Cheryl Kagan Wins District 17 Senate Race; Paper-Thin Margins In Delegate Race

Cheryl Kagan won a close and nasty race for State Senate in District 17 Tuesday with 4,335 votes, defeating Del. Luiz Simmons, who had 3,629 votes. The margin of victory was Kagan, 54.43 percent, Simmons 45.57 percent. All results reported by the Maryland Election Board late Tuesday night are unofficial.

The campaign deteriorated in the final weeks into an exchange of negative advertising by the two candidates.

Kagan, a former delegate, lost to Sen. Jennie Forehand by a narrow margin four years ago. This year, Sen. Forehand opted to retire, setting up the contest between Kagan and Simmons.

(Note: Delegate vote totals below updated at 5 a.m. Wednesday.)

Del. Kumar Barve was the clear winner in the six-way contest for three District 17 seats in the House of Delegates, with 5,344 votes, or 25.49 percent. District 17 includes Gaithersburg and Rockville in the heart of Montgomery County.

First-time candidate Andrew Platt was in second place with 4,274 votes, edging past Del. Jim Gilchrist, who had 4,250, for the third seat.

Former Rockville mayor Susan Hoffman appears to have failed to win a seat by a margin of just 113 votes. She had 4,137 votes.

Platt, Gilchrist and Hoffman were locked in a nail-biter all evening, with each pulling about 20 percent of the vote.

The percentages at 5 a.m. are: Platt, 20.39 percent, Gilchrist, 20.27 percent, and Hoffman, 19.73 percent.

It’s not unusual for delegate races in Montgomery County to be decided by 400 votes, or even 300, but 113 votes is almost too close to call, in my opinion. It’s possible that the outcome could be changed by the absentee and provisional ballots, which will not be counted for several weeks. Is there any way to do a recount or an audit on the county’s paperless, high-tech voting system?

The trailing candidates in District 17 were Laurie-Anne Sayles, with 2,227 votes, and George Zamora.

— John Hayden

Montgomery County Incumbents Endorsed By Washington Post

The Washington Post is showing a decided preference on its editorial page for incumbents. The newspaper’s endorsements all make sense, but the challengers deserve more thoughtful consideration.

In the Montgomery County Council and County Executive June 24 primary elections, The Post endorsed every incumbent in sight. The only incumbents not endorsed are two who aren’t running by their own choice.

County Executive

For Montgomery County Executive, The Post endorsed Isiah Leggett, with a caveat regarding government spending. You’ll have to read the May 3, 2014, editorial for the newspaper’s bloated, four-paragraph explanation of the caveat.

The Post was correct to point out that all three candidates for executive — Leggett, Doug Duncan, and Phil Andrews — are competent, committed and honest. To quote The Post, “Any one of them would make an able county executive in Montgomery, where one in six Marylanders live.” The newspaper had complimentary things to say about both Duncan and Andrews. Voters face a tough decision in the Democratic primary for County Executive.

County Council

This week, The Post endorsed all four at-large County Council members, in the following order:

  • Nancy Floreen, seeking a fourth term.
  • George Leventhal, also seeking a fourth term.
  • Marc Elrich, seeking a third term.
  • Hans Riemer, seeking only his second term.

I wonder if the order of the endorsements was based on seniority, or on the editorial board’s preference. It wasn’t alphabetical, and I doubt it was random.

The Post dismissed the two Democratic challengers for at-large council seats in a way that I thought was impolite. Just my opinion. The Post opined that Beth Daly is not only “misguided,” but also “dead wrong.” The editorial board failed to even mention at-large candidate Vivian Malloy by name.

It’s unfortunate that we have only two Democratic challengers running for four at-large seats. In my opinion, both Daly and Malloy appear ready and able to serve on the County Council, and both challengers would bring to the table a perspective that would add to, not diminish, the council.

In contests for the five district seats, The Post endorsed the following incumbents:

  • Roger Berliner in District 1.
  • Craig Rice in District 2.

In District 4, incumbent Nancy Navarro is running unopposed.

For the two districts that do not have an incumbent in the mix, The Post endorsed:

  • Tom Moore in District 3.
  • Evan Glass in District 5.

It would not be easy to rebut any of the above endorsements. All of the incumbents are indeed worthy of re-election, based on their records. But I am disappointed that The Post failed to adequately acknowledge the council challengers. For County Council as well as for Executive, the voters face difficult choices among serious candidates.

General Assembly

The Washington Post was nearly as respectful of Montgomery County incumbents running for re-election to State Senate and House of Delegates. Incumbents are not seeking re-election in a number of places, resulting in some spirited contests in several districts. If you live in District 17 (Rockville or Gaithersburg) or District 18 (Silver Spring, Chevy Chase, Wheaton) you might want to consult the voter guides and endorsements of your choice. You can read the Post’s views on all the MoCo General Assembly candidates here.

(Editor’s Note: I take exception to some of The Post’s endorsements in the competitive District 17 race for three seats in the House of Delegates. In my opinion, both Del. Kumar Barve (majority leader of the House) and Del. Jim Gilchrist (a member of the Environmental Matters Committee), are valued representatives for District 17, and should be re-elected. For the third seat, which is open, I voted for Laurie-Anne Sayles, who I believe is the most promising of the other candidates. I will withhold  comment on the nasty District 17 race for State Senate.)

Only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary and registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary. All voters may vote for candidates of any party in the November General Election.

Hardly anybody reads the MSM anymore. Few people would be aware of the newspaper endorsements if we didn’t announce them here in the blogosphere. You can read The Post’s endorsements for County Council here, and the endorsement for County Executive here.

You can find helpful links to several sources of objective information about the candidates, including the League of Women Voters Guide, the Gazette voter guide, and the voter guide right here.

— John Hayden