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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Another Lion fades away

Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

George Wenschhof

With the passing of another lion in the senate one has to ask, "Who is in line to take the place of the late Sens. John McCain, Edward Kennedy and others"?
I did not vote for Senator John McCain(R) when he ran for president and often wonder if his pick of a temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified Sarah Palin as a vice president running mate was a harbinger to the election of Donald Trump.
However, countless actions by Senator John McCain over his decades in office, earned my respect.
One of the more important pieces of legislation that has been passed in congress was The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The effort to rein in soft money in political campaigns was known as the McCain-Feingold Act because of the efforts by McCain to reach across the aisle and team with Democratic Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold.
Another pivotal moment in American politics was when McCain reached across the aisle to co-sponsor The Comprehensive immigration Reform Act with Ted Kennedy in 2007. While this bill would ultimately fail, it would turn out to be the last reasonable bipartisan effort on immigration reform in congress.
The video clip of presidential candidate McCain correcting, in a polite manner, the elderly woman who accused Obama of being an Arab during a Town Hall gathering, is forever etched in my mind. "No, ma'am. He's a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign's all about. He's not [an Arab]."
Perhaps, one of his last votes in the senate will be one I never forget. Battling the cancer that would cost him his life, he would return to Washington in July 2017 after he refused to go along with President Trump and a Republican led congress to repeal The Affordable Care Act. McCain's nay vote ended this reckless effort that would have thrown millions of families across the country off of health care.
McCain was an example throughout his career, of what many Americans long for today. A time past when elected officials could argue viciously and fight strong battles for their positions on issues of importance to the health, safety and welfare of Americans.
But, who would throughout the heated fray exhibit respect toward their opponent, mindful that America and Americans come first before political or personal ideology.
I regret the opportunity never presented itself for me to personally meet Senator McCain or to have had the occasion to enjoy a cocktail and conversation with him.
I would have enjoyed thanking him for his service to our country and saying Cheers!


Monday, July 2, 2018

Montgomery County, Maryland Primary Election Results

Marc Elrich
George Wenschhof

Following the first absentee vote, the choice for Democratic county executive remains a close race in Montgomery County, Maryland. Only 149 votes separated three term Montgomery County council member Marc Elrich - 36,117 (28.95 percent) and businessman David Blair - 35,968 (28.9 percent). Elrich would receive support of progressives and Blair, who contributed $2 million to his campaign, received an endorsement from The Washington Post.

A total of six candidates would compete for the Democratic nomination.  Former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow would come in third with 15.2 percent. County council members Roger Berliner received 12.9 percent, George Leventhal - 10.3 percent and Bill Frick - 3.6 percent of the vote.

Due to a computer glitch with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, approximately 80,000 address/change of address changes were not sent to Maryland Board of Elections.  However, these voters were able to cast provisional ballots and may impact the outcome in this contest.

The Democratic county executive winner will be likely be determined after final absentee ballots and the provisional ballots are counted. The Montgomery County board of elections website states in regard to provisional ballots "The canvass will convene at 10 a.m. on July 5, 2018, when approximately 3,167 ballots will be counted.  The preliminary indication of Party breakdown for these ballots is:  Democrat - 2,600; Republican - 300; Other - 250.  It is currently anticipated that this canvass will conclude in one day".  The second absentee count will be on July 6.

If the Democratic county executive race remains this close after remaining ballots are counted, expect a recount.

The Democratic winner will face Republican Robin Ficker who ran unopposed.  Ficker has run for numerous offices over the years and served one term as state delegate.

The state of Maryland elects 47 state senators and 141 state delegates. Montgomery County has six state senators and 18 state delegates on their ballots and only one race remains to be decided.  In the race for the third Democratic state delegate seat in district 16, Samir Paul (10,907) has a 37 vote lead over Sara Love (10,870).  

In district 17, incumbent state senator Cheryl C. Kagan(D) ran unopposed and will face Republican Josephine J. Wang who also ran unopposed.

The three Democratic state delegates from district 17 to advance out of six candidates are incumbent Kumar P. Barve - 26 percent, Julie Palakovich Carr - 24.6 percent and Jim Gilchrist - 20.3 percent.  Only one Republican, George Ivan Hernandez, appeared on the ballot.

When three term state senator Rich Madaleno decided to run for Governor, district 18 became an open seat. In a three way race, Democrat Jeff Waldstreicher would beat Dana Beyer, 49.7 percent - 36.9 percent. Michelle Carhart received 13.4 percent.  No Republican appeared on the ballot meaning Waldstreicher will be elected in the November 6 General Election.

Former NAACP president Ben Jealous would emerge the winner in a crowded field of candidates vying for the Democratic Party nomination for Governor.  He and Prince George's county executive Rushern Baker were essentially tied in polls that also showed as many as 40 percent of Democratic voters remained undecided a week before the election.  Jealous would receive 39.7 percent  and Baker 29.3 percent of the vote.

Jealous and his Lt. Governor running mate Susan Turnbull, a former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, will face Republican Governor Larry Hogan and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford.

Incumbent U.S. senator Ben Cardin(D) easily won his primary and will face Republican Tony Campbell.  Maryland state comptroller Peter Franchot(D) ran unopposed and will face Republican Anjali Reed Phukan who also ran unopposed.  Maryland state attorney general Brian Frosh(D) will face Craig Wolf(R) - both ran unopposed.

Incumbent representative John Sarbanes(D) received 82.5 percent among 4 candidates in district 3 and will face Republican Charles Anthony.  Anthony won a close race among three candidates in the Republican primary with 43.4 percent of the vote.

The announcement by congressman John Delaney (D-6th district) that he would not be running for reelection and would instead pursue a run for the White House, attracted eight Democratic candidates.  David Trone, owner of Total Wine & More, would beat Maryland state delegate Aruna Miller 40.3 percent - 30.6 percent.  Trone ran for congress in the 8th district two years ago and lost to Jamie Raskin in the Democratic primary after spending millions of his own funds.  He would again spend millions self-funding his campaign in this race.

Trone will face Republican Amy Hoeber who won the Republican primary against three opponents with 67.9 percent of the vote.

Incumbent representative Jamie Raskin (D-8th district) coasted to victory receiving 90.5 percent of the vote against two other candidates.  He will face Republican John Walsh who received 45.2 percent of the vote among 3 candidates.

Term limits enacted two years ago led to three open seats in the at-large (countywide) Montgomery County council race.  This resulted in an astonishing number of 33 Democrats running for the four at-large seats.

Favorites Hans Reimer - 12.2 percent, Will Jawando - 9.7 percent, Evan Glass - 8 percent and Gabe Albornoz - 7.4 percent won the Democratic Primary Election. They will face Republicans Robert Dyer, Penny Musser, Shelly Skolnick and Chris Fiotes Jr. in the General Election.

In the district 1 county council race, Andrew Friedson would win in a crowded Democratic primary that included eight candidates.  Friedson, well known from his time working with popular Maryland Comptroller Franchot, would edge out one term state delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez 28.2 percent - 21.3 percent.

Friedson will face Republican Richard Banach who ran unopposed.

Incumbent council member Craig Rice easily won the Democratic district 2 primary with 73.5 percent of the vote.  Rice will face Ed Amatetti who won a contested Republican primary with 52.8 percent of the vote.

In the district 3 county council race, incumbent and former mayor of Gaithersburg Sidney Katz - 52.8 percent would survive a strong challenge by Ben Shnider - 47.2 percent in the Democratic primary.

Incumbent Democrats Nancy Navarro (district 4) and Tom Hucker (district 5) easily won their primaries with 90.6 percent and 67.5 percent.

Democratic incumbent sheriff Darren Mark Popkin will face Republican Jae Hwang in the General Election.  Both ran unopposed.

Montgomery County voters will elect 4 members in the nonpartisan board of education race.  In the primary election voters choose two candidates in each race who will move on to the General Election where voters will elect one.  In district 1 and 5 only two candidates filed and as a result, did not appear on the primary ballot.  They will appear on the General Election ballot.

In the at-large board of education primary, Julie Reiley would lead a crowded field of eight candidates with 32.06 percent.  The other candidate to advance is Karla Silvestre who received 28.13 percent.

Patricia O'Neill - 60.2 percent and Lynn Amano - 23.5 percent won the district 3 primary election.

I asked long time Montgomery County Democratic pol Stanton Gildenhorn what his thoughts were on the primary election results.  Gildenhorn told me he was concerned with the huge personal financial contributions by David Trone in the 6th district congressional race and by David Blair in the county executive race, saying "It is appalling they are trying to buy a seat".  Gildenhorn added "I support campaign finance reform".

Stanton also said "I favor a change in the alphabetical manner in listing candidates on the ballot - a candidate with a last name beginning with A or B receive an advantage". Gildenhorn favors a random manner in picking the order a candidate appears on the ballot.

In Montgomery County, 33.8 percent of the registered Democrats and 14.41 percent of the registered Republicans voted in the primary election.  Democratic voters would make up 85.37 percent and Republican voters 10.83 percent of the total votes cast.

The General Election will be held November 6.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Highlights from Frederick County, Maryland Primary Election

Jan Gardner
George Wenschhof

The Republican primary to determine the candidate to face incumbent Democratic Frederick county executive Jan Gardner was one race watched closely. Gardner ran unopposed while three candidates battled for the Republican nomination.
  
Maryland state delegate Kathy Afzali would prevail over Frederick council member Kirby Delauter and former county budget officer Regina Williams.  Afzali aided by the split vote among three candidates and the largest war chest, won with 42% of the vote.

The November 6 General Election will have three candidates running for Frederick county executive.  In addition to Gardner (D) and Afzali (R), Earl Robbins, a well known Frederick businessman is running as an unaffiliated candidate.

Former NAACP president Ben Jealous would emerge the winner in a crowded field of candidates vying for the Democratic Party nomination for Governor.  He and Prince George's county executive Rushern Baker had been running neck and neck in polls that showed as many as 40% of Democratic voters remained undecided.  Jealous would receive 40% of the vote and Baker 29%.

Jealous and his Lt. Governor running mate Susan Turnbull, a former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, will face Republican Governor Larry Hogan and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford.

Incumbent U.S. senator Ben Cardin (D) cruised to victory in the primary and will face Republican Tony Campbell.  Popular state comptroller Peter Franchot (D) ran unopposed and will face Republican Anjali Reed Phukan who also ran unopposed.  Respected state attorney general Brian Frosh (D) will face Craig Wolf (R) - both ran unopposed.

The announcement by congressman John Delaney (D-6th district) that he would not be running for reelection and would instead pursue a run for the White House, attracted eight Democratic candidates.  David Trone, owner of Total Wine & More, would beat Maryland state delegate Aruna Miller 40%-30%.  Trone ran for congress in the 8th district two years ago and lost to Jamie Raskin in the Democratic primary after spending millions of his own funds.  He would again spend millions self-funding his campaign in this race.

Trone will face Republican Amy Hoeber who won the Republican primary against three opponents with 68% of the vote.

Incumbent representative Jamie Raskin (D-8th district) coasted to victory receiving 90% of the vote against two other candidates.  He will face Republican John Walsh who received 45% of the vote among 3 candidates.

The district 3 state senate race attracted candidates and much speculation after incumbent Ron Young(D) barely won reelection four years ago.  Eight years ago, the four term former mayor of The City of Frederick defeated Republican Alex Mooney.  Young faced two opponents in this election, one of them Jennifer Dougherty who is another former mayor of Frederick and Jennifer Brannan.  Ron would win with 43% and Dougherty would receive 33%.

Young will face Republican Craig Giangrande who crushed Frederick council member Billy Shreve, receiving 77% of the vote.  Giangrande is the Frederick County Burger King franchise owner.

In the district 4 state senate race, Republican Michael Hough ran unopposed and will face Democrat Jessica Douglass who won a close contest with Sabrina Massett.

The district 3-a state delegate race where voters elect two, Democratic incumbents Karen Lewis Young and Carol Krimm survived a bit of a challenge from Ryan Trout and will face Republicans Mike Bowersox and James Dvorak who ran unopposed.

Democratic candidate Ken Kerr and Republican incumbent William "Bill" Folden both ran unopposed for state delegate in district 3-b and will face each other in the General Election.

Voters will pick 3 candidates in the district 4 state delegate race. Republicans Barrie Ciliberti, Dan Cox and Jesse Pippy ran unopposed and will face Democratic candidates Yselo Bravo, Lois Jarman and Darrin Ryan Smith, who also ran unopposed, in the General Election.

Republican incumbent sheriff Chuck Jenkins and Democrat Karl Bickel both ran unopposed and will face each other in the General Election.

The two Frederick County council members elected at-large (countywide) also attracted a lot of attention.  Democrats Kai Hagen, a former county commissioner and Susan Reeder Jessee would win a closely fought race among five candidates including former county commissioner and state delegate Galen Clagett.  Clagett would come in last and Kavonte Duckett, in his first try for office and bidding to be the first African American elected countywide in Frederick County, would come in a strong third.

Susan Reeder Jessee and Kai Hagen will face Republicans Phillip Dacey and Danny Farrar who won against two other candidates in a very close contest.  Also running for one of the two at-large council seats is Frederick County council president Bud Otis who is running as an unaffiliated candidate.  Mr. Otis was elected as a Republican but changed to unaffiliated after his support of Democratic county executive Jan Gardner upset his Republican colleagues on the council.

In the Frederick county council district 1 race, Democrat incumbent Jerry Donald ran unopposed and will face Republican Kevin Grubb who beat Dylan Diggs in their primary.

In a bit of an upset, Tony Chmelik, a Frederick County council member representing district 2, was beat by Steven McKay 54-46%.  McKay is well known locally from his work with (RALE) Residents Against Landsdale Expansion and much of the candidate differences in the campaign were centered on growth issues.

McKay will face Democrat Lisa Jarosinski in the General Election.

In the nonpartison race for board of education, the top eight from 13 candidates advanced to the General Election where voters will elect four.  Incumbent Brad Young led all candidates by a large margin.  Also moving on in order of votes received were Karen Yoho, Jay Mason, Liz Barrett, April Miller, Cindy Rose and Camden Raynor. 

Two candidates were locked in a tight race for the eighth and last position.  They were Kim Williams (4,932) and Marie Fisher-Wyrick (4892).  With only a 40 vote difference, this is a one race that will be decided by counting provisional/absentee ballots.

The Maryland Primary Election also received some intrigue when The Baltimore Sun reported days before the election, the state motor vehicle administration had failed, due to a computer glitch, to notify the board of elections of address changes and/or change of party affiliation done online for as many as 80,000 voters across the state.  These voters were notified they could vote using a provisional ballot.

Provisional and absentee ballots will be counted and the election certified on July 6.  Frederick County board of elections supervisor Stuart Harvey told me 700 absentee ballots had been received.

The primary results were also delayed for one hour when the hours of several voting polls in Baltimore were extended due to some problems opening these polls.

Out of the total votes cast in Frederick County, Democratic voters equaled 49.5% and Republicans voters 44.6%. 

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Frederick County state senate district 3 race, a close one

Ron Young
George Wenschhof
The Maryland June 26 primary election is tomorrow and the state senate race in district 3 has plenty of interesting dynamics at play.  In the Democratic primary, incumbent Ron Young has said this will be his last term, a phrase he has uttered in previous elections.  Ron has been involved in politics his entire life, serving as mayor of The City of Frederick for 4 terms and now as state senator for two terms.  He is well known and after a lifetime in politics has his supporters and detractors. Ron’s length of service and the ability to get things done along with a name recognition that is likely the highest of any politician in Frederick County, may help him eke out a victory.
He is opposed by Jennifer Brannan and Jennifer Dougherty in the Democratic primary.  Brannan is not well known and her campaign efforts have not helped voters to get to know her.  Dougherty on the other hand is known as someone who always appears on the ballot and one who has been divisive in local politics.  This election will mark the tenth time Jennifer has run for office in Frederick County.  Her sole win was in the 2001 City of Frederick mayoral election, aided when she won by 36 votes against more experienced Meta Nash in the primary held on 9/11, a day many voters stayed home. Republican two term mayor Jim Grimes had already beaten himself with a multitude of bad decisions, so the Democratic nominee was assured the win in the General Election.
There is no love lost between Jennifer and Ron. In her first race, Jennifer ran for mayor in 1993 and was opposed in the Democratic primary by African American Gary Hughes.  Hughes received support from Ron Young and beat Jennifer in that primary election.  Republican Jim Grimes would win that election for mayor.
During Dougherty’s only term in office, she alienated voters so badly, including Democrats, leading Ron Young to run against Jennifer and beat her in the 2005 city Democratic primary. Upset at being challenged and beaten as an incumbent, she would urge her supporters to back Republican mayoral candidate Jeff Holtzinger.  Holtzinger would upset Ron in that 2005 city election.
Frederick County Republican leaders are excited about the strong possibility of picking up this seat, realizing neither Jennifer’s or Ron’s supporters will likely vote for the other should they lose the primary.  This had been a Republican held seat for many years with Alex Mooney being the last Republican state senator.  To the delight of many Frederick County voters, Ron Young would beat Mooney in the 2010 election.
Capturing this seat for Republicans however will not be easy.  The Republican primary is also filled with intrigue with Frederick County Burger King franchise owner Craig Giagrande and his significant personal campaign financial contributions facing Billy Shreve, a member of the Frederick County council.
Giagrande has received the endorsement of popular Frederick County sheriff Chuck Jenkins(R) and the conservative Blog RedMaryland.com. 
Shreve was a member of the Frederick board of county commissioners when Blaine Young (R) was president.  When charter government was passed in Frederick County, Blaine Young would face Democrat Jan Gardner for county executive and lose. Shreve would run for county council and win, enduring what must have been a difficult four years for him under Gardner. Obviously, frustrated with his lack of influence in county government and knowing Ron Young(D) barely won against an unknown Republican candidate four years ago, Shreve decided to challenge Ron Young for state senate.
Now, Shreve is locked in a close contest against Giagrande in the Republican primary and may well lose.
Both of the Democratic and Republican primaries for Maryland state senate in district 3 will be close, as will the General Election.  How well the nominees for each political party unite their voters and are able to appeal across party lines will determine the ultimate winner in this race.
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