Less than two months after Election Day 2014, numerous elected officials in overwhelmingly Democratic Montgomery County are choosing sides in the early jockeying for their party’s 2016 presidential nomination.
Del. Shane Robinson of Montgomery Village – recently elected to chair the county’s 24-member House delegation in Annapolis – is joining with Del.-elect David Moon of Silver Spring and at-large County Councilmember Marc Elrich in the effort to prod U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts into the race, sources said Monday. Along with several District of Columbia and Prince George’s County officials, Elrich, Moon and Robinson are among the members of the host committee for a Jan. 15 fundraiser taking place at a Washington restaurant—under the auspices of the Ready for Warren Presidential Draft Campaign, a federal political action committee.
The invitation for the fundraiser – with a headline of “Are You Excited For Elizabeth?” – asks those interested to RSVP to Scott Goldberg, a Bethesda-based real estate broker who managed County Executive Ike Leggett’s successful re-election campaign this year. Goldberg is handling the logistics for the event on behalf of the Warren PAC.
In part, the Warren event appears to be a response to a Potomac fundraiser earlier this month – of which Leggett was listed as a co-chair – sponsored by Ready for Hillary, another federal PAC laying the groundwork for an anticipated presidential bid by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Besides the Ready for Warren PAC, formed last summer, two national progressive groups, MoveOn.org and Democracy for America, earlier this month launched a move to draft Warren, an outspoken critic of Wall Street and many of the nation’s major financial institutions, into the Democratic race as a populist alternative to Clinton. In public statements, Warren to date has disavowed talk of a presidential bid – while stopping short of making a Shermanesque statement on the matter.
The recent Ready for Hillary fundraiser in Potomac, held at the home of developer Aris Mardirossian, featured the support of numerous figures in the state and local Democratic establishment – despite the fact that outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley is another potential contender in the Democratic field.
In addition to Leggett, former County Executive Sidney Kramer was listed as a co-chair of the host committee for the Clinton event, according to an invitation posted online by the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation. The committee for the Clinton fundraiser also included outgoing state Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Treasurer Nancy Kopp – both Bethesda residents – as well as U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Potomac and Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller of Calvert County.
Also listed on the Clinton committee were a half-dozen members of the county legislative delegation (Sens. Nancy King of Montgomery Village and Richard Madaleno of Kensington, and Sen.-elect Cheryl Kagan of Rockville; plus Dels. David Fraser-Hidalgo of Boyds, Ben Kramer of Silver Spring, and Kirill Reznik of Germantown) that will be seated in Annapolis next month. King was recently named chair of the county’s eight-member Senate delegation.
Notably, seven of the nine current members of the County Council were listed on the committee for the Clinton event: at-large Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer; along with Councilmembers Roger Berliner of District 1, Craig Rice of District 2, Sidney Katz of District 3 and Nancy Navarro of District 4.
Elrich’s backing of the draft-Warren effort serves to underscore his frequent differences with his council colleagues: Often seen as the council’s outlier, Elrich was stripped of a coveted committee assignment earlier this month after supporting an insurgent candidate, Beth Daly of Dickerson, who was seeking to dislodge Floreen, Leventhal or Riemer in last June’s primary.
Moon, another sponsor of the draft-Warren fundraiser, is a long-time political operative who was associated with a number of progressive causes prior to his election to the House of Delegates in November. Moon sought an opening created when outgoing Del. Heather Mizeur of Takoma Park opted to run for governor.
Mizeur, who positioned herself on the left of the three-person candidate field in this year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, was listed as a member of the host committee for the Clinton event in Potomac on Dec. 4. But, a week later, she urged support for Warren on her Facebook page, declaring:”Come on progressives, let’s make some noise. MoveOn just announced a new campaign to show Elizabeth Warren she has grassroots support for getting in the 2016 presidential contest. Sign the petition.”
When it comes to the price of admission, next month’s Warren event – to be held at Local 16, a U Street restaurant in the District – clearly features more populist pricing.
Sponsorships at the Ready for Hillary bash ranged from $1,000 to $4,000, with a basic guest ticket pegged at $500. At the Warren event, it will cost from $100 to $150 to join the host committee, with regular admission set at $35.