Kyle Lierman, who had been mulling a race for an open state Senate seat, has decided to forgo a run in Bethesda/Potomac-based District 16 this year, sources said late Thursday.
His decision all but assures Delegate Susan Lee’s election this year to the seat being vacated by Sen. Brian Frosh, who is running for state attorney general. With only four days until the filing deadline for the June 24 primary, no other Democrats have filed for the slot – and no one else appears to be on the horizon in the overwhelmingly Democratic district.
Lierman came within several hundred votes of capturing the Democratic nomination for a state delegate seat in District 16 four years ago, and also had been mulling a reprise run for delegate. His move further reinforces the status of health policy advocate Hrant Jamgochian and attorney Marc Korman as the strong favorites this year to capture two open delegate seats created by Lee’s run for Senate and Delegate Bill Frick’s candidacy for the attorney general slot also sought by Frosh.
Lierman, who has worked in the Obama White House since shortly after his 2010 campaign, declined comment. But knowledgeable sources said his decision to stay out of the race was sealed by his recent promotion to associate director for youth outreach and education policy at the White House Office of Public Engagement.
The 27-year old Lierman – whose father, former Maryland Democratic Chair Terry Lierman, came close to winning a Montgomery County-based congressional seat in 2000 – is said to remain interested in seeking local or countywide office in the future. In the meantime, it appears the political efforts of both he and his family will be focused this year on helping to elect his sister, attorney Brooke Lierman, to the General Assembly. Brooke Lierman is running in a Baltimore city-based district.
Lee, after more than a decade in the House of Delegates, is now poised to become the first Asian-American ever to serve in the Maryland Senate, and will also become the first minority group member elected to the Senate from Montgomery County.
This is only the second time in nearly 40 years that the Senate seat that Lee is seeking has been open, and many political insiders expected a competitive primary. But, in addition to Lierman, at least two other potential candidates – attorney Reggie Oldak and former County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg – looked at the contest before ultimately deciding to take a pass.
Trachtenberg may yet be on the June primary ballot this year: She is said to still be considering an effort to win back the at-large County Council seat that she lost four years ago.
Of the county’s eight Senate seats, it now appears that only two will be contested this year. In Rockville/Gaithersburg-based District 17, Delegate Luiz Simmons is facing former Delegate Cheryl Kagan in what is already becoming a heated contest for the seat for retiring Sen. Jennie Forehand.
And, in a race likely to attract substantial attention outside Montgomery County, District 18 Sen. Richard Madaleno – one of eight openly gay members of the General Assembly — is being challenged by Dana Beyer, a onetime aide to Trachtenberg who is vying to become the first transgender candidate elected to office in Maryland. District 18 extends from east Bethesda through Chevy Chase to Silver Spring, and includes much of Kensington and Wheaton.
With Lierman out in District 16, there appears to be a final field of seven Democratic candidates for three delegate seats. Delegate Ariana Kelly is seeking re-election, and, besides Jamgochian and Korman, the aspirants for the two open seats include former General Assembly aide Jordan Cooper; attorney/businessman Peter Dennis, who also ran in 2010; local party activist Karen Kuker-Kihl; and former Delegate Gareth Murray.
On the other side of the county, no less than eight candidates are seeking the seat of departing Delegate Heather Mizeur, who is running for governor, in Silver Spring/Takoma Park District 20. But they may soon have a second delegate opening to pursue: Two-term Delegate Tom Hucker is said to be preparing to announce that he will forgo a re-election campaign in favor of a bid for the District 5 County Council seat held by Democrat Valerie Ervin until her resignation late last year. Hucker has been leaning toward a council run for several weeks.