Category: In the News

County Teachers Union Passes Over Two Incumbent Stoate Legislators in Latest Endorsements

County Teachers Union Passes Over Two Incumbent Stoate Legislators in Latest Endorsements

The Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), in its latest round of endorsements, has opted not to support the re-election bids of two current members of the state legislative delegation: District 17 Del. Jim Gilchrist of Rockville and District 19 Del. Marice Morales of Silver Spring.

Meanwhile, the politically influential union—which represents about 14,000 teachers and other educators in the county school system—formally announced its endorsement of Del. Jeff Waldstreicher of Kensington in the competitive three-way contest for the District 18 Senate seat. That post is now held by Democrat Richard Madaleno, a candidate for governor.

The latest MCEA endorsements, disclosed late Monday, also tapped eight non-incumbent candidates vying for seats in the county’s 24-member contingent to the Maryland House of Delegates in the June 26 Democratic primary.

Included in these endorsements are Kevin Mack of North Potomac, an aide to U.S. Rep. John Delaney, in District 15; Rockville City Council member Julie Palakovich Carr and attorney Julian Haffner of Gaithersburg in District 17; former congressional aide Jared Solomon of Chevy Chase in District 18; attorneys Marlin Jenkins of Silver Spring and Vaughn Stewart of Derwood in District 19; educator Darian Unger of Silver Spring in District 20; and union organizer Gabriel Acevero of Montgomery Village in District 39.

Outside of Gilchrist and Morales, the MCEA now has endorsed the candidacies of all other state legislative incumbents—14 delegates and six state senators—seeking re-election this year. All MCEA endorsements will appear on the so-called “Apple Ballot,” which is widely distributed at polling places.

Following is a rundown of the political situation in a half-dozen state legislative districts in which the MCEA unveiled endorsements Monday:

District 15 (Bethesda through Potomac north to the Frederick County line): Mack, Delaney’s district director for the past five years, and Lily Qi of North Potomac, a top aide to County Executive Ike Leggett, are regarded as the frontrunners among seven non-incumbents taking aim in the primary at the seat now held by Del. Aruna Miller of Darnestown. Miller is running to succeed Delaney, who is leaving to pursue a bid for the 2020 presidential nomination.

The MCEA’s backing gives Mack his first major organizational endorsement; Qi last month garnered the support of the Sierra Club, another coveted endorsement in county politics.

The MCEA had previously given its support to Dels. Kathleen Dumais of Rockville and David Fraser-Hidalgo of Boyds in their bids for re-election to the district’s other two seats. It also has endorsed state Sen. Brian Feldman of Potomac, who is favored to win renomination over businessman Hongjun Xin of Potomac.

District 17 (Gaithersburg and Rockville): Palakovich Carr, a biologist by profession, and Haffner, affiliated with the Bethesda-based law firm of Longman & Van Grack, received the MCEA endorsement for Gilchrist’s slot and the seat now held by retiring Del. Andrew Platt. The union also is backing both Del. Kumar Barve of Rockville, who has served for almost three decades in Annapolis, for re-election, plus Sen. Cheryl Kagan of Rockville, who has no primary opposition in her bid for a second term.

The union offered no public explanation on why it chose not to endorse Gilchrist, a three-term legislator who received the MCEA’s nod four years ago. The son of the late Charles Gilchrist, a former state senator who served as Montgomery County executive from 1978 to 1986, Jim Gilchrist has been a low-profile member of the county’s legislative delegation since his election in 2006. He came within 90 votes of being denied renomination in the 2014 primary—the closest call for any Montgomery County incumbent that year.

Also passed over in the MCEA endorsement process was county Board of Education member Rebecca Smondrowski of Gaithersburg, who entered the District 17 primary following Platt’s surprise retirement. Smondrowski also did not receive MCEA backing in winning her initial election to the school board in 2012.

Barve and Gilchrist are running together on a slate that originally included Platt; they moved quickly to place Palakovich Carr on the slate after Platt’s decision to step down. Palakovich Carr now adds the MCEA’s backing to her previous endorsement by the Sierra Club.

District 18 (east Bethesda through Chevy Chase to Silver Spring, including Garrett Park, Kensington, Wheaton and a portion of Rockville): Waldstreicher’s run for state Senate and Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez’s bid for a County Council seat have opened up two of the district’s three delegate seats. Solomon, a onetime teacher in the Baltimore city school system, becomes another non-incumbent to claim both the MCEA and Sierra Club endorsements.

But the MCEA opted not to make an immediate endorsement for the second District 18 open seat, and plans to conduct further interviews before making a decision, according to sources. One factor in this move appears to have been grumbling from several candidates—who complained of inadequate opportunity to be considered for the MCEA endorsement, due to lack of notice or late entry into the race.

In backing Solomon, the MCEA parted ways with another major county union, SEIU Local 500, which represents about 12,000 support staff in the county schools. Local 500 has endorsed Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee Vice Chair Emily Shetty of Kensington and former University of Maryland project manager Mila Johns of Chevy Chase for the two open delegate seats. Del. Al Carr of Kensington, the only incumbent in the eight-candidate primary field, previously received MCEA backing.

Waldstreicher adds the MCEA’s backing to that of several other unions—including IAFF Local 1664, which represents the county’s career firefighters. SEIU Local 500 has lined up with another Senate candidate, activist Dana Beyer of Chevy Chase. The race flared up last week when a contender for delegate, Helga Luest of Rockville, charged that Waldstreicher had sought to convince her to switch to the Senate race—“presumably” to splinter support for Beyer. Waldstreicher has denied Luest’s allegations.

District 19 (Silver Spring north to portions of Rockville and Gaithersburg): The MCEA’s backing went to Stewart and Jenkins for the seats now held by Morales and Del. Ben Kramer of Derwood. With the MCEA’s backing, Kramer is running unopposed in the primary for the district’s open Senate slot. He would succeed Democrat Roger Manno, another contender for Delaney’s congressional seat.

Stewart—who now has both the MCEA and Sierra Club endorsements—and Jenkins are among a half-dozen non-incumbents running for delegate in the District 19 primary. The other MCEA endorsement in the district previously went to Del. Bonnie Cullison, who is seeking a third term. Cullison is a former MCEA president, and Jenkins has strong ties to organized labor as well: He is a staff attorney for the American Federation of Governmental Employees.

According to sources, the MCEA decision not to back Morales for re-election followed a contentious interview session in which she and union officials differed over the best course for the county school system’s English for Speakers of Other Languages program. Morales is seeking her second term; she initially won election in 2014 without MCEA backing.

District 20 (Silver Spring/Takoma Park): The MCEA endorsement of Unger—a Howard University business professor and civic activist—is a switch from four years ago, when he failed to get that union’s backing in his first run for a delegate seat in the district. He is among five non-incumbent contenders eyeing the seat of retiring Del. Sheila Hixson. The District 20 incumbents seeking re-election—Sen. Will Smith and Dels. David Moon and Jheanelle Wilkins, all of Silver Spring—previously received MCEA backing.

District 39 (North Potomac through Germantown and Montgomery Village to Clarksburg): Acevero adds the MCEA’s backing to that of SEIU Local 500 and UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO. The latter union represents the majority of county government employees, and Acevero works there as a field organizer.

Leggett is strongly behind Acevero, pitting him against the District 39 incumbents seeking re-election: Sen. Nancy King of Montgomery Village and Dels. Kirill Reznik of Germantown and Shane Robinson of Montgomery Village. They have added communications specialist Lesley Lopez of Germantown to their slate. Acevero and Lopez, who has the backing of both the Sierra Club and the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, are among five non-incumbents taking aim at the seat of Del. Charles Barkley, who is running for County Council at-large.

The MCEA, while differing from the incumbent legislators, on their choice to fill Barkley’s seat, has nonetheless given its endorsement to King, Reznik and Robinson for another term.

In the county’s other two legislative districts, the MCEA previously endorsed Sen. Craig Zucker of Brookeville and Dels. Anne Kaiser of Silver Spring, Eric Luedtke of Burtonsville and Pamela Queen of Olney for re-election in District 14.

In Bethesda/Chevy Chase-based District 16, the union is behind Sen. Susan Lee and Dels. Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman, all of Bethesda, as well as Samir Paul, a Bethesda resident who teaches computer math at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. Paul is among five non-incumbent contenders eyeing the open seat of Del. Bill Frick, a candidate for county executive.

Campaign Finance Reports: Districts 18 and 19, January 2018

Campaign Finance Reports: Districts 18 and 19, January 2018

District 18

Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher has posted a strong financial performance in his run to succeed Senator Rich Madaleno.  He has raised more money over the cycle and has more cash on hand than any other state legislator in the county.  But Dana Beyer has spent nearly a half million dollars of her own money in her three prior races and could spend a whole lot more.  Beyer told Bethesda Magazine “she does not plan to self-finance this year’s Senate bid” but still gave her campaign $109,100.  While Waldstreicher’s cash on hand advantage is substantial, Beyer could erase it with one check.

The recent endorsement by SEIU Local 500 of Beyer may have a big impact on this race.  Prior to that, Waldstreicher could make the case to other progressive endorsing organizations that as a three-term incumbent running against someone who was for 0-3 in elections (two running against him) that he would have a big edge and was the safe pick.  But SEIU is a huge player and brings credibility to Beyer’s run.  Now the endorsing groups may be more likely to evaluate the two against each other on a level playing field and see Beyer as a true alternative.  Our prediction is that this will not be the last significant endorsement that Beyer receives.

The Delegate race is just as interesting.  Incumbent Al Carr had the most raised over the cycle but also has a huge burn rate (81%).  He trails Mila Johns and Jared Solomon in cash on hand.  Johns leads in cash position (boosted by her $100,000 loan to her campaign) while Solomon led the non-incumbents in fundraising from others ($42,011).  Emily Shetty has been a prominent local player since her fourth place finish last time, joining the county’s Democratic Central Committee and doing work with Action Committee for Transit and her former civic association.  But she doesn’t want to trail in money behind Carr, Johns and Solomon to the extent she is now.  Town of Chevy Chase Council Member Joel Rubin’s cash balance is deceptively low since he began campaigning in November and raised $269,845 in his 2016 run for Congress.  Leslie Milano created her campaign account too late to file a January report but says she plans to raise $150,000.  Helga Luest was also a late starter.  Normally, the only incumbent in a race like this – in this case, it’s Carr – would be favored for reelection.  But the challengers are a pack of hungry wolves and Carr is going to have to work to keep his seat.

The Big Question: will there be competing slates in this district?  Both Beyer and Waldstreicher have money, which is much needed by all the House candidates.  Our prediction is that any move to set up a slate by either Beyer or Waldstreicher will provoke the other side to unify too.  Competing slates aligned with contested Senate races were common in District 18 decades ago and another one could really scramble this election.

The Other Big Question: will Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez stay in the Council District 1 race, where she has not qualified for public matching funds and ranks a distant fifth in cash on hand, or will she return to the District 18 House race?

District 19

With the departure of Senator Roger Manno, who is running for Congress in District 6, Delegate Ben Kramer will become the next Senator and the dominant politician in the district.  Kramer, who was first elected to the House in 2006, is known for his work on senior issues and public safety, and has been a true hero in his efforts to crack down on drunk driving.  He has an absolute lockdown on Leisure World and Kemp Mill, two vital power centers in the district.  Kramer is not universally beloved, but he is well respected and no other politicians will mess with him.  In politics, that is enough!

The two incumbent Delegates, Bonnie Cullison and Marice Morales, will sweep virtually all the progressive endorsements and be reelected.  As for the seat being vacated by Kramer, the simple view is that former Raskin campaign aide Vaughn Stewart, who totally smoked the field (including the incumbents) in fundraising, will win it.  But the race may not be that simple.  MCDCC Member and labor attorney Marlin Jenkins did reasonably well in fundraising and should get a lot of labor support.  And attorney Charlotte Crutchfield, who barely lost to Morales for the open House seat in 2014, is running again.

Crutchfield is not a strong fundraiser, having collected just $11,960 from others last time while self-financing $44,149.  But she has a long history in the district and Kramer formed a slate with her in 2014.  Manno endorsed Morales, his former legislative aide, and Morales won by 382 votes.  Crutchfield filed an affidavit as her January report but her new campaign has just started.

The Big Question: will Kramer team up with Crutchfield again?  And if he does, will Cullison and Morales also join in?


By Josh Kurtz

Three-quarters of Maryland voters want employers to provide robust paid sick leave benefits to their workers, according to a poll conducted for advocacy groups.

Specifically, 74 percent of survey respondents supported requiring companies with at least 15 employees to provide five days of paid sick leave each year to full-time employees. A bill that emerged from the legislature this year would have accomplished just that, but was vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who had a less comprehensive proposal for paid sick leave.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled said they favored legislators overturning Hogan’s veto when they return to work in January.

“This poll has confirmed what we already knew,” said Caryn York, executive director of the Job Opportunities Task Force, one of the advocacy groups that commissioned the poll. “Marylanders from every corner of the state support this legislation, because no one should have to choose between their paycheck and their health.”

The poll of 625 regular Maryland voters was conducted Sept. 27-30 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy Inc. It had a 4-point margin of error.

Support for the paid sick leave measure was at 80 percent or greater in Baltimore city, central Maryland and Prince George’s County, and topped 60 percent in more conservative areas like Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore/Southern Maryland. Eighty-one percent of women and 67 percent of men favored the proposal. Even 59 percent of Republicans said they supported the idea.

By region, support for overriding Hogan’s veto ranged from 67 percent in Baltimore city to 44 percent on the Eastern Shore/Southern Maryland.

Hogan and other members of his administration have been exhorting business groups and other civic leaders to help them whip up opposition to a veto override.

“Governor Hogan supports common sense paid sick leave,” his spokeswoman, Amelia Chasse, said in a statement. “The governor is committed to working with legislators, small business owners, workers, and advocates on a common sense, bipartisan, balanced plan that provides paid leave benefits to hardworking Marylanders without hurting our small business job creators. Fortunately, House Bill 1 was not slated to take effect until January, which means there is still time to get this right and compromise on a better bill.”

Endorsement Roundup. Ben Jealous, the former NAACP president and Democratic candidate for governor, is getting a major endorsement on Thursday from the Service Employees International Union, a powerhouse in Democratic primaries with a time-tested get-out-the-vote operation. SEIU represents 45,000 workers in Maryland.

Ben Jealous is picking up a major endorsement on Thursday.
Last week, Jealous was endorsed by the National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union of registered nurses.

“Nurses are proud to endorse former NAACP President Ben Jealous for Governor because of his inspiring vision for Maryland and his track record of activism and advocacy for social, economic, and racial justice,” said Sandy Falwell, a registered nurse who is a resident of Clinton, Md., and an NNU vice president. “As nurses, we see the devastating effects of a deeply flawed healthcare system on our patients every day. We are excited to stand with Ben Jealous because he shares nurses’ vision of a single payer/Medicare for All healthcare system that provides all Marylanders with the quality care they need, and because he shares nurses’ values of caring, compassion and community.”

Like Jealous, the NNU supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during his run for the White House last year.

Jealous is one of several candidates who have gotten significant endorsements in recent days:

*Vaughn Stewart, an attorney and one of several Democrats running for the House of Delegates in Montgomery County’s District 19, was endorsed by former state Attorney General Steve Sachs (D).

“Vaughn has the policy savvy and the work ethic necessary to be an incredibly effective Delegate,” Sachs said, “He is exactly the kind of tireless advocate we need in Annapolis.”

*Andrew Friedson, a former top aide to Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) who is running for the Montgomery County Council in District 1, rolled out several endorsements the other day coinciding with his campaign kickoff. They were: Franchot, state Sens. Brian Feldman (D) and Craig Zucker (D), and Susie Turnbull, the former state Democratic chairwoman and one-time Democratic National Committee vice chair.

“Andrew Friedson represents the very best of people who’ve ever worked for me,” Franchot said.

*The Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club on Wednesday announced that it was endorsing 52 incumbent state senators and delegates – all Democrats – for re-election. See the full list.

“These Sierra Club endorsed candidates have demonstrated strong leadership in promoting clean air, clean water, and cleaner energy for a healthier Maryland,” said Josh Tulkin, director of the Maryland Sierra Club.

The Maryland chapter aims to raise $100,000 to support pro-environment candidates in the 2018 election cycle – and has collected about $40,000 so far.

Franchot Files. To the surprise of no one, Franchot filed for re-election late last week. He is seeking a fourth term.

What is surprising is that Franchot has no Democratic primary opponent, since many party insiders are furious with him for his close relationship with Hogan and vocal criticism of legislative leaders. But Franchot continues to thrive with his own special sauce of political savvy and public service.

Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) is seeking a fourth term.
“I don’t work for the Annapolis insiders,” Franchot, who has served in Annapolis for 31 straight years, says in an announcement video. “I don’t work for the political bosses. I work for you.”

The 1,001st Friend. 1000 Friends of Maryland, the environmental and smart growth advocacy group, announced Wednesday that it has hired John Campagna to be its next executive director when Dru Schmidt-Perkins, the organization’s long-time leader, steps down next month.

Campagna has worked in high tech and finance as well as being an environmental activist – a useful combination in the modern advocacy world. As the founder of Restore Capital, he has worked with organizations such as Corvias, GreenVest LLC, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, and others

“John takes the helm of this organization that has a strong record,” said Dale Sams, 1000 Friends’ board chairman. “We see the impact of 20 years of strategic and effective advocacy everywhere, including new state laws, stronger regulations, and policies that strengthen our communities and protect rural areas from costly, polluting sprawl development.”

Schmidt-Perkins, who helped launch the organization and previously was a regional director for the group Clean Water Action, announced in May that she would step down after 19 years at the helm. 1000 Friends is hosting a farewell dinner to salute Schmidt-Perkins on Nov. 8.

“People are often surprised at how small this organization is,” Sams said. “But when you have a strong team, smart strategy, and effective coalition leadership you can have a powerful impact.”

Party Up. The Maryland Democratic Party this week announced that it has brought on three new staffers.

Fabion Seaton will manage the party’s communications and messaging strategy, replacing Bryan Lesswing, who took a job at Emily’s List. Seaton most recently served as the press secretary for U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). Prior to that, he worked for former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and former Baltimore city Del. Jill Carter (D). He grew up in Prince George’s County and is a graduate of Frostburg State University.

Saif Ratul will manage the party’s field operation, after serving as the deputy field director for the 2016 Maryland Democratic Coordinated Campaign. Prior to that, Ratul was a regional field director for Chris Van Hollen’s U.S. Senate campaign and worked on electoral and issue-based campaigns in Iowa, Colorado and New York.

Eva Lewis will manage the party’s political outreach. She has worked as an attorney, grass-roots organizer and political operative building coalitions and increasing political engagement. She is a native of Prince George’s County.

The trio joins Executive Director Stephanie Potter as the top party staffers for the election cycle.

“This team has the energy, the experience, and the drive to support our candidates up and down the ballot, all across the state,” party Chairwoman Kathleen Matthews said in a statement.



A 28-year-old lawyer from Derwood is running for the Democratic nomination for a District 19 seat in the House of Delegates, thinking his White House policy expertise and his work ethic make him a good fit for Annapolis.

“I’m running I have the both the policy chops and the work ethic to be an effective delegate to get things done in Annapolis,” Vaughn Stewart said.

District 19 is currently represented by Bonnie Cullison, Marice Morales and Benjamin Kramer. Kramer has filed with the Maryland State Board of Elections to run for the state Senate seat now held by Roger Manno, who is running for the 6th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. John Delaney. Cullison and Morales, both of Silver Spring, have filed for re-election.

Two others have filed to run in the District 19 Democratic primary: Brian Crider of Rockville and Jade Wiles Jr. of Silver Spring.

District 19 takes in a central sliver of Montgomery County, east of Rockville and Gaithersburg, but west of Olney. It includes parts of Silver Spring, Wheaton, Leisure World, Laytonsville, Derwood, Aspen Hill and Kemp Mill.

Stewart’s policy expertise includes a stint in the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Obama as well as serving as Rep. Jamie Raskin’s policy director for his 2016 congressional campaign.

He said he wants to serve as a delegate because he can make a difference in state government.

“I think with the buffoon we have in the White House, the prospect of progress is minimal,” Stewart said.

He also said he is a two-time cancer survivor, going through four rounds of chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells, over the spring and summer. As of June 16, he said, his cancer is fully in remission.

“Going through that experience gives you a newfound appreciation for the injustices of our health care system,” Stewart said.

A proposal he’d advance in the House of Delegates would be to treat pharmaceutical companies like utilities. A board of relevant experts would set prices for prescription drugs that allows companies to make a profit but doesn’t gouge consumers, he said.

Stewart said he’d model it after the all-payer model that regulates hospital charges.

He said he also wanted the state to make “smart” investments in infrastructure, including all-day MARC service and extending Metro’s Red Line from Glenmont to Olney with stops in Leisure World and Aspen Hill.

“You’re not only giving commuters alternatives to traffic congestion, you’re helping to combat climate change, and finally you’re investing in the clean energy economy in creating good paying green-collar jobs,” he said.

Stewart has gained an endorsement from a progressive leader from Maryland’s political past: Stephen Sachs, the former attorney general who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1986, losing to Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer.

“Vaughn has the policy savvy and the work ethic necessary to be an incredibly effective Delegate,” Sachs said in a news release issued by Stewart’s campaign. “He is exactly the kind of tireless advocate we need in Annapolis.”

Sachs formerly was a lawyer for WilmerHale, where Stewart now works as a regulatory attorney.

Bethesda Magazine: Jenkins, Stewart To Run for District 19 Delegate

Bethesda Magazine: Jenkins, Stewart To Run for District 19 Delegate

The field of candidates vying to become a delegate in District 19, with Ben Kramer leaving, is growing.

This month, Derwood attorney Vaughn Stewart filed with the state’s Board of Elections to run for delegate in the district, which includes portions of Silver Spring and Rockville.

On Monday, Marlin Jenkins, a Silver Spring labor attorney and major in the Maryland National Guard, announced he would run, too.

Six Democrats, including two incumbents and Stewart, have filed to run for three delegate seats in next year’s elections. No Republicans have filed.

Kramer is running for state Senate in the district after the incumbent senator, Roger Manno, announced he would pursue the District 6 congressional seat. Incumbent Dels. Bonnie Cullison and Marice Morales both are seeking seek re-election.

Stewart, 28, is an attorney at the Washington, D.C., law firm WilmerHale and represents refugees pro bono, according to his campaign website bio.

In a press release last week, he said he would work to improve the state’s health care system, lower prescription drug prices and ease traffic congestion in the area as a delegate.

“Quality health care, affordable prescription drugs, and paid sick leave should be rights of every single Marylander,” Stewart said in a statement.

This year, he was diagnosed as having non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but it is in remission, his campaign website says. He has previously said his two battles with cancer in the last 10 years have given him insight into health care policy and the need to improve options for patients.

Stewart worked as a policy director for Rep. Jamie Raskin’s congressional campaign and served on the boards of the Action Committee for Transit and the Montgomery County Renters Alliance.

His campaign bio says he served on a Domestic Policy Council under the Obama administration.

He grew up in Anniston, Alabama, where his father served as both a judge and a mayor, according to his website. Stewart received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and law degree from New York University.

He is the treasurer of the District 19 Democratic Club.

In a phone interview Monday, Jenkins, 35, likened his personal story to that of Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. He said he grew up poor in Vidalia, Louisiana, a town of about 3,000 people. His high school graduating class had 70 students. He attended Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge while serving in the Louisiana National Guard.

As a soldier, he was deployed to help Hurricane Katrina victims and on humanitarian missions building infrastructure in Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. He said he earned a Bronze Star Medal in Iraq.

After returning from Iraq, he graduated from law school at North Carolina Central University in 2012. He moved to Silver Spring to work at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda and landed his current job as a labor attorney for the American Federation of Government Employees.

During the 2017 General Assembly session, he volunteered in Manno’s office, assisting with labor and veteran-related legislation.

Jenkins said he has attended cookouts at Leggett’s home, but the county executive has not encouraged him to run or endorsed him. Leggett and Jenkins grew up in towns about 30 minutes apart in Louisiana—during different time periods, as Leggett is 73—and attended the same undergraduate university, Jenkins noted. Leggett also served in the military, as an Army captain during the Vietnam War.

Jenkins said he is running to provide other people with opportunities he received. He noted that as a Louisiana National Guard member, he received free college tuition—a policy he’d like to bring to Maryland, which offers a waiver up to 50 percent for college students serving in the National Guard. He said he was enrolled in Head Start as a child, which prepared him for school and helped his mother raise three boys on her own.

“I think my starting point from one of the poorest areas in the country to using the opportunities provided to me are a demonstration of what the American story is,” Jenkins said. “My story is what happens when opportunities are provided to people.”

Jenkins is a member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.

Other Democrats who have filed to run in the district include software developer Brian Crider, of Rockville; former health care operations manager Jade Wiles Jr., of Silver Spring; and education policy consultant Justin Dayhoff, of Derwood.



On June 22, 2015, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that he had been diagnosed with late stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hogan spent the next several months fighting the rare and aggressive cancer – gaining countless friends and well-wishers along the way.

Vaughn Stewart, a young attorney, was diagnosed with the same kind of cancer two years later. Now, after just being given a clean bill of health following four rounds of chemotherapy, he’s seeking a seat in the House of Delegates from Montgomery County’s District 19.

Stewart, a 28-year-old Democrat, is running in a largely Democratic area that takes in portions of Silver Spring and Rockville, including Leisure World. He may look like a shoo-in from the outside but with so many other Democrats running he will, after fighting cancer, face another battle — differentiating himself from the pack. His story may help him do just that.

“I actually got cancer for the first time when I was 18 years old,” Stewart said. “At that time I thought, we’re really not guaranteed tomorrow, I should really try to do the best I can to make a difference.”


An Alabama native who currently works for the Washington, D.C., law firm WilmerHale, Stewart attended the University of Pennsylvania for his undergraduate degree, and while there he taught debating skills to underprivileged kids. He then went to New York University Law School. At WilmerHale, he focuses on government litigation and investigations, but also does pro bono work assisting refugees.

Several months ago, Stewart was diagnosed with cancer again. With a similar mindset, he began thinking about what he was going to do this time around to make a difference.

During his chemotherapy treatments, he studied health care policy.

“I remember receiving the chemo cocktail in my right arm while holding my iPhone in my left hand and reading about the congressional Republicans trying to gut care for those of us with pre-existing conditions,” he said.

Stewart is not only critical of congressional Republicans and their health care agenda but Hogan as well.

“As you might imagine, my experience has not ingratiated me to the governor’s position on sick leave or congressional Republicans’ eagerness to slash protections for those of us with preexisting conditions,” he said.

Stewart, who served as policy director to Rep. Jamie Raskin’s (D-Md.) congressional campaign, is advancing proposals to regulate generic prescription drug manufacturers like public utilities and to create Maryland’s own universal health care system.

As Hogan was after his treatment, Stewart is currently bald. On his campaign announcement video, he jokes that his baldness “is not a fashion statement.”

Hogan in an interview last week said he had not heard of Stewart, but wished him well.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to him as a fellow cancer survivor,” the governor said. “We’re all part of the same club.”

Hogan said even after going into remission it’s tough to be in the public eye right away.

“It takes a while to get your strength back and it’s really grueling,” he said.

(Hogan was not apprised of Stewart’s policy criticisms during the interview and did not have an opportunity to respond.)

Stewart credits his socioeconomic status for his successful fight against cancer.

“I live in Montgomery County, I live in one of the wealthiest counties in one of the wealthiest states in the wealthiest country of all time, and yet there are people who die from diseases like I had because they didn’t have health insurance,” he said.

Stewart is one of several candidates who have officially entered the race for three seats in the House of Delegates. With state Sen. Roger Manno (D) now running for Congress, Del. Ben Kramer (D) is looking to move up to the Senate. Del. Marice Morales (D) and Del. Bonnie Cullison (D) are running for re-election.

Also running for the House as Democrats are political novices Brian Crider, a software developer, and Jade Wiles, who is getting a doctorate in health administration.

Charlotte Crutchfield, chairwoman of the Montgomery County Merit Systems Protection Board, and Marlin Jenkins, an attorney with the American Federation of Government Employees, are also pondering the Democratic race.

Stewart acknowledges that his interest in running is not solely a result of his cancer battle.

“The truth is, since I was a kid I’ve always been interested in public service,” he said. “I think I’ve got a unique perspective on the precariousness of life and how close death is and I think most importantly the absurdity of our health care system.”

The Anniston Star: After battling cancer, Vaughn Stewart III turns his eye toward politics

The Anniston Star: After battling cancer, Vaughn Stewart III turns his eye toward politics

A few weeks ago, Vaughn Stewart III was in a hospital treatment room receiving a round of chemo and surfing the web with his iPhone to help pass the time. He read up on news reports about the health care bickering in Washington, D.C., and was especially concerned about the talk of pre-existing conditions and lifetime insurance caps.

At the time, the Anniston native and current Maryland resident was receiving treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, marking his second battle with the C-word.

His first came in 2007 shortly after graduating from The Donoho School. He was diagnosed with acinic cell carcinoma — cancer of the salivary gland. After surgery, he underwent a series of scans; when each one came back clean, he considered it to be “another bullet dodged.”

Vaughn went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania, double-majoring in political science and sociology, and then to New York University School of Law, where he was an editor of the NYU Law Review. During that time, he served as a White House intern. After graduating, he clerked for the Hon. John T. Nixon in Nashville, Tenn. (Nixon had started his career as Anniston’s city attorney, where he knew Vaughn’s grandfather.)

Today, Vaughn is a regulatory attorney at WilmerHale, a large corporate firm in Washington. It is where he met Alex, the woman who would later become his wife, when both were working as summer associates.

One of his favorite memories from that time was when the summer associates took a Segway tour of D.C. It was such a hot day that they each took turns driving over a water hose for some quick relief. Alex decided to impress the others with her ability to maneuver the Segway backwards, not realizing how slowly it traveled in reverse. Once she came off the hose, she was drenched! Vaughn took the opportunity to whisk her away, giving them time alone to talk and get to know each other.

Some 18 months and many conversations later, Vaughn took Alex to the Lincoln Memorial on the ruse that they were meeting friends. His real intent was a marriage proposal. He had hired a photographer to snap photos of the event, and when he and Alex reached the top of the monument steps, he dropped to one knee.

Before he could actually say the words, however, Alex noticed the photographer and, thinking he was a tourist, apologized for getting in his shot. By the time Vaughn was able to pop the question, a crowd of actual tourists had gathered and were also taking pictures, cheering loudly when Alex happily accepted.

The two were married last summer in a beautiful ceremony in Chevy Chase, Md., but before they could celebrate their first anniversary, Vaughn discovered a swollen lymph node on the side of his neck. The doctor confirmed his worst fears: It was cancer.

Fortunately, the illness was caught in Stage 1, which his doctor explained was not a death sentence, but more like a lousy summer. After four rounds of chemo, Vaughn is now in remission and getting his life back to normal.

While he appreciates the sentiment behind those who congratulate him for “beating cancer,” he feels his recovery is the result of other factors such as early diagnosis, connections to renowned facilities and excellent health insurance.

“I owe my life to my fortunate socio-economic circumstance,” he said. “I live in one of the wealthiest counties in one of the wealthiest states in the wealthiest country of all time, yet there are people who die because they can’t afford health insurance.”

Read More