It first appeared Wednesday on a national politics blog and was soon spreading via Twitter. “Ex-Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg (D) launches primary run vs. Cong. John Delaney (D),” declared the Politics1.com blog, in a post later picked up by the Daily Kos.
In fact, Trachtenberg did file a statement of candidacy late last week with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). But Trachtenberg—responding via email Friday to a question about her political status—said the filing “was made to comply with FEC regulations and nothing more.”
Trachtenberg, known for her brash style while serving on the County Council from 2006-2010, went on to declare: “I am no wallflower and if I made a decision to run for Congress, Rep. Delaney would know it. But that isn't a decision I have made.”
Delaney, re-elected narrowly last year in a district redrawn in 2011 to make it more hospitable to a Democrat, currently has eight Republicans competing for that party’s nomination against him in 2016.
The reason Trachtenberg filed a recent statement of candidacy arises from a campaign committee that she started four years ago, prior to making a brief run in the 2012 Democratic congressional primary against Delaney and then state-Sen. Rob Garagiola.
Her candidacy was cut short that year by a recurrence of an earlier battle with breast cancer, but she opted not to fold her congressional campaign committee. That is not unusual among unsuccessful candidates for office looking to keep their future political options open.
For the third quarter of 2015, Trachtenberg’s federal campaign committee reported raising $6,500 in three separate contributions from individuals in New York City. While such an amount is hardly sufficient to mount a serious campaign for Congress, it ran afoul of a FEC regulation that requires an individual to file a statement of candidacy if he or she raises or spends at least $5,000 during a two-year election cycle.
Consequently, FEC officials, in a Nov. 15 letter to Trachtenberg, told her that she had 35 days to “disavow these activities….If you do not disavow these activities, you should file a Statement of Candidacy.” That prompted Trachtenberg to file such a statement at the end of last week.
Explaining her situation via email Friday while out of town visiting relatives, Trachtenberg declared, “I have not made a decision to run”—a statement that stopped well short of a Shermanesque denial. But her latest FEC report shows little evidence that she is laying the groundwork for another run for Congress: Besides having raised just $6,500 in the third quarter of the year, Trachtenberg reported having less than $6,850 in her campaign treasury, with debts of $9,750.
In contrast, Delaney is one of the wealthiest individuals in Congress, and appears to have pumped more than $900,000 of his personal fortune into his 2014 re-election bid, when he narrowly held off a challenge from Republican challenger Dan Bongino.
On top of that, Trachtenberg would hardly enter a congressional race with political momentum: Following her loss for a second term on the County Council in 2010, she lost by a nearly a 4-1 margin to Council member Roger Berliner in a 2014 comeback bid.
Delaney has amassed a voting record that puts him to the right of many of his House Democratic colleagues, Last month, for example, he supported a Republican proposal to bar admission of Syrian refugees to the United States in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, pending stricter screening processes being put in place. The other Democrats in the Maryland delegation opposed the measure, including Delaney’s Montgomery County colleague, Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
Such stances have fueled periodic speculation about a primary challenge from the left to Delaney in District 6. Gibed Trachtenberg, “I certainly feel the 6th Congressional District could be better represented.”