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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Political Notes: The Biden rally and counter-programming, Moore's new fans, Raskin's ambition, and more – Josh Kurtz

Maryland Democrats are gearing up for their big rally Thursday evening with President Joe Biden at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.
Their opponents are gearing up as well.
The president is the headliner, but other scheduled speakers at what promises to be a lengthy rally include Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison; Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore and his running mate, former state Del. Aruna Miller; Del. Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City), the party’s nominee for state comptroller; U.S. Ben Cardin; U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer; U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin; and Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis.
But Republicans and conservatives also plan to have a presence, virtually and in person, for counter-programming.
Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick), the GOP nominee for governor, plans to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon outside the Montgomery County Circuit Court, just a few blocks from the rally site. Earlier in the afternoon, the Republican National Committee is hosting a press call with Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington), who is in a rematch with U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-Md.).
And the conservative group Help Save Maryland has put out an electronic flier inviting people to a counter-protest outside the high school, urging them to “Rally Against ‘Open Borders’ Joe Biden and His Sanctuary Cronies.”
Rockville should be a fun place Thursday afternoon and evening — but the traffic could be murder.
Wes’ week
Not surprisingly, the Moore campaign has kept the pedal to the metal on the fundraising front this week. We know of at least two major fundraisers that he held this week in Maryland.
On Tuesday evening, the Moore campaign had an event at the Woodmore Country Club near Mitchellville with several local and regional business leaders. The list included Everett Browning, a government contractor; John Clyburn, a business consultant and brother of South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives; Gwen McCall, a business and leadership consultant; Emerick Peace, who runs a real estate firm; Terry Spiegner, who runs an IT company; and Freddie Winston, a construction company owner.
Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus in Annapolis — who supported Comptroller Peter Franchot, not Moore, in the Democratic gubernatorial primary — was also listed as a sponsor of the event.
On Thursday evening, Moore traveled to Annapolis for a fundraiser at the Red Red Wine Bar sponsored by uber-lobbyist Gerard Evans and his multiple clients.
Other individuals and organizations that endorsed Moore’s Democratic primary foes are quickly falling in line. This week, the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club, which had endorsed former U.S. Education Secretary John King in the Democratic primary, announced its support for Moore.
“Wes Moore and Aruna Miller are a dynamic duo with diverse experience and lots of enthusiasm for bringing people together to solve problems. It doesn’t get bigger than an existential climate crisis and threats on democracy from extremists,” said Rosa Hance, chair of the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter. “We are excited to endorse Wes Moore and work with him and Aruna to meet the challenges head-on.”
On Friday, four locals of the Service Employees International Union, which had backed former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez for governor, will endorse Moore in Baltimore. The unions represent health care, education workers, janitors, security guards and workers at BWI Marshall Airport.
Raskin eyes top committee slot
Tuesday’s New York primary results were barely 12 hours and already ambitious House Democrats were jockeying to become the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform following the primary defeat of veteran Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who has held the committee gavel since the death of the late Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings (D).
One of those jockeying: Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin (D).
Raskin, according to Punchbowl News, Politico and other Capitol Hill-focused publications, is one of four Democrats eyeing the vacancy. But he has less seniority — in Congress and on the committee — than two of the other aspirants, Rep. Steven Lynch (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia). Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) is also seen as a possibility, but according to Politico, he is urging Raskin’s selection.
Raskin told Politico that he is “actively exploring it and will have something to say this week.”
The oversight panel is the venue for great political battles and when it’s run by the party opposite the White House it is often the center for partisan-tinged investigations. Even though the political environment has changed some over the past few months, the Republicans are still favored to seize control of the House in January, meaning Raskin and his colleagues are likely competing to become ranking member of the committee rather than committee chair.
Depending on how the congressional game of musical chairs turns out following the election, Raskin could also be in line to be the top Democrat on the House Committee on Administration.
Event-hopping in Howard Co. 
Two Republicans running in the 9th legislative district, which Democrats have targeted for takeover, are holding back-to-back fundraisers on Sunday evening.
First, Del. Reid Novotny (R-Howard), who is hoping to oust Sen. Katie Fry Hester (D) in November, has an event scheduled at Circle D Farm in Woodbine, from 4-6 p.m. Then, from 6-8 p.m., Del. Trent Kittleman (R-Howard), who is seeking a third term representing the subdistrict District 9A, at a farm in West Friendship, a seven-mile drive away.
Kittleman and the other Republican in the two-seat district, Jianning Jenny Zeng, are running against Democrats Chao Wu and Natalie Ziegler. During the latest round of redistricting, Democrats made the district more favorable to their candidates by substituting a portion of Carroll County for a portion of Montgomery County.
Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.
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