Jul 17, 201311:11 AMMoCo Politics
District 16 Contests Heat Up On Multiple Fronts
Reggie Oldak, an attorney who lost a competitive bid for the House of Delegates in 2006, confirmed she is “considering” a run for the Bethesda-based District 16 seat being vacated next year by Sen. Brian Frosh as he seeks the nomination for attorney general.
To date, the only declared candidate for the Senate slot in next June’s Democratic primary is Delegate Susan Lee, who recently said she is “definitely” running if Frosh moves on. Oldak expects to make a decision by next winter on whether to run. “I don’t think there anyone else in the race representing women and families the way they should be represented in Annapolis,” declared Oldak, 62, director of government relations for the National Women’s Law Center in Washington.
Oldak’s comments came as activity intensified in the District 16 House of Delegates contests. Kevin Walling, a campaign strategist who now works for a Washington-based political communications firm, is announcing via email Wednesday that he is running. Walling joins attorney Marc Korman, who formally declared his candidacy last week after months of preparation.
Walling, 28, and Korman, 31, bring to four the number of announced candidates in the District 16 delegate race, where there are expected to be two vacancies. Besides the opening created by Lee’s bid for the Senate seat, Delegate Bill Frick is leaving to take on Frosh for the attorney general nomination.
Oldak, a onetime General Assembly aide who is also a former chief of staff to District 1 County Councilmember Roger Berliner, said “economic considerations” will help to determine whether she runs in 2014, since state legislators serve on a part-time basis.
Others may be interested in the Senate contest as well: Former County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg, who was out of town Tuesday, said in an email: “Right now, several candidate options are on the table. I will not be making any decision on a possible candidacy at this time.” Asked whether her options included the District 16 Senate seat, Trachtenberg said in a follow-up message: “Basically, nothing is off the table.” Defeated for re-election to the County Council in a 2010 at-large contest, she briefly mounted a 2012 bid for the seat now held by U.S. Rep. John Delaney.
In the District 16 delegate race, Walling’s background includes three years of overseeing fundraising and lobbying efforts for Equality Maryland, as that group pushed for same-sex marriage legislation. If elected, he would be District 16’s first openly gay legislator; there are now eight openly gay members of the General Assembly, including four from Montgomery County.
Walling, who previously lived for three years in Silver Spring, moved to Bethesda last winter – “before we knew there would be two open seats,” he chuckled. He does not expect his short residency to be an issue, citing his experience lobbying on issues in Annapolis.
“I’ve already had conversations with the speaker’s office about my campaign – I know a great many members of our Democratic Caucus,” Walling said, contending that, to an advance a progressive agenda, “there’s got to be a real ground game and ability to build a coalition around these progressive issues, and that’s what I’ve done.”
Walling said he has a goal of raising $200,000, vowing, “We’re going to outwork and outspend every other person in this race.” Korman’s campaign claims to be nearly 80 percent of the way to a goal of raising $100,000; Korman had nearly $34,000 in the bank at the beginning of 2013.
Korman, a member of the county Democratic Central Committee since 2007, launched his campaign last week with a list of nearly 100 endorsements from local supporters. He soon plans to unveil a honorary campaign committee whose members will include County Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Craig Rice along with District 14 Delegate Anne Kaiser, chair of the county’s House delegation in Annapolis.
Other declared candidates for the delegate slots include Hrant Jamgochian, 40, a health care policy advocate who made a competitive bid for a delegate seat in 2010, and Jordan Cooper, 28, a former General Assembly aide.
In addition to the declared delegate candidates, at least four others appear to be considering the race. The newest is Orlee Panitch, a Potomac-based physician who filed a committee with the state Board of Elections last month. She did not return a call seeking comment. But one hopeful who seemed poised to run – Wendy Cohen, a vice president of the Bethesda-based American Gastroenterological Association – has opted out of the campaign, citing family responsibilities due to her mother’s declining health.