Purple Line supporters were out in full force Monday night in Annapolis, something Purple Line opponents say means “they know the project is in trouble.”
More than 150 residents, business leaders and elected officials took part in “Transit Night” in the state’s capital, a few months before Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to decide whether to move forward with the long-debated 16-mile light rail from New Carrollton to Bethesda.
The elected officials included County Executive Isiah Leggett, Councilmembers George Leventhal and Roger Berliner, local Delegates Ana Sol Gutierrez and Marc Korman and District 16 State Sen. Susan Lee.
The advocates continued to make the economic development argument that became the talking point of choice when Hogan — a Republican who campaigned on improving the state’s business climate — upset Purple Line supporter Anthony Brown in November.
“We probably have somewhere in the neighborhood of 85,000 to 100,000 jobs in the pipeline in Montgomery County,” Leggett said, “and what is tied to all of that is transportation, and most specifically transit. There is no ‘Plan B’ for the Purple Line. Any backup is a mild substitute and we all will suffer.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen on Monday continued his aggressive early push to shore up Montgomery County support for his U.S. Senate campaign.
County Executive Isiah Leggett and eight of the nine County Council members (Councilmember Tom Hucker had a family obligation) took a microphone one-by-one to endorse Van Hollen, the longtime 8th District House representative who lives in Kensington.
“It is not easy to represent the residents of Montgomery County. They are very knowledgeable. They’re very involved. They’re well-organized,” Leggett said. “I am delighted, enthusiastically, to endorse our next U.S. senator from the great state of Maryland, Chris Van Hollen.”
The endorsements came before any other officials have announced for the race, which now seems likely to involve 4th District Rep. Donna Edwards as soon as Tuesday.
“If you look at what the county executive and this County Council have done in so many areas, it is a model for our nation,” Van Hollen said in thanking the officials for their support. “They increased the minimum wage. They are a leader on climate change. One county in one state in one country, but they’ve been a leader.”
When asked after the press conference about Edwards’ progressive reputation, Van Hollen characterized himself as an “effective progressive.”
It was a common theme throughout the press conference, which took place in front of the Council Office Building in Rockville. Van Hollen had a previously scheduled lunch meeting with the Council after the event.
Updated at 9:25 a.m. – Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett on Thursday endorsed Chris Van Hollen for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Mikulski in 2016.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh followed with an endorsement for Van Hollen on Friday morning.
Leggett’s endorsement, in which he said Van Hollen “is widely respected by each and every one of our local leaders,” is hardly a surprise. Van Hollen endorsed Leggett last year in his primary race for a third term as county executive.
It does reinforce how quickly Van Hollen is moving to cement his place in the race to replace Mikulski. The Kensington resident and 8th District representative since 2003 is so far only candidate to announce. He did so just more than 48 hours after Mikulski announced she will be retiring.
“Chris has deftly navigated through extraordinary and difficult times to achieve the leadership role as ranking member of the House Budget Committee,” Leggett said. “Now, at this key point, our country needs a leader with a proven record of fighting to create jobs, make critical investments to keep America competitive, and protect the promises we’ve made to our seniors. It needs a leader with broad experience in transportation, infrastructure, and housing. And it needs a champion for the environment. Chris delivers on all counts.”
Frosh praised Van Hollen’s environmental and gun safety efforts while the two were both state senators in Annapolis. Frosh, the longtime District 16 state senator from Somerset, won the attorney general seat last year.
Meanwhile, plenty of potential candidates to replace Van Hollen in the 8th District continue to express their interest in that race. District 18 State Sen. Rich Madaleno told the Washington Blade on Thursday that he’s “seriously considering” a run.
District 16 Del. Ariana Kelly, County Councilmember Nancy Navarro and former County Councilmember Valerie Ervin told Bethesda Magazine roughly the same thing on Thursday. Bethesda Magazine also reported that Van Hollen will be in Annapolis today looking for support for his Senate bid.
The full Leggett and Frosh endorsements are after the jump.
A bevy of state lawmakers, some county officials and others outside elected office will likely position themselves in the coming months for a run at the 8th District House seat to be vacated by Chris Van Hollen.
State Senators Jamie Raskin (who has publicly expressed interest), Rich Madaleno and Roger Manno have already been rumored by local political observers to be looking at a run to replace Van Hollen in 2016.
So have Delegates Kumar Barve, Bill Frick and Ariana Kelly, plus former delegate and gubernatorial nominee Heather Mizeur.
Former County Councilmember Valerie Ervin is a possibility, according to some. Sitting County Council members George Leventhal, a former Hill staffer, and Hans Riemer, a former political director for Rock the Vote, might also consider a run.
“So much of the political class has been waiting for this,” said one observer, who pegged Raskin, Mizeur and Madaleno at the top of the list right now.
There’s also the wild card factor: A well-funded candidate who comes from outside the local political establishment to crash the primary, as 6th District Rep. John Delaney did in 2012 by handily beating State Sen. Rob Garagiola.
That person may be Kathleen Matthews, the Chevy Chase resident, former local news anchor and Marriott International’s executive vice president and chief global communications officer. She’s also the wife of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
Politico reported on Thursday that Matthews has begun talking to activists and “interviewing potential consultants.”
Eighth District Rep. Chris Van Hollen on Wednesday announced he will seek the state’s U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Barbara Mikulski in 2016.
Van Hollen, a Kensington resident, has represented the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area in the House of Representatives since 2003.
His political stature has grown ever since. He served as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2007-2011 and was frequently mentioned as a potential future House speaker if Democrats regain control of the legislative body.
He was also pegged as a potential replacement for Mikulski as soon as she announced her retirement on Monday.
“I am excited to share that I have decided to run for the United States Senate from our great State of Maryland. I am very grateful to the citizens of Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District for the opportunity to represent them and want to thank the many Marylanders who, over the last 48 hours, have called, sent text messages, or emailed to urge me to run for the United States Senate,” Van Hollen wrote on Facebook.
Van Hollen is expected to face stiff Democratic competition for the seat. The competition for his Eighth District House seat, in a hotbed of Democratic politics, could be just as heated.
State Sen. Jamie Raskin, from Takoma Park, has already expressed interest. He could be joined by many state legislators and county officials. That game of “musical chairs,” as Raskin called it, could impact county elections in 2018, as County Executive Isiah Leggett is not expected to seek a fourth term.
Van Hollen’s full message announcing his Senate campaign follows the jump.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced on Monday she will retire at the end of her current term, ending the decades-long tenure of Congress’ longest-serving woman legislator and inviting a wealth of reaction from local and national elected officials.
County Council President George Leventhal worked on Mikulski’s staff for five years in the 1990s and told reporters “to say I love her is not strong enough.” Council Vice President Nancy Floreen also worked on Mikulski’s staff.
In his official statement, Leventhal said “all Marylanders should be grateful” for her service:
It is hard to remember now what a seismic change Barbara Mikulski represented when she was elected to the U.S. Senate as one of only two women in that body. Her election sent a signal to America and the world that the U.S. Senate didn’t have to be an exclusive good old boys club. She has consistently been a strong voice for a more open and inclusive politics and her retirement announcement continues that tradition, as it offers an opportunity for a new generation of leadership to rise. All Marylanders should be grateful to Senator Mikulski for her influence and her example. Through her efforts, thousands of jobs have been created and retained and Maryland’s share of federal spending has remained generous. Most importantly, women and men of every background, regardless of where they lived in Maryland, had an effective fighter working on their behalf in the Senate. She has been a force for good in American politics.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, rumored as a candidate to replace Mikulski in 2016, said she’s been a “true champion for the people of Maryland”:
A new statewide poll shows 72 percent of Marylanders support moving the start of the school year to after Labor Day and that most who have heard of the Purple Line project support its construction.
Goucher College’s Department of Political Science and International Relations asked 619 residents about a number of prominent state political issues and the presidential ambitions of three Marylanders.
Seventy-two percent of respondents said they support Comptroller Peter Franchot’s controversial effort to move the start of the school year to after Labor Day. Nineteen percent of respondents opposed the idea and 9 percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer.
State and local education officials are opposed to the idea, cautioning that moving the start of school after Labor Day could push the end of the school year well into June or even July if there are enough weather closures. Montgomery County Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill has argued school scheduling decisions should be left up to local school districts.
Franchot’s office highlighted the poll numbers on Wednesday in a press release. A State Senate bill that would ban public school districts from starting school before Labor Day is scheduled for a committee hearing on Thursday afternoon in Annapolis.
While it appears Joshua Starr isn’t finding enough support from the Board of Education to keep his job, at least one local elected official has made it clear he thinks letting the MCPS superintendent go would be a mistake.
District 18 State Sen. Rich Madaleno said ousting Starr would be “a huge gamble” with the county’s future. An editorial from the Washington Post published Tuesday night cited sources saying the Board of Education won’t renew Starr’s contract when it ends in June.
Madaleno made the comment in a Facebook post:
“Not sure who will be running MCPS next. Our school system is our county’s most important civic enterprise. This is a huge gamble with its future. If the school board cannot decide on the current leadership, how will they agree on a new direction? Who will want the job in these conditions?”
On the same day many of us are learning from the Washington Post Editorial Board that a split Montgomery County school board may be dismissing our superintendent for, among the reasons given, his inability to close the achievement gaps between different ethnic groups, the Maryland Department of Education released new graduation statistics that show meaningful progress in reducing these gaps. Interesting coincidence. It might even be labeled ironic. But why should data get in the way of personal passions. You can review the data and sort it a variety of ways at the linked site.
In an email to supporters earlier this month, Kelly said she is working with a coalition called the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women on a bill that would require a feasibility study on creating such a program.
While some states provide paid leave to new parents or people who suffer serious health problems, the money generally comes from a temporary disability insurance program. Maryland doesn’t have a disability insurance program set up.
“Maryland does not have such a program, so our road to paid family leave, although not impossible, is somewhat more complex,” according to a summary of the bill written up by the coalition.
“It is my goal to make sure Maryland is the next state to follow suit,” Kelly wrote. “We need to look at what works (and what can be done better!) with those state programs, talk with the Maryland business community, Government agencies, and other stakeholders, and come up with a plan that works for Maryland working families.”
Republican Governor-elect Larry Hogan pledged his support to the idea at a press conference on Thursday in Annapolis, during which he also signed Democrat Franchot’s “Let Summer Be Summer” petition.
Franchot said the petition has 13,244 signatures, exceeding the goal of 10,000. An economic impact report commissioned by Franchot’s office claims moving the start of the public school year in Maryland to after Labor Day would mean an extra $74.3 million in direct economic activity, mainly in well known vacation destinations such as Ocean City and Deep Creek Lake.
“This isn’t just a family issue, it’s an economic issue. It brings in a tremendous amount of economic activity, brings in tax revenue, and there’s no cost to the taxpayers,” Hogan said at the presser. “As a guy who spent a lot of summers with his family in Ocean City on Labor Day weekend, it makes a whole heck of a lot of sense to start school after Labor Day. There’s just no downside to this issue. There are an overwhelming number of people in this state who are in favor of starting school after Labor Day.”
Education leaders in Maryland and Montgomery County disagree.
Talk surrounding the incoming Larry Hogan administration has been that Maryland’s smaller, more Republican-leaning counties will naturally get the bulk of the governor-elect’s attention once he takes office.
County Councilmembers in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties are teaming up to make sure the so-called “big counties” don’t get left behind in the fray.
Montgomery Council President George Leventhal said he and Council Vice President Nancy Floreen talked last week with their counterparts on the Prince George’s County Council about creating a “Large County Caucus” within MACo, an association of local government officials from across the state.
The group’s primary aim would be to protect education and mass transit funding, specifically the Purple Line light rail project that would link the counties and that Hogan has indicated he doesn’t support.
“There’s a significant interest among the large counties in working together in a much more cohesive and cooperative way,” Leventhal said during a weekly press briefing on Monday. “I think, had the election of the governor gone differently, I don’t think you’d see this spirit of cooperation in quite the same way.”
Leventhal said Prince George’s County Council Chair Mel Franklin initiated the idea in a meeting at last week’s MACo winter conference.
Leventhal also argued that protecting kindergarten-grade 12 education and infrastructure projects mesh with what he characterized as Hogan’s primary goal: boosting the state’s economy.
Governor-elect Larry Hogan focused almost solely on fixing the state’s projected budget shortfall during a speech Friday in front of more than 800 Montgomery County elected officials, business owners, school officials and others in North Bethesda.
During a short question and answer session with reporters beforehand, the Republican from Anne Arundel County had little to say about the Purple Line, the $2.4 billion light rail system he indicated he won’t support during the gubernatorial campaign.
“I’ve said we have to take a look at if we can still afford it and that’s still the case,” Hogan said when asked where he stands on the project.
“It doesn’t really impact us much because we still gotta look at the state’s role. It doesn’t matter what the federal government does,” Hogan said when asked if $100 million toward the project in the new federal spending bill will affect his view.
With that, Hogan was whisked away into the main event hall at the Bethesda North Marriott, where the Committee for Montgomery was once again holding its legislative breakfast.
A long line of local officials and business leaders formed to greet Hogan as he made his way to the main stage. Hogan entered the Republican primary for governor after the Committee for Montgomery event last year, during which all candidates took part in a forum.
Still, the focus then was on the Democratic candidates. Few in the room expected a Republican to win the general election as Hogan did in November.
“I know that many of you in this room probably did not think I was going to be the one addressing you as governor elect,” Hogan said in his speech. “In fact let’s face it, no one in this room thought I was going to be here this morning.”
It was probably the most bizarre moment on an otherwise sleepy Democratic primary day last June.
As members of the county’s largest teachers union handed out the group’s well known “Apple Ballot” in front of polling places, another apple-shaped piece of campaign literature suddenly appeared.
While the official Apple Ballot included the Montgomery County Education Association’s endorsement of Anthony Brown for governor, the other apple ballot claimed Brown opponent Doug Gansler was “supported by teachers across Montgomery County.”
Unsurprisingly, the people running the roughly 12,000-member MCEA weren’t happy.
The MCEA filed an action against the Gansler campaign on primary day (June 24), claiming the Friends of Doug Gansler violated federal and state trademark law and an unfair competition law by distributing the very similar looking piece of paper.
On Thursday, the MCEA announced a settlement in the matter, saying Gansler’s campaign acknowledged MCEA’s Apple Ballot was properly registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office “and is therefore preemptively valid.”
According to a MCEA press release, the Gansler campaign “shall not at any time or for any reason challenge the validity of MCEA’s Apple Ballot service mark or registrations or MCEA’S ownership thereof.”
“Richard J. Daley was the mayor of Chicago for 21 years, from 1955 to 1976. His slogan, ‘The City That Works,’ came out of his great attention to the efficient delivery of city services, as well as his efforts to ensure a healthy business and job climate so that Chicagoans are employed. And I want Montgomery County to be known as ‘The County That Works,’” Leventhal said.
The Council unanimously elected Leventhal to the position. It’s tradition for the person who served as Council vice president to be moved up to the president spot in the next year. Leventhal served as vice president next to Council President Craig Rice over the last year.
The Council president position is largely ceremonial, with the president serving as the public face of the nine-member body, speaking at county events and holding regular press conferences to discuss issues on the Council’s agenda.
Councilmember Marc Elrich, a fellow at-large councilmember from Takoma Park, quickly raised and then put down a finger as a vote in support of Leventhal’s appointment.
One of Leventhal’s first moves as Council president was removing Elrich — often a lone vote against development — from the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee.
A meeting this week with members of Montgomery County’s delegation to Annapolis and MCPS officials exposed some friction when it comes to the school system’s recent request for $223 million in state school construction funding.
The Parents’ Coalition, which describes itself as a school system watchdog, posted video of a question and answer session with county delegates, state senators and MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr during the meeting on Tuesday morning.
District 15 Del. Kathleen Dumais had some stern words for Starr, claiming the school system’s public campaign for state school construction funding has put the delegation in a tough position considering the state’s overall budget deficit.
“I’m just saying, be realistic in your request,” Dumais told Starr. “Don’t set us up for failure. Work with us. We want to work with you. But you put us in this position and then say, ‘Ooops, you didn’t do it,’ and we’re getting the blame. That is not fair.”
She also criticized a school system press release from Nov. 17 that mentioned how last year’s push for state construction funding “fell through.”
“I read the press release and there’s like, something missing that is stark. What it doesn’t say, says a bill didn’t pass so you didn’t get any money, but that’s false,” Dumais said. “Montgomery County got $39 million in school construction money. You don’t mention that in your press release. That’s unfair.”
Starr responded by assuring Dumais that MCPS and the Board of Education are on the same page with the delegation. He also said Montgomery County legislators aren’t the only ones who face skepticism from officials elsewhere in the state.
He described a recent meeting of local school superintendents from around the state during which an unnamed official questioned Montgomery County’s need for the funds.