Politics Roundup: Krasnow Qualifies for Public Financing; Endorsements Flowing in Local Races

Politics Roundup: Krasnow Qualifies for Public Financing; Endorsements Flowing in Local Races

Plus: County executive candidate David Blair takes his message to TV

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County Executive Candidate Rose Krasnow

Provided photo

Krasnow Reaches Threshold To Tap Into Public Campaign Finance Fund

Three months after kicking off her campaign for county executive, former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow said Thursday that she has qualified to receive matching funds under the county’s new public campaign financing system.

Krasnow filed paperwork with the Maryland Board of Elections late last month stating that she had raised more than 550 qualifying contributions totaling nearly $51,000; she requested public matching funds of $224,300. She was informed this week by board officials that her request had been certified, clearing the way for the money to be deposited into her campaign treasury.

To qualify for public funding, a candidate for county executive must collect at least 500 contributions—in individual donations of no more than $150—totaling a minimum of $40,000. A candidate participating in the public financing program cannot accept contributions from corporations or political action committees.

Krasnow joins two other contenders for the Democratic nomination for county executive, at-large County Council members Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, both of Takoma Park, in utilizing public funding to underwrite their campaigns. The other three Democrats vying for executive—District 1 Council member Roger Berliner of North Bethesda, businessman David Blair of Potomac, and state Del. Bill Frick of Bethesda—have opted to finance their campaigns in the traditional manner, using private donations.

The Krasnow campaign was quick to claim that the three months it took her to qualify for public funding following her announcement of candidacy in December was about half the time it took either Elrich or Leventhal following their respective announcements.

“I am thrilled to hit and surpass this goal so early in my campaign,” Krasnow said in a statement. “I never expected such an outpouring of financial support so quickly. It is very heartening.”

On top of the $224,300 for which she has been approved, Krasnow this week filed a request for an additional $21,500 in public funding—which, if approved, would bring her total so far to $245,800.

Since being certified last July to receive public funding, Leventhal has gotten almost $331,700—putting him not far behind Elrich, who has been allocated nearly $356,400 since last October. Elrich applied late last month for another $56,100, which would bring his total to $412,500—55 percent of the $750,000 maximum amount of public funding that a county executive candidate can receive per election.

Leventhal applied earlier this week for another $34,900, which would bring his total to date to approximately $366,600.

Krasnow—who spent the last 13 years working in the Montgomery County Planning Department, the last four as deputy director—got a boost from some well-known names in the county’s development community in qualifying for public funding. Bryant Foulger of Foulger-Pratt gave the $150 maximum. James Soltesz, who heads a firm that bears his name, donated a similar amount, as did his wife.

Larry Shulman, name partner in one of the county’s leading law firms, also joined his wife in giving $150 apiece. Other $150 donors included Krasnow’s former boss, Montgomery County Department Planning Director Gwen Wright, and Maryland State Board of Education member Rose Li—a Bethesda resident who was a Republican candidate for the House of Delegates in 2014.

Louis Peck


League of Conservation Voters Endorses Sara Love in District 16, Lesley Lopez in District 39

Sara Love, left, and Lesley Lopez, right. Provided photos

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters (LCV) weighed in this week with endorsements in two local open seat races for the state House of Delegates—backing attorney Sara Love of Bethesda in District 16 and communications specialist Lesley Lopez of Germantown in District 39.

The endorsements come less than a month after Lopez and Love received the backing of another major environmental group in the state, the Maryland Sierra Club.

Love is among a half-dozen Democratic non-incumbent candidates taking aim at the seat now held by Del. Bill Frick, who is running for county executive. Lopez is one of five non-incumbent Democrats vying for the opening created by Del. Charles Barkley’s decision to run for County Council.

The LCV backing of Lopez and Love follows the group earlier endorsing 16 incumbents seeking re-election to Montgomery County’s 24-member House delegation. The LCV has yet to release endorsements for six other open House of Delegate seats in the county up for grabs in the June 26 primary: two in District 18 and one each in districts 15, 17, 19 and 20. “More endorsements will be released in the coming months,” LCV officials said in a statement.

In other endorsements this week:

Pete Fosselman was endorsed by The Victory Fund

**Former Kensington Mayor Peter Fosselman, in an eight-way race for the Democratic nomination for County Council in District 1, received the endorsement of the Washington, D.C.-based Victory Fund, which describes itself as “the only national organization dedicated to electing openly LGBTQ people” to public office. It provides campaign, fundraising and communications support to candidates that it supports.

Of Fosselman, who is gay, the Victory Fund declared: “Pete has been on the front lines advocating for marriage equality and equal rights. His commitment to balancing land use growth, attracting new and retaining existing businesses, and focus on the aging population makes him the best candidate for District 1.” The district has been represented for the past 12 years by council member Roger Berliner of North Bethesda, one of six Democratic contenders for county executive.

**Two members of the county’s state legislative delegation weighed in on the county executive race, with District 15 Sen. Brian Feldman of Potomac backing Berliner—while long-time District 20 Del. Sheila Hixson of Silver Spring endorsed at-large council member George Leventhal of Takoma Park.

Feldman joins Del. Marc Korman of Bethesda, who endorsed Berliner when the latter entered the county executive race late last spring. That was before Korman’s District 16 colleague, Frick, jumped into the executive contest—albeit Korman has since stood by his endorsement of Berliner.

Feldman and Korman are sponsors of legislation, now moving through the Maryland General Assembly, to provide an additional $150 million to address problems in the Washington Metro rail system. Feldman cited Berliner’s work on Metro in his endorsement, declaring, “As a member of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, I saw how Roger, as chair of the board, led our region in formulating constructive solutions that will get Metro ‘back on track’.”

Meanwhile, Hixson—retiring this year after 42 years in Annapolis—praised Leventhal as “a strong advocate for women, families and children,” declaring, “With George as county executive, you’ll get results.”

Louis Peck and Andrew Metcalf


Trone receives Anthony Brown’s endorsement

Total Wine & More co-founder David Trone announced this week he received the endorsement of Rep. Anthony Brown in the race for the 6th District congressional seat.

Brown said part of the reason he was endorsing Trone was due to the Potomac businessman’s plans to fight the opioid epidemic as well as his efforts to help military veterans.

With Brown’s endorsement, Trone became the first candidate in the congressional race to receive the backing of one of Maryland’s current members of Congress.

Shortly after Trone announced Brown’s support, The Washington Post reported Trone and members of his family had contributed $35,100 to Brown’s campaign since 2015. Both men denied any connection between Trone’s campaign contributions to Brown and the endorsement, according to the report.

Trone also previously hosted a fundraiser for Brown in 2014 that featured former President Bill Clinton, when Brown was running for governor. Brown later lost that race to his Republican challenger, Gov. Larry Hogan.

Trone is running in the Democratic primary against candidates including Del. Aruna Miller (D-Darnestown), state Sen. Roger Manno (D-Silver Spring), Army veteran Andrew Duck of Frederick and Potomac pediatrician Nadia Hashimi.


With Nearly Four Months To Go Until Primary, Blair Goes on the Air

Updated – With just under four months until the June 26 primary, businessman David Blair of Potomac this week became the first of the six Democratic contenders for county executive to purchase TV air time.

Blair’s initial purchase was a fairly modest one: He spent a little over $5,000 to buy a half-dozen spots on WUSA/Channel 9, the CBS affiliate in the Washington media market, for the week ending March 12. According to the FCC’s public website—on which Blair’s purchase order was reprinted—three of the spots were slated to run during a local morning news program, “Great Day Washington,” with the remainder seen by viewers of “The Late Show” with host Stephen Colbert.

Late Friday afternoon, Blair's campaign placed a second order, totaling another $4,500, for three more spots on WUSA—all to run adjacent to "The Late Show" during the weeks of March 12 and March 19, according to the FCC site.

Candidates for county office seeking paid TV exposure often initially advertise on one of the local cable TV systems, where time can be purchased at significantly cheaper rates than on over-the-air broadcast stations—and ads can be better targeted to those eligible to vote. Available information on the FCC site does not indicate any cable TV purchases so far by this year’s field of candidates for county executive. 

In 2014, when current County Executive Ike Leggett was challenged by former County Executive Doug Duncan, both men purchased time on several of the Washington area broadcast stations—but such ads did not start airing until May, less than two months out from the primary.

Blair’s early start appears to stem from his need to boost his name identification: A wealthy former health care company CEO with no prior experience in public office, he was not known to most county voters when he launched his campaign for county executive late last year. He also has been advertising regularly online in recent weeks.

Blair reportedly received a $16 million payout when the company he headed, Catalyst Health Solutions, was sold in 2012. He has declined to disclose to what extent he plans to self-fund his campaign, other than to say, “I think it will be a good balance between my wife and I contributing and collecting [donations] from the community.”

A clearer picture of what Blair and his fellow candidates are raising and spending will not be available until late May, when first pre-primary campaign disclosure reports are due to be filed with the state Board of Elections.   

Photo of David Blair, above right, provided.

Louis Peck

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