Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Primary Election Wrap Up

Having seen so many legitimately odd election cycles, I am reluctant to engage in anything that might be misconstrued as triumphalism. So I will just say that I am generally pleased with most of the Primary Election outcomes.  A number of my friends won and I am delighted for them.  Most importantly, I hope those campaigns continue to work both smart and hard as they refocus their efforts for the General Election.

Some reflections:

On the Governor’s Race:

While the Democratic gubernatorial primary witnessed some hard fighting, there are no deep-seated ideological schisms that threaten to tear the party apart between now and November. Sure Mizeur ran to the left of Brown and Gansler to the right of both of them, but the vast majority of Democrats could live with any of those three candidates as the party’s nominee for Governor.  While there may be some personal animosity among some of the candidates, their family members, their staffers and a few members of the Chattering Class, more than 90% of Maryland Democrats will rally around the Brown – Ulman ticket.  And more Democrats will turn out for the General Election. 

In short, the newly minted GOP nominee for Governor, Larry Hogan, would be wasting his time targeting disaffected Democrats…there will be too few of them. Instead, I expect he will run a modified base strategy to drive up Republican turnout while simultaneously attempting to articulate a sufficiently palatable platform in an effort to cobble together a large enough coalition of conservative-leaning and moderate unaffiliated voters (Independents) to run a competitive campaign.  And hope for a GOP tidal wave of 1994 proportions.  That is his plan and, frankly, only shot at winning.  Such a scenario is unlikely to occur.  Expect a Brown-Ulman Administration.  

And I believe that Heather Mizeur will be an excellent candidate for another statewide office in the not-too-distant future.  She ran a fantastic campaign, but it just wasn’t her time this year.

On the AG Race:

I am glad that progressive talent won out despite the strength of the Cardin brand.  Brian Frosh was clearly the best choice, but the best choices don’t always win (For more information see: “Fair, world is not”).

On House District 9B:

Tom Coale is a bright, good government policy wonk.  He ran a positive, issues-oriented campaign and won.  It was a recurring theme of the night, at least in Howard County, that such candidates emerged victorious while many negative campaigns went down in flames.   The GOP nominee for Delegate, Bob Flanagan, is no slouch.  This is a true swing district and Coale has some heavy lifting ahead; but he is clearly the Democrat best positioned – by background and temperament – to consolidate the base while appealing to Independents as well as those Republicans who might view Flanagan as being a bit too paleo.  

On Senate District 9:

Ryan Frederic was absolutely correct in highlighting the differences between himself and Medinger on certain social issues.  Now, he can focus on his knowledge of economic issues and his history as a job creator in what promises to be a fascinating match-up against Gail Bates.  I don’t know if the 9th Senate District, demographically, can elect a Democrat (yet)…it might be a cycle or two away, but Frederic gives the party a decent chance of a pick-up. 

On House District 12:

Barring some sort of cataclysmic event, Clarence Lam, Terri Hill and Eric Ebersole are going to Annapolis.  The first two were close to virtual locks based on their wide support, deep pockets, and solid campaign skills. 

Ebersole, in my mind, started off as a mid-tier candidate.  He hustled, he worked on his patter, he picked up some serious institutional support and he benefited from a divided field.  So while his mailers were mediocre, at best, he worked the District. You have to respect that.  He ran well in both the Howard and Baltimore County portions of the district.  And, based on the returns available thus far, Ebersole even out-polled Nick Stewart in Baltimore County (1,490 – 1,485).   He also banked a considerable number of early votes, which proved quite important because, among Election Day voters, Rebecca Dongarra placed close behind Ebersole (2,791 for Dongarra compared to 2,903 for Ebersole).

Looking ahead, I hope Brian Bailey (and Rebecca Dongarra) can move past some of the personal issues that frankly, got way out of hand and led to some bone-headed decisions and attacks.  Both have talents and it would be unfortunate to see them squandered.

Stewart, a smart, affable candidate, sent out some great mailers and had the backing of Jimmy Malone and some other organizations…but his relative newcomer status hurt his campaign and I don’t think his positioning as the Pragmatic Choice captured as many hearts and minds as he hoped it might.  Perhaps another office, another year.

And a big thumbs-up to Adam Sachs for running with integrity and grit in the face of long odds.  I was hoping he might fare a little better, but when the Mizeur numbers started coming in, it was clear that an upset would be extremely unlikely.    

On House District 13:

The fact that Vanessa Atterbeary is the leading vote-getter (as of this writing) is a mild surprise.  Perhaps the television spots, in conjunction with her position on the ballot, vaulted her to first place, ahead of Frank Turner and Shane Pendergrass.  In any event, it was a very good night for Team 13, with Nayab Siddiqui failing to catch fire, despite (or perhaps partially because of) his television ads.  It will be interesting to see Atterbeary as a Delegate. 

On County Council District 1:

It is no secret that Jon Weinstein is a friend of mine and I am elated that he won last night, especially in a field with three other serious candidates (clarification: Dave Grabowski is a serious person who, inexplicably, did not run a serious campaign).  Seriously.

I think Jon’s business intelligence combined with his progressive values make him a great fit for District 1, and will serve him well on the County Council.

Wendy Royalty has a future in elective office, should she decide to re-enter the arena.  Like Rick Perry in 2012 (and I am guessing some folks won’t love the comparison but bear with me), she jumped in too late.  Meanwhile, Jon had the benefit of running before and getting an early start this time around, which led to a more polished performance. 

Jon has a legitimate GOP opponent in Kevin Forrest Schmidt. The partisan breakouts indicate that the First remains a winnable district for the Republicans, under a particular set of circumstances.  Jon’s talents as a campaigner, and Courtney Watson’s presence on the ballot, should help keep District One in the Democratic column, but this will be a race to watch.

On the HoCo Democratic Central Committee:

Let’s see…Candace Dodson Reed tied for first place and eight of the ten members of the Progressive Democratic Central Committee Team finished in the Top 12. That is a landslide no matter how you slice it.  This represents an incredible opportunity for the Democratic Party in Howard County to build upon the successes of those who have served well in the past…and to move the Party forward.  Looking at those who ran, it would have been perfect if Agnes Dunson Reid and Charles Bubeck (from the Progressive Team) and Kimberly Pruim had placed in the top 12.  But overall, it was a very encouraging outcome.

On the Howard County Board of Education:

The results could best be summarized as follows: the power of incumbency + the slate backed by the teachers.  That accounts for the top five finishers, with Cindy Vaillancourt, who was first with 15,450 votes (as of this writing), over 1,100 more than the second place finisher, fellow Board Member Sandra French.

Dr. Zaneb Beams needs to step up her game in order to win a seat in November.  Her fifth place showing behind the two incumbents as well as Bess Altwerger and Dan Furman indicate that she has some ground to make up between now and General Election Day.

I am disappointed but not surprised that Allen Dyer made the first cut.  I was hoping that Olga Butler and Maureen Evans Arthurs would finish in the top eight (with Dyer and Smith being the two odd men out, in this Alternate Universe).  They bring different skills to the table, but both Butler and Evans Arthurs would be capable Board of Education members.  I hope they choose to run again in the future.

On the Orphans’ Court:

Pleased that Leslie Smith Turner, Anne Dodd, and Nicole Bormel Miller are the Democratic nominees.  Enough said.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.




  1. I share your disappointment of Butlers and Evans Arthurs. You didn't mention Christine O'Connor for Board of Ed? An Elkridge candidate, mother of current students in the system, extensive PTA experience- she entered the race at the last minute, has no political experience or name recognition and yet did very well. Not a pick of the teacher's union, not an incumbent... a self described voice for the children. Independent of the usual hoo-haw related to school board races- I think she bears watching.

  2. Hi there. Christine is a bit of an enigma to me. I've heard good things about her and she seems serious, which is one of my higher accolades for candidates. It is impressive that she out-polled Dyer by several hundred votes despite lacking his Name ID (although i would have to imagine he is underwater on the Fav-Unfav question). It will be fun analyzing her performance at the precinct level.

    I was running long on the post so I didn't want to wade too deeply into the BoE race. Now that the field is winnowed down to eight, I will be taking a closer look at her candidacy in the coming weeks.

  3. My opinion as to why Vanessa Atterbeary finished first in the LD13 delegate race is based on Team 13 mailings. Apparently, those behind the about 13 mailings I received thought that Atterbeary was the weakest link and needed propping up against the Siddiqui challenge. So most, if not all, of those mailings featured her and sometimes showed pics of the other Team 13 candidates. So I feel fairly certain that the mailings are what caused her to get more votes than the two established delegate candidates. Of course, anyone in LD12 wouldn't likely have gotten those mailings.

  4. Ken, good point. As the least-known of the slate going into 2014, it makes sense that she would be front-and-center to enhance her Name ID. Didn't hear much about the mail in 13 compared to the 9th, the 12th and CC District 1. Sounds like Team 13 adopted a fairly robust multi-media approach. It worked.