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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Political Notes: Follow the bouncing Ball, Senate endorsement update, Lamone’s party, fight for Dem chair, and lobbying notes

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D). Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Sometimes in politics you get addition by subtraction.

Had he run for Congress in the 3rd District, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D), who formally announced Monday that he won’t seek to replace retiring U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-3rd) in 2024, would have been a formidable contender. He would have been the best-known candidate initially, broadly acceptable to a huge part of the Democratic electorate, and with a few closely fought and high-dollar campaigns under his belt.

But Ball has decided to stick around and finish his final three years as county executive, so he can continue pursuing a “transformational vision for our community.”

“For the last five years, it has been the honor of my lifetime to serve as your Howard County Executive,” Ball said in a statement. “Together, we rejected the weak, failed policies of the past to lead our region into the future with a vision of hope, optimism, and shared prosperity.”

In the short term, Ball’s departure from the race — the subtraction — is good news for the three leading candidates who have announced their plans to run so far: state House Ways and Means Chair Vanessa E. Atterbeary (D-Howard), state Sen. Sarah K. Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel) and Del. Terri L. Hill (D-Howard). His decision not to run is addition for them.

It’s also addition for several other Democrats who continue to eye the race — among them, Del. Jon S. Cardin (D-Baltimore County), Del. Mark S. Chang (D-Anne Arundel), Sen. Clarence K. Lam (D-Howard), and Anne Arundel County Councilmember Pete Smith. And it can be considered addition insofar as it clarifies the race, for now —  at least until there are more developments.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, one of the candidates is turning to an old foe for help. Air Force veteran Berney Flowers, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in the 2nd congressional district last year, has tapped Ellen “EJ” McNulty, a former state official who also sought the 2nd District nomination in 2022, as an adviser for his 2024 3rd District campaign.

For the record, Flowers finished fourth in that 2nd District Republican primary, with 13.2% of the vote; McNulty, who worked for the administrations of former Republican Govs. Bob Ehrlich and Larry Hogan, finished fifth with 11.1%.

Since Sarbanes announced his retirement in late October, two other Republicans have joined Flowers in the primary, attorney Rob Steinberger and businessman Naveed Mian. Many Republicans are waiting to see whether Yuripzy Morgan, the former WBAL Radio personality who ran against Sarbanes in 2022, joins the race.

Dueling endorsements in Senate primary — again

Throughout the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has shown an uncanny ability to counter any endorsements rolled out by her chief competitor, U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th), with endorsements of her own.

That trend continued Tuesday. Early in the day, Trone announced that he had won the backing of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 26, adding to prior endorsements from two other IBEW unions, Local 24 and Local 307. Alsobrooks countered with endorsements from a baker’s dozen current and former local elected officials, including Baltimore City Comptroller Bill Henry (D) and former Mayor Jack Young (D). Later, she announced endorsements from two IBEW unions, Local 70 and Local 1900.

For those who are wondering, Local 26 is one of the biggest IBEW locals in the Mid-Atlantic, representing workers in the Washington, D.C., area. Local 24 represents workers in the Baltimore area and Eastern Shore; Local 307 is based in Cumberland. The locals that endorsed Alsobrooks Tuesday are based in Forest Heights and Upper Marlboro, respectively — both in her home turf of Prince George’s County.

“Whenever Local 26 has called, Congressman Trone has responded energetically to our concerns,” said Local 26 Business Manager Joseph Dabbs. “He is a pragmatic problem-solver who puts the needs of the people first.”

In addition to Henry and Young, the list of political leaders endorsing Alsobrooks Tuesday featured: Baltimore City Councilmembers Sharon Green Middleton, Mark Conway and Kristerfer Burnett; state Dels. Jennifer White Holland (D-Baltimore County), Lorig Charkoudian (D-Montgomery) and Aletheia McCaskill (D-Baltimore County); Montgomery County Councilmember Kate Stewart; Pocomoke City Mayor Todd Nock, Salisbury City Councilmembers Michele Gregory and Megan Outten; and former Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley.

Alsobrooks counts endorsements from about 130 current and former elected officials in Maryland so far.

And speaking of the Senate race, another Democrat, Anne Arundel County businessman and military veteran Juan Dominguez, who fought for weeks with leaders of the Prince George’s County Latino Democratic Club to be invited to their Senate candidate forum, is trying to build a crowd when it’s held on Dec. 3 at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg.

“Please come out to this important event,” Dominguez wrote in a mass email. “It would mean a lot to see my friends, family and supporters in the audience!”

Near the end of the email, Dominguez mentions that if people cannot attend in person if they could donate to his campaign.

Alsobrooks and Trone have also been invited to the forum.

Party like it’s 1997

Friends and former colleagues of Linda H. Lamone, who stepped down earlier this year after 26 years as administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections, are throwing a party in her honor Wednesday evening in Annapolis.

“It’s an opportunity to have some people come and give some remarks and celebrate her accomplishments,” said Nikki Charlson, Lamone’s longtime deputy at SBE, who has since moved on to become a deputy administrator at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.

About 100 people are expected to attend, Charlson said. Scheduled speakers include Gov. Wes Moore (D), U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D) and Matthew Masterson, a former commissioner at the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

Long-shot’s platform

If all goes as expected on Saturday, Ken Ulman, the former Howard County executive who has headed a development consulting company for several years, will be elected state Democratic chair when the Democratic State Central Committee gathers at the IBEW Local 26’s headquarters in Lanham. Ulman has been anointed by Moore, who also announced that he is backing Charlene Dukes, the former president of Prince George’s County Community College, to be the party’s first vice chair.

But that hasn’t stopped 22-year-old Edward Crizer III, a member of the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee, from seeking to become the new state chair. Over the weekend, Crizer sent out a 16-item platform that girds his candidacy. It leans heavily into equity, empowering younger people, boosting political participation by people of color, and improving the relationship between local central committees and the state party.

“Now more than ever, our voters and constituents deserve a Democratic party that will be relentless in fighting for solutions they so desperately need — because only the Democratic party has the ability to do so,” Crizer wrote. “Just as the national party must be present in all 50 states, our Maryland Democratic Party must have a strategy for all 24 jurisdictions.

“Additionally, there must be more transparency regarding our state party’s finances. As central committee members, we have a right to know where our money is coming from, and where it is going. Finally, as members of the Democratic party, we are the arbiters of our party’s values and beliefs at the local, state, and national level. We must support our elected officials whenever we can — however, we cannot abdicate our explicitly delegated responsibility to keep them accountable to their constituents.”

Crizer ended his appeal by quoting Moore, vowing to build a party that “leaves no one behind.”

As the Annapolis lobbying world turns

With the start of the General Assembly session less than two months away, two Annapolis lobbying firms have added talent to their ranks.

Capitol Strategies, LLC, a well-established firm, announced Tuesday that it is bringing on Joy Weber as its new general counsel.

Weber’s lobbying career began with the firm firm Rifkin Weiner Livingston, where she clients in the energy, gig economy, higher education, and general development sectors. She then went to work for the offshore wind energy industry.

David Carroll, a founding partner of Capitol Strategies, praised Weber’s “innovative thinking and expertise in government affairs.”

Weber will essentially be filling the slot held at Capitol Strategies by Erin Appel, who departed the firm recently after 16 years to become United HealthGroup’s vice president of external affairs for Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Meanwhile, the firm Ashlar Government Relations announced Tuesday that it is bringing on Tyahna Arnold to be its newest public policy associate. The firm said she will focus on its nonprofit clients.

Arnold has worked for President Biden’s Office of Advance & Scheduling and was a key campaign strategist for Smith, the Anne Arundel County councilmember.

“Tyahna represents all the best qualities in the next generation,” Smith said. “Her intelligence, poise, and hard work set a standard that few can match.”

William J. Ford contributed to this report.


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Political Notes: Follow the bouncing Ball, Senate endorsement update, Lamone’s party, fight for Dem chair, and lobbying notes