Best of Bethesda 2019 - The Nastiest—And Most Machiavellian—Campaign | Bethesda Magazine

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The Nastiest—And Most Machiavellian—Campaign

Editors' Pick

Political hardball is not usually a sport associated with the tony precincts of Chevy Chase (even if the author of a book on the topic, TV talking head Chris Matthews, happens to reside there). But the Democratic state Senate primary in District 18, which was overshadowed locally by several higher profile races, was unmatched for nastiness and intrigue. The top contenders, Del. Jeff Waldstreicher of Kensington and activist Dana Beyer of Chevy Chase, poured a total of $380,000 into direct mail—with Beyer’s flyers targeting Waldstreicher’s attendance record in Annapolis, and Waldstreicher questioning her Democratic bona fides by highlighting past criticism of President Barack Obama. Though considered the front-runner, Waldstreicher apparently was taking no chances. A delegate candidate, Helga Luest of Rockville, charged that Waldstreicher tried to convince her to switch to the Senate race to dilute Beyer’s support. He called the story “defamatory,” and Luest accused him of lying. Waldstreicher ultimately sought to defuse the controversy by skipping several candidate forums late in the campaign, providing more fodder for Beyer. On primary day, Waldstreicher emerged victorious with 49 percent of the votes to Beyer’s 37 percent, but campaign consultants may have been the big winners as he and Beyer spent a total of $780,000—$350,000 of it from Beyer’s own pocket—to pursue a part-time job that pays $50,330 annually.

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