Showing posts with label Election 2018. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Election 2018. Show all posts

Monday, November 5, 2018

Riemer charged taxpayers for private meetings with donors, violated ex parte communications rules

Developers had projects
before Council in Westbard,
Bethesda Downtown 
sector plans

Exclusive investigative report

Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer has met privately with developers who donated to his Council campaigns, and charged taxpayers for his travel costs to those private meetings, according to Montgomery County Council reimbursement records. Riemer also did not disclose these private, ex parte communications at the next Council meeting, as he is required to do. Like all Council members, Riemer sits as a land-use commissioner when the Council votes on land-use and zoning issues as the "District Council."
Riemer meets Westbard developer privately
at La Madeleine, who then donates money
to Riemer's campaign, and Riemer then
charges taxpayers for his gas money to and from
the meeting, Council records show
Riemer met with Evan Goldman of EYA privately at La Madeleine restaurant in downtown Bethesda on October 21, 2016. On January 8, 2018, Goldman made a $150 contribution to Riemer's Council campaign. Riemer was an outspoken supporter of EYA's Westbard project, and of the Westbard sector plan that was overwhelmingly opposed by residents, which financially benefited EYA and partner Regency Centers.

Riemer met with Larry Walker of The Walker Group privately at Clyde's Tower Oaks restaurant on October 31, 2016. Walker has contributed $2400 to Riemer's campaigns, including $100 in May 2017.
Riemer demands reimbursement from
taxpayers for his private meeting with
downtown Bethesda developer who had
given him almost $1000
Riemer met with Charles Nulsen of Washington Property Company privately at WPC's headquarters in Bethesda on March 8, 2017. Nulsen has donated at least $970.70 to Riemer's campaigns.

Riemer requested reimbursement from taxpayers for all three private meetings with his donors, according to Council records.

It's no secret Hans Riemer is cozy with developers, as his voting record and campaign finance reports clearly show. But even an ethically-corrupt politician like Riemer cannot be allowed to charge taxpayers for private meetings with his campaign donors, nor to violate ex parte communications rules. Private meetings with donors can only be paid for with political campaign funds, not taxpayer funds.

Local media, including The Washington Post, have refused to report on this late-breaking scandal I uncovered. In fact, the Post's Montgomery County political reporter Jennifer Barrios hasn't written a single sentence about the County Council At-Large general election race. Intriguingly, while the Post has declined to investigate any of the scandals I've forwarded to Barrios and reporter Robert McCartney throughout the election, it dispatched a reporter at the 11th hour to write a hit piece on a Republican in Anne Arundel County regarding a...developer scandal (which is a nothingburger compared to the scandals of Riemer, others on the Council, and the Planning Board).

The question is, why does the Post not want you to know about the questionable activities of Hans Riemer and other Montgomery County officials? This is a question that must be answered, regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's election. Secondly, the State Board of Elections and Montgomery County Office of the Inspector General should investigate Riemer's activities, which appear to be violations of both ethics rules and campaign finance laws.

Third, it's time for voters to oust Riemer on Tuesday, and his cartel-funded running mates Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass and Will Jawando, who each have received thousands of dollars from developers.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Riemer makes taxpayers pay for his GoDaddy website

Exclusive Investigative Report

Just days before the 2018 Montgomery County elections, County Council President Hans Riemer has been caught charging taxpayers for a political website promoting him hosted by GoDaddy. County Council reimbursement records show that Riemer sought, and received, reimbursement from County taxpayers for the GoDaddy website's monthly and annual fees.
Council staff signature on statement approving
Riemer's GoDaddy website fees being
picked up by taxpayers
The website is clearly a campaign vehicle, touting Riemer's results-free "work" on the Council, and imagined accomplishments. It improperly displays a Montgomery County Government seal at the top of the page, despite not being hosted by Riemer already has an official Councilmember page on the Council's website, as do all other members of the Council.
Riemer's invoice from GoDaddy
But Riemer's page features a "Blog" link that sends users to the outside website - and the County website loads a disclaimer declaring the user is now leaving the official government site in the process. Other councilmembers' pages have "News" that is printed right on the site, and an option for an email newsletter, but not an independent campaign-style PR page like
Second GoDaddy invoice
Riemer's expense reports show him requesting, and receiving, taxpayer-funded compensation for the full costs of this rogue campaign website - hosting, and domain charges for both .com and .org versions. The total appears to cost taxpayers about $255 a year for a personal, political Go Daddy website promoting the candidate Hans Riemer.
Riemer email requesting taxpayer
reimbursement for his
political GoDaddy website
Hans Riemer is free to publish as many websites promoting himself as he wishes, but he's not free to make County taxpayers pay for them. This is an ethics and campaign finance violation. I'm not surprised Riemer would be this audacious, considering he has served two full terms without any media scrutiny.
Riemer email seeking reimbursement from
taxpayers for a second GoDaddy invoice
for his website
So far, the media has looked the other way as Riemer accepted massive amounts of out-of-state money from Wall Street crooks and their K Street lobbyists, took checks from Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and MItch Rales' Danaher Corporation - two pioneers in outsourcing - while claiming to be a "progressive," boasted repeatedly at candidate forums in 2010/2014/2018 about being responsible for Barack Obama's 2008 youth vote victory when he was out of the Youth Vote Director position long before Obama had even clinched the Democratic nomination, voted to create a $360 million federal tax shelter for a campaign donor in exchange for $4000 in campaign contributions, and failed to disclose illegal activity he was apparently aware of in the County liquor department until after he was safely reelected in 2014.

It's past time the media scrutinize an elected official making $137,000 a year who is refusing to even debate his opponents, and is attempting to steal another victory, with no investigation of his questionable actions. And it's past time County voters replace ethically-challenged Riemer with a candidate who can end corruption and restore confidence in our County government: Robert Dyer.
Second reimbursement of taxpayer
funds to Riemer for his GoDaddy website

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hoeber questions Trone spending in congressional race

Republican Amie Hoeber is questioning the spending of her Democratic opponent, David Trone, in the 6th Congressional District race. Hoeber accuses Trone of trying to buy the U.S. Congressional seat, with his expenditures believed to be nearing sixteen million dollars.

Hoeber also noted that Trone has donated $2500 to the GOP candidate for governor in Pennsylvania.  "He has stated this election will be 'Decided by Western Pennsylvania,'" Hoeber said Tuesday, "but I still think it will be decided by Western Maryland."

Trone has recently returned to the campaign trail and the airwaves following successful treatment for cancer.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

New poll shows Wolf only 6 points behind Frosh in Maryland Attorney General race

A new Gonzales poll out yesterday showed Republican Craig Wolf surging in the Maryland Attorney General race, only 6 percentage points behind incumbent Democrat Brian Frosh. The narrowing gap brought new attention to the race Wednesday, with Wolf using the poll in a new fundraising pitch.

Frosh was in position to win handily just a few weeks ago, although Larry Hogan has proven it is still possible for a Republican to win statewide in Democratic-controlled Maryland. Some attributed Frosh's 23-point collapse to the public perception that he has been entirely focused on Donald Trump and Washington since 2017, instead of Maryland issues. At the same time, Frosh's Trump obsession was thought to be a winning move with Democratic voters statewide.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Riemer a no-show at Council debate

Coward of the County

Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer continued a historic streak of not showing up for major candidate forums yesterday, when he blew off a morning debate sponsored by the Clarksburg Chamber of Commerce. A packed house of business owners turned out to hear from the candidates for Montgomery County Council At-Large. But Riemer was a no-show, leaving myself, Gabe Albornoz (D), Evan Glass (D) and Shelly Skolnick (R) to have a substantive discussion of the issues our business community faces in our moribund economy.

Riemer has not attended a general election debate since I destroyed him in a forum televised live by Montgomery Community Television/MyMCMedia in 2014. He did not show up to the next and final debate that year, which was hosted by the Greater Olney Civic Association. Riemer's action was a historic first in Montgomery County politics - the first time a sitting councilmember had skipped a formal general election debate hosted by a prominent community group. After Wednesday in Clarksburg, his record streak is now up to two.

No Council sessions were scheduled yesterday; in fact, the Council's lazy, endless summer doesn't end until next Tuesday, September 11. But you can understand why Riemer would be hiding. He has failed to deliver any of the priorities the residents and businesses in Clarksburg have sought. And Riemer vehemently opposes their top two priorities - building the M-83 Highway, and widening I-270.

Hans Riemer's failure to show up was an insult to the taxpayers who pay his $137,000 salary, and to the democratic process. Once again, Hans has demonstrated he doesn't care about his upcounty constituents.

But again, it's understandable Hans would be hiding - he has a lot to hide, with so many controversial questions about him still unanswered, and to be investigated by the press:

- Why does so much of his campaign cash come from outside the County, and largely from Wall Street crooks who caused the Great Recession, and their K Street lobbyists?

- Why has he accepted campaign checks from Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and Mitch Rales' Danaher Corporation, two pioneers in outsourcing American jobs overseas, while claiming to be a "progressive Democrat?"

- Why did he fail to disclose illegal activity in the County Department of Liquor Control he was aware of in October 2014 until after Election Day, when he was safely reelected, a violation of his oath of office?

- Why did he vote to create a $360,000,000 federal tax shelter for his sugar daddy Mitch Rales, after receiving at least $4000 in campaign contributions from Rales?

- Why has he repeatedly touted his role as "Obama's Youth Vote Director" in Barack Obama's 2008 victory, when a source from the Obama campaign has said Riemer was actually out of that position in the spring of 2008 - long before Mr. Obama had even clinched the nomination, much less his general election victory?

It's astonishing that Hans Riemer was able to win election, and serve two full terms, without any scrutiny by local media on these and other controversies. With at least two debates remaining, it's time for Hans Riemer to man-up and face the music on his scandals and utter failure in office. For now, he's earned his title as the "Coward of the County."

Friday, August 24, 2018

Frosh loses police endorsement to Republican Wolf in AG race

Republican attorney general
candidate Craig Wolf
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has lost the endorsement of the Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police he had in 2014. Maryland's police instead chose to endorse Republican Craig Wolf of Howard County in the attorney general race, Wolf announced Thursday.
MD Attorney General Brian Frosh (D)
Craig has been a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, and Assistant State's Attorney in Allegheny County. He has also been President & CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America for more than a decade. Craig enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 40 after the 9/11 attacks, and counts the Meritorious Service Medal and Bronze Star Medal among his commendations, after serving in Operation Enduring Freedom.

It's unusual for a sitting Attorney General to lose the support of law enforcement officials. Wolf suggests the reason may be that Frosh is "more focused on partisan politics in Washington than he is on the public safety issues in our state." Frosh has attempted to take a leading role in the "resistance" to President Trump since 2016, joining or filing multiple legal actions against Trump and his administration.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Robin Ficker releases first ad in County Executive campaign

Attorney Robin Ficker has released his first campaign ad in the Montgomery County Executive race, entitled, "This is Our Election." A former state delegate, the Republican has the best chance to win of any GOP candidate for executive in decades. Ficker is the only executive candidate who did not vote for the highly-unpopular Westbard sector plan.

Ficker touts his role in getting term limits on the ballot, which MoCo voters - including a majority of Democrats - overwhelmingly approved in 2016. He also reminds voters that his property tax cap ballot victory years ago was defied by the Council in 2016, when they used the unanimous-vote loophole in the law to pass a record property tax increase that made property taxes a second mortgage for many County residents.

Mostly, Ficker presents himself as a reasonable advocate for good government, tax relief and change, in the mold of the very-successful Gov. Larry Hogan. He also zeroes in on another very weak spot in his opponents' long records - failure to fix I-270, which he correctly notes would help spur economic development in the currently moribund Montgomery County.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Moribund MoCo economy continues to tank in 2018

New regional statistics indicate Montgomery County's moribund economy is continuing its steep decline, even as boom times continue across the river in Northern Virginia. The Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University noted in its June summary of area economic indicators that in 2018, the suburban Maryland jurisdictions of the D.C. area have only accounted for 5% of regional job growth. In contrast, Northern Virginia has accounted for a whopping 78% of job growth in our region so far this year, a devastating comparison.

Virginia currently enjoys a 3.2% unemployment rate, compared to 4.3% in Maryland. According to Aaron Gregg of the Washington Post, job growth in suburban Maryland counties has "softened" further. He quotes Fuller as noting Montgomery County doesn't have the private sector federal contractors that could benefit from the Trump administration's massive boost in defense spending.
Only one candidate can get Montgomery County's
moribund economy moving again.
Andy Bauer, a regional economist with the Richmond Federal Reserve, reports to the Post that "we're not seeing much job growth at all" in the suburban Maryland counties. "Northern Virginia just hasn't seen the weakness we've seen on the Maryland side."

Montgomery County has notoriously failed to attract defense and aerospace contractors - and any major corporate headquarters at all - over the last two decades. And the County Council has made aggressive moves in recent years to urge existing aerospace firm Lockheed Martin to leave the County, moves that even earned them a rebuke from their Democratic peers at the state level. "We don't need the Lockheed headquarters," Councilmember Nancy Floreen infamously told residents at the Aspen Hill Library in 2010. The Council removed a second Potomac River crossing to the Dulles area - an essential piece of infrastructure to compete with Northern Virginia for government contractors and international business firms - from the County's master plan. And it failed to win the Northrop headquarters, which ended up in - where else? - Northern Virginia.

In the Fuller Institute's June report, the authors wistfully recall the greater regional balance of decades past, when Montgomery County used to be a major player in the region, and Northern Virginia usually only accounted for 50% of regional job growth - not today's whopping 80%. To underline the stakes in the regional competition for the supposed 50,000 jobs of Amazon's HQ2, that job number is only 1500 less than the number of jobs created in the whole region between June 2017 and June 2018.
Montgomery County Council lead economic
advisor Vladimir Lenin
Unmentioned in either report are the County Council's record 2016 property tax and recordation tax hikes, 2010 energy tax hike, $15 minimum wage, and a barrage of other anti-business taxes, fees, restrictions and regulations passed since 2010 alone. While Virginia builds mile after mile of Express Lanes and steals our jobs, our Council is fighting Gov. Larry Hogan's Express Lanes plan for I-270 and the Beltway at every turn. The Council's economic development trips abroad have been only to Communist and socialist nations including China, Cuba, and El Salvador under the rule of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who was a commander in the Communist FMLN during the country's civil war. The County even boasted that it had brought in Communist Chinese officials as advisors on the Council's $10 billion Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle.

With fellow travelers like these, is it any wonder Montgomery County's economy is circling the drain?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Montgomery County election results capped by County Executive cliffhanger

A majority of Democratic primary voters sent a clear message in Tuesday's election - big money can now mean big wins at the polls in Montgomery County. Josh Rales may want to think about trying again after massive war chests, public and private, brought candidates to victory. Self-funding businessman David Blair rode millions of dollars, and a double-barrel endorsement from the Washington Post, to a neck-and-neck finish with County Councilman Marc Elrich. The race was too close to call when Board of Elections officials paused counting at 12:45 AM this morning, and might not be decided until the counting of provisional ballots is completed - which could take until next week.

Other flush-with-cash Democratic candidates who won included David Trone in the 6th Congressional District, Andrew Friedson (County Council - District 1), and Hans Riemer, Will Jawando, Evan Glass and Gabe Albornoz (County Council - At-Large).

As most winners celebrated at local bars with supporters, Blair threw a spectacle of an election night party that looked more Mar-a-Lago than Montgomery. But his remarks were far more humble than Trumpian, as he marveled at a close finish few insiders expected, and expressed pride in conducting a positive campaign when others went negative. Yet, Elrich is temporarily ahead by almost 500 votes, and bested Blair in early voting, which has already been counted.

Former Rockville mayor and County Planning Department Deputy Director Rose Krasnow made a respectable showing, as did District 1 Councilmember Roger Berliner, but both had barely half the votes that Blair and Elrich each accrued. Both were clearly done in by their strong association with development decisions that enraged multiple communities, from Westbard to Damascus. Ultimately, both found that assuming those communities' votes weren't enough to sink their future campaigns to be a fatal miscalculation. And Blair effectively blocked their developer lane to victory.

Other winners in contested primaries last night included Craig Rice (D) and Ed Amatetti (R) [Council District 2], Sid Katz (Council District 3) who faced a strong challenge from Ben Shnider, Nancy Navarro (Council District 4) and Tom Hucker (Council District 5). Katz survived because he is well-liked, stepped in authoritatively in the MCPS school bus depot debacle, and has one of the sharpest political minds and memories. After I met Katz at an event in Gaithersburg years ago, for only a few seconds, he greeted me by name from then on.
A majority of Democratic voters ignored the
advice of the "Vote for More Women" sign at
top left in yesterday's election
Big losers last night included Councilmember George Leventhal, who didn't even reach the middle tier of finishers, despite two decades in office and plenty of cash on hand. And 2018 is most definitely not the Year of the Woman in Montgomery County, as Democrats went big for male candidates, potentially leaving Councilmember Nancy Navarro as the only woman on the Council. Ana Sol Gutierrez made a surprisingly competitive second-place finish in Council District 1, in a race where Reggie Oldak and Meredith Wellington were also thought to have a chance. Upcounty voters had to be disappointed to see Germantown's Marilyn Balcombe in fifth place for the four at-large seats. Balcombe had the Washington Post endorsement, but didn't enjoy the same magical boost it gave others.

The Post played such a large and heavy-handed role in the Democratic primary, that some progressives began referring to it as the Amazon Post, a nickname more often used by Republicans like Trump. One entertaining conspiracy theory making the rounds on social media was that Jeff Bezos was seeking to install Blair, who would be a pushover for Amazon in return.

Republican Robin Ficker will take on the winner of the Blair-Elrich matchup in November. He would have a better path to victory against Elrich, if the "business community" (a.k.a. developers) were to "get dangerous," as Bob Ehrlich put it, and get behind Ficker. Ficker is also fond of noting that Elrich voted to pass the highly-controversial Westbard sector plan, which was overwhelmingly opposed by residents, a decision that left even some of Elrich's strongest supporters scratching their heads.
More than Elrich, Riemer will face the full wrath of neighborhoods that were bulldozed over the last four years by the County Council and Planning Board. Democratic voters, who made up a majority of term-limits votes and of the opposition to multiple sector plans like Westbard, will have an easy choice to switch their fourth Council At-Large vote from developer-backed Riemer to yours truly, Robert Dyer. Progressive voters will be aghast to learn that Riemer has accepted money from Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and Danaher's Mitch Rales, two pioneers in outsourcing American jobs to China.

Riemer also opposes the recommendations of County Executive Ike Leggett's Tenant Work Group, tanked the "nighttime economy" with his Nighttime Economy Task Force debacle, caused County residents who had signed up for County government mailing lists' personal information to be posted online through a loophole in his vaunted "Open Data" law, essentially banned airbnb as an easy source of income for residents (effective July 1), and singlehandedly destroyed the food truck business in Montgomery County. Then there was Beerghazi, the scandal in which Riemer withheld information about illegal activity in the Department of Liquor Control until after he was safely reelected in 2014. And that's just the beginning.

And my years-long message about the County's moribund economy and poor business climate is the same message that has Blair neck-and-neck with Montgomery County's most popular Democrat. It's going to be a fun four-and-a-half months, folks.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Daily Kos exposes MoCo "covert Republican/developer Council slate" in Democratic primary

A cabal of developers and Republicans is spending big to determine the winners of the Democratic primary election in Montgomery County on June 26, according to an investigation published by the Daily Kos. "There is a covert Republican/developer slate for Council," author Eric Hensal writes. He identifies the covert GOP/developer slate as Democrats Gabe Albornoz, Marilyn Balcombe, Evan Glass, Hans Riemer (in the At-Large race), Andrew Friedson (District 1), and Sidney Katz (District 3).

Hensal says these are the "candidates Republican/Developer donors in Montgomery County want elected in its Democratic primary." He also cites David Blair as the covert group's Democratic choice for County Executive, and says campaign donations show developers abandoning Blair's rival Roger Berliner for Blair and Rose Krasnow.

Hensal notes the covert financing effort is a change from 2002's overt developer effort that successfully elected the laughably-named "End Gridlock" slate to the Council. The "End Gridlock" slate infamously went on to double and triple the amount of traffic gridlock, by allowing unlimited development without providing the highway capacity needed to support it.

To reach his conclusions, Hensal examined patterns of donations, and connections among donors contributing to the same candidates. He determined that many of the donors who are supporting the covert slate are also donors to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Hensal also concluded that simply using public financing did not eliminate developer influence on candidates doing so - they still receive donations from developers, and can leverage those developer donations for more public money.

In identifying the covert slate of candidates, Hensal concludes that, "The most generous view is that these candidates are simply a consensus of the Republican/Developer community. However, an ongoing coordinated effort to elect them is very possible."

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Rose Krasnow campaign headquarters open on Rockville Pike

Former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow, who is running for Montgomery County Executive, has a campaign headquarters in the soon-to-be-demolished shopping center at the corner of Rockville Pike and Halpine Road. It's a ramshackle affair compared to millionaire rival David Blair's gleaming HQ with professional signage down the Pike - if you're not looking closely, you wouldn't even know it was there.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Meet MoCo Council candidates Thursday, May 3 at Randolph Hills forum at 8 PM

The Randolph Hills Civic Association is sponsoring a Montgomery County Council and District 18 General Assembly candidate forum tomorrow night, Thursday, May 3, 2018, from 8:00-9:30 PM at the Veirs Mill Recreation Center, located at 4425 Garrett Park Road in Silver Spring.

Candidates will introduce themselves for 2 minutes each, and then attendees can speak one-on-one to candidates who will be spread around the room.

Among those participating is Montgomery County Council At-Large candidate Robert Dyer.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

MoCo Council At-Large candidate forum tonight in Aspen Hill

A candidate forum for the Montgomery County Council At-Large race will be held tonight, April 26, 2018, at 7:30 PM at the Aspen Hill Library, located at 4407 Aspen Hill Road. The forum is sponsored by the Aspen Hill Civic Association, Friends of the Aspen Hill Library, the Aspen Hill Library Advisory Committee, and the Strathmore-Bel Pre Civic Association.

Among the candidates participating will be Robert Dyer. The event is FREE and open to the public.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Chelsea Manning to take on Ben Cardin in Maryland U.S. Senate Democratic primary

North Bethesda resident
would be first
transgender member of

What should have been a sleepy stagger over the finish line for Senator Ben Cardin (D - Maryland) has turned into a battle royale with national implications overnight. The Maryland Democratic political machine and Republicans alike melted down upon hearing Red Maryland report that Chelsea Manning has entered the race. Manning, a North Bethesda resident, is best known for her role in providing damaging information about U.S. actions and operations during the Iraq War to Wikileaks in 2010. She was serving as an Army intelligence analyst deployed to Iraq at the time.
Incumbent U.S. Senator
Ben Cardin (D-Maryland)
Cardin has essentially ignored Manning's announcement so far. He will have plenty of money, and remains very popular among Democrats, despite having no notable legislative achievements. Manning is making a clear appeal to progressives, in a state where the Democratic party's progressive wing is growing restless with the throwback leadership of their establishment. At the same time, many in both parties consider her a traitor whose actions disqualify her from office.

Manning can capitalize on national attention and money. The victory of Danica Roem in Virginia last November showed just how much national money was out there for a minor state legislative race. Manning would be the first transgender U.S. Senator, if elected. That's a strong selling point, when 2018 is expected to be another Year of the Woman in politics.

A campaign video and fundraising page have been posted by Manning's campaign in the last 24 hours.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

MoCo exec candidate David Blair sets up campaign headquarters

David Blair, a Democratic candidate for Montgomery County Executive, has established a campaign headquarters in the ground floor of The Sterling, at 11700 Old Georgetown Road near the White Flint Metro station and across from Pike & Rose. With the primary election just over six months away, there was some activity inside the office even on New Year's Eve this past weekend.

The office has a high-visibility location along the heavily-traveled Rockville Pike corridor, where commuters stuck in traffic will have ample time to notice the Blair headquarters. Blair entered the race in November.

Founder and former CEO of Catalyst Health Solutions, and a lifelong resident of Montgomery County, Blair brings considerable personal wealth to the table. He is a minority partner in Monumental Sports and Entertainment, and along with his wife, recently opened Badlands Playspace in Rockville. Blair will be a strong contender for support within the business community. He has identified education, economic development and transportation as his key issues.

Blair was a co-founder of Empower Montgomery, a tax-exempt non-profit organization that advocates for open primaries that allow independents to vote for state and local office nominating contests, easing voter restrictions, expanding early and absentee voting, and engaging communities with low rates of voter participation. He has stepped aside from that role to run, leaving co-founders Charles Nulsen III, the president of Washington Property Company, and Chris Bruch, president and COO of The Donohoe Companies, to lead the organization, which has announced plans to be active in this year's County elections.

The Democratic executive race, into which yet more candidates may enter, is still developing. There are several lanes to victory. Blair and Bill Frick will compete in the "outsider" lane, despite Frick's longstanding time in the House of Delegates; Frick can honestly claim to have had no role in the disastrous County Council term that will end this November. Both are arguing for a more business-friendly atmosphere, in a county currently notorious nationwide as hostile to business.

Roger Berliner, Rose Krasnow and George Leventhal are jousting for support from the currently-ruling Montgomery County political cartel, a slim faction of the local Democratic party fueled by developer donations. All three played a major role in disastrous sector plans such as Westbard, which directly led to voters decisively approving term limits in November 2016.

Marc Elrich, despite a perplexing "Yes" vote on the Westbard plan, enters the race as the most popular Democrat in Montgomery County, as confirmed by his vote total in 2014. He brings strong support from labor, true progressives, civic associations and residents concerned about the impact of urbanization on existing neighborhoods, roads and schools. Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney predicted this past weekend that Elrich will be the winner in June and November.

The Democratic winner - as it stands for the moment - will take on Republican Robin Ficker, who has vocally opposed the tax hikes and development decisions that so angered residents into their term limit vote in 2016.