As One Candidate Exits, Two More Poised To Run In District 15 Contest

As One Candidate Exits, Two More Poised To Run In District 15 Contest

Ex-Delegate Ali Withdraws, Local Attorney Rushkoff to File This Week

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David Fraser-Hidalgo had to beat out seven other candidates two months ago when he was tapped by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee to fill a vacancy in the Maryland General Assembly. It now appears he’ll have to overcome at least two more challengers in next June’s primary if he wants to remain a District 15 delegate.

Bennett Rushkoff, a North Potomac resident who works for the District of Columbia’s Office of Attorney General, plans to file for the state delegate seat this week. Rushkoff, 55, was previously an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission and Maryland attorney general’s office, and is a former president of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville – where he has been active on issues ranging from renewable energy to same-sex marriage.

In addition, Kevin Mack, an aide in the Gaithersburg office of U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Potomac, appears poised to launch his District 15 candidacy in the near future. “I’m hoping to be able to announce something very soon – in the next two weeks,” Mack, 44, said Tuesday.

Fraser-Hidalgo did lose one challenger Monday when former Delegate Saqib Ali, who had filed to run in the June primary, withdrew his candidacy, according to the state Board of Elections. Ali, who had represented adjacent District 39, this summer went so far as to switch residences to pursue the delegate vacancy in District 15 – which extends from Potomac north to the Frederick County line.

Ali had been considered an early frontrunner for the delegate vacancy created when then-Delegate Brian Feldman was appointed to the state Senate to succeed Rob Garagiola, who resigned. But Ali received no votes when the 24-member Democratic Central Committee voted Oct. 8 to recommend Fraser-Hidalgo.

Ali declined comment in the wake of his withdrawal. There has been speculation in Democratic circles that he may move back into District 39, which curves around from North Potomac to Gaithersburg. He was a delegate there from 2006 to 2010, when he narrowly lost a primary challenge to Sen. Nancy King.

Neither Rushkoff nor Mack submitted their names when the Democratic Central Committee filled the delegate vacancy in October. “Even if I had been interested in seeking that nomination, I would not have been eligible for it,” Rushkoff explained, noting that the precinct in which he resides is currently located in District 39. But the 2011 state legislative redistricting – which takes effect next year – relocates his home into District 15, making him eligible to run in 2014.

Mack did not submit his name for the vacancy because of a pending request at the time to the U.S. House Ethics Committee, seeking to clarify if there were obstacles to a congressional employee seeking state office. Mack said the Ethics Committee’s response, received earlier this week, is under review. Based on past precedent, being a congressional aide does not appear to bar simultaneous service in Annapolis: Delegate John Bohanan of St. Mary’s County, now in his fourth term, also has been an aide to U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., for two decades.

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