Montgomery County Executive Race Could Be Close

Photos | Submitted With three candidates in the running Nov. 6, the Montgomery County Executive race could be determined by a plurality and not a majority of the vote.

Photos | Submitted With three candidates in the running Nov. 6, the Montgomery County Executive race could be determined by a plurality and not a majority of the vote.

The most recent finance reports clearly reflect the support independent candidate for Montgomery County executive Nancy Floreen has from the real estate and development-related community. Floreen’s campaign has raised $342,000 and reported $206,000 in expenditures while obtaining the necessary signatures to appear on the ballot. Floreen received 35 maximum donations of $6,000 and the average of the 125 donations received was $2,736.

In the all-important cash on hand, Floreen has $135,833. Her opponents, Democratic candidate Marc Elrich and Republican Robin Ficker both chose the public finance option that limits individual contributions to $150 in order to receive up to $750,000 in matching funds for the General Election. The Elrich campaign had $102,966 cash on hand as reported in the Aug. 28, 2018 report and the Ficker campaign reportedly had $234,200 cash on hand.

Public financing allows the candidates to receive up to $750,000 in both the primary and general election and Elrich has received $787,586 to date.

Voters who have reached the $150 limit cannot give again to the Elrich (D) and Ficker (R) campaigns and businessmen who have contributed $6,000 to Floreen (I) cannot contribute further.

Longtime Democratic Councilmember Nancy Floreen decided to run for county executive as an unaffiliated candidate following the Democratic primary election victory by Councilmember Marc Elrich over businessman David Blair. According to a statement issued at the time, Floreen decided to run as an independent because “the critical interests of Montgomery County families are ill-served when any candidate can prevail with barely 29 percent of the one-third of Democrats who turned out. The Republicans had no choice at all, and the county’s 150,000 independent voters were prevented by law from voting in either contest. There is no mandate here. Most county voters have yet to be heard from.”

The Marc Elrich campaign website states, “Marc Elrich is the county councilmember who has always stood up to developers. He is the ONLY candidate who has never taken their campaign money, and he is the ONLY candidate you can count on to tirelessly fight for you against big-money interests. That’s why developers and their allies are working as hard as they can to distort his record.”

The Robin Ficker campaign website states in part, “Both of Robin’s Democratic opponents for County Executive live in the Takoma Park Trapezoid as do all 4 of the Democratic nominees for the at-large council seats. … Takoma Park Trapezoid is a small area of land, anchored by Takoma Park, comprising 4.1% of the county’s land area and less than 10% of the County’s population. It does NOT include Rockville, Gaithersburg, Montgomery Village, Germantown, Olney, Damascus, Potomac, Poolesville, Bethesda, and Chevy Chase.”

While there was some initial support for Floreen’s candidacy from elected Democratic officials, since then Democratic elected officials have been openly signaling their support for Marc Elrich.

Three-term Democratic County Executive Isiah Leggett and businessman David Blair, who lost by only 77 votes to Elrich, have both publicly stated their support of Elrich. Montgomery County Council President Hans Reimer (D) said he had called Elrich and informed him he had his support.

There are only 113,221 (17.58 percent) registered Republican voters of the total 643,883 registered voters in Montgomery County. Democrats have the largest number of registered voters in the county with 80,483 (59 percent), while voters who are not affiliated with a political party number 150,184 (23.32 percent).

Even with many elected Democratic officials voicing support for their party nominee Marc Elrich, long-serving  councilmember Nancy Floreen will likely be a formidable candidate.

Whether Republican candidate Robin Ficker will benefit from a split vote among Democratic voters and obtain enough support from unaffiliated voters to be competitive remains to be seen.

It is possible the Montgomery County executive could be determined by a plurality and not a majority of the vote in the General Election held on Nov. 6.

Stay tuned.

Upcoming County Executive candidate forums include the Monday, Oct. 1, 7 to 8 p.m. forum moderated by Tom Sherwood and held in Montgomery Community Media studios, 7548 Standish Place, Rockville.