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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Political notes: CD-3 updates, FEC teases, plus lobbying and personnel news

Labor lawyer John Morse became the 16th Democratic candidate in the 3rd congressional district this week. Campaign photo.

A second state senator seeking the 3rd District congressional seat is teasing his fundraising through the end of the year — and the numbers sound pretty good.

State Sen. Clarence K. Lam (D-Howard and Anne Arundel) said Thursday that he raised about $350,000 between the time he entered the race in late November and Dec. 31. All of the money, he said, can be spent on the May 14 primary, which appears likely to determine who succeeds nine-term Rep. John Sarbanes (D) in January 2025.

“We only had 30, 31 days to fundraise in one of the worst months of the year to fundraise, so we feel pretty good,” Lam said in an interview. “It really does show the level of enthusiasm we have with the congressional campaign.”

Lam said he would report having close to $330,000 in the bank as of Dec. 31.

Earlier this week, state Sen. Sarah K. Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel) said she raised over $402,000 in less than eight weeks as a candidate, and indicated she would report about $374,780 in the bank when campaign finance statements are due at the Federal Elections Commission on Jan. 31. It was not immediately clear whether all the money Elfreth raised would be available for the primary; the FEC sets $3,300 limits on donations for primaries and another $3,300 limit on general election contributions.

The race to replace Sarbanes continues to grow at an eye-popping rate: On Wednesday, John Morse, a labor lawyer, announced that he was joining the Democratic primary. He becomes the 16th Democrat in the race.

Morse worked until recently as associate general counsel for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., before resigning earlier this month to run for Congress.

Morse said the theme of his campaign would be “Strengthening Labor, Fighting for Democracy, and Renewing the American Dream.” He definitely appears ready to campaign from the progressive side of the Democratic orbit.

“For too long, the interests of working families and small businesses have been placed on the back burner to those of the ultra-wealthy and special interest groups,” Morse said in a statement. “Our campaign is committed to creating an economy where small businesses and individuals across income brackets can prosper, not just the wealthy few.”

Morse, who lives in Annapolis and has run in 18 marathons, announced his candidacy near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, accompanied by several of the flight attendants he has represented.

“He’s the only labor candidate and we’re ready to take his advocacy to the center of policy and lawmaking,” Sara Nelson, the president of the union, said in a tweet. “I’ve rarely met anyone as dedicated to working people.”

Alsobrooks’ millions

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) had another good fundraising haul in the fourth quarter of 2023 for her U.S. Senate run.

Alsobrooks announced on Thursday that she will report raising $1.78 million from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 when she files her FEC report later this month.

According to Alsobrooks’ campaign, that’s the largest fourth quarter fundraising haul, from donors, of any federal candidate in Maryland history. Alsobrooks ended the year raising more than $5 million and finished 2023 with more than $3.1 million cash on hand.

“I am truly grateful for the historic outpouring of support for our campaign,” Alsobrooks said in a statement. “It’s indicative of the fact that our people-first message is resonating with everyday Marylanders. When I set a fundraising record like this, I know I didn’t do it alone.”

Impressive as Alsobrooks’ numbers are, she is running in the Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th), a wealthy businessman who has unlimited resources to spend on his campaign. Trone has raised very little money from donors and is instead self-funding, arguing that it frees him from special interest influence. He has yet to say what his fourth quarter FEC report will show.

The two are vying for the right to replace U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D), who will end his remarkable 58-year political career at the beginning of 2025.

As the Annapolis lobbying world turns

Public Policy Partners, the “white hat” Annapolis lobbying firm that largely represents nonprofit and progressive advocacy clients, has added a former legislative staffer to its ranks.

The firm announced Thursday that Yvonne Harper is joining the 2024 legislative session team as administrative and policy communications coordinator.

Harper has worked as a policy analyst for Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City), and has also worked for two chairs of the House Economic Matters Committee — including the current leader, Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles), and former Chair Dereck E. Davis, who is now state treasurer. Harper has also served as a legal publications editor for the Maryland Bar Association.

And at the Maryland Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in the state, Christina M. Ochoa is taking over as the agency’s director of legislative affairs and assistant general counsel. She replaces Lisa K. Smith, who left the agency last month to become a principal in the Annapolis office of Husch Blackwell Strategies, a national lobbying firm.

Ochoa was most recently an assistant attorney general for the Maryland Judiciary, and the PSC said she has extensive legal experience in Maryland as well as experience advocating in Annapolis on consumer protection issues. Her resume includes work as a staff attorney for Maryland Legal Aid and St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center.

More personnel news: Chamber leader leaving

The longtime leader of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce will retire later this year.

The chamber announced Thursday that President & CEO Georgette “Gigi” Godwin will retire, effective June 30.

Godwin joined the chamber in 2003 as director of education and outreach, moving to vice president of public affairs in 2005. In 2006, she was named interim president & CEO until her eventual permanent elevation to the gig in 2007.

“I am incredibly proud of the work we have accomplished as an organization to strengthen Metro Maryland’s business community, support veteran-owned businesses, and advocate on behalf of small business federal contractors,” Goodwin said. “I believe now is a great time for the organization to transition to next-generation leadership.”

The chamber has formed a search committee to identify Godwin’s successor. Chamber Board Chair Erin Allen, president of Contemporaries, Inc., a staffing services company in Silver Spring, will lead the committee, and it will include representatives from the chamber’s Board of Directors. 

“I know we have our work cut out for us, but we are committed to finding a qualified and experienced leader to succeed Gigi,” Allen said. “We are confident that we will find a candidate who can continue to build on the Chamber’s success and steer MCCC into the future.”


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Political notes: CD-3 updates, FEC teases, plus lobbying and personnel news