Del. Tom Hucker is campaigning for the County Council seat in District 5. Credit: Official photo

Several races for County Council and General Assembly that have been contentious throughout the 2014 primary campaign showed little sign of slowing down Monday, as candidates continued to maneuver for position just hours prior to the polls opening at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

In the latest developments:

–While the influential Montgomery County Education Association officially remains neutral in the five-way contest for the Democratic nomination in Silver Spring/Takoma Park-based County Council District 5, MCEA President Doug Prouty lent his endorsement to Del. Tom Hucker in a new mail flier sent out by the Hucker campaign. Hucker was also endorsed by current at-large Councilmember Marc Elrich in a blast email in which Elrich takes aim at Hucker’s chief rival, Silver Spring Advisory Board Chair Evan Glass.

–Elrich, who has been informally allied with Upcounty citizen activist Beth Daly throughout the campaign on growth and development issues, stepped up his efforts to elect Daly to one of the four at-large council seats up for grabs Tuesday. An Elrich endorsement of Daly is contained in a flier that she mailed to voters late last week, and Elrich and Daly sent out a joint appeal via email late Monday morning, urging a vote for each of them Tuesday.

–The county’s marquee state legislative race – pitting Del. Luiz Simmons against former Del. Cheryl Kagan for the open District 17 Senate seat – was ending amid the same acrimony that has been omnipresent throughout the contest: The two sides Monday were trading charges over a mail flier sent out last week by the Simmons campaign that accuses a former Kagan staffer of being a “right-wing hatchet man.” Kagan blasted the mailer as “incredibly misleading” and “sleazy as hell,” while a Simmons spokesman defended its accuracy while returning the verbal fire.

In District 5, where the MCEA earlier this month dropped its endorsement of Board of Education member Christopher Barclay amid controversy over unauthorized charges Barclay had made on a school board credit card, a Hucker flier quotes MCEA chief Prouty as declaring that Hucker “has been an outstanding advocate for public education in the Legislature and through his leadership with Progressive Maryland. I have had a close working relationship with Tom and am certain that he would be a voice for all of the students of District 5 on the County Council.”

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Prouty said Monday that he had agreed to sign on to the mail piece as “an individual,” and that “the stipulation was that it was supposed to be just my name,” without a title attached. Nonetheless, the Hucker flier identifies Prouty as “President, Montgomery County Education Association.” Prouty confirmed the MCEA has not endorsed another candidate for the District 5 seat since dropping its backing of Barclay.

Elrich’s email letter on behalf of Hucker, sent out Saturday, does not mention Glass by name, but refers to a Washington Post story last week that focuses on contributions to the Glass campaign by the business community. The Post “reported that developers, realtors, and a right-wing lobbying group that endorsed Mitt Romney for president are attempting to ‘head off a Hucker victory’,” Elrich wrote. “I’m sure the development community looks at Tom’s history of community activism and is worried that he might actually stand up to them and protect our communities’ interests.”

Ironically, the “right-wing lobbying group” to which Elrich referred in the letter is Associated Builders and Contractors, which this year has endorsed both Daly and District 1 Councilmember Roger Berliner – whom Elrich is also backing. Berliner is being challenged by former Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg.

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In an interview Monday, Elrich characterized the ABC’s backing of Daly as an “outlier endorsement,” while noting Daly has received little support from development interests. He sought to contrast that to Glass, whom he said has received more than a quarter of his funding from real estate and development interests.

Glass, in an email to supporters Monday, shot back, declaring, “I have spent this campaign talking about my ideas and plans to improve our community, rather than tearing down other campaigns and candidates for personal gain.”

Glass and Elrich do share the backing of an independent expenditure campaign mounted by the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors, which has sent out three mailings on Glass’ behalf in the closing weeks before the primary. A recent GCAAR mail flier promoting the re-election of Elrich and his current at-large colleagues – Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer – met with protests from Elrich during remarks at a Hucker fundraiser last Thursday.

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Elrich Monday contended that the GCAAR flier was designed in such a way that it was easy to confuse with a slate card. “You have to look at the return [address] to realize it’s coming from the Realtors,” he said. ‘I had people call me up and say ‘Marc, did you endorse these people?’ I said, ‘No, I didn’t.’ I didn’t want anybody to think that I had slated with the incumbents.”

While endorsing Daly for another at-large slot, Elrich said he has made no endorsements among his three incumbent colleagues running for the two remaining slots in the at-large race — which also includes Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee member Vivian Malloy. Sources said that, earlier this year, Elrich was approached some combination of Floreen, Leventhal and Riemer about forming an incumbent slate, but indicated he was not interested.  

Meanwhile, in Rockville/Gaithersburg-based District 17, Democratic voters have received what appears to be an unprecedented stream of mailings from the Kagan and Simmons campaigns, with each regularly accusing the other of smears while launching attacks on issues ranging from domestic violence legislation to gun control.

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The Kagan camp said it has sent out 11 mail fliers in the course of the campaign, while the Simmons camp acknowledges mailing 15 such campaign fliers, while saying this does not include mailings done during the 2014 legislative session at Simmons’ personal expense. One District 17 voter reported receiving four separate mail fliers from Simmons during the last week of the campaign alone.

The campaigns crossed swords Monday over a flier sent out in the middle of last week that accuses a former Kagan campaign manager, Jonathan Hukill, of being a “Tea Party Republican campaign operative” while declaring that Hukill “has spent his career working against our progressive values, for an anti-gun control, anti-choice Tea Party candidate.”

Kagan said Monday that the candidate in question was Hukill’s mother, a Florida state senator. “She’s a Republican; he’s a progressive Democrat living in District 17,” said Kagan, who added that Hukill had left the Kagan campaign three months ago to join a software company.

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“What disturbs me the most, other than the incredibly misleading implications, is that [Simmons] would come after a 20-something year-old young professional, as opposed to being man enough to come after me,” Kagan declared. “He has launched some pretty ugly attacks at me, but I knew what I was getting into when I decided to enter this campaign.”

For its part, the Simmons campaign pointed to published reports that Hukill had received $100,000 in payments during his mother’s bid for state Senate, along with forwarding a document that indicated Hukill was a registered Republican in Florida.

“He can’t get off the hook just because it’s mother,” declared Simmons spokesman Andrew Feldman. “This was a professional relationship between a professional operative and a Tea Party candidate….What kind of judgment does this show on Cheryl Kagan’s part?  He worked for someone and advocated for someone who stands for everything Cheryl Kagan says she is against.”

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Photos: Above left, County Council member Marc Elrich, and above right, former Del. Cheryl Kagan