28°Clear

by Aaron Kraut — March 6, 2015 at 9:05 am 1 Comment

Rep. Chris Van Hollen endorsed County Executive Isiah Leggett for reelection last year. Leggett returned the favor for Van Hollen's Senate campaign on Thursday

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.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — March 5, 2015 at 10:30 am 498 7 Comments

D-20 State Sen. Jamie Raskin, Flickr photo via Adam Fagen

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.

D-19 State Sen. Roger Manno, Flickr photo via Edward KimmelFormer 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.”

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — March 4, 2015 at 5:30 pm 186 0

Rep. Chris Van Hollen in Bethesda last year

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.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — March 2, 2015 at 12:50 pm 232 2 Comments

County Councilmember George Leventhal with U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski during a meeting in Rockville in 2009, Flickr photo via George Leventhal

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”:

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — February 25, 2015 at 12:15 pm 379 10 Comments

Rendering of Purple Line vehicle heading to Bethesda, Image via Maryland Transit Administration

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.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (file photo)Franchot, a Montgomery County resident, has argued the move would boost the tourism industry in vacation hubs such as Ocean City and Deep Creek Lake.

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.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — January 28, 2015 at 2:10 pm 672 9 Comments

District 18 State Sen. Rich Madaleno (left) in October with Marcy Masters Frosh and then-attorney general nominee Brian Frosh  MCPS Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr, Flickr photo by MCBREOfficial

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?”

He later posted a link to graduation rates released Tuesday that show the county’s Class of 2014 graduation rate had increased and the gap between white and minority students had decreased:

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.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — January 27, 2015 at 12:25 pm 0

District 16 Del. Ariana Kelly (file photo)District 16 Del. Ariana Kelly plans to introduce a bill in Annapolis that could move the state toward a paid family and medical leave program.

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.”

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — January 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm 395 19 Comments

Governor-elect Larry Hogan (middle) signs Peter Franchot's "Let Summer Be Summer" petition on Thursday, via office of Peter FranchotMaryland Comptroller Peter Franchot has a new and potentially powerful friend in his push to move the start of the school year to after Labor Day.

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.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — January 12, 2015 at 2:40 pm 849 4 Comments

Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer with Republican challenger Robert Dyer at a forum in May 2014 (far right) at a candidates forum in May in Chevy Chase (file photo)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.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — December 12, 2014 at 10:45 am 484 6 Comments

Governor-elect Larry Hogan speaks to reporters at the Committee for Montgomery event Friday

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.”

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — December 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm 271 0

The fronts of the primary day apple ballots, with the MCEA trademarked one on the left and Gansler campaign's on the right The backs of the primary day apple ballots, with the MCEA trademarked one on the left and Gansler campaign's on the right

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.”

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — December 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm 279 8 Comments

Councilmember George Leventhal (file photo)Councilmember George Leventhal borrowed a saying from a former mayor of Chicago upon being officially named County Council president on Tuesday.

“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.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — November 21, 2014 at 1:55 pm 530 10 Comments

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.

District 15 Del. Kathleen Dumais, photo via Wikimedia user 1msulax“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.

(more…)

by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 1:50 pm 649 13 Comments

Blair Lee IV, photo via The GazetteSome Montgomery County Democrats aren’t too happy with Governor-elect Larry Hogan’s selection of an outspoken local conservative to be part of his transition team.

The Montgomery County Young Democrats on Wednesday called on Hogan to remove Blair Lee IV — the Silver Spring developer and The Gazette columnist — from his newly-minted position.

Lee IV is the son of Blair Lee III, a former secretary of state, lieutenant governor and acting governor of Maryland. The Lee family played a major role in the founding of Montgomery County. Two of the family’s ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence.

Lee IV is chairman of the board of the Lee Development Group and often shares his political musings on WBAL Radio.

The Young Democrats say he’s also “firmly embedded in right-wing policy and corporate politics,” and has expressed “extreme homophobic views that do not view all Marylanders as equal.”

The group based that assertion on Lee’s opposition of the state’s 2012 same-sex marriage referendum. In an interview with the Washington Blade this week, Lee said he still holds the opinion that gay sex is a sin.

“Governor-elect Hogan is packing his transition team with consultants, legislators, and policy makers who are against the progress that Maryland has made over the past four years,” read a press release from the Young Democrats. “In fact, voters affirmed much of this progress at the polls when the civil right to marriage equality and sensible, compassionate policies toward immigrant children in our state passed in 2012. His appointments set a disturbing tone for the future of our state in the next four years.”

The group also went after Lee and Hogan’s other transition team members for supporting the elimination of the state’s corporate tax and their opposition to repealing the death penalty and raising the minimum wage.

Photo via The Gazette

by Aaron Kraut — November 5, 2014 at 10:05 am 282 0

Newt and Callista Gingrich, via Gingrich ProductionsTwo decades ago, Republicans drubbed Democrats in a mid-term election to take back control of the U.S. House and Senate.

On Wednesday, the day after a similar Republican drubbing in this year’s midterm, the man at the forefront of the 1994 “Republican Revolution” will be signing books at the Barnes & Noble in Bethesda (4801 Bethesda Ave.).

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista will appear at the bookstore starting at 7 p.m. to sign two books — Mrs. Gingrich’s new children’s book, “From Sea to Shining Sea” and Mr. Gingrich’s new policy book, “Breakout.”

The book preview gives a rundown of five things “you’ll learn” by reading it:

  • Why environmental extremists cling to the myth of “peak oil,” and how the fracking revolution is about to make America the world’s leading oil producer
  • How personalized healthcare–radically individualized treatments made possible by advances in genetics–and regenerative medicine could wipe out our most feared diseases, and why they’re on a collision course with Obamacare
  • How self-driving cars are on the verge of making traffic jams–and traffic deaths–a thing of the past, unless regulators wreck them before they leave the lot
  • Why a one-size-fits-all education will become a historical curiosity, unless the teachers’ unions and professional academicians succeed in preserving the current dysfunctional systems
  • How NASA–once the repository of American dreams of the future–became a textbook case of death by bureaucracy
    Americans don’t have to settle for a shrunken future. We can escape from the prison of the past into a future of undreamed of opportunity and abundance. All we need is the courage to break out.

Photo via Gingrich Productions

×

Subscribe to our mailing list