Trachtenberg Statement

From the (non)candidate herself:

I certainly feel that the 6th congressional district could be better represented. However, I have not made a decision to run. The filing I made was to comply with FEC regulations and nothing more.

I am no wallflower and if I made a decision to run for Congress, Rep. Delaney would know it. But that isn’t a decision I have made.

No, Trachtenberg Isn’t Running Against Delaney

Over the past several days, there have been several reports that former County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg has “launched” a primary campaign against Congressman John Delaney. There was a report on Daily Kos, citing this tweet, and then today local GOP blogger Ryan Miner reports the same thing, along with a laundry list of negative quotes and reports about Trachtenberg. All of the stories, however, are based on a single document: this statement of candidacy. Nobody actually checked to see if there’s a, y’know, campaign actually going on. 

Moreover, when I went to the FEC website to look up the document, there was another document that everyone seems to have missed. Dated November 15, 2015 – less than a month before the statement of candidacy, the document is known as a “Disavowal Notice,” and it gets sent when the FEC believes that an individual with a federal committee (Trachtenberg has a committee from her earlier 2012 run) has raised or spent more than $5,000 in an election cycle. Under federal law, such activity makes the individual a “candidate,” thus triggering the requirement to either file a statement of candidacy or to “disavow” the financial activity. Administratively, the disavowal process is a nightmare and can take many months – or longer – to fully resolve. It’s therefore much easier to simply file a statement of candidacy, whether one intends to run or not.

Curious that there hasn’t been any mention of a Trachtenberg campaign – I saw her just last weekend – and aware of the disavowal notice, I reached out to sources close to Duchy this morning, and was told – emphatically – that my suspicions about the disavowal notice were right on the mark, and that she is not running against John Delaney.

Don’t believe everything you read on blogs. Except, of course, for Maryland Scramble. Debunking online myths since, well, about right now. As always, you’re welcome.

More Legislative Atrocities

It wasn’t just Syrian refugees that got pummeled by Congress last week. Car purchasers of color got mugged, and robbed, and stripped of protections that the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) had adopted in 2013.

Here’s the deal. You walk into a car dealership, look at a car, take it for a test drive, decide you can’t live without it and must buy it. You sit down with the salesman, haggle meaninglessly for a little while, decide on a price, and then it comes time for a loan. The dealership takes your information, runs a credit report, and gets information from a bank or banks interested in lending to you, with a minimum rate they’ll accept. The dealer, in many cases, will take that rate and “mark it up,” and if successful, will get to pocket some of the extra money. Lawsuit after lawsuit over more then 20 years has shown that these kind of markups fall disproportionately on minority purchasers, i.e., dealers don’t mark up white purchasers as often.

In 2013, the CFPB passed a regulation stating that if banks want to continue this practice of allowing car dealers to mark up offered interest rates, they have to take steps to make sure that such markups aren’t being done in discriminatory fashion. Two lending institutions, Honda’s own financing entity and Ally Bank, were forced by the CFPB to pay back over $100 million to customers as a result of discrimination.

This didn’t sit well with Republicans. So they proposed a bill to void the CFPB regulation and basically say that racial discrimination in auto lending was perfectly fine with them. OK, fine, they suck. But last week the bill came up for a vote and 88 House Democrats voted to gut the CFPB authority to regulate racial discrimination in auto lending. Including everyone’s least favorite DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

And which Maryland Democrat voted for this steaming pile of horse poop?

Do I need to draw you a picture?

The one who wants to run for governor in 2018, of course. John Delaney.

Because nothing says “Democratic stalwart” like “caving in to the car dealers and the banks, while simultaneously screwing over consumers who want to buy cars and not be discriminated against because of their skin color.” Amirite?

BREAKING/EXCLUSIVE: Delaney Endorsements

The Tuesday morning double dose thunderstorm has landed and it’s hitting hard. Tornadoes are possible. Get the kids into the storm cellar. This one’s a biggie:

Multiple sources confirm to Maryland Scramble that Congressman John Delaney will be making endorsements in the four marquee MD races: US Senate, CD4, CD8 and the Baltimore mayoral contest. His endorsements, expected to be announced shortly, will be as follows:

MD Senate: Donna Edwards

CD4: Anthony Brown

CD8: Kathleeen Matthews

Baltimore: Sheila Dixon

In return for the endorsements, which will be backed by financial support (I am unable to determine the extent or nature of the support at this juncture), each candidate has agreed to back Delaney in his 2018 bid for governor, which has been widely anticipated since, well, forever. Or at least 2012, anyway.

This story is still developing. Stay tuned.

Senate Race: What Now?

This piece is for entertainment purposes only. I don’t know whether Donna Edwards intends to stay in or get out. So use the following with great care.

One candidate has $3.75 million, the other has $419,000. The first candidate has a great fundraising track record, having run the DCCC for two cycles. The second candidate had $30,000 in the bank at the outset of this race, and a reputation as not being a great fundraiser. Her strategy was to stay close enough to bring third party money from EMILY’s List and other IE groups to bear at the end. But it’s not close, and you have to figure that the IE groups will not be enthused about throwing major money at a candidate who if things continue as they are will be outgunned by $7-8 million or more come Election Day.
Given the numbers to date, there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that Edwards can turn this around. The smart money will continue to flow to Van Hollen, and with it endorsements and support from elected officials and local community leaders. Everyone wants to support a winner, and increasingly that’s how he’s being perceived.

Let’s assume she doesn’t stay in. Two questions. Who if anyone gets in? And what happens if Edwards decides to drop back into the CD4 contest?

Who gets in the Senate race? Several possibilities. The Van Hollen nightmare scenario is Elijah Cummings. Well respected, well known, polls well all around the state. He would be formidable. But several factors mitigate against him getting in. One: Baltimore. Cummings was at the forefront of the response to the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. Running for Senate will take away his ability to focus as heavily on his hometown.

Two: money. Like Edwards, Cummings is not a prolific fundraiser. To build on his natural support as a respected veteran lawmaker, he’d have to lock himself in that room for several hours every day for many months. Is that what he wants?

Three: my sense is that there’s a lot of respect between Cummings and Van Hollen. Every politician thinks he or she is the best choice for any race. But does Cummings loathe the idea of Senator Van Hollen enough to motivate him to gear up the effort needed to beat the clear front runner?

Four: Cummings is the ranking member of an important committee, having spoken out on several efforts by the GOP to investigate Democrats with a political angle, such as Benghazi. Will he want to give up that position to be a freshman senator? 

I remain skeptical that Cummings will run. But he might. And he will be a major threat if he does.

Who else? This blog’s own white whale, John Delaney, is always a possibility to open up that checkbook and mount a self-funded campaign. The conventional wisdom is that he wants to be governor in 2018. But a challenge to Van Hollen from the right can’t be ruled out in 2016. Bonus: if Delaney abandons his CD6 seat, we will get the fun prospect of all hell being unleashed in the campaign to succeed him. Last time I looks, I had about 8-10 names on a list of prospective candidates for that race. Moving it from 2018 to 2016 will only increase the chaos.

If Cummings stays out, Dutch Ruppersberger could get in. Everything I hear right now is that Dutch is deferring to Cummings. If Cummings runs, Dutch won’t. And word is that Ruppersberger would rather be governor than senator.

More remote possibility: John Sarbanes. I think he’s committed to waiting for the next chance, but him reconsidering can’t be ruled out for 2016.

My rank guess is that everything turns on Cummings. If he runs, there’s a real race. If he doesn’t, it’s possible that nobody serious steps up and Van Holllen wins in a walk. Delaney will be sorely tempted, and it’s anyone’s guess what he does. Ruppersberger and Sarbanes remain outside possibilities. Expect all this to be clearer by the end of the third quarter.

Final point: Edwards is in a bind no matter what. I can’t see a path forward to victory in the Senate race, but there’s not exactly a comfortable landing pad in CD4, either. Glenn Ivey has almost as much cash on hand as Donna does, and Joseline Pena-Melnyk has dug in tenaciously as well. I can’t see either one conceding that race back to the incumbent without a fight. Harder to figure what Dereck Davis or Ingrid Turner will do in that scenario, but I believe Donna Edwards is in for a fight whichever way she chooses to go.

Delaney Hears It On TPP

John Delaney, unlike the significant majority of the House Democratic caucus, voted “yes” on both Trans-Pacific Partnership votes on Friday – Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which failed badly, and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which narrowly passed. Delaney then went on Facebook to explain his votes:

Today I voted to give the Trade Promotion Authority to President Obama and to extend the TAA jobs training program. I support giving President Obama the ability to negotiate and complete new trade agreements with some of the fastest growing economies in the world. I want our country and this President setting the terms on trade, not China. Getting trade policy right is huge for our economy and huge for Maryland. This is about creating Maryland jobs by selling Maryland products to Asia, moving right from Western Maryland farms out through the Port of Baltimore.

But at the same time, I am concerned that we failed to reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which helps Americans who have been hurt by globalization learn new skills and find new jobs. This could really hurt real people, people that our Democratic values demand we help. I grew up in a blue collar union household and we’ve seen how globalization and technology have changed our economy. To create good paying jobs we have to start bending these forces to our economic benefit and that starts with smart trade policy. – John

In the comments, Delsney is getting pummeled – not one of the 36 comments thus far have been supportive of Delaney on any level. Despite the full court press being applied by President Barack Obama, pro-labor Democrats – which should in theory be all of them – are not impressed. I don’t claim any expertise on this particular bill, but trade legislation in the 20 years since NAFTA has been a largely unmitigated disaster on both labor and environmental issues. Here’s hoping the House Dems stand firm in the face of what is likely to be substantial presidential arm-twisting in the next several days.

Delaney Followup

After his op-ed this morning, John Delaney has fans, but probably not the ones he was hoping for. And it is possible that this was a plant for a Senate run. I’ve been known to be wrong more than occasionally.

  Noah Silverman is Congressional Affairs Director for the Republican Jewish Coalition. Given the language of Delaney’s screed today, it’s understandable that Silverman mistook Delaney for a Republican congressman and is urging him to run for Senate.

Snark aside, it’s curious that Delaney’s piece said nothing whatsoever about either Israel specifically or foreign policy generally – which are the RJC’s stock in trade. Hmmmmmmmmm. Let’s keep our eyes on the Twitter   machine for more information, shall we?

Delaney Makes A Move

Well, now we know what John Delaney has been up to while he’s been ignoring my increasingly pathetic pleas for his attention. He’s been crafting his attack on the values of the political party of which he claims to be a member.

Washington is paralyzed by extreme political rhetoric that creates powerful sound bites but poor policy. The big legislative updates that we need to compete in the 21st century and to raise living standards have been blocked by a reluctance to seek common ground.

With Washington already broken, the last thing we need is a left-wing version of the tea party. But I am worried about where some of the loudest voices in the room could take the Democratic Party.

Rejecting a trade agreement with Asia, expanding entitlement programs that crowd out other priorities and a desire to relitigate the financial crisis are becoming dominant positions among Democrats. Although these subjects may make for good partisan talking points, they do not provide the building blocks for a positive and bold agenda to create jobs and improve the lives of Americans.

Oh, please. Spare me the Both Sides Do It bullshit. Leave that to the lazy media lapdogs, like Politico. “Legislative updates” haven’t been blocked by a “reluctance to seek common ground,” but by a Republican congressional wing hell-bent from day one on denying the first African-American president any accomplishments at all. It’s not like they’ve been shy about it, either. 

Although some of what Delaney proceeds to outline are beneficial goals I agree with, the tone and rhetoric of the whole enterprise is Democrat-bashing. And on education, he sounds like Arne Duncan. Teachers’ unions, take note.

Second, we should create ways for the next generation to access education, which is the ultimate equalizer. The solution is to ask high-income Americans to help pay for it, which I believe they would be happy to do if they knew that 100 percent of the new money would be targeted at proven educational strategies with high levels of accountability. A new focus on universal pre-K and more affordable higher education at results-driven institutions are especially important.

Reformist buzzwords all over that paragraph. And another thing: rich people “would be happy” to pay for education? You got some data to back that up, Congressman? ‘Cause I got some serious doubts about THAT.

This next paragraph might be my favorite part, calling on Democrats to, well, stop being Democrats.

Additionally, we need a philosophical shift in the Democratic Party, a new willingness to support programs that create pathways for nongovernmental and philanthropic innovation and investment to help solve the problems of society. We should embrace approaches, such as social impact bonds, that combine private-sector capital and expertise with public-interest goals to produce better government services. Such changes will require Democrats to leave our ideological comfort zone and move away from the idea that government, and government alone, is the answer to our problems.

Yeah, because “private-sector capital” did such a great job in 2008. Last time I looked, it was the guvmint that bailed out the banks, not th other way around. I’m fine with my party’s philosophy, thanks.

Which leads to his big finish. Democrats shouldn’t be fixated on regulation of banks and other financial institutions. More important things to worry about.

Lastly, some in our party continue to engage in time-consuming rhetoric attacking banks that has little chance of producing more financial reform and distracts from far more consequential areas of economic risk, such as climate change, chronic underinvestment in the next generation and our broken immigration and housing finance systems.

News flash: Republicans deny the reality of climate change, won’t fix the immigration system because their party is dominated by bigots and nativists, and are just fine giving housing and other finance systems back to the banks that nearly destroyed our economy less than a decade ago. Why the #*#*} are you complaining about a “left-wing Tea Party” when you know (or ought to) that the right-wing version is already doing such a fine job mucking things up in Congress?

Question: why did Delaney write this, and why now? Here’s what I think. This isn’t about fixing things in Congress. This will piss off progressives, who either knew before – or certainly know now – that he’s not one of them. Politico will trumpet Delaney as “sensible.” Somebody will write another couple of articles about the “civil war” in the Democratic Party, which will still be total bullshit. And then it will fade into D.C. obscurity.

But I suspect that John Delaney doesn’t care about any of that. It’s about establishing himself to the center of the spectrum for his run for governor in 2018. That’s the office he’s always wanted.

Read the article again. Change a couple of nouns and adjectives here and there, and it’s tailor-made as a manifesto for Delaney to wrest back the right-leaning Dems and independent voters who put Larry Hogan into office in 2014.

Jobs, infrastructure, education reform. All red meat state level issues, and all were part of the Hogan special sauce. Throw in some hippie-punching for good measure (the media LOVES that), and boom. John Delaney finally did what I’ve been all but begging him to do – announce his candidacy. But not for Senate, and not in 2016. Governor in 2018. He’s “Larry Hogan Lite.” Let the games begin.

Hot Sheet

For those of us playing the home version of the game, things have gotten messy. So being spring, it’s time for a clean start with a fresh new scoresheet.

Senate:

Declared and Running: Donna Edwards, Chris Van Hollen
Still Thinking About It: Elijah Cummings
Finally Actually Thinking About It: Dutch Ruppersberger
Probably Not This Time: John Sarbanes
Likes To Torture Bloggers With Conflicting Signals, But Also Likely Not Running: John Delaney

CD4:

In: Anthony Brown, Dereck Davis*, Glenn Ivey, Joseline Pena-Melnyk, Ingrid Turner*
Mulling It Over: Jay Walker
Rumored: Anthony Muse, Kris Valderrama

* Declared as candidates, but have yet to file with the FEC

CD8:

Off to the Races: Kumar Barve, Ana Sol Gutierrez, Will Jawando, Jamie Raskin
Likely: Valerie Ervin, Kathleen Matthews
Still in the Conversation: Ariana Kelly, Susan Lee, Jeff Waldstreicher

GOP CD6 Gossip

Since the John Delaney rumor mill has totally shut down of late, I am reduced to mongering Republican rumors in CD6. 

A sad state of affairs indeed, but here it is: Ryan Miner says District 4 Delegate David Vogt will run for Congress, and further expresses dissatisfaction with the notion that Washington County Commissioners president Terry Baker might also be running. I particularly like this line:

It comes as a shock to me that Terry Baker is contemplating running for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District considering that he has no fundraising base outside of Washington County and is virtually unknown in most of CD-6, especially in Montgomery County.

News flash: I don’t think John Delaney is losing one minute of sleep thinking about Terry Baker or David Vogt. Or Ryan Miner, for that matter. Which is really unfortunate because it means John Delaney still hasn’t texted me his plans. Which is another way of saying that this post is just another desperate attempt by me to get John Delaney’s attention. Utterly pathetic.