Thursday, April 17, 2014

You Can Find Me in the Club

Some thoughts on the recent Columbia Democratic Club’s candidate endorsement meeting, but first a quick response to a reader:

“Why Are You Writing Self-Indulgent Claptrap?”

Excellent question. Let us re-visit our First Principles.

This blog is about change and continuity… the indefatigable reality of impermanence.  Politics is a recurring thread but, fundamentally, the blog is an exploration of evolving perceptions.  It is a discussion of thoughts at a certain time and place…of choices, musings and [yes] considerations.

I have to be willing to set the torch to it…to “keep, and pass, and turn again” as Emerson might say. Venture off-topic.  Alienate some readers.  If that means non-political subject matter, or writing in verse from time-to-time, then that is the stone-cold deal.

With that preamble out of the way, I have some topline impressions of the gathering.  [Select races only].

On the State Attorney General race:  I was pleased that all three Democratic candidates showed up to deliver their one-minute pitches. When it came time to tally the votes, State Senator Brian Frosh crushed it, securing a First Ballot endorsement.  Candidly, I haven’t focused on the AG race but I am inclined to support Frosh. Delegate Aisha Braveboy voted against marriage equality in 2012, so that rules her out.  That leaves Delegate Jon Cardin and I have yet to see a compelling reason to vote for him.

On Senate District 9:  I have met neither Ryan Frederic nor Daniel Medinger.  While Medinger captured the CDC endorsement, I have to say that Frederic has an impressive background and would make a fine State Senator.  Although I am not a resident of the Fighting Ninth, I look forward to learning more about these two candidates in the coming weeks.

On House District 9B:  What can I say that hasn’t already been stated, eloquently, by Howard County’s own Marshmallow Man here in this great blog post.

Tom Coale is smart, hard-working, and knows 9B.  He would be an excellent State Delegate and would serve the people of his district quite well.

His primary opponent, Rich Corkran, seems like a decent-enough fellow but his heart doesn’t appear into it.  Until very recently, his campaign website still referred to his 2010 campaign.  His main lit piece is…lackluster and his presentation skills are middling.  Corkran is standing for election while Coale is running for election and that is a very important distinction. I know which candidate I would prefer to represent me in Annapolis.  

I am sure I will write more about this race soon.  For now, suffice to say that I am pleased that Coale received the CDC endorsement.  

District 12.  This is my home district.  I have thoughts on this race.  This will be the subject of a future post.  Note: Terri Hill and Clarence Lam both received the CDC endorsement for this three-member state legislative house district.

District 13.  Delegate Frank Turner was kind enough to hear me out on a government reform issue (here).  Having resided in Kensington in Montgomery County in 2010, I am familiar with Vanessa Atterbeary.  She has great credentials and would be a fine State Delegate. Her one-minute pitch was a little off (she acknowledged that she was nervous).  Sometimes great public policymakers are not natural campaigners.  I look forward to watching this race over the next several weeks.  Note: Delegate Turner and Atterbeary, along with incumbent Delegate Shane Pendergrass, received the CDC endorsement.

Democratic Central Committee (12 candidates are elected every four years)

Any list of Howard County rising stars should have Candace Dodson-Reed’s name at or near the top.  A talented policy wonk with top-flight political acumen, she will do fantastic work helping elect Democrats.

Among the incumbents seeking re-election, Abby Hendrix delivered a very thoughtful and compelling presentation regarding a strategic plan for the County Party.  This is not an easy task in a 60-second statement. In my humble opinion, she should serve another four-year term on the Central Committee.  Ethel Hill also made a very strong case for re-election. I will be voting for her in the gubernatorial primary election.  While I don’t know Deanna Peel as well as some of the other candidates, smart people…people I trust…tell me she is fantastic.  I have met Kim Pruim on a handful of occasions and I am aware of her reputation for solid constituent services work in the Second County Council District.  I am inclined to vote for both Peel and Pruim in June.  A soft-spoken Bill Adams gave a low-key presentation.  He had the tough challenge of representing the Mizeur campaign at the forum, not an easy position in what is considered to be prime Brown/Ulman country.  He put himself out there and I respect that.  I will probably cast my ballot for him.

Among the non-incumbents, beyond Dodson-Reed, a handful of others stood out.  Marcia White made a strong case for her election.  I think she will do great work for the Democratic Party as a Committee member. Kathy Macfarlane, based on my increasingly illegible hand-written scrawl, focused her one-minute presentation on the need for a well-financed operation, the need to “put money in the bank.”  Very sensible.    In contrast to Mr. Adams’ mellow approach, Josh Friedman offered up, in a rather forceful manner, some practical suggestions regarding establishing benchmarks for Democratic volunteerism.  His was the 49th presentation of the evening, but was probably the most entertaining.  More importantly, his ideas were interesting.  

I believe that works out to my top nine candidates for 12 seats.  I may vote for one, two, or three others but I need to see and learn more before deciding among the remaining candidates for the Central Committee.  As of this writing, Jonathan Branch, Patricia Thomas and Charles Bubeck are the most likely to round out my ballot…but who knows?  Campaigns are fluid.

[Note:  Candace Dodson-Reed, Abby Hendrix, Ethel Hill, Kathy Macfarlane and Jonathan Branch all received the CDC endorsement].

A long post on a rather chilly mid-April Day.  That will do for now.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.


  1. Thank you Jason for your kind words and for taking the time to inform others.

  2. In contests for seats on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee, for better or for worse, female candidates are winners. In 2010, eight women ran for the twelve positions and they finished one through eight. It's going to be especially interesting to watch the outcome this year in a race that is decided in the primary. That's because exactly twelve women have filed. If all twelve win (and I wouldn't bet against it), they, because of national party rules on gender equality that were created to ensure the representation of women, will have to select the twelve males who will join them.
    This seems to be an office that voters in general don't much understand or care about. And there seems to be a bloc of voters who, looking at the names on the ballot for this office, vote for the women. In previous years, a candidate with a first name that was not easily identifiable as to gender, barely won a seat. When she filed for reelection, she inserted her easily identifiable middle name and won easily.

  3. With regard to Senate district 9, I can't imagine this is a winnable seat for any Democrat (even one who identifies himself as "pro-life" as Dan Medinger has done).
    So I can easily understand why the Maryland NARAL Pro-Choice PAC did not endorse Medinger and chose Ryan Frederic instead (as did Equality Maryland). Maybe many of the CDC endorsees were unaware of of Medinger's position on a woman's right to choose or maybe they were and didn't much care about that. At any rate, except for the 9B portion (which leans Democratic), Senate district 9 is extremely Republican. Although I don't agree with Gail Bates on much of anything, she showed how strong she was in this territory in the 2010 general election and I expect about the same results this time.

  4. I think any Democrat would be fighting an uphill battle in the 9th, and this is particularly the case if 2014 turns out to be a good GOP cycle (as is likely).

    Bearing in mind my blend of analysis and advocacy, perhaps Frederic-as-nominee is better-positioned in the general election to appeal to cross-pressured voters (in this scenario, most notably pro-choice Republican and independent women).

    Further, Frederic's business background may provide a measure of inoculation against some standard GOP lines of attack.

    In short, is this a likely Democratic pick-up? As of this writing, I think that would be an over-statement. With that said, I believe Frederic is better positioned than Medinger to make this a competitive race....and Frederic is more likely to pull off an upset than Medinger.