Wes Moore: No To Mayor Run

Author Wes Moore, long rumored to be considering a run for Baltimore mayor in 2016, won’t be running, says the Sun.

Wes Moore, the author, educator and Army combat veteran some Baltimoreans were encouraging to run for mayor, said Tuesday he has ruled out entering the race.

I put a tremendous amount of thought into this because I love our city,” Moore, 36, said of a run for mayor. “I’ve decided the best way for me to serve is to fulfill the promise I’ve made to the students at BridgeEdU.”

Moore is the founder of BridgeEdU, an organization that is helping more than 100 students transition from high school to college. He said he believes that growing that work can help families in Baltimore break out of cycles of poverty.

Good Proposals From MoCo Legislators

While the main news of the day was – rightfully – the Planned Parenthood Pink Out Day and Cecile Richards’ appearance before Congress, there were a couple of very good policy proposals that moved forward today courtesy of two Montgomery County legislators. Fortunately, both of them bragged about their accomplishments on Facebook so I could write about them.

First, Delegate Ariana Kelly has been pushing for several years to enact a paid family and medical leave proposal for the State. It hasn’t succeeded yet, but there is now funding available from the federal government to study such proposals in the states where they exist and to look at costs and be edits as well as implementation issues. Kelly pushed to get the State to apply for such funding in 2015, but the Hogan Administration wasn’t interested. Undeterred, Delegate Kelly partnered with Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer to apply for the federal funding, and today announced that the County’s grant application has been funded. This will provide meaningful data to the county and the state to move forward with potential legislation to provide paid family and medical leave.

Second, Senator Roger Manno has submitted a bill for the 2016 session to provide for automatic voter registration for all eligible individuals, subject to the right to opt out for those who affirmatively do not want to register. The Universal Voter Registration Act is a forward thinking and innovative proposal that seeks to begin the process of bringing our antiquated voting processes into the 21st century.

More of this kind of stuff, please.

Senate Race: No Dutch

Dutch Ruppersberger confirmed today what has been expected – he’s not running for the Senate. John Fritze:

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger said Tuesday he will run for reelection rather than seek the Democratic nomination for Senate in Maryland, all but assuring his party will not have a Baltimore-based candidate in the race for Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski’s seat next year.

Ruppersberger, a Baltimore County lawmaker and member of the House Appropriations Committee, has long flirted with a statewide run for office — including for governor last year and, more recently, Senate. But Ruppersberger said in a statement Tuesday that he could be more effective in the House. 

After thoughtful and prayerful consideration, I have decided that I can best serve the state and my district in the House of Representatives if voters again give me that opportunity,” the congressman said in a statement. “I look forward to working with our next Senator to ensure the voice of the Baltimore region continues to be heard loud and clear in our nation’s capital.”

Fritze notes that one more Baltimore area politico – Elijah Cummings – is still nominally considering the race, but has “repeatedly sent signals” that he too will, forgo the race and run for reelection. Leaving Baltimore to contemplate Maryland’s first DC area senator in over a century. Van Hollen vs. Edwards appears to be the main event come April 26.

Dem Legislators To Hogan: Don’t Mess With Planned Parenthood

“Mess” was not my first choice of verb there, but I don’t want to get anybody in trouble for my potty mouth, so I switched it. It’s a family blog – sometimes.

Delegates Ariana Kelly of Bethesda and Shelly Hettleman of Baltimore County wrote and circulated a powerful letter to Governor Larry Hogan regarding Planned Parenthood funding in Maryland. An impressive group of 65 delegates (out of 91 in the entire Democratic caucus) signed the letter, including five committee chairs, five vice chairs, four congressional candidates, and the entire 24 member Montgomery County House delegation. Nine senators also signed the letter, including the entire MoCo delegation (and another congressional contender).

It’s a great letter, and particularly appropriate on Pink Out Day. Here’s the text in its entirety. It can also be found here.

Dear Governor Hogan:

Your office has said repeatedly that you are eager to put partisanship aside and get things done.

We are watching the Republican-controlled Congress take the federal government to the brink of a shutdown over federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and we are concerned that General Assembly Republicans have drawn inspiration from the dysfunction your office so often condemns.

Please take a public stand against these fringe tactics and commit now to funding Planned Parenthood in your FY2017 budget.

The Frederick News-Post recently reported that certain Frederick County lawmakers want to eliminate State reimbursement for the critical public health services provided by Planned Parenthood. These legislators are embracing the approach of Capitol Hill Republicans who put partisanship ahead of getting things done for our country. As Governor, you can stop this dysfunction by condemning their approach and committing to funding Planned Parenthood.

According to the Department of Budget & Management’s Funding Transparency & Accountability website, the State of Maryland made payments totaling $2.6 million to Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Inc. in FY2014. These payments were made primarily by the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene to support community-based health care, including life-saving cancer screenings, family planning services, and other cost-saving preventative health care services that strengthened the health of Maryland women, girls and the overall condition of our communities.

These services are not controversial, and it would be extremely disappointing for you to allow the radical fringe of your own Party to try to score political points at the expense of your constituents’ health. Planned Parenthood’s services are a critical component of community-based care for thousands of Maryland women and their families, and they are counting on you to protect their access to health care.

Do not let the very dysfunction your administration so often criticizes come to Annapolis. Please speak today against fringe tactics and commit to funding Planned Parenthood in your FY2017 budget.

Sincerely,

Delegate Ariana Kelly (District 16)
Delegate Shelly Hettleman (District, 11)
Delegate Edith Patterson, (District 28)
Delegate Steve Lafferty (District 42A)
Delegate Ben Barnes (District 21)
Delegate Pete Hammen (District 46)
Delegate Barbara Frush (District 21)
Delegate Sandy Rosenberg (District 41)
Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk (District 21)
Delegate Luke Clippinger (District 46)
Delegate Tawanna Gaines (District 22)
Delegate Dan Morhaim (Districct 11)
Delegate Alonzo Washington (District 22)
Delegate Mary Washington (District 43)
Delegate Karen Lewis Young (District 3A)
Delegate Brooke Lierman (District 46)
Delegate Erek Barron (District 24)
Delegate Dana Stein (District 11)
Delegate Angela Angel (District 25)
Delegate Maggie McIntosh (District 43)
Delegate Dereck Davis (District 25)
Delegate Ben Brooks (District 10)
Delegate Kris Valderrama (District 26)
Delegate Eric Ebersole (District 12)
Delegate Darryl Barnes (District 25)
Delegate Frank Turner (District 13)
Delegate Jimmy Tarlau (District 47A)
Delegate Cheryl Glenn (District 45)
Delegate Anne Kaiser (District 14)
Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary (District 13)
Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo (District 15)
Delegate Adrienne Jones (District 10)
Delegate Craig Zucker (District 14)
Delegate Nathaniel Oaks (District 41)
Delegate Kathleen Dumais (District 15)
Delegate Patrick Young (District 44B)
Delegate Eric Luedtke (District 14)
Delegate Clarence Lam (District 12)
Delegate Aruna Miller (District 15)
Delegate Cory McCray (District 45)
Delegate C.William Frick (District 16)
Delegate Keith Haynes (District 44A)
Delegate Kumar Barve (District 17)
Delegate Antonio Hayes (District 40)
Delegate Marc Korman (District 16)
Delegate Jay Jalisi (District 10)
Delegate Jim Gilchrist (District 17)
Delegate Curt Anderson (District 43)
Delegate Al Carr, Jr. (District 18)
Delegate Shane Pendergrass (District 13)
Delegate Andrew Platt (District 17)
Delegate Terri Hill (District 12)
Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez (District 18)
Delegate Barbara Robinson (District 40)
Delegate Ben Kramer (District 19)
Delegate Marice Morales (District 19)
Delegate Sheila Hixon (District 20)
Delegate Charles Barkley (District 39)
Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher (District 18)
Delegate Bonnie Cullison (District 19)
Delegate David Moon (District 20)
Delegate Kirill Reznik (District 39)
Delegate Shane Robinson (District 39)
Delegate Diana Fennell (District 47A)
Delegate Will Smith (District 20)
Senator Karen Montgomery (District 14)
Senator Brian Feldman (District 15)
Senator Susan Lee (District 16)
Senator Cheryl Kagan (District 17)
Senator Richard Madaleno, Jr. (District 18)
Senator Roger Manno (District 19)
Senator Jamie Raskin (District 20)
Senator Nancy King (District 39)
Senator Bill Ferguson (District 46)

Is The Absence Of News News?

For the day before the close of the third quarter campaign finance reporting period, there is suspiciously little conversation going on. Entirely too metaphysical of an analysis for my tastes, but hey, at some point you just gotta go with what you’ve got. Which is nothin’. Which might be something. Or not.

MoCo GOP ISO Better Early Vote Talking Points

So the Montgomery County Republican Party is seeking to defend the recent decision by the Montgomery County Board of Elections to abandon early voting sites in Chevy Chase and Burtonsville. The local party chief, Michael Higgs, put out a statement yesterday that is short on, well, any connection to reality.

Our Montgomery County Board of Elections (BoE) team is suffering an unrelenting assault from the entrenched Left-wing establishment media and politicians over its well-reasoned decision to emphasize geographic diversity in the county’s early voting center selection process. At issue is the BoE’s recommendation to replace early voting sites in Bethesda and Burtonsville with sites in Olney and Potomac. The Left is organized in its tired efforts to demonize Governor Hogan’s appointees to the BoE, issuing the usual, thinly veiled accusations of racism and voter suppression. The Montgomery County Council is attempting to coerce the BoE members appear before it (Thursday, Oct. 1, 9:30 am, 7th Floor), even though it has no authority over the Governor-appointed Board whatsoever. If you can make it, please show up and provide support to our under-fire Republican friends.

It is disingenuous to argue that the Burtonsville site is somehow sacrosanct and untouchable. It was only first used for early voting in 2010. So before that, were the good people of Burtonsville, in Democratically controlled Montgomery County Maryland, disenfranchised and unable to exercise their rights to vote? No, of course not. Did you know that the site they are fighting so hard over is heavily used by residents of PG County? Voters in Montgomery County’s northeastern sections had to drive significantly longer distances than voters along our southern and central corridors. By spreading our early voting sites out around the county, we are reaching out to a rapidly expanding area and making the early voting process more convenient for more of Montgomery County’s citizens.

There is also a misperception about how the sites are actually chosen. The Montgomery County BoE merely votes to recommend the 9 early voting sites to the State Board of Elections, who will make the final decision regarding which sites are selected. Yet the onslaught against our friends continues. Please share your thoughts on social media, write letters to the editor, and tell your friends and neighbors that you support our Republican BoE team. We cannot be cowed by the Left’s false outrage and despicable name-calling.

Let’s unpack the bizarreness:

The Montgomery County Council is attempting to coerce the BoE members appear before it (Thursday, Oct. 1, 9:30 am, 7th Floor), even though it has no authority over the Governor-appointed Board” – while the County Council can’t tell the Board of Elections what to do, the County pays a substantial amount of the Board’s operating expenditures. It is certainly within the Council’s purview to exercise oversight over the Board of Elections.

It is disingenuous to argue that the Burtonsville site is somehow sacrosanct and untouchable. It was only first used for early voting in 2010. So before that, were the good people of Burtonsville, in Democratically controlled Montgomery County Maryland, disenfranchised and unable to exercise their rights to vote?” – hey, uh, Mr. Higgs, a quick news bulletin. There was no early voting in Maryland before 2010. So your rhetorical flourish needs a wee bit of work. Sorry.

“Did you know that the site they are fighting so hard over is heavily used by residents of PG County?” Under Maryland law, voters can vote at any early voting site, so long as it is in their county of residence. So any resident of Prince George’s County who attempts to vote in Burtonsville will not be allowed to do so. So this argument is a non sequitur. But Mr. Higgs’ formulation does stir up fears of “those people” voting – yes, there are black and Hispanic people in the Burtonsville area and yes, there are black and Hispanic people in Prince George’s County. Mr. Higgs, are you pathologically incapable of making any kind of argument about voting that isn’t racially and ethnically offensive?

Voters in Montgomery County’s northeastern sections had to drive significantly longer distances than voters along our southern and central corridors.” This is unadulterated nonsense. With an EV site at Burtonsville, there was not one patch of voters that was outside five miles from an early voting location. Moving the site from Burtonsville to Brookeville means that the entire 29 corridor from Randolph Road north to the Howard County line is now outside the five mile radius that Maryland law requires. Drives of as much as 10-11 miles are now required.

By spreading our early voting sites out around the county, we are reaching out to a rapidly expanding area and making the early voting process more convenient for more of Montgomery County’s citizens.” What rapidly expanding area? Olney? Yes, by geography, Olney is now “closer” to early voting than it was before. But Brookeville is north of Olney. Folks in Olney drive to work – south, whether to other parts of Montgomery County or to DC. They aren’t going to get up in the morning, drive in the opposite direction to Brookeville, and then go to work. Certainly not in the same numbers as Burtonsville, where there is a substantial population that remains in the area during the day and where public transit-dependent apartment dwellers are not going to take a bus to Brookeville or Downtown Silver Spring to vote early. Olney is also one of the more predominantly white areas of the county. Just sayin’.

We on the left may be “despicable name-callers,” Mr. Higgs, but when I get indignant, I try to use actual facts to fuel my outrage. You, sir, need some facts. ANY facts, I dare say. “Fat free” things can be good for you (their tastiness is questionable, though). “FaCt free” – not so much.

h/t Neal Carter for alerting me to the MCGOP link.

UPDATE: a couple of other points. The picture Mr. Higgs uses is of Nancy Dacek, former Councilmember and BOE member. Ms. Dacek passed away on January 12, 2015. Second, Mr. Higgs repeatedly refers to the three Republican members of the BOE as “our team.” The BOE is supposed to represents the interests of the county, not one political party, as Delegate Eric Luedtke notes.

BOMBSHELL In CD8

The Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, Roll Call, the Hill, good lord even Maryland Scramble – we all hold our collective and metaphorical heads in shame today. We’ve been scooped by the Orlando Sentinel on a story right under our noses. How could I have missed this?

Congressional candidate Susannah Randolph was one of three nationally to win endorsements Monday from two progressive politics groups that call themselves the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of the Democratic Party.

Randolph was endorsed by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, which each claim more than 1 million members nationally and more than 50,000 in Florida.

Randolph, a former professional progressive activist and former top aide for U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, is running in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, which Grayson now represents. The district includes much of central, south and east Orange County, all of Osceola County and northeast Polk County.

The two groups also endorsed two women running in Congressional districts in Maryland, Joseline Peña-Melnyk and Jamie Raskin.

Let me be the first to say: “Oh. My. God. I had no idea.” There goes my Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism.

Somebody call the fact checkers at the Sentinel. We need a cleanup in Aisle 3.

Edwards Video On Looming Government Shutdown

Donna Edwards has a new two minute video up about the prospect of a government shutdown and the impact it will cause for Marylanders. John Fritze of the Sun has the story.

Rep. Donna Edwards’ campaign for Senate is launching a web video Monday that chastises Congress for its latest budget brinksmanship, and also criticizes her opponent for “gaming out a partisan advantage” on the issue.

Focusing on veterans who Edwards said would be hurt if lawmakers allow the government to shut down this week, the two-minute video also introduces Edwards as someone who grew up in a military family and is a single mother.

“Right now, in Washington, the political insiders are playing politics with the government shutdown,” Edwards says to the camera. “The Tea Party Republicans are trying to defund Planned Parenthood.”

Barve Endorsement

Busy day – the news keeps coming. Kumar Barve has been endorsed by the Maryland doctors’ PAC. A press release was issued just minutes ago, fresh as fresh can be:

Rockville, MD, September 28, 2015 -The leading physicians group in the State of Maryland today endorsed Delegate Kumar Barve in his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.

 The Maryland Medical Political Action Committee, the political arm of MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society, voted unanimously to support Barve recognizing his history of public service and work on public health issues.

 “Kumar Barve is a tireless fighter for patient’s rights and protecting health care providers from insurance companies seeking to interfere in medical decisions,” said Gene Ransom. Chief Executive Officer of MedChi. “Barve has a deep understanding of health care issues and has been a leader in increasing access to health care among all populations”.

 ‘I am honored to be supported by Maryland physicians for my role in making Maryland a national leader in health care reform – from fighting HMOs, protecting those with pre-existing conditions and supporting several bills that became centerpieces of our successful national health care legislation,” said Barve. “In Congress I will continue to fight to expand health insurance and access to preventive care and for a patient’s right to see their own doctors and not have their medical decisions dictated by insurance companies.”

 In a letter to the American Medical Association PAC expressing their support of Barve, the Maryland group said that “Delegate Barve was also a key leader on numerous insurance reforms, including landmark Appeal and Grievance legislation that protects physicians, patients and the public health of Maryland from unfair arbitrary insurance decisions”.