The day before the Maryland General Assembly convened for the opening of its 2018 session, Del. Andrew Platt of Gaithersburg disclosed Tuesday that he would not seek a second four-year term in Annapolis.
The decision by Platt—who turned 29 last month and is the youngest member of the Montgomery County state legislative delegation—comes as something of a surprise. Late last year, he had been moving to seek re-election as part of a slate of incumbent delegates from Gaithersburg/Rockville-based District 17.
But Platt, in a statement posted to Facebook Tuesday evening, expressed frustration with the legislative process in Annapolis.
“As the son of a mailman and a mom who made minimum wage, I’ve spent my time in office fighting against institutional inertia and structural forces to reform our politics so that working families don’t get further marginalized…,” Platt wrote. “Given the corrosive effect of money in politics and the broken incentive structure of who public policy gets made for, I think I will be able to better work on these issues from the outside and not as a state legislator.”
Asked later in a phone interview whether he expects to run for elected office again, Platt responded, “Only if there is some kind of major campaign finance reform put in place—or I have the personal means not to rely on outside donors and the like.”
Platt’s announcement triggered a move by Montgomery County Board of Education member Rebecca Smondrowski to drop a recently announced bid for County Council at-large in favor for a run for delegate in District 17.
“I believe it is where I’m best suited and can be most effective,” said Smondrowski, who was an aide to state Sen. Roger Manno of Silver Spring before her election to the school board in 2012. She was re-elected to a second four-year term in that post in 2016.
Smondrowski’s decision drops the field of Democrats seeking four at-large nominations to the County Council to 29. In District 17, she will join Rockville City Council member Julie Palakovich Carr in taking aim at Platt’s open seat in the June 26 primary.
Palakovich Carr filed last July to run in this year’s Democratic primary for District 17 delegate. The two incumbent delegates from the district, Democrats Kumar Barve and Jim Gilchrist, have yet to file, but have indicated they plan to seek re-election. The filing deadline is Feb. 27.
No Republicans have announced or filed to run for delegate in District 17, where Democrats enjoy a better than 3-1 advantage in voter registration.
Smondrowski, in a text message Tuesday night, characterized Platt as “a good friend and an accessible representative,” adding, “I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for the work he has done over the last four years and I wish him continued success in whatever comes next.”
Platt, a Gaithersburg native who served as an aide in the U.S. House of Representatives prior to his successful run for delegate in 2014, for a time contemplated seeking the District 6 congressional seat being given up by Democratic Rep. John Delaney. But Platt underscored Tuesday that he has no plans to run for that or any other office in 2018.
“I’ll be very Shermanesque about that,” he said.
Platt recently started working for Vemo Education, a Northern Virginia-based firm that focuses on increasing college affordability through use of so-called income-share agreements, in which students, in lieu of paying tuition, agree to underwrite their education by surrendering a percentage of future earnings.
Politically, Platt said he plans to remain involved in the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), which he described as a national network of state and local elected progressive Democrats. “I’ll continue to stay active in that to help build the national Democratic bench,” he said.
Platt’s decision to leave Annapolis is also emblematic of a quiet frustration among a number of younger legislators at their limited ability to achieve upward mobility and increased influence. The top legislative leaders, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, are in their 70s, and a significant number of key committees are chaired by legislators in their 70s and 80s.
Including Platt, eight of the 24 members of the House of Delegates from Montgomery County will not be back in their current positions following the 2018 election. In addition, two of the eight members of the county’s state Senate delegation will not return.
While Platt and the delegation’s senior member, 84-year-old Del. Sheila Hixson of Silver Spring, are leaving elected office, several others are departing to seek electoral opportunities elsewhere.
This group includes state Sen. Richard Madaleno of Kensington, who is making a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor; Manno and Del. Aruna Miller of Darnestown, who are both running for the Democratic nomination for Delaney’s District 6 congressional seat; and Del. Bill Frick of Bethesda, who is among six Democrats seeking the nomination for county executive.
In addition, two veteran members of the House of Delegates—Democrats Charles Barkley of Germantown and Ana Sol Gutierrez of Chevy Chase—hope to win election to the County Council at-large and from District 1, respectively.
Two other current delegates are seeking to move up to the state Senate: Del. Ben Kramer of Derwood is running for Manno’s open seat and Del. Jeff Waldstreicher of Kensington is in a primary race to succeed Madaleno.