BREAKING/EXCLUSIVE: CWA Endorses Pena-Melnyk in CD4

Breaking news just in to the Maryland Scramble newsroom:

Maryland/DC State Council and Local 2108 of the Communications Workers of America Endorse Joseline Peña-Melnyk

LAUREL, MD – The Communications Workers of America announced today that they will be supporting Joseline Peña-Melnyk in the highly competitive Democratic Primary for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District. This is the first major endorsement of 2016 and fourth major labor endorsement for the Joseline Peña-Melnyk for Congress Campaign.

“I’m am honored to have the support of the Communications Workers of America,” said Peña-Melnyk. “Working families are the back bone of Maryland’s 4th Congressional District and this country. I am ready to fight for the future of our hard working families in Congress.”

Marilyn Irwin, President of the Communications Workers of America Local 2108, released the following statement, “Whether as our local representative or as our Delegate, Joseline has always made working families her first priority. We are happy to put our support behind such a tremendous advocate for our members and their families.”

Echoing the statement of her colleague, Communications Workers of America President of Maryland/DC State Council, Jenny Sylvester, released the following statement, “The CWA Maryland State Council and Local 2108 of the Communications Workers of America are proud to stand with Joseline Peña-Melnyk. We need a new generation of leadership who will fight for working families not corporations. Joseline’s record and tireless work ethic made her the natural choice to represent the CWA and our workers in Congress.”

The Year Of The Woman

One day into the New Year, and the branding has already begun. It’s the Year of the Woman in Maryland politics. 

Women voters in Maryland are being targeted with television ads about the two candidates running in the state’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, underscoring the battle underway for a demographic that will play a key role in choosing a successor to Barbara A. Mikulski, the pathbreaking dean of the Senate women.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County began airing a new commercial this week promoting his record on women’s issues. The spot comes as a powerful national women’s group with a history in Maryland politics is running $1 million in advertising for his primary opponent, Rep. Donna F. Edwards of Prince George’s County.

In races across the state, candidates are working aggressively to reach women, who typically account for about 60 percent of the turnout in Maryland Democratic primaries — and who observers believe will be energized by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to vote in larger numbers this year.

“There are many women who are looking at her candidacy as historic,” said Steve Raabe, president of the Annapolis-based polling firm OpinionWorks. “That certainly isn’t going to hurt the turnout among women.”

And it’s not just the Senate race, either. It’s happening in both open House races as well.

In the 8th Congressional District, which includes parts of Montgomery, Frederick and Carroll counties, former television news anchor Kathleen Matthews focused her first position paper on what she described as women’s issues, including paid family leave and equal pay.

State Sen. Jamie Raskin, also running for the Democratic nomination in the 8th District, announced a group of female supporters early in his campaign that will help organize other women to back the campaign.

Several women’s political organizations, meanwhile, have endorsed state Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk in her bid in the 4th Congressional District, which includes Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties. Another candidate in the 4th, former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, launched a group of women supporters in December.

Given the statistics on turnout, appealing to women is critical. Moreover, there is a natural fit between certain issues that matter  to women – pay equity, family leave, child care – and economic justice issues generally that are of critical importance to the increasing progressive left wing of the party’s electorate. If you’re a candidate with a real and meaningful track record on these issues, then you’re in the game.

But let’s be brutally honest in a way that John Fritze perhaps can’t be: being a female candidate in 2016 is an advantage. It’s Donna Edwards’ calling card – if she wins, it will be because she argues that she brings a unique perspective as a black woman (race isn’t exactly relevant, either, prtixularly in the Senate contest). Kathleen Matthews and Joseline Pena-Melnyk are surging because they’re working hard and running good campaigns, but part of their appeal is that they’re women.

It’s a fine line. Nobody should be elected solely because of their identity: race, gender, ethnicity, generational, etc. But it is a factor. 

“Vote for me because I understand what it’s like to be a woman.”

“We need more voices that will speak to women’s issues and concerns.”

If being a woman is all you’ve got, then you’re not going to succeed. But the women in all three races have extensive and impressive track records, and being women only enhances that appeal. How it all plays out in the end will be one of the key story lines between now and April 26.

Release The Hounds

In less than 30 hours, the calendar will turn from 2015 to 2016, and the furious campaign fundraising will come to an exhausted halt. But for now, the hunt is on for someone, anyone, to make a last donation and swell the coffers of the many federal candidates in Maryland. Nobody is safe; I’ve received over a dozen emails and a phone call just this afternoon alone.

“Release the hounds!” cried Mr. Burns.

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Comin’ Right Up

Yes, it’s Christmas, but I just binge watched the last 8 episodes of The Newsroom, a thoroughly manipulative and often reprehensible, yet strangely addictive and compelling television program to people – like me – who are susceptible to witty and intelligent yet completely unbelievable banter, and who want to believe that everything ends well and the guy and the girl always get together in the end. In other words, hopeless romantics. It’s an Aaron Sorkin thing: I hate myself for being manipulated while simultaneously wanting to live in a world where the stupid yet awesome things he likes to portray actually happen.

So now I’m all charged up about all the cool stories that I have in mind for the next few weeks. Here you go. I need to go watch a horror movie or something to rebalance my brain.

1. In six days, we reach the end of the Q4 campaign finance reporting period. These numbers – which by the way won’t be filed until January 31 – will be the last formal measure of the fundraising efforts of all the Senate and House candidates before early voting starts on April 14. The 2016 Q1 reports won’t be due until the next day, April 15. What will the numbers look like? From everything I hear from a wide range of sources, the operative word is “down.” What will matter in the great majority of situations is “how far down?” and “how did the other guys do by comparison?”

2. Campaign strategies will begin to take shape in a way that we as observers will be able to, well, observe. Who’s got the best ground game? Who’s active in what kind of outreach activity? Who goes on the air, and what kind of message will they be delivering? Who jumps first into the direct mail pool?

3. Polls. There’s only been one internal House poll in CD8, one outside poll in the Senate, and none in CD4. I’ve been hearing rumors about more polls, but nothing concrete, not even for the guy willing to report rumors if enough people are talking about them. It’s all vague and contradictory right now, but I’m going to try to dig up what I can.

4. The candidates going to Annapolis for  days starting on January 13: Kumar Barve, Ana Sol Gutierrez, Jamie Raskin, Dereck Davis, and Joseline Pena-Melnyk. Barve and Davis are committee chairs. How will they and the others manage the competing demands of session and a primary that is now 123 days away? Striking a balance is critical: too much Annapolis means you lose the primary, but too much campaign means you get criticized for not doing your job, which means you lose the primary. See Cardin, Jon, 2014.

5. Issues. Every legislative session brings issues to the fore that nobody was thinking about when session began. Criminal justice reform, police accountability, veto overrides, education, alcohol, the budget, I’ll be doing my best to keep tabs on all of them, not to mention stuff we aren’t even thinking about right now.

6. The presidential primaries. After months and months and months and months of blather, the first votes will be cast in Iowa in 38 days, and in New Hampshire in 46. I’ll be following that too. Right now, if you put a gun to my head, I’d bet that when the smoke clears, it’s going to be Clinton vs. Cruz.

7. Whatever other crazy shit that Maryland politics, the Internet, and my loopy brain can dredge up for your entertainment and amusement.

Hope that’s enough. Going to watch that movie now.

Joseline Pena-Melnyk: “Abogadita”

Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk was recently profiled by NBC News for its series on Latino politicians running for office. Lots of interesting history, but my favorite part is this:

As a young, bilingual girl in New York City, Joseline Peña Melnyk did a lot of the translating for her mother and the rest of the Spanish speakers in northern Manhattan’s predominantly Latino Washington Heights neighborhood.

“I knew everyone’s business,” she laughed.

With her ability to navigate their needs and help with their problems, Peña-Melnyk’s mother began calling her “abogadita” (the little lawyer). Decades later, Peña-Melnyk went on to be a public defender in the U.S. Attorney General’s Office; a member of the College Park, Md. City Council and the Maryland House of Delegates.

Those who know her would say nothing has changed – she’s still out in the community helping out those in need.

As is usual, Pena-Melnyk got another endorsement today. I’ll be back in a few minutes with more information on that.

It’s Go Time

That’s the takeaway from this John Fritze article on the CD4 and CD8 races.  As we approach Christmas and the calendar flipping over, the House campaigns are getting ready to rumble. When we all wake up on the first business day of 2016 (January 4), there will be only 101 days left until early voting begins on April 14. And 90 of those days will be taken up by the 2016 legislative session in Annapolis.

The candidates running for Maryland’s two open House seats have operated mostly out of view so far, building campaigns and raising money in the shadow of the state’s high-profile race for Senate.

That’s about to change.

As they turn toward the post-holiday stretch, when more voters will begin tuning in, several top candidates in Maryland’s 4th and 8th Congressional Districts are preparing to ramp up their advertising and presence on the trail.
The shift represents not only a natural course adjustment as the April 26 primary election nears, but also a recognition that the upcoming session of the General Assembly will have implications for both races. At least five state lawmakers — including two committee chairmen — are running for Congress this year.

How the leading candidates handle the dual responsibilities of the campaign and Annapolis is going to be a key question to watch. Too much time on the campaign equals criticism that you’re not doing your job. Too much time in Annapolis and your reward is you get to go back again next year having lost your shot at a seat in Congress. Finding the sweet spot is critical. 

“The Candidate To Beat”

“Beep. This is a recording. Joseline Pena-Melnyk got another endorsement. Beep.”

This time from the Latino Victory Fund.

¡Sí, Se Puede! Peña-Melnyk Endorsed by Latino Victory Fund

LAUREL, MD – Despite making up 17% of the population, Latinos represent only one percent of all elected officials. Righting that imbalance is the goal of the Latino Victory Fund and today they endorsed Joseline Peña-Melnyk for Congress. Co-founded by actress Eva Longoria and businessman-activist Henry Muñoz III, the organization helps to ensure that the voices of Latinos are reflected at every level of government.
“The Latino Victory Project is making a positive difference in American politics and I am deeply grateful for their support. In Congress I will continue to fight for all of our neighbors, especially the underserved, as I have throughout my many years in public service,” said Peña-Melnyk.
“We are proud to endorse Joseline Peña-Melnyk for Congress,” said Cristóbal Alex, Latino Victory Fund President. “Joseline will be the first Dominican-American to serve in Congress; she is a great leader who will fight for our community and the issues that matter to Latinos. As a city councilor and Maryland delegate, Joseline has demonstrated a strong record of putting her community first, and we know she will continue to do that in the halls of Congress.”
Communications Director Michelle García adds, “with the recent support of EMILY’s list, several national progressive organizations, and now the Latino Victory Project, Joseline is enjoying national recognition and support. Coupled with the strong support she is receiving locally in the district, the volunteers and financial support that a national profile brings will help her win on Election Day.”
Joseline Peña-Melnyk continues to outpace her opponents in fundraising and endorsements (the complete list can be viewed here). In a crowded field, she is emerging as the candidate to beat.

BOOM: EMILY’s List For Pena-Melnyk

You night owls get the scoop. I’m here for you. The Post has the major news.

The national Democratic group Emily’s List is endorsing Maryland state Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk’s bid to succeed Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) in Congress.

The fundraising behemoth’s support could help Peña-Melnyk overtake rival Glenn Ivey, a former Prince George’s county state’s attorney. According to the latest available data, Ivey is leading in campaign contributions in a crowded Democratic primary race for the 4th Congressional District.

* * *

Peña-Melnyk emigrated from the Dominican Republic as a child and was raised by a single mother. A former federal prosecutor, she has sponsored legislation abolishing the death penalty in Maryland, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, and establishing the state’s Dream Act for undocumented immigrant students.

In a statement, Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock said Peña-Melnyk “has successfully fought to strengthen equal pay laws, expand women’s access to health care, and increase educational and job opportunities for all Marylanders.” Emily’s List raised more than $40 million in the 2014 cycle to help elect pro-choice Democratic women to state, local and federal offices. The group says it is on track to raise up to $60 million in the next cycle and can also help connect candidates to vast numbers of women voters — a crucial voting bloc.

This is a very big deal. There will be substantial independent expenditures on behalf of Pena-Melnyk, plus direct donations from EMILY’s List’s, uh, lists.

I am horribly biased here, but I will stake my claim: Joseline Pena-Melnyk is now the candidate to beat in CD4. 

UPDATE: The EMILY’s List website has already been updated to include Pena-Melnyk.