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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Political notes: Dominguez on his decision to switch races, Hoyer to file for re-election, Dist. 6 news and new House leaders

A view of the U.S. Capitol. photo by Matthew Carroll.

As he traveled the state waging a longshot campaign for U.S. Senate, Anne Arundel County businessman and Army veteran Juan Dominguez became increasingly convinced that he wanted to pitch his candidacy exclusively to his friends and neighbors in the 3rd congressional district, calling the opportunity to serve them a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.

Juan Dominguez has dropped out of the U.S. Senate race and is running instead in the 3rd District Democratic House primary. Campaign photo.

So Dominguez this week is pivoting from the Senate Democratic primary, which was dominated by two well-known and better-funded candidates, and entering the crowded 3rd District Democratic scrum, where he hopes to break through in a field that includes five state lawmakers and a high-profile former U.S. Capitol police officer, along with eight other candidates.

“The mission remains the same — we will fight to relieve pressures on everyday families, provide quality education for every child, and ensure everyone has the economic opportunity to thrive,” Dominguez said.

In an interview Monday, Dominguez said he made the switch in part because as he stumped in the 3rd District, which takes in all of Howard County plus a large swath of Anne Arundel and a sliver of Carroll County, voters told him they were looking for more choices in the primary to replace retiring U.S. Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D).

“They really wanted another option — specifically us — to jump into the race,” he said.

Dominguez, the son of Cuban emigres who is seeking to become the first Latino Maryland sends to Congress, said his years living in Severna Park, as a public school parent, coaching his kids’ sports teams, and attending a local parish, puts him in closer touch with the voters in the House race.

“We have a real understanding of the people in the 3rd District and what’s important to them,” he said.

Dominguez said he also determined that the House is more dysfunctional than the Senate, and he sensed his skills and “battle-tested leadership” experience, as a West Point graduate, combat veteran and former executive in the tech sector could be especially useful there.

Dominguez’ Senate campaign was largely a home-grown affair, but while he finished 2023 with about $30,000 in his campaign account, he is entering the May 14 congressional race with a full battalion of consultants to help guide his House campaign.

His new campaign manager is Kaila Harris, who is fresh off managing a legislative campaign in Virginia. Dominguez has tapped a relatively new Latino and multicultural firm Conexión to provide strategic guidance and messaging. Connection was recently launched by a well-established Democratic media strategist Colin Rogero, former Biden White House public engagement leader Adrián Saenz, ex-White House deputy communications director Pili Tobar, and Marsha Espinosa, former communications director for the Department of Homeland Security.

Dominguez is also using a nonprofit consulting firm Solidarity Strategies to amplify his campaign’s messaging with Latino voters. He’s also using Lake Research Partners, a seasoned national Democratic polling firm; SBD Digital; and Azul Strategies, a Latina-owned fundraising firm led by Becky Colmenero-Sheetz.

While he may not have been a leader in the Senate race, Dominguez’ departure could have an impact on the primary between Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) and U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th). Some Latino political community leaders may be more inclined to take sides in the primary now that Dominguez has exited the race.

Dominguez himself said he hadn’t thought about whether to endorse Trone or Alsobrooks but would consider doing so if asked.

The 3rd District primary, with 15 candidates and counting, could be determined by the will of micro-voting blocs, and the electorate can be sliced and diced in dozens of different ways. Dominguez is a business leader, but he’s not the only one. He’s a military veteran, but so are Del. Mike Rogers (D-Anne Arundel) and attorney Don Quinn — and former U.S. Capitol police officer is also counting on his profile as a Jan. 6 hero in the primary. Dominguez is the only Latino in the race, but there are several candidates of color.

“When we talk about viability and electability, our credentials stand up well against anyone in this race,” Dominguez said.

Hoyer to file for reelection

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-5th) plans to file for reelection on Tuesday.

Hoyer, 84, released a statement Monday evening announcing his intent, ending speculation that he might retire before seeking a 23rd term — though he consistently stated he was content remaining in office.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-5th) at a Democratic rally in 2022. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

At a Democratic Party gala honoring him in June, Hoyer told the crowd: “Don’t write any obituaries.”

In Monday’s statement, Hoyer said he decided to remain in Congress after stepping down from House majority leader in 2022 “because I had work I wanted to continue and complete.”

That included securing the new FBI headquarters location in Greenbelt and Hoyer said he remains “committed to ensuring that project receives full funding.”

However, beyond that landmark accomplishment, Hoyer said the 118th Congress “has been one of the most partisan and polarized” in which he has served.

“As a result, it has been the least productive as well, with Republicans’ intra-party divisions blocking important progress for the American people,” Hoyer said in the statement. “I believe in the next Congress we will have a Democratic Majority that will be able to deliver for families in Maryland and across the country.”

He also echoed President Joe Biden’s recent campaign trail statements — that American democracy itself is at risk in 2024.

“During this coming election, the values, character, and very soul of America are at risk. Freedom, which makes our nation exceptional, will be on the ballot. That freedom, that democracy, has been preserved by the blood and ballots of patriots so that, in Lincoln’s words, this nation ‘…should not perish from the earth,'” he said. “Given these stakes, I believe I have more work to complete on behalf of my district, my state, and my country. I am blessed to have the good health, strength, and enduring passion necessary to continue serving my constituents at this decisive moment for Maryland and America.”

Hoyer, who was married in June to Elaine Kamarck, a top policy strategist at the Brookings Institution, said he reached the decision to run again after conversations with Kamarck, his family, colleagues and constituents.

Four Democrats — Quincy Bareebe, Andrea L. Crooms, Leonard “Lenny” Proctor and McKayla Wilkes — and one Republican — Michelle Talkington — have also filed with the State Board of Elections to run for the seat.

Hoyer won the 2022 primary with 71% of the vote in a three-candidate field, and won re-election in November by 32 points over his Republican challenger.
The 2024 primary election is May 14, with early voting beginning May 2.

Dist. 6: Delaney’s dough and team, plus a Vogel endorsement

April McClain Delaney, the former U.S. Department of Commerce official who is considered one of the leading Democrats in the race to replace Trone in the 6th District, announced Monday that she raised about $530,000 since entering the race in October and did not give any of her own money to the campaign. The campaign said she had close to $500,000 in her war chest at the end of December — a figure she and other candidates are required to report to the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 31.

“I am so grateful for the overwhelming support my campaign has received since we launched in late October,” Delaney said in a statement Monday.

Delaney used Monday’s announcement to also reveal key members of her campaign team.

On the consultant front, SKDK, a powerhouse Democratic media firm, will lead paid media efforts with a team consisting of:

— Bill Knapp, the founding partner, who has worked on six presidential campaigns and several dozen congressional, gubernatorial and mayoral races, including for Delaney’s husband, ex-Maryland  Congressman John Delaney (D). Also working on the campaign team from SKDK is Greta Feldman, a senior vice president, who specializes in advertising and production for political, non-profit and for-profit clients. Her political clients have included John Delaney and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D). Maxwell Nunes, SKDK’s head of digital, will lead the campaign’s digital strategy.

— Fred Yang of the firm Garin-Hart-Yang, who has worked for scores of campaigns in and out of Maryland, will conduct the polling for the Delaney campaign. Jennifer Frost, who has run her own national Democratic fundraising firm for two decades, is the campaign’s lead fundraising consultant.

— Isaac Rappoport is joining Delaney’s team this month as campaign manager. He has worked most recently for the Democratic Governors Association, where he was the political services director on the digital side. The campaign’s new communications director is Susan Kenedy, who worked in 2022 for businessman David Blair during his unsuccessful campaign for Montgomery County executive. She has also worked for the Montgomery County Council and for the FOVNDRY, the Rockville-based communications firm.

“We’ve brought together a group of experienced Maryland professionals to ensure that this state’s most competitive district stays in Democratic hands,” Delaney said.

In a related development, the Latino Victory Fund on Monday endorsed another leading candidate in the crowded 6th District Democratic race, Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery), who moved to the U.S. with his family from Uruguay when he was 3 years old.

The Latino Victory Fund’s President and CEO, Sindy M. Benavides, and U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), the chair of the group’s political action committee, announced the endorsement during an event at La Casita Pupusería & Cocina in Gaithersburg.

“Joe Vogel’s credentials are formidable, combining legislative and leadership experience with the novel outlook that only a Gen Z, LGBTQ Latino can bring to Congress,” Benavides said. “Our country needs more members like Joe in Congress, leaders who are unapologetic about fighting for the real issues, and progressive policies that strengthen and uplift the Latino community.”

Some additions to the House leadership team

House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) announced some changes and additions to her House leadership team. Jones said that Del. Nicole Williams (D), who was just elected chair of the Prince George’s County House delegation, will be vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

On the House Ways and Means Committee, Del. Dalya Attar (D-Baltimore City), will become chair of the Local Revenues Subcommittee.

And Jones has tapped four new deputy majority whips: Dels. Charlotte Crutchfield (D-Montgomery), Julie Palakovich Carr (D-Montgomery), Sheila Ruth (D-Baltimore County) and Karen Toles (D-Prince George’s).

“I have made it a top priority to maintain a leadership team that reflects the growing diversity of the state and the House of Delegates,” Jones said.

This story has been updated with an estimate of how much campaign cash April McLain Delaney had on hand at the end of 2023.


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Political notes: Dominguez on his decision to switch races, Hoyer to file for re-election, Dist. 6 news and new House leaders