Political activist Dana Beyer—who challenged District 18 state Sen. Richard Madaleno in the Democratic primary four years ago—confirmed Monday that she has decided to again seek the seat. Madaleno is running for his party’s 2018 gubernatorial nomination instead of seeking re-election.
This time, Beyer will face Del. Jeff Waldstreicher, who disclosed plans to run for the Senate seat in July days after Madaleno announced for governor.
“I’m in for the Senate,” Beyer said in a phone interview, saying she decided last week to run after returning from a two-week vacation abroad. She plans a formal announcement in the next few days, after being introduced as a candidate Friday evening at an event sponsored by NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland. Beyer serves on the group’s board.
An eye surgeon, Beyer, 65, is a former County Council aide and has been involved in numerous advocacy groups at the state and local level. Beyer, who is transgender, is among the founders of Gender Rights Maryland, which lobbies on behalf of transgender rights.
“I’ve been extremely successful as an activist and as an advocate,” said Beyer, who lives in Chevy Chase, citing her “willingness to fight against discrimination and to persevere.” She added, “Given the situation nationally now, I think it’s all the more important … that we have leadership in Annapolis that is willing to do that, and to work in concert with our like-minded liberal Democratic allies in other states.”
Waldstreicher, 37, a Kensington resident, was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2006 and is now completing his third term. In a statement Monday, he said: “This state Senate seat was never mine by right. The only way I'll earn it is by continuing to fight for economic justice, resisting the Trump administration at every turn, and recommitting myself to the impeccable constituent service my office is known for.”
He added: “This race will no doubt be a crowded one; I welcome Ms. Beyer to it.”
Beyer’s decision to run sets up the only contested Senate race so far in next June’s primary in Montgomery County, which is represented by an eight-member Senate delegation in Annapolis.
Beyer faced Waldstreicher in two contests for delegate in District 18, which stretches from the eastern edge of Bethesda to Silver Spring, while including Garrett Park and Wheaton, as well as Chevy Chase and Kensington.
In 2006, Beyer finished fifth in an eight-way Democratic primary, and, four years later, ran fourth in a six-way contest. In both races, Waldstreicher captured one of the party’s three nominations for delegate.
In 2014, Beyer took on Madaleno in an acrimonious primary in which she sought to position herself to the left of the incumbent—even though Madaleno was widely seen as among the most left-leaning members of the Senate. The race attracted attention outside of Montgomery County, given that it pitted the only openly gay member of the Maryland Senate against a challenger who is transgender.
In losing to Madaleno 58 to 42 percent—a closer margin than many local Democratic insiders expected—Beyer largely self-financed her candidacy, pumping in more than $310,000 of her personal assets. Beyer said she does not plan to self-finance this year’s Senate bid.
“I only self-financed last time because my base, the LGBT community, was also Rich’s base,” Beyer said. “I discovered early on that put my friends in a bind. … That’s not an issue now.”
She said she has “only started talking to people about fundraising. I know I don’t have the advantages of incumbency and I’m not on [the House Economic Matters Committee] and such, so it might take a little more work.”
Waldstreicher serves on the House Economic Matters Committee, which has jurisdiction over a number of heavily lobbied issues, giving members of the panel a leg up in raising campaign funds.
Waldstreicher’s latest campaign finance disclosure report, filed in January 2017 with the Maryland State Board of Elections, showed him with $165,500 in his campaign account. He held a recent fundraiser, which is likely to add to that total when his next report is filed this coming January.
Beyer’s latest report last January showed a little more than $600 in her campaign treasury left over from the 2014 contest.
One question that surrounds the forthcoming District 18 Senate contest is whether either or both candidates will form slates together with candidates for the three delegate slots. Del. Al Carr of Kensington is running for re-election, but there are two openings—the seats now held by Waldstreicher and Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, who is running for the Democratic nod for County Council in Bethesda/Chevy Chased-based District 1.
“I have been talking to people about that,” Beyer said, adding that such discussions are only in the “nascent phases.”
She said: “Slates have generally been defensive. “We would not be running as a slate. We would be running as individuals, but be part of a team. … I’m thinking of a proactive leadership team of sorts, if I can find people who share my passion and my policy agenda—where we could make a stronger synergistic effort together than we could as individuals.”
Besides District 18, the only other open Senate seat in Montgomery County in the forthcoming 2018 primary is in neighboring District 19, which extends from Silver Spring to the outskirts of Rockville and Gaithersburg.
The incumbent, Sen. Roger Manno, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the congressional seat now held by Rep. John Delaney, who is running for president.
Del. Ben Kramer has announced that he is running to replace Manno in the Senate. To date, Kramer is unchallenged in the June 26 primary.