Politics Roundup: Delaney Makes Endorsements in Local Races
Plus: District 1 County Council candidate poised to max out public funding; teachers union backs incumbent council candidates
Rep John Delaney
Delaney takes time from presidential trail to boost a couple of candidates back home
He is spending much of his time these days in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina—states that hold early convention delegate contests in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination—and he emailed supporters Wednesday to relate his recent efforts on behalf of a congressional candidate in central Ohio. But, amid his longshot bid for the presidency, U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Potomac is keeping a hand in politics in his own backyard.
Delaney this week issued endorsements of two Democrats in the crowded race for County Council at-large: Montgomery County Department of Recreation Director Gabriel Albornoz of Kensington, and retired attorney Bill Conway of Potomac. A total of 33 Democrats are seeking four at-large nominations in the June 26 primary.
“Through his leadership [at] the Department of Recreation for the past decade, he has created programs to engage seniors in activities, increase health fitness for residents, and to help close the opportunity gap among our children and youth,” Delaney said of Albornoz. “Gabe’s commitment to our community proves that he is the type of leader that Montgomery County needs on the County Council.”
Of Conway, a former congressional aide and energy company official, Delaney—a financial services company entrepreneur before entering politics—said: “Bill would bring policy and business experience to the County Council. He is a consensus builder who combines progressive values and a deep commitment to social justice with clear-eyed practicality and fiscal prudence.”
Both Albornoz and Conway have extensive backgrounds in Democratic politics. Albornoz is a former chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, while Conway and his wife—longtime civic activist Diana Conway—have been active in fundraising for Democratic candidates at the federal, state and local level in recent years.
Together, the Conways have donated nearly $100,000 to Democratic candidates and committees at the federal level over the past decade and a half, according to Federal Election Commission records; a total of $6,200, from Diana Conway, was contributed to Delaney’s congressional campaigns in 2012 and 2014.
In addition to Delaney, Albornoz has been endorsed by his long-time boss, retiring County Executive Ike Leggett. Otherwise, Leggett and Delaney have diverged when it comes to endorsements in the primary for County Council at-large.
Leggett has given his backing to incumbent Hans Riemer of Takoma Park, federal contractor Hoan Dang of Wheaton, and attorney/former Obama administration official Will Jawando for the other three slots. So far, Delaney has limited his council endorsements to Albornoz and Conway.
Delaney and Leggett are also opposite sides of in the District 15 delegate contest, where long-time aides to both men are among seven non-incumbents taking aim at the open seat of Del. Aruna Miller—a candidate to succeed Delaney on Capitol Hill.
In that race, Delaney has endorsed Kevin Mack of North Potomac, his district office director for the past five years. Leggett is backing Lily Qi of North Potomac, a county assistant chief administrative officer who has been an aide to Leggett since 2011.
Council District 1 contender Oldak poised to become first candidate to max out on public funding
Bethesda attorney Regina “Reggie” Oldak, one of eight contenders for the Democratic nomination in County Council District 1, is poised to become the first candidate countywide to collect the maximum amount allowable from the county’s new public campaign finance system.
With eight weeks to go until the June 26 primary, Oldak has received $114,700 in public funding, and this week filed papers with the State Board of Elections saying she had raised enough in additional qualifying private contributions for another $11,800. However, if the board approves her latest filing, she won’t get more than $10,300—which would bring her to the $125,000 maximum in public funds per election allowed for district-level council candidates.
Oldak is a former chief of staff to District 1 council member Roger Berliner, now a candidate for county executive. She is one of four District 1 candidates to participate in public funding.
"I’m grateful to the hundreds of individual Montgomery County donors who helped me reach this milestone,” Oldak said in a statement, adding: “I'm participating in public financing because District 1 deserves a council member who they can trust to represent them and not special interests. This is in contrast to my opponents who are not participating in public financing; they can accept donations of up to $6,000 from special interests and very wealthy donors.”
Once she hits the $125,000 maximum, Oldak can continue to raise private funds—but is limited to individual donations of $150 or less by her participation in the public funding program.
According to public filings, Oldak’s campaign has raised a total of nearly $164,000 between public funding and private donations. This still puts her well behind one of her opponents, Andrew Friedson of Bethesda—a former aide to Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot—who reported $219,000 in donations in his last filing in early January. As a candidate funding his campaign strictly through private donations, Friedson’s next disclosure report is due in late May.
Other candidates in the District 1 race relying on private contributions are former Kensington Mayor Peter Fosselman, social worker Dalbin Osorio of Chevy Chase, and former county Planning Board member Meredith Wellington of Chevy Chase. Besides Oldak, the other candidate in the race to qualify for public funding is state Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez of Chevy Chase, who has received about $36,000.
The two remaining District 1 candidates, community activist Bill Cook and health benefits professional Jim McGee, both of Bethesda, have signed up for the public financing program—but have yet to raise sufficient private contributions to trigger public funding.
Cook and McGee are in situation similar to nine other Democratic candidates around the county seeking election to at-large or district council seats who have enrolled in the program: They have little more than a week to qualify for public funding. The statute mandates that candidates must qualify 45 days before the June 26 primary.
Of the $11 million appropriated for public funding, slightly less than $3 million had been disbursed to candidates as of April 30, less than two months before Primary Day. In a county where general election races are rarely competitive, this would indicate that a significant amount of the funding will not be spent during the 2018 election cycle.
Of the three Democratic county executive candidates who have qualified for public financing, the largest amount has gone to at-large council member Marc Elrich of Takoma Park, who has received just over $500,000 of the $750,000 maximum available to contenders in that race. Among the dozen Democratic contenders for at-large council seats who have tapped into the system, the top recipient of public funding is former TV journalist Evan Glass of Silver Spring, who has collected about $180,000 of the $250,000 maximum for those in that contest.
Teachers union endorses four County Council incumbents
The Montgomery County Education Association added four more names to its “apple ballot” of endorsements Thursday. The local teachers union, which represents the teaching staff of the county’s public school system, endorsed incumbent Democratic County Council members Hans Riemer (at-large), Craig Rice (District 2), Nancy Navarro (District 4) and Tom Hucker (District 5).
The incumbents have backed County Executive Ike Leggett’s proposal to fully fund the Board of Education’s operating budget request for about $2.59 billion in fiscal 2019. The union didn’t include any incumbents when it unveiled its initial endorsements in March. The organization said it was waiting for the outcome of the county’s budget process, which the council is continuing to work through.
The teachers union previously endorsed three other at-large council candidates—activist Brandy Brooks of Wheaton, teacher Chris Wilhelm of Chevy Chase and attorney Will Jawando of Silver Spring. It also endorsed District 3 candidate Ben Shnider, a political operative, and Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, who is running for the District 1 seat.
The union has not endorsed a candidate for county executive.
Katz, amid competitive re-election challenge, unveils endorsement from Van Hollen
District 3 County council member Sidney Katz, facing an aggressive challenge for renomination to a second term from political operative and local activist Ben Shnider, this week trotted out the latest in a series of endorsements—this one from Sen. Chris Van Hollen.
Katz spent 16 years as mayor of Gaithersburg prior to his election to the council in 2014. “From his time serving the city of Gaithersburg, Sidney understands how local government works and he’s been an effective advocate for his constituents. Sidney has also been a leader on important issues like criminal justice reform—spearheading Montgomery County’s new Mental Health Courts, and ensuring our seniors can age in place,” declared Van Hollen, hugely popular as a Montgomery County-based member of Congress prior to his 2016 election to the Senate.
According to the Van Hollen campaign, the three other district council members seeking re-election—Craig Rice in District 2, Nancy Navarro in District 4, and Tom Hucker in District 5—also have received the senator’s endorsement. Unlike Katz, however, all are overwhelming favorites to win renomination. Van Hollen also has endorsed at-large council member Hans Riemer, the only incumbent in a field of 33 Democrats seeking four at-large seats in the June 26 primary; Van Hollen so far has made no endorsements for the other three at-large slots.
Van Hollen’s embrace of Katz follows similar endorsements by retiring County Executive Ike Leggett and Katz’s immediate predecessor, long-time District 3 council member Phil Andrews. Recent campaign filings also show Katz with widespread backing from members of both the county’s business and political establishments.
His latest campaign disclosure report includes contributions from several leading local developers: Gary and Jeffrey Abramson of the Tower Cos., and Mark and Ted Lerner, now owners of the Washington Nationals. Each gave the $150 maximum allowed under the county’s public financing system, in which Katz is participating. Former County Executive Doug Duncan also gave $150, while District 17 state Sen. Cheryl Kagan of Rockville donated $100.
While Katz has received the endorsement of two local public safety unions—the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 and IAFF Local 1664 Montgomery County Career Fire Fighters—Shnider, of Rockville, has the endorsement of the two unions representing most of the county school system’s 22,000 employees: the Montgomery County Education Association and SEIU Local 500. Shnider—who, at 29, is nearly 40 years Katz’s junior—also has the backing of the Maryland Sierra Club as well as of District 39 Del. Shane Robinson of Montgomery Village, who chairs the county’s House delegation in Annapolis.
The latest report on spending by the public campaign finance system, released this week by the county Department of Finance, showed Katz having received $111,000 in public subsidies as of April 30—not far short of the $125,000 maximum for which district council candidates can qualify. Added to the private contributions of $150 or less allowed under public financing, Katz’s campaign has taken in a total of just over $150,000 to date.
However, that still puts him behind Shnider, who has opted to rely entirely on private donations—while declining to accept contributions from corporate entities or political action committees tied to corporations. Shnider reported having raised $156,000 as of early January. What he has taken in during the intervening four months won’t be known until the next round of fundraising reports are due into the State Board of Elections later this month.
Van Hollen’s endorsement of Katz included what could be seen as a swipe at Shnider for not opting into the public funding system, enacted in late 2014. “Sidney has … been a leader in the fight to get big money out of politics and to put the public interest first,” Van Hollen declared.
Frick unveils new Facebook ad that includes shot at term-limited competitors
Democratic Montgomery County executive candidate Bill Frick stands outside the County Council office building in a new online ad for his campaign and declares, “In the last election, Montgomery County voters overwhelmingly supported term limits. But some people didn’t get the hint.” He then points at the building.
In the 15-second video, he also says it’s time to elect new leaders and that he’ll “bring innovative ideas and new leadership.”
The clip, published Tuesday on Facebook, is a subtle shot at three of his competitors—County Council members George Leventhal, Marc Elrich and Roger Berliner—who are all term-limited and can’t seek re-election to the council. The three are seeking the Democratic nomination for county executive.