Marc Elrich and Tom Perez Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Tom Perez may be the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, but he’s also a Takoma Park resident and the father of a daughter who was once taught by Marc Elrich.

Perez, a Montgomery County Council member from 2002 to 2006, has been traveling the country in the days before the Nov. 6 election campaigning for Democrats who are running for Congress. But he was a stone’s throw from his home Thursday, as he cast his ballot during early voting at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Afterward, Perez schmoozed with Elrich, the Democratic candidate for county executive, along with his fellow County Council member Tom Hucker, who’s running for re-election, and campaign volunteers who were milling about outside the polling station.

In an interview, Perez said Elrich taught his daughter when she was in fifth grade at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park, where he taught for 16 years before being elected to the council in 2006.

“Long before he [Elrich] was thinking about running for county executive, he was providing the moral and ethical foundation for young children,” Perez said. “I want a leader who’s going to make sure no ZIP code is left behind, and will reflect the inclusive values that make this county great.”

Asked about Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous, who trails incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R) by about 20 points in the polls according to The Washington Post, Perez said he remained “bullish” about Jealous’s chances.

“Ben isn’t just looking at a voter file and saying, ‘Oh, I’m gonna go looking at these voters that have been around for a while. Ben is looking at voters who perhaps didn’t participate before. That’s what I love about his formula for success.”

Perez said it was critical for Marylanders to elect Jealous in order to stand up to President Donald Trump, which he doesn’t believe Hogan has done.

“This is the most dangerous president of our lifetime in Donald Trump. The deafening silence from Larry Hogan is not what we need in this time where the institutions of democracy are being threatened,” he said.

Elrich and Nancy Floreen, the independent candidate running for county executive, said they both plan to campaign through the final weekend before the Nov. 6 election. Republican Robin Ficker is also running.

“I’m gonna be out with the people,” Floreen said in an upbeat tone following a debate Thursday night in Friendship Heights.

Elrich said he was optimistic about the race, but that he was looking forward to the end of a busy schedule of campaign events.

“I’m thinking about sleeping Tuesday night,” he joked.

—-Dan Schere

Trone, Hoeber continue to pour personal assets into District 6 congressional race

With the campaign entering its final days, two Potomac residents—Democrat David Trone and Republican Amie Hoeber—are continuing to pour personal funds into their battle for the open District 6 congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. John Delaney.

Trone—co-owner of Total Wine & More, a nationwide alcohol beverage retailer—directed another $1 million in personal assets to his campaign late last week, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). That brings to $17 million the total amount from his own pocket used to underwrite his District 6 campaign.

The previous national record for a self-funded congressional candidate had belonged to none other than Trone, who contributed $13.4 million in personal funds to a losing bid for the Democratic congressional nomination in neighboring District 8 in 2016.

Meanwhile, Hoeber, a national security consultant, reported donating another $100,000 to her candidacy, bringing to $620,000 the personal contributions she has made during the 2017-2018 election cycle. This does not count $450,000 in loans that remain on the books of her campaign committee from her unsuccessful bid to oust Delaney two years ago in the district, which extends 200 miles from Potomac and Gaithersburg to the western edge of the Maryland panhandle.

Both the Hoeber and Trone campaigns previously filed detailed pre-election reports with the FEC covering the period through Oct. 17—the last such reports required prior to Tuesday’s  election. However, under federal election law, candidates must continue to disclose—within 48 hours—additional contributions of $1,000 or more made during the final three weeks of the general election. The latest donations by Hoeber and Trone came after the Oct. 17 cutoff for the pre-election report.

Prior to the latest $1 million, Trone had reported making $12.75 million in direct contributions and $3.25 million in loans to his campaign. It is unclear from the latest filing whether the additional $1 million was designated as a contribution or loan. While candidates often designate personal contributions as loans in the hope of being paid back from future fundraising receipts, such loans are rarely repaid—and ultimately end up being written off as contributions.

The Trone campaign began October with more than $3 million in cash on hand, but that was down to a little more than $650,000 as of mid-October—following a two-week period in which Trone spent $2.4 million, with about $1.6 million going to TV advertising. It appears that the latest $1 million infusion is intended to help underwrite the saturation ad effort that he is running on Washington, D.C.-based broadcast stations in the campaign’s closing days.

Trone’s spending dwarfs the $770,000 that the Hoeber campaign committee had reported spending through the middle of October. However, this does not count another $1.4 million that two independent expenditure “Super PACs”—the Defending Main Street Super PAC Inc. and the Value In Electing Women Political Action Committee (VIEW PAC)—have invested in boosting Hoeber’s candidacy. To date, these two committees have reported receiving a total of $1.6 million in donations from Hoeber’s husband, telecommunications executive Mark Epstein.

While such Super PACS are barred from coordinating their activities with a candidate’s personal campaign committee, Super PACs—unlike personal committees—have no restrictions on the size of donations that they can accept from individuals, corporations or labor unions.

Louis Peck

County Above Party pulls in $46,650 in one week

County Above Party, a Super PAC funded by Bethesda developer Charles K. Nulsen III that is supporting independent county executive candidate Nancy Floreen, has raised $46,650 since Monday, according to the latest filings with the Maryland State Board of Elections. Among the contributions are:

-Foulger Pratt, which made two separate contributions Oct. 29 that total $26,000;

-Mary Sheahan, a Bethesda resident, who gave $10,000 on Nov. 2;

-Ford Boomers LLC, which gave $5,000 on Oct. 31; and

-Rejoice Attor, a Germantown resident, who gave $5,000 on Oct. 29.

County Above Party has raised more than $500,000 since Nulsen created it on Aug. 29. There is also a Super PAC working on behalf of one of Floreen’s opponents, Democrat Marc Elrich, that is being run by the organization Progressive Maryland and is funded by a number of unions that have also endorsed Elrich. That PAC has raised $131,000 since Sept. 27.

—Dan Schere

For a second time, Marc Elrich ‘maxes out’ on public campaign finance system

Call Marc Elrich the $1.5 million man: For the second time in four months, the Democratic nominee for county executive has “maxed out” on the county’s public campaign finance system.

Elrich, who qualified for the $750,000 maximum available to county executive candidates last July——shortly after all the bills from his June 26 primary victory were in——has now also tapped into the full $750,000 for his general election bid, according to the latest report from the county’s Department of Finance.

On top of $277,000 that he received previously for his general election bid, Elrich in October garnered another $473,000——the lion’s share of the total of $581,000 that the public finance system distributed last month.

With less than a week until Tuesday’s general election, the latest Department of Finance report——which covers allocations through the end of October——showed that the public finance system has disbursed a total of $5.27 million during the 2017-2018 election cycle to candidates running for county executive and County Council. That is less than half of the $11 million initially appropriated for this purpose.

After total expenses for the primary campaign came to just short of $4.1 million, the County Council in July reallocated another $4 million to other purposes, leaving about $2.9 million remaining for the general election. So far, only about $1.17 million has been spent in the general election, leaving just over $1.75 million remaining in the system. The latter amount includes a total of $30,000 in unused funds returned in July by several contenders for council seats.

To be eligible for public funding, candidates must agree to limit outside private contributions to no more than $150 per individual, and to not accept money from political action committees or corporate entities. Only donations from county residents qualify for public matching funds.

The Republican nominee for county executive, Robin Ficker, also has qualified for public funding. With $255,000, Ficker has gotten barely one-third of the amount received by Elrich during the general election——with $14,400 of that coming during October. Because he was unopposed in the primary, Ficker was not eligible for public funds prior to the general election.

The third candidate in the county executive contest, independent Nancy Floreen, did not enter the race until after the deadline to become eligible for public funds, and is relying entirely on private fundraising in her bid.

The four Democratic nominees for County Council at-large seats have received relatively modest allocations of public funding in a largely noncompetitive general election race against four Republican opponents——none of whom qualified for the public finance system.

Among the Democrats, incumbent Hans Riemer of Takoma Park has received $21,700 in general election public funding, as compared to $54,100 for Will Jawando of Silver Spring, $31,600 for Gabe Albornoz of Kensington and $21,400 for Evan Glass of Silver Spring. In the far more competitive Democratic primary campaign, when the four emerged from a field of 33 candidates, both Glass and Jawando qualified for the maximum of $250,000 in public matching funds; Riemer received $242,800 and Albornoz, $168,600.

The only district council candidate currently receiving public funding, Republican Ed Amatetti of North Potomac, has gotten $31,500 during the general election, with $7,500 coming in October. That is well short of the $125,000 maximum for which he is eligible. Amatetti also received $44,850 during the primary. His general election opponent, Democratic incumbent Craig Rice, is relying entirely on private fundraising.

Louis Peck