Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) and Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D).

Of the other Maryland “Big Eight” leaders who are Democrats, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D) and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D) are neutral in the primary for governor.

Mfume cuts ad for Moore

Wes Moore launched a new campaign ad Friday featuring Rep. Kweisi Mfume.

Mfume, who endorsed Moore last month, speaks to Moore’s leadership experience and vision for Maryland in the ad, which begins airing on broadcast radio in the Baltimore market this week.

“I know firsthand that effective partnerships are those forged with leaders that share a common vision,” Mfume says, opening the ad. “Wes represents a new generation of leadership, with the courage to fight and fix the problems we face everyday. That’s why I’m supporting Wes Moore for Governor and his efforts to shape an even better Maryland, where no one is left behind.”

The ad is part of what the Moore campaign called an aggressive media strategy leading up to primary election day on July 19.