The mix of new and seasoned candidates running for office produced “very exciting” primaries, according to Meredith Weisel, director of Maryland Government and Community Relations for the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington. Term limits and a new public campaign financing system in Montgomery County — along with a nationwide push for political newcomers (women in particular) to run for office — created a large slate of candidates in the June 2018.
Many of them met with the JCRC throughout their campaigns, and it was great to be able to discuss issues of importance to the Jewish community with so many candidates, she said.
“From any perspective, this election was very involved,” she said. “There definitely are going to be changes.” The JCRC staff intends to continue meeting with the candidates who won in the primary, particularly those seeking the office of county executive.
Off to the Races in MoCo
At press time, current Montgomery County Councilmember At-Large Marc Elrich was the unofficial winner on the Democratic ticket for county executive, with an 80-point lead over David Blair, but Blair was considering asking for a recount. Meanwhile, Councilmember Nancy Floreen, who, due to term limits, didn’t seek reelection, has filed to run as an unaffiliated candidate. She needs to gather 7,000 signatures and is expected to decide this week whether she will run to challenge Elrich and Republican Robin Ficker.
Running on the Democratic ticket for council member at large this fall will be Evan Glass, Gabe Albornoz, incumbent Hans Riemer, and Will Jawando.
Both Jewish and a member of the LGBTQ community, Glass wrote in a candidate questionnaire administered by the JCRC earlier this year that he has “witnessed hate and intolerance” and therefore “will not tolerate bigotry, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or for [sic] hatred of any group.”
Albornoz was a member of Montgomery County’s pilot program to investigate the feasibility of extending public school bus service to nonpublic schools. “I support restarting this group and the service,” he wrote in the JCRC questionnaire. “I believe nonpublic schools should be viewed as a potential partner in educating county children.”
In a detailed questionnaire administered by the JCRC earlier this year, Andrew Friedson, a political newcomer who won the District 1 Democratic primary over Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez and former Kensington Mayor Pete Fosselman, among others, expressed support for strong security at Jewish institutions.
“Particularly at a time of increasing hatred and bigotry, it’s critical that we leverage federal, state and local resources to ensure the safety and security of every child in every school, and every worshipper in every religious institution,” wrote Friedson.
“I think the Montgomery County delegation as a whole will be a strong advocate for the Jewish community,” said candidate for state delegate Jeffrey Waldstreicher. Waldstreicher won the Democratic nod to move to the state senate in District 18. He would take the place of Roger Madaleno, who lost his bid for governor.
While noting that it was too early to talk about priorities for the next legislative session, Waldstreicher expected the Montgomery County politicians to improve education and health care and to work to reduce gun violence.
Delegate Ben Kramer was successful in his bid to be the Democratic candidate in State District 19 to fill the seat currently held by Sen. Roger Manno. (Manno was unsuccessful in his bid for U.S. Congress.)
A few days after the election, at the County Democratic Kiss and Make Up Unity Party, Kramer talked about the excitement within the Democratic party. “I think the enthusiasm level will definitely ramp up for the general election. I think a lot of people are chomping at the bit to get to the ballot,” he said.
In Baltimore, Dalya Attar was successful in her bid to be the Democratic candidate for state delegate in District 41. Attar is a Baltimore City prosecuting attorney and will be the first Orthodox woman to serve as a state delegate if she wins in November. She had never run for a position in local politics before.
Attar, whose parents are immigrants, grew up in a working-class Baltimore City family. On her website, she said that she is running for office “because Baltimore belongs to all of us.”
Looking Ahead to
the General Election
At the state level, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, Rep. Jamie Raskin, and Rep. John Sarbanes won their Democratic primaries and are expected to have relatively easy races in November. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. John Delaney is running for president and therefore didn’t seek reelection in District 6. In a highly contested race, David Trone, co-founder of Total Wine & More, defeated Maryland Delegate Aruna Miller. He will face Republican candidate Amie Hoeber in November.
Ben Jealous, former CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), came from behind to defeat Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. He will be up against Republican incumbent Larry Hogan in November.
By Suzanne Pollak
Suzanne Pollak is the senior writer/editor at Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington. She was a reporter at The Courier Post in New Jersey and The Washington Jewish Week, and she now writes for The Montgomery Sentinel.