Conduit Street Podcast: On the Road with MACo, “Staggering” Price of Pre-K, & Primary Election Roundup

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss MACo’s odyssey across Maryland, update the “too close to call” county primary races, and explore the potential implications of the Kirwan Commission’s staggering cost estimates for expanding high-quality, full-day pre-K in Maryland.

Listen here:

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Expanding Pre-K Comes with “Staggering” Price Tag

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Some County Primary Races Still Too Close to Call (Updated)

IRS to 501(c)s: Keep Your Irrelevant Donor Data

The IRS has announced that it is no longer requiring 501(c) organizations, other than 501(c)(3) charitable non-profits, to report lists of their donors. The new rule means that issue advocacy groups, labor unions, veterans groups, political organizations, and other 501(c) non-profits will no longer have to  proactively disclose their contributors to the IRS.

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The change does not affect 501(c)(3)s, as the IRS still needs the lists of donors entitled to claim charitable income tax deductions. Since the deduction is not available for contributions to political campaigns and other 501(c)s, however, the IRS does not need this information.

According to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin:

Americans shouldn’t be required to send the IRS information that it doesn’t need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area. It is important to emphasize that this change will in no way limit transparency.  The same information about tax-exempt organizations that was previously available to the public will continue to be available, while private taxpayer information will be better protected.  The IRS’s new policy for certain tax-exempt organizations will make our tax system simpler and less susceptible to abuse.

It might deserve noting that the requirement elimination has no bearing on any state or federal campaign finance disclosure requirements. That’s a completely different issue.

The IRS press release is available here. Formal guidance is here.

State Investigating Russian Oligarch’s Links to Election Software

At a news conference on Friday, Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Mike Miller, and House Speaker Michael Busch said the FBI informed them that without the state’s knowledge, a Russian Oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin bought the software vendor that maintains part of the state’s voter registration system. While there is no evidence that state elections were compromised, they’ve asked state Attorney General Brian Frosh to investigate the Maryland Board of Elections’ contract with ByteGrid LLC and that they’d seek federal assistance from the Department of Homeland Security to ensure there are no breaches during the general election in November.

According to NPR:

“We don’t have any idea whether they meddled in the elections at all,” Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch said during a Friday press conference. “We just know that there’s Russian investment into the vendor system that we use to operate our elections.”

Nikki Charlson, the deputy administrator for Maryland’s State Board of Elections, said in a statement that her office will work to confirm that no fraudulent actions have taken place.

Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, in a statement, echoed calls by Miller and Busch, both Democrats, for the state’s board of election to evaluate and address any vulnerabilities within its system.

“While the information relayed to us did not indicate that any wrongdoing or criminal acts have been discovered, we are fast approaching an election in November, and even the appearance of the potential for bad actors to have any influence on our election infrastructure could undermine public trust in the integrity of our election system,” Hogan said.

MACo is actively engaged with the State Board of Elections (SBE) and Local Boards of Elections (LBEs) to maintain the integrity of state and local election systems and data. Counties administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers every two years.

MACo’s Information Technology Affiliate, SBE, and LBEs have partnered with SBE identify steps that can be taken to enhance security for the upcoming general election. This collaborative effort will promote best practices and information sharing to protect the systems and data we use to conduct elections.

Read the full article for more information.

At MACo’s Summer Conference, attendees will see a demonstration of what can happen to a 9-1-1 Call Center during a cyber attack from the Maryland Air National Guard and Maryland Defense Force. Attendees will also hear from leading cybersecurity firms how counties can work with their employees to keep all data and critical infrastructure safe. The Center for Internet Security will share free tools available to county governments seeking to assess their cyber preparedness. An Israeli-based firm Radiflow will present cyber-security solutions for infrastructure including public water and wastewater systems, transportation and energy systems.

Speakers for the Summer Conference session include:

  • Ryan Spelman, MPA GSLC GCCC, Senior Director, Business Development, Center for Internet Security
  • Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Molina, Maryland Air National Guard and Lieutenant Colonel Charles Kendzierski, Maryland Defense Force
  • Ilan Barda, CEO, Radiflow

The Honorable Edward Reilly, Maryland State Senate will moderate this panel.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Brochin Requests Recount in Baltimore County Democratic Primary

Courtesy of the Maryland State Archives

State Senator Jim Brochin has formally requested a full manual recount in the Democratic primary for Baltimore County Executive — a race he lost by just nine votes to former Delegate Johnny Olszewski. The recount will be conducted by the Baltimore County Board of Elections with support from the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Maryland law does not require automatic recounts, but because Olszewski’s margin of victory is razor-thin — less than 0.1 percent, Senator Brochin is not required to foot the bill. Instead, the Baltimore County Board of Elections will be responsible for covering the costs.

According to Md. Election Law Code Ann. § 12-107(b)(2), a petitioner is responsible for the cost of a recount with the following exceptions:

(i) the outcome of the election is changed;

(ii) the petitioner has gained a number of votes, for the petitioner’s candidacy or for or against the question that is the subject of the petition, equal to 2% or more of the total votes cast for the office or on the question, in all precincts being recounted; or

(iii) 1. the margin of difference in the number of votes received by an apparent winner and the losing candidate with the highest number of votes for an office is 0.1% or less of the total votes cast for those candidates;

2. in the case of a question, the margin of difference between the number of votes cast for and the number cast against the question is 0.1% or less.

The recount is expected to begin on Thursday, July 12.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Some County Primary Races Still Too Close to Call (Updated)

Maryland’s gubernatorial primary election may have been last Tuesday, but some primary races are still too close to call. Election results won’t be certified until absentee and provisional ballots are tallied and all votes are certified, a process that could take several weeks. Here are some races we’re watching:

Montgomery County Executive, Democratic Primary

Councilmember Mark Elrich won the Democratic primary election by 79 votes.

Update: Montgomery County election officials declared Councilman Elrich the winner of the Democratic primary – by just 79 votes. Maryland law does not require automatic recounts, although it is expected that David Blair will request one. Because Elrich’s margin of victory more than .01 percent (by only four votes), Blair would have to pay for the recount.

Baltimore County Executive, Democratic Primary

Johnny Olszewski leads Senator Jim Brochin by 42 votes. Councilmember Vicki Almond is in third place, trailing by more than 1,000 votes.

Update: Baltimore County election officials declared former Delegate Johnny Olszewski the winner of the Democratic primary after a three-day recount of over 87,000 votes. Olszewski defeated Brochin by 17 votes and will face Republican candidate Al Redmer in the general election.

Howard County Council, District 1 Democratic Primary

Elizabeth Walsh leads incumbent Councilmember Jon Weinstein by just two votes.

Update: Elizabeth Walsh was declared the winner of the District 1 Democratic primary after a recount. Walsh defeated Weinstein by nine votes.

Queen Anne’s County Commissioner, At-Large Republican Primary

Incumbent Commissioner Jim Moran leads Helen Bennett by 44 votes.

Update: Queen Anne’s County election officials declared incumbent Commissioner At-Large Jim Moran the winner of the Republican primary. Moran defeated Helen Bennett by 52 votes.

Talbot County Council, Republican Primary

Incumbent Councilmember Laura Price leads Lisa Ghezzi by 23 votes.

Update: Incumber Councilmember Laura Price edged out Lisa Ghezzi by 36 votes to earn a spot on the ballot in November’s general election.

Conduit Street Podcast: Beating the Heat, Janus v. AFSCME, & Primary Races We’re Still Watching

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss how counties are helping their residents beat the heat, explore the potential impacts of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Janus v. ASFCME, and review some of the county primary races that remain too close to call.

Listen here:

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Some County Primary Races Still Too Close to Call

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Supreme Court Ruling May Affect Maryland Unions

Some County Primary Races Still Too Close to Call (Updated)

Maryland’s gubernatorial primary election may have been last Tuesday, but some primary races are still too close to call. Election results won’t be certified until absentee and provisional ballots are tallied and all votes are certified, a process that could take several weeks. Here are some races we’re watching:

Montgomery County Executive, Democratic Primary

Councilmember Mark Elrich leads David Blair by 149 votes.

Update: Montgomery County election officials declared Councilman Elrich the winner of the Democratic primary —  by just 80 votes. Maryland law does not require automatic recounts, but because Elrich’s margin of victory is razor-thin — less than 0.1 percent, David Blair may petition for a recount without having to foot the bill.

Baltimore County Executive, Democratic Primary

Johnny Olszewski leads Senator Jim Brochin by 42 votes. Councilmember Vicki Almond is in third place, trailing by more than 1,000 votes.

Update: Baltimore County election officials have declared former Delegate Johnny Olszewski the winner of the Democratic primary — by just nine votes. Maryland law does not require automatic recounts, but because Olszewski’s margin of victory is razor-thin — less than 0.1 percent — Senator Brochin may petition for a recount without having to foot the bill.

Howard County Council, District 1 Democratic Primary

Incumbent Councilmember John Weinstein leads Elizabeth Walsh by 37 votes.

Update: Elizabeth Walsh was declared the winner of the District 1 Democratic primary – by just two votes. Maryland law does not require automatic recounts, but because Walsh’s margin of victory is razor-thin — less than 0.1 percent — incumbent Councilmember Weinstein may petition for a recount without having to foot the bill.

Queen Anne’s County Commissioner, At-Large Republican Primary

Incumbent Commissioner Jim Moran leads Helen Bennett by 44 votes.

Update: Queen Anne’s County election officials declared incumbent Commissioner At-Large Jim Moran the winner of the Republican primary. Moran defeated Helen Bennett by 52 votes.

Talbot County Council, Republican Primary

Incumbent Councilmember Laura Price leads Lisa Ghezzi by 23 votes.

Update: Incumber Councilmember Laura Price edged out Lisa Ghezzi by 36 votes to earn a spot on the ballot in November’s general election.

Floreen May Make Independent Run for Montgomery County Executive

In the wake of a still too-close-to-call Democratic primary, term limited Council Member Nancy Floreen turned heads as she filed a declaration to run as an independent candidate for Montgomery County Executive.

The filing of an intention to run is a necessary step toward a formal bid as a party-unaffiliated candidate for the office. As part of her filing, Floreen indicated that she has not yet committed to a run, but submitted the filing by Monday’s deadline to leave that option open. Floreen was term-limited from running again as an at-large Council Member, and did not run in this year’s Democratic primary for any office.

From coverage on the “Bethesda Beat” political section of Bethesda Magazine:

Floreen, who lives in Garrett Park, said in a statement released Monday afternoon that she filed the paperwork because she faced a Monday deadline to do so, but she will wait until the Democratic primary results are certified to decide if she will run for county executive.

At-large council member Marc Elrich and businessman David Blair remain locked in a tight race for the Democratic nomination for county executive that hinges on an ongoing count of provisional and absentee ballots. After the most recent count concluded on Friday, Elrich leads Blair by 149 votes.

Election officials plan to count more than 5,000 provisional and absentee ballots on Thursday and Friday, which is expected to decide who won the Democratic primary.

The Washington Post also detailed the potentially uncertain footing of an independent run, while currently remaining registered as a Democrat:

In her letter to the Montgomery County Board of Elections, Floreen wrote that she plans to change her party affiliation to independent from Democrat on July 9, when voter registration reopens.

“At that point, my petition drive will commence,” she wrote.

She added that she believed there was an “issue raised about my eligibility” to run as an independent, but she argued that there was nothing requiring her to be an independent until she is nominated, which wouldn’t occur until next month.

Floreen’s filing on Monday complied with the deadline for doing so, but was in discord with state law’s restriction that voters may not alter party affiliation until 11 days following the primary election.

Conduit Street Podcast: Special Edition: 2018 Primary Election

On this special edition of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson breakdown state and local results from the 2018 primary election. Click here to read full coverage of the 2018 primary election from the Conduit Street blog.

Listen here:

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

Useful Links

Conduit Street Coverage: Elrich Edging Blair in Tight Montgomery Exec Race

Conduit Street Coverage: Baltimore County Exec Dem Race Ends With Olszewski Atop Narrow Three-Way “Finish”

Conduit Street Coverage: Redmer Wins Narrow Republican Primary in Baltimore County Exec Race

Conduit Street Coverage: Alsobrooks Earns Strong Victory in Prince George’s Exec Primary

Conduit Street Coverage: Prince George’s County Primary Round-Up

Conduit Street Coverage: Baltimore County Primary Round-up

Conduit Street Coverage: Grasso Ekes Out Senate Primary Win; Mixed Bag in AA House Races

Conduit Street Coverage: Middleton Upset in Senate Race, Among Numerous Annapolis Leaders Departing

Conduit Street Coverage: Valentine Edged Out in Allegany County Commissioner Race

Conduit Street Coverage: Watson Secures Democratic Nomination for Delegate, District 9B

Conduit Street Coverage: Jealous Wins Democratic Primary for Governor

Conduit Street Coverage: Terrasa Advances to District 13 House General Election

Conduit Street Coverage: Eastern Shore Primary Election Round-Up

Conduit Street Coverage: Cecil Primary Round-Up

Conduit Street Coverage: Harford Primary Round-Up

Eastern Shore Primary Election Round Up

Caroline County

In the Republican primary race for County Commissioner incumbents Larry C. Porter ( 25.6%,) and Wilbur Levengood Jr. (17.3%) will advance to the general election to face Nevin Crouse who was unopposed in the Democratic primary race. Incumbent Daniel Franklin (14.9%) is in a tight race for third against political newcomer Frank Bartz (15%). Franklin is down by only 6 votes while 67 Republican absentee ballots remain to be counted. In the State’s Attorneys race, current interim State’s Attorney Joe Riley (R) defeated Maureen D. Keogh (R). Riley is unopposed will be unopposed in the general election as there were no Democratic candidates for State’s Attorney.

Dorchester

In the race for county council, incumbents Don B. Satterfield (District 1) (R), William Nichols (District 2) (D), Ricky C. Travers, Sr. (District 3) (D), and challengers Lenny Pfeffer (District 4) (R) and Libby Handley Nagel (District 5) (R) will advance to the general election. Of the primary winners, only Satterfield faces a race in the general election against Jay Leonard Newcomb (D). The rest are unopposed. State’s Attorney William H. Jones (D) retains his seat having no opposition in the primary or for the general. Sheriff incumbent James W. Phillips, Jr. (D) will face Gregory S. Robbins, Sr. (R) in the general election. Both were unopposed in their respective primaries.

Kent

Republican incumbent William Short and candidates Bob Jacob and Tom Mason will advance to the general election for county commissioner where they will face Democratic incumbents William Pickrum and Ron Fithian as well as candidate Thomas F. Timberman. The Republican candidates won 23.2%, 22.9%, and 19.6% of the primary vote respectively, while the Democratic candidates secured 33.7%, 32%, and 34.2% votes respectively. In the State’s Attorney’s race Robert H. Strong (R), who was unopposed in the primary, will face Bryan DiGregory (D) in the general election. DiGregory won 53.6% of the Democratic primary against Andrew C. Meehan.

Somerset 

District 1 incumbent Craig N. Mathies (D) has retained his seat. Mathies was unopposed in the primary election and faces no opposition in the general election. In District 2 primary both the Republican candidate, incumbent Charles Fisher, and Democratic candidate, incumbent Rex Simpkins ran unopposed. They both advance and face off in the general election. District 3 will see Eldon Willing (R) and Deborah Ann Nissley (D), both unopposed in their primaries compete for the seat in the general race. Charles Laird secured victory in the Republican primary for District 4 against Eddie Brimer, and will face Ken Ballard (D), who ran unopposed, in the general election.  In District 5, incumbent Randy Laird (D) will face challenger Mike Corbin (R) in the general election. Both were unopposed in their primaries. Interim State’s Attorney Wess Garner (R) was unopposed in the primary and is unopposed in the general securing his place as Somerset County State’s Attorney.

Talbot

In a close primary race, Republicans incumbent Chuck Callahan (18.8%), incumbent Corey W. Pack (17.1 %), incumbent Jennifer L. Williams (16.2%), Frank Divilio (16.1%), and incumbent Laura Everngam Price (16%) will advance to the general election. They will face Democrats Keasha N. Haythe (20.5%), Pete Lesher (18.2%), Naomi Hyman (17.8%), Rosalee “Rose” Potter (14.1%) and Maureen Scott-Taylor (14.1%) in the general election. State’s Attorney Scott G. Patterson was unopposed in the primary and is unopposed in the general securing his place as State’s Attorney.

Wicomico

Incumbent County Executive Bob Culver (R), unopposed in the primary election, will face John William Hamilton (D), also unopposed, in the general election. For the at-large seats, Republican Incumbent John T. Cannon and candidate Julie D. Brewington, will face Democratic candidates William R. McCain and Jamaad Gould. In District 1 Democratic primary incumbent Ernest Davis (51.1%) secured his seat against Eugenie Pinkett Shields (40.3%) and Marvin Ames (8.6%). He is unopposed in the general election. In District 2, incumbent Marc Kilmer (R) was unopposed and will face Alexander W. Scott (D) in the general election. Likewise in District 3 incumbent Larry W. Dodd (R) will face Michele Gregory (D), and District 4 Suzanah Cain (R) will face Josh Hastings (D) in the general election. Incumbent Joe Holloway was unopposed in the primary election and will be in the general election, securing his position on the council. Interim State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes (R) will face challenger W. Seth Mitchell (D) in the general election.

Worcester

Incumbents Diana Purnell (District 2) (D), Madison “Jim” Bunting, Jr. (District 6) (R), and Joseph M. Mitrecic (District 7) (R) will retain their seats as county commissioners having faced no challengers in their primary elections and having none in the general. In the general election, District 1 will see incumbent Merrill W. Lockfaw, Jr. (R) face challenger Joshua C. Nordstrom (D); District 3 will see incumbent Bud Church (R) face challenger Zackery Tyndall (D); District 4 will see incumbent Theodore “Ted” Elder (R) face challenger Virgil L. Shockley; and District 5 incumbent Chip Bertino face challenger Judy Butler. In the State’s Attorney race Kris Heiser (R) beat interim State’s Attorney Bill McDermott (D) winning 51.7% over 48.3% of the vote. Heiser in unopposed in the general election.

MACo’s election coverage and analysis relies, as always, on unofficial results published by the State Board of Elections. Official results will follow, after a full accounting of pending ballots. Given the larger-than-usual expected number of provisional ballots (which would not be included in the unofficial vote total), readers are advised that any close unofficial results are subject to realignment in the days ahead.