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Political Notes: Ruff to replace Bridges in House, Alsobrooks ramps up fundraising before reporting deadline

Malcolm P. Ruff, speaking at the podium, is being appointed to the House of Delegates by Gov. Wes Moore (D). In this picture he is at a news conference in 2022 about a police brutality case in Prince George’s County. His boss, civil rights attorney Bill Murphy, is to his right. Image by William J. Ford.

Gov. Wes Moore (D) opted for youth and political fire over government experience when it came to filling a House vacancy in Baltimore City’s District 41.

Moore has chosen Malcolm P. Ruff, a 39-year-old civil rights attorney, to replace former Del. Tony Bridges (D) in the House of Delegates, multiple sources confirmed Monday. Although Ruff’s appointment hasn’t been formally announced, it was first reported in The Baltimore Banner on Sunday.

Earlier this month, when the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee met to recommend a replacement for Bridges, who recently joined the Moore administration as an assistant secretary in the Maryland Department of Transportation, the eight members from District 41 deadlocked between Ruff and former Del. Angela D. Gibson (D). She’s a 30-year veteran of city government who served as an appointed member of the House from 2017 to 2019 but lost a bid for a full term in 2018, finishing 168 votes behind Bridges in the Democratic primary. So the central committee wound up sending both names to Moore for consideration.

Moore appeared Saturday at a Juneteenth celebration that Ruff and his wife Sydnee held at their Northwest Baltimore home. He had also spoken at their Juneteenth party last year, before he was elected governor.

Word of Ruff’s appointment began circulating over the weekend.

“He’ll be great for the people of the district,” Bridges, who had backed Ruff’s bid to replace him, tweeted on Sunday.

Ruff is a litigator with the Baltimore law firm of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, which is run by the former judge and civil rights attorney Billy Murphy. He has worked alongside Murphy in several high-profile police abuse cases, including representing the family of William Green, who was shot to death by a Prince George’s County Police corporal while in police custody. Ruff won $20 million settlement for Green’s mother and his two adult children, one of the largest ever for a police brutality case in the U.S.

Ruff also took the lead on a lawsuit that the families of several Black teenagers filed against Ocean City police in 2021, accusing the police of tasing the youths while they were being arrested for vaping on the resort town’s boardwalk.

During his interview with the central committee earlier this month, Ruff emphasized the time he’s spent in Annapolis advocating for criminal justice bills in addition to his legal work, and said he has dreamed of being a legislator for most of his life. Ruff has also worked with Baltimore-based community groups, including Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, The Center for Urban Families, The Job Opportunities Task Force, Out for Justice, and the NAACP Office of the General Counsel.

Ruff did not respond to a message left at his law firm Monday, a national holiday.

Whenever he is sworn in, Ruff will join a legislative delegation in District 41 that includes Sen. Jill P. Carter (D) and Dels. Dalya Attar (D) and Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg (D).

Shaking the tin cup a little more furiously

When you’re running against a candidate with a seemingly unlimited ability to self-fund his campaign, you have to try a little harder on the fundraising front. So with a key fundraising deadline coming at the end of the month, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, is about to launch a frenetic several days of raising money.

Alsobrooks’ chief Democratic primary opponent for now is U.S. Rep. David Trone (D), co-founder of a popular national liquor store chain and one of the richest members of Congress. So with the second quarter fundraising deadline for federal candidates due to end on June 30, Alsobrooks has at least seven fundraising events scheduled that week.

On the late afternoon of June 24, she’ll be feted at an event in Riverdale Park hosted by Justin Ross, a former state lawmaker, lobbyist and powerbroker on the Prince George’s development scene; Brad Frome, a former Prince George’s County official and Ross’ business partner; Michael Errico, a former top Prince George’s official who is an engineer and development consultant; Abigail Ross Hopper, the president of the Solar Energy Industry Association and former head of The Maryland Energy Administration; and Jim Soltesz, an executive in a Washington, D.C., area engineering and development firm.

On June 25, there will be a late-afternoon reception for Alsobrooks in Mitchellville hosted by former Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert. On June 27, there will be an early evening fundraiser in Clinton sponsored by towing company magnate Juan Gray.

There are two events on June 28: One, in the late afternoon, is at the Davidsonville home of Mariko Bennett, an author and leadership coach, and Randy Broz, the partner in a Democratic fundraising firm. Co-hosts include Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D), Dels. Nick Charles (D-Prince George’s), Andrea Harrison (D-Prince George’s), Jazz Lewis (D-Prince George’s), Pamela Queen (D-Montgomery), Andrew Pruski (D-Anne Arundel), Karen Toles (D-Prince George’s), and Anne Arundel County Councilmember Allison Pickard (D).

The next event that evening, in Upper Marlboro, is co-hosted by Thomas Graham, the Pepco regional president; Gary Michael, a Prince George’s County developer; and G.S. Proctor, the Annapolis lobbyist. State Comptroller Brooke Lierman (D) and Treasurer Dereck Davis (D) are scheduled to appear.

On the morning of June 29, Alsobrooks will be the guest of honor at a breakfast in Rockville, hosted by Marnie Abramson, the president of an LED lighting company; Pennie Abramson, a Montgomery County philanthropist; and Joan Bialek, CEO of a Rockville-based construction and design firm. That evening, there will be an Alsobrooks fundraiser at a Copper Canyon restaurant in Glenarden, hosted by Manervia Riddick, a business consultant and former Washington Gas executive who serves on the Maryland Stadium Authority; Cedric Nash, who owns an information technology government contractor; and Vennard Wright, who is also an IT executive.

The fruits of Alsobrooks’ fundraising labors — and the extent to which Trone is willing to self-fund — will be evident on July 15, when the candidates’ second quarter campaign finance reports are due to be filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Trone has a reception scheduled for the evening of June 25 in Ocean City, where the Maryland Municipal League annual summer convention will be taking place. No word yet whether Alsobrooks or another Democratic candidate for Senate, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando, will be in Ocean City then.

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D), another skillful fundraiser, is also contemplating joining the Senate race.


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Political Notes: Ruff to replace Bridges in House, Alsobrooks ramps up fundraising before reporting deadline