2014 | Politics

Berliner Gets Late Primary Challenge From Former Council Colleague

Former At-Large Councilmember Trachtenberg Files in District 1

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Duchy Trachtenberg

Former County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg, who served on the council from 2006-2010, today filed to run against incumbent Roger Berliner in the June 24 Democratic primary for the seat in District 1, which extends from Bethesda through Potomac to the Poolesville area.

Trachtenberg’s move, which came just hours before Tuesday’s 9 p.m. primary filing deadline, was something of a surprise: Trachtenberg had publicly indicated she was thinking of running again for the at-large council seat that she lost in the 2010 primary. Her loss four years ago was in attributed in part to opposition from county employee unions.

Berliner first won the District 1 seat in 2006 by ousting Republican Howard Denis, and overwhelmingly won renomination in the 2010 Democratic primary against Ilaya Hopkins, now vice president for public affairs of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.

Trachtenberg, who could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon, also had been looking at running for the open Bethesda-based District 16 Senate seat this year, but disclosed several weeks ago that she would not enter that race. In 2012, Trachtenberg mounted a short-lived bid for 6th District congressional seat before withdrawing for health reasons.

While Trachtenberg opted not to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Brian Frosh, who is running for attorney general, Delegate Susan Lee – who has been the lone candidate for the Senate slot for months – picked up two 11th hour primary opponents Tuesday.

One of those filing, Bethesda resident Hugh Hill, unsuccessfully sought appointment to a vacant delegate seat in 2007, and was mentioned – but did not run – for an open delegate seat in 2010. Hill, who holds both medical and law degrees, is said to be planning to self-fund his Senate campaign to a significant degree.

Also filing for the Senate nomination was J’aime Drayton, a Potomac resident who lists herself as an independent education management professional.  

UPDATE, 5:10 P.M.

In a telephone interview this afternoon, Trachtenberg acknowledged that she had been looking “primarily” at running for an at-large seat on the County Council.  But after downplaying the prospect of running in District 1 in a recent interview with the Washington Post,  “I got a great deal of email and phone calls from people around District 1, questioning why I should be dismissing District 1 as an option,” she said..

As a longtime District 1 resident, “the more I thought about it, the more I realized it made a lot of sense for me [to run there].”

Trachtenberg declined to detail her differences with Berliner, saying, “I don’t want to get into political warfare right off the bat. It’s going to be a good comparison. I’m very different than Roger: My temperament is different, my style is different. What is clear to me is that a lot of people living in District 1 are looking for a change.

“I never sugarcoated anything.  I was always very direct with people,” said Trachtenberg, who had a reputation for sometimes contentious relationships with her colleagues while serving on the council.

Trachtenberg, who reported having more than $122,000 in her campaign treasury as of early January, said she has hired two well-known political consultants – pollster Celinda Lake and veteran campaign operative Joe Trippi  – to advise her campaign. “I’m in it to win it,” she declared.

Berliner reported having just over $52,000 in his campaign account as of last month.