County executive candidate David Blair Credit: Provided photo

In TV ad blitz, Blair assures viewers: ‘I’m the opposite of Donald Trump’

When David Blair announced late last year that he would make his first run for office after a career as a business executive, it triggered comparisons in some political circles to another businessman who had met with success as a first-time candidate just a year earlier.

It was hardly a comparison from which Blair benefited in Montgomery County. So, in a TV ad launched this week, the Democrat who hopes to occupy the second floor of the County Executive Office Building in Rockville next year is seeking to very visibly distance himself from the current Republican occupant of the White House, about 17 miles to the south.

The ad opens with Blair standing with 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in the background, as he asks: “Why am I in front of the White House? To make a point. I’m the opposite of Donald Trump.”

The spot is part of a nearly $100,000 ad effort the wealthy former health care company executive launched on the four Washington-area over-the-air broadcast stations in the middle of this week. While Blair had made a modest ad purchase on one station, WUSA/Channel 9, in early March and has been on Montgomery County cable channels since the middle of last month, the latest buy marks a sharp escalation in the first-time candidate’s efforts to boost his name ID 10 weeks prior to the June 26 primary.

In a 60-second spot first spotted by Bethesda Beat Wednesday on WRC/Channel 4, Blair takes a dig at a Trump aide’s now-famous use of the phrase “alternative facts” to defend disputed White House claims.

In the same sentence, he also gets in a dig at three of his primary opponents in the county executive race who, as members of the County Council in 2016, voted for a nearly 9 percent property tax increase. “As Montgomery County executive, my door will always be open,” Blair promises. “I’ll use facts, not alternative facts—and embrace new progressive ideas, without imposing more and more taxes.”

According to the Federal Communications Commission’s public website, Blair is spending a total of $92,550 for the ad offensive on the four D.C. broadcast station during the week-long period that started Wednesday. The ads are slated to run during early morning and early evening newscasts.

Blair also has purchased $13,900 in ads on local cable TV during the same period, bringing his total TV ad buy for the week to nearly $106,500. None of his five opponents for the Democratic nomination for county executive—council members Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal; state Del. Bill Frick; and former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow—have purchased TV ad time to date, although Elrich has begun doing some online ads and direct mail.

Following is a full transcript of Blair’s spot contrasting himself with Trump:

Blair: “I’m David Blair, running for county executive. Why am I in front of the White House? To make a point. I’m the opposite of Donald Trump. As a young man, I discovered that big drug companies were paying secret rebates to push their expensive prescriptions. I started a company in a one-room office to empower consumers to fight back.”

First woman appearing in ad: “David’s company saved customers over $9 billion in unnecessary drug costs.”

Blair: “My business grew into a Fortune 500 company, creating thousands of jobs while always encouraging diversity.”

Second woman in ad: “David was a very progressive CEO.”

First man in ad: “We had 401(K)s.”

Third woman in ad: “Paid maternity leave.”

Second man in ad: “Employee stock plans.”

Blair: “As Montgomery County executive, my door will always be open. I’ll use facts, not alternative facts—and embrace new progressive ideas, without imposing more and more taxes. I was raised in Darnestown. I love this county. It’s where my wife and I met, and where we’re raising our family. Let’s not settle. Let’s lead the nation.”


Another local union weighs in with endorsements in open-seat state legislative races

SEIU Local 500, which represents 12,000 members of the support staff of the Montgomery County Public Schools, on Thursday weighed in with its endorsements for five open seats in the county’s 24-member House of Delegates contingent.

The SEIU endorsements track closely those of another influential local union—the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), which represents teachers in the county school system—in the June 26 Democratic primary.

The latest SEIU Local 500 endorsements include:

—District 15: Kevin Mack of North Potomac, currently district director for outgoing U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Potomac. Mack, who previously was endorsed by the MCEA, is among seven non-incumbent candidates taking aim at the seat now held by Del. Aruna Miller, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Delaney’s congressional seat.

—District 16: Samir Paul of Bethesda, a teacher at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. Paul also has garnered the backing of the MCEA, of which he is a member; he is among five non-incumbents running in a district where Del. Bill Frick is leaving to run for county executive.

—District 17: Julian Haffner of Gaithersburg, an attorney at a Bethesda-based law firm and former treasurer of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC). The MCEA previously endorsed Haffner and Rockville Council member Julie Palakovich Carr for two of the district’s three delegate seats—those now held by retiring Del. Andrew Platt and Del. Jim Gilchrist. Gilchrist is one of two incumbent county legislators whom the MCEA declined to endorse for re-election.

—District 19: Marlin Jenkins of Silver Spring, a labor attorney with the American Federation of Government Employees. Earlier, the MCEA backed Jenkins and Vaughn Stewart of Derwood, an attorney with a D.C.-based law firm, for the seats now held by Dels. Ben Kramer and Marice Morales. Kramer is running for the open Senate seat now held by Sen. Roger Manno, another contender for Delaney’s congressional slot, while Morales was the other county legislator who failed to win MCEA backing in her re-election bid.

—District 20: Darian Unger of Silver Spring, a business professor at Howard University. Unger, who also has the MCEA endorsement, is among five non-incumbents taking aim at the opening created by the retirement of long-time Del. Sheila Hixson.

SEIU Local 500 had previously endorsed Gabriel Acevero of Montgomery Village in District 39, where five-term Del. Charles Barkley is giving up his seat to run for County Council. Acevero, who previously won the MCEA endorsement, is an organizer at another major local union: UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO, which represents the majority of county government employees.

The major divergence between SEIU Local 500 and the MCEA has come in District 18, where the SEIU previously endorsed Mila Johns of Chevy Chase, a former project manager at the University of Maryland, and Emily Shetty of Kensington, a federal relations strategist who is vice chair of the MCDCC.

The MCEA is backing former congressional aide Jared Solomon of Chevy Chase in District 18, as it continues to mull a second endorsement for the seats now held by Dels. Jeff Waldstreicher, who is running for state Senate, and Ana Sol Gutierrez, a candidate for County Council.

In the county’s only competitive Senate race in the June 26 primary, the SEIU is behind activist Dana Beyer of Chevy Chase, while the MCEA has endorsed Waldstreicher, of Kensington. They are part of a three-way contest for the seat now held by Democrat Richard Madaleno, who is seeking his party’s gubernatorial nomination.


Meitiv becomes 10th candidate in council at-large race to receive public funding

Danielle Meitiv of Silver Spring has become the 10th candidate in the crowded Democratic primary for four County Council at-large seats to receive matching funds from the county’s public campaign finance system.

Meitiv, a science consultant who is a member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, received nearly $77,500 in public funding in late March, according to a report from the county Department of Finance through March 31.

An at-large candidate can qualify for a maximum of $250,000 in public financing under the law passed in 2014. A total of 20 candidates remain eligible to apply for funds from the system, while the remainder of the 33 Democrats in the at-large race are relying on private contributions.  

Following is the Department of Finance’s full list of the 10 at-large candidates who have met the thresholds to receive public funds, and the amounts they have been allocated with less than three months to go until the June 26 Democratic primary:

—Hans Riemer of Takoma Park, the only incumbent at-large member seeking re-election—$163,800;

—Evan Glass of Silver Spring, executive director of the Gandhi Brigade Youth Media—$142,000, with $29,500 received in March. (Glass in late March requested another $33,800, which, if approved, could give him a total of $175,000);

—Bill Conway of Potomac, a retired attorney—$140,500;

—Hoan Dang of Wheaton, a federal contractor—$119,000, with $11,500 received in March;

—Gabriel Albornoz of Kensington, the county’s recreation director—$109,100, with $20,100 received in March. (Albornoz this week applied for another $8,400, which could bring his total to $117,500.);

—Chris Wilhelm of Chevy Chase, a teacher in the county school system—$98,300;

—Will Jawando of Silver Spring, an attorney—$96,900;


—Mohammad Siddique of Montgomery Village, a retired engineer—$73,400; and

—Seth Grimes, a management consultant and former Takoma Park Council member—$72,900. (Grimes this week applied for another $17,200, which would put him at $90,000 if approved.)

Another at-large candidate may soon join the list. Brandy Brooks of Germantown, an organizer for labor-affiliated Progressive Maryland, filed this week saying she had raised nearly $22,400 in private qualifying contributions—more than the $20,000 required—and requesting $76,300 in public matching funds.

Meanwhile, Shruti Bhatnagar of Kensington, a board member of the Takoma Foundation, in late March refiled a request for $69,200 in public funds—while declaring she had raised $20,300 in private qualifying contributions. Earlier this year, Bhatnagar was among four at-large candidates disqualified from the program under a provision in the public financing law that requires a candidate who files a funding request with errors to submit a corrected report in 10 days.

A State Board of Elections official said that Bhatnagar’s latest filing would not enable her to receive public funding. “The program only allows one amendment to correct the filing,” said Jared DeMarinis, director of the board’s campaign finance division. “She filed the one amendment and did not meet the qualification for the program, and thus is ineligible.”

Bhatnagar, in an email Friday, responded: “I continue to believe we have met all the requirements to qualify and my campaign disagrees with the board’s analysis. And there still have been no real guidance to help grassroots candidates navigate the system and make sure it lives up to the spirit of public financing.”

She said that a petition she started last month—asking the County Council to waive the provision in the public financing law that allows candidates only one chance to seek certification from the program—has so far gotten more than 200 signatures.

Image above left – Danielle Meitiv, provided photo