A joint mailer featuring at-large County Council candidates Chris Wilhelm, left, and Brandy Brooks, right

At-large County Council candidates Brooks and Wilhelm team up

Two of the candidates in the crowded field of more than 30 Democrats pursuing four at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council are now working together.

Wheaton community activist Brandy Brooks and Chevy Chase teacher Chris Wilhelm have joined together to distribute joint mailers and this week unveiled a new YouTube video featuring both of them. In the video, they describe themselves as candidates who will address the public schools’ achievement gap, work to diminish the influence of developers’ contributions in local politics and build more affordable housing.

The progressive political newcomers share a number of endorsements. Both have been endorsed by the Montgomery County Education Association, the local teachers’ union; the liberal political group Progressive Maryland; and the large county government employee union UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO.

“We realized it was an opportunity to emphasize to voters that you can vote for more than one person,” Brooks said Thursday about the partnership. She said she and Wilhelm developed a cordial relationship on the campaign trail. The pair decided their values aligned and they could work together. Both are also using the county’s new public campaign financing system.

She added that they’ve been careful to not violate public campaign financing rules that prohibit candidates from running on a slate together. The pair don’t have a joint campaign account, are splitting expenses evenly and confirmed with state Board of Elections officials that their partnership is permitted, Brooks said.

Andrew Metcalf


Blair Picks up endorsement of Apartment and Office Building Association

Businessman David Blair has picked up the endorsement of the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington (AOBA) in his bid for the Democratic nomination for county executive in the June 26 primary.

While many labor unions and social advocacy groups typically weigh in during local primary contests, AOBA’s Maryland State PAC is one of the few business groups to make formal candidate endorsements in Montgomery County. Another business organization representing real estate interests, the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR), got behind another contender, state Del. Bill Frick (D-Bethesda), early last month in the six-way Democratic primary for county executive.   

Prior to endorsing Blair, AOBA’s Maryland State PAC had previously announced its support for County Council member Hans Riemer of Takoma Park along with Gabriel Albornoz of Kensington and Marilyn Balcombe of Germantown for County Council at-large. Riemer is the only incumbent seeking re-election in the 33-person Democratic field for the at-large seats; Albornoz is the director of the county’s Department of Recreation and Balcombe is CEO of the Gaithersburg/Germantown Chamber of Commerce.

The AOBA has also endorsed incumbent council members Craig Rice of Germantown in District 2 and Sidney Katz of Gaithersburg in District 3. Rice is heavily favored to win renomination to a third term, while Katz faces a competitive challenge from progressive activist Ben Shnider of Rockville in his bid for a second term.

Commenting on its endorsement of Blair and the five council contenders, AOBA said in a release: “Each of the endorsed candidates understands the importance of and has a plan for creating a vibrant and diversified economy, while also meeting the challenges of the county’s social needs.”

While it was not clear if AOBA would make endorsements in other local primary contests prior to the start of early voting in two weeks, the release indicated the group’s Maryland State PAC had decided not to endorse in County Council District 1—where there is an eight-way Democratic primary for the seat held for the past 12 years by council member Roger Berliner, another county executive candidate. GCAAR also took a pass last month in making an endorsement for the open District 1 seat.

Image above left via David Blair on Facebook

Louis Peck


So where can those political signs be posted?

Political signs are popping up throughout the county with less than a month before the June 26 primary. Montgomery County has a number of regulations that govern how and where political signs can be placed.

For example, signs cannot be placed in a state public right-of-way. Candidates must get a “limited duration sign permit” to place political signs in a Montgomery County right-of-way. Under the permit, signs may be posted for 14 consecutive days and a maximum of four signs are allowed per applicant.

County rules also govern the size of signs posted on private property in residential or commercial areas. In a residential area, a sign can’t be bigger than 10 square feet. In a commercial area, it can’t be bigger than 100 square feet. To place a sign on private property, the candidate must have permission from the property owner. Roof signs are not permitted.

Candidates who fail to comply with the county’s sign regulations face a $500 civil citation for each sign in violation as well as removal of illegal signs in the public right-of-way. Both the candidate and the sign installer can be held jointly responsible if a sign doesn’t comply with the regulations.

Andrew Metcalf


District 18 delegate candidate Rubin highlights TV appearances in new ad

“Does The Name Joel Rubin Sound Familiar?” is the question on the screen at the beginning of the 30-second internet ad.

It’s answered via a series of snippets from recent on-air appearances by Rubin, as his name is uttered by news anchors and talk show hosts ranging from Rachel Maddow to Chuck Todd to Brian Williams. And one of TV’s most durable talking heads, Larry King, closes the ad by saying, “Joel, as always, thank you.”

No, Rubin—a Town of Chevy Chase Council member—is not claiming an endorsement by these on-air personalities as he faces off against seven other candidates running for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 18 in the June 26 Democratic primary.

But, as he focuses on closer-to-home issues on the stump, the ad is an effort to remind voters of his standing as a State Department official in the Obama administration (“Joel Rubin, former deputy assistant secretary for legislative affairs” as Maddow notes in an opening snippet of the ad) who now frequently appears as a guest on outlets such as MSNBC to discuss crises far from Annapolis.

Rubin—who currently works as a consultant who advises clients on foreign policy and national security matters—also noted that some of his on-air appearances have involved issues of more immediate relevance to the job he is running for, such as immigration and gun control.

“I’ve been fortunate to have been invited to speak on television as a progressive commentator hundreds of times on both friendly and hostile networks, to both domestic and international audiences, as both a policy expert and a political analyst,” he said. “We created this video to share some of my work on television, both to demonstrate how I have been fighting for progressive values in the national debate for a number of years—as well as to show how I’m ready to use this skill set on behalf of our district, starting on day one, if I’m fortunate enough to be elected.”

His campaign plans to run the ad online and via social media as both the June 14 start of early voting and the June 26 primary approach.

Louis Peck