Politics Roundup: Dumais’ Bill to Protect Rape Victims Seen as Top Priority; Cummings Suspends Gubernatorial Campaign
Plus: More council candidates file for public financing; Miller formally files for congressional run; Trone rolls out plan to address opioid crisis
Del. Kathleen Dumais
via campaign website
After long wait, Dumais hopes 2018 will see passage of bill to protect rape victims
For the past nine annual sessions of the Maryland General Assembly, Del. Kathleen Dumais of Rockville has fought to end a controversial state law that grants parental rights to rapists.
Each time, Dumais’ efforts have been stymied. She came close in 2016 and 2017, only to see her legislation die on the last day of the session each time.
With the 2018 session convening on Wednesday in Annapolis, Dumais hopes a decade of disappointment is about to an end. Legislative leaders have given her bill the politically significant HB1 designation, tagging it as a top priority this year.
“I’ve never had a bill with that designation before,” Dumais noted this week. She believes recent national events have boosted her efforts.
“The #MeToo movement has added to the momentum for Maryland to get this done,” she said.
The bill would let women who conceive of a child as a result of rape to terminate the parental rights of the assailant. Maryland is one of just six states in which a woman impregnated during the attack is faced with having to negotiate with the rapist over custody of the child.
Last year, the Mississippi state legislature repealed parental rights for rapists, leaving Alabama and Maryland as the remaining states in the eastern U.S. with such a statute.
The 2017 session got off to a hopeful start for backers of Dumais’ bill, as the Senate and House unanimously approved similar versions of the legislation. But the chairmen of the relevant House and Senate committees—Rep. Joseph Vallario of Prince George’s County and Sen. Bobby Zirkin of Baltimore County—took heat when House and Senate negotiators failed to agree on a final version prior to the session’s adjournment.
Vallario and Zirkin also came under intense fire for failing to appoint any female legislators to the conference committee on the bill. Since 2011 Dumais has served as vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, the panel Vallario chairs.
This time around, Dumais can claim top legislative leaders as co-sponsors from the start: HB1 is authored by House Speaker Michael Busch and Minority Leader Nic Kipke, an Anne Arundel County Republican, along with Dumais.
Her proposal is almost as high a priority in the Senate, where companion legislation is designated SB2. Sponsors include Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, along with a couple of Dumais’ Montgomery County colleagues: Sens. Brian Feldman of Potomac and Susan Lee of Bethesda.
Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday vowed to sign the bill when it reaches his desk. “No rapist should be allowed to maintain their rights as a parent, and no victim should ever be forced to interact with their attacker,” he said during a news conference.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings ends gubernatorial campaign
One of two women in Maryland’s 2018 gubernatorial race has dropped out.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the wife of Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, announced she was suspending her campaign Friday “due to personal considerations.” She did not explain further.
Several hours after her announcement, Elijah Cummings’ office issued a statement saying he had been admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for a bacterial infection in his knee and had undergone a “minor procedure” to drain the infection. The congressman’s admission to the hospital follows a three-month stay in Johns Hopkins last summer following heart surgery.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings joined the Democratic field in October, but lasted less than three months in the race. Her exit leaves only one woman in the field of Democrats—former Michelle Obama aide Krishanti Vignarajah.
Vignarajah’s campaign has struggled to gain momentum as questions remain about her eligibility to run. She most recently voted in Washington, D.C., in 2014. Candidates for governor in Maryland must have been registered in the state for the five years before the election.
Vignarajah has maintained that her Maryland registration remained active despite her casting votes multiple times in D.C. She is pursuing a lawsuit in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to have a judge affirm her eligibility.
With Cummings’ exit, there are six other Democratic contenders besides Vignarajah—Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, state Sen. Rich Madaleno, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, Baltimore attorney James Shea and tech entrepreneur Alec Ross.
Cummings left the race shortly before the latest round of campaign finance reports must be filed with the Board of Elections this month. Those reports likely will show which candidate has gathered fundraising momentum ahead of the June 26 primary.
Whichever Democrat wins the primary is expected to face Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who reported last year having more than $5 million on hand for his re-election campaign.
Photo via Cummings' campaign website
This story was updated at 11:30 p.m. Jan. 7.
—Andrew Metcalf and Louis Peck
Miller formally files to run for Congress; gets kind words from Delaney, but not endorsement
Del. Aruna Miller (D-Darnestown) formally filed with the state Board of Elections to run for the District 6 Congressional seat. Miller is among a group of Democrats, including Potomac businessman David Trone and state Sen. Roger Manno (D-Silver Spring), pursuing the seat Rep. John Delaney is giving up to run for president.
Delaney has not formally endorsed anyone in the race, but issued a statement praising Miller on Friday.
“Aruna is a good friend and she and I have worked closely on my campaigns for Congress and on matters important to the citizens of Montgomery County,” Delaney said in the statement. “She is a champion of progressive causes and we are fortunate that she is engaged in public service.”
Miller, 53, filed in Annapolis alongside her mother, Hema Katragadda. Miller was born in India and moved to the U.S. with her family when she was 7. She has served in the House of Delegates since 2010 and worked as a transportation engineer for the Montgomery County government. Emily’s List, a political group dedicated to financing and helping women win elections, endorsed Miller in the race.
Photo of Aruna Miller and her mother, Hema Katragadda, provided by Miller campaign.
At-large council candidates Bhatnagar, Siddique latest to file to receive public funding
Two more aspirants for County Council at-large seats filed to tap into the county’s public campaign finance system over the past week. That means there are now eight at-large candidates who have obtained public funding or have met the threshold requirement for doing so.
Shruti Bhatnagar of Kensington filed Tuesday with the state Board of Elections, reporting she raised more than $20,000 in qualifying private contributions of $150 or less, and requesting nearly $90,000 in public funding.
Her filing came days after that of Mohammad Siddique of Montgomery Village, who said he had raised approximately $24,700. He requested public subsidies totaling more than $97,000.
Thirty Democratic candidates are seeking an at-large council seat. The eight who have qualified for public financing are among 22 aspirants who expect to qualify prior to the June primary. The remaining candidates are relying on private fundraising.
Under the public financing law, an at-large council candidate must raise at least 250 qualifying donations totaling $20,000 to be eligible. Each candidate can receive up to $250,000 in subsidies.
Bhatnagar, the vice chair of the county’s Commission on Children and Youth, is Indian-American, while the Pakistani-born Siddique is a retired official of the county’s Department of Transportation. They are among at least four Asian-Americans seeking an at-large council seat this year.
According to the Census Bureau, an estimated 15.5 percent of the county’s current population is of Asian descent, up from 11 percent in 2000. An Asian-American has yet to be elected to the County Council.
Among the three at-large council candidates who have received public funding is Hoan Dang of Silver Spring, a federal contractor who previously headed the Maryland Democratic Party’s Asian American and Pacific Leadership Council. Dang, a Vietnamese immigrant, was allocated more than $73,800 in September, and last month applied to receive another $30,600.
Other at-large candidates who have received public funds are incumbent Hans Riemer of Takoma Park ($127,800) and attorney Bill Conway of Potomac ($100,750).
Three more at-large candidates requested public financing in recent weeks and are awaiting disbursements:
- Evan Glass of Silver Spring, the executive director of Gandhi Brigade Youth Media, requested $97,100 in public funds.
- Chris Wilhelm of Chevy Chase, a teacher in the county school system, put in for nearly $91,200 in late December, followed by a request for another $4,350 this month.
- Gabriel Albornoz of Kensington, filed Tuesday to receive $85,250. Albornoz, the head of the county’s Department of Recreation, reported contributions from several members of outgoing County Executive Ike Leggett’s administration, including a $150 donation from Leggett himself.
Another $150 donor to Albornoz was fellow at-large aspirant Dang—with whom Albornoz previously served on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.
Trone rolls out plan to deal with opioid crisis
District 6 congressional candidate David Trone, the co-owner of Total Wine & More, is focusing his campaign on the opioid crisis.
On Sunday, he rolled out a 12-point action plan to deal with the crisis. His package includes giving the government the power to negotiate for lower prices for Naloxone, expanding education programs in schools and creating new guidelines for opioid prescribers, according to a campaign press release.
Trone said in a statement that President Donald Trump “does not take this crisis seriously” and that Congress has failed to limit the distribution of addictive prescription painkillers.
In July, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan budgeted $22 million to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic by funding prevention, enforcement and treatment efforts in the state.
Trone’s campaign is highlighting his position to fully fund a national response to the opioid crisis in new videos running on Facebook, YouTube and other locations featuring photos of his nephew, Ian, who died from an opioid overdose in late 2016.
After return to District 15, Hamza Khan poised to relaunch his bid for delegate
Hamza Khan, who briefly sought the Democratic nomination for a state House of Delegates seat in District 39 last year, is about to relaunch his candidacy—from neighboring District 15.
Khan, a former president of the Muslim Democratic Club of Montgomery County who grew up in Potomac, plans an announcement on Jan. 21 at the Potomac Community Center on Falls Road. He reestablished his residency in District 15 late last year after three years of living in Germantown.
Khan will join at least five other non-incumbent Democrats taking aim at the seat being given up by Del. Aruna Miller, who is seeking to succeed departing U.S. Rep. John Delaney.
Kevin Mack, Delaney’s district director, has filed for District 15 delegate in next June’s primary, as has Lily Qi, an assistant chief administrative officer to County Executive Ike Leggett. Both are North Potomac residents.
Anis Ahmed of North Potomac, who works for the county’s Office of Human Rights, also has filed, as has Tony Puca of Gaithersburg, who dropped his bid for County Council last week in favor of the delegate contest. Puca, a longtime party activist, has made three previous runs in District 15.
Andrew Van Wye, a former legislative researcher for Washington-based CQ/Roll Call, has announced, but not yet filed.
In addition, Amy Frieder, an Air Force civilian employee who has been active in the Montgomery County Young Democrats, said she is “considering running” and will make a decision within the next month.
Jaye Espy of Potomac, an education consultant who worked in the White House and U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration, is also said to be considering a bid. She did not respond to a request for comment.
Dels. Kathleen Dumais of Rockville and David Fraser-Hidalgo of Boyds have filed for re-election to the other two delegate slots in District 15, which extends from the Potomac to the Frederick County line.
Khan, a political consultant, is founder of the Pluralism Project, a PAC that trains people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds to run for office.
Last May, nearly three years after moving to Germantown from Potomac, he announced for delegate in District 39—vying for the seat now held by Del. Charles Barkley of Germantown, who is running for County Council.
Khan dropped out of the District 39 contest a month later after being passed over in the slating process by the district’s incumbent legislators. The incumbents opted to slate Lesley Lopez for the open seat over Khan and several other contenders.
Two Republicans, both Potomac residents, have filed for District 15 delegate seats this year: Laurie Halverson, a former member of the state Board of Education, and attorney Harvey Jacobs.
Hamza Khan photo from his political Facebook page
This story was updated at 8 a.m. Jan. 8 to correct a misspelling of Hamza Khan’s first name, clarify the source of the photo and clarify what the Pluralism Project is.