Bethesda Attorney Opts out of Bid for Republican Nod for Congress in District 8
Bill Day won't run; Chevy Chase resident James Calderwood still mulling contest
After exploring running for nearly three months, Bethesda resident Bill Day said this weekend he has decided not to seek the Republican congressional nomination in District 8 in next April’s primary election.
“I really appreciate everyone's support and encouragement. Unfortunately, right now the obligations of my law practice are such that I do not have the time necessary to devote to a campaign for federal office,” said Day, a Rockville attorney, in an email. “I believed I would be able to manage both.”
Meanwhile, James Calderwood of Chevy Chase, a Washington-based attorney who holds a part-time position in the administration of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, said he is continuing to consider seeking the GOP nomination. “I have not made a decision yet. I’m still looking at it, and still meeting with people,” Calderwood said in a telephone interview.
Calderwood, who earlier had said he hoped to make a decision on whether to run by mid-October, indicated this past weekend that he had not set a time frame for reaching a conclusion between now and the Feb. 3 filing deadline.
Calderwood’s apparent hesitancy, along with Day’s decision not to get into the race, underscores that any Republican running in District 8 will face an uphill battle in next year’s general election. There are nearly twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans in the district, which includes portions of Carroll and Frederick counties but is centered in Montgomery County.
Consequently, the winner of the seven-way primary for the Democratic nomination in District 8 nomination will start the general election as a heavy favorite. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who first won the seat in 2002, is vacating it to run for Senate.
Former Rep. Connie Morella, a moderate to liberal Republican, represented the 8th District for 16 years—although it was configured somewhat differently at the time—before being ousted by Van Hollen.
“We can take District 8—it’s not impossible,” Day told a Montgomery County Young Republican gathering in late September, raising the prospect of “some of the moderate Democrats” joining with Republican and independent voters. The district has more than 100,000 “unaffiliated” voters—independents who have not registered with a political party.
But Day, a Naval Academy graduate, said this weekend, “I have said from the start that, if I run for Congress, it will be a credible campaign [to which] I could fully commit and not just to have my name appear on the ballot.”
Day in September created a Web page for a “Bill Day Exploratory Committee” (http://www.billday.org/) but did not formally file with the Federal Election Commission. FEC regulations require a statement of candidacy to be filed once an individual has raised or spent $5,000 toward a campaign for Congress.
Day said he plans to return all contributions he has received while he was exploring the race. He did not respond to a follow-up email asking how much he had raised.
Money will clearly be a major obstacle for any Republican running in District 8. Calderwood earlier this fall said he is prepared to put “a fair amount of my own money” into the contest if he runs. But he added, “If we have a candidate who’s not prepared to raise $1.5 million, forget it, that person is not going to win.”
Calderwood currently chairs the Maryland Transportation Commission, which serves in an advisory capacity to the governor, and is a past president of the University of Maryland Alumni Association.
To date, two Republicans have filed with the FEC and/or the Maryland State Board of Elections for the District 8 seat.
One, Shelton Skolnick of Silver Spring, has unsuccessfully run for the seat twice before, he sought the Republican nomination in 2012 and the Democratic nomination in 1992. Skolnick also has run twice for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council as a Republican, most recently last year.
The other declared candidate, Aryeh Shudofsky of Silver Spring, is a financial consultant and former aide to U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz. Shudofsky unsuccessfully ran for an at-large seat on the county Board of Education in 2012.
Another possible Republican contender, Gus Alzona of Bethesda, is an accountant who is an at-large member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee. Alzona unsuccessfully sought the District 8 GOP nomination in 2006 and 2012.