88 Senators Voice Concern About Hamas In Unity Government

A bipartisan group of 88 senators led by Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) sent a letter to President Barack Obama last week making it clear that they have deep concerns about the newly formed Palestinian unity government.

That new government supported by Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist group, presents “a serious setback” to achieving peace, the senators stated.

“By its actions and inaction, Hamas has demonstrated it is not a partner for peace,” they wrote.

According to law and in the appropriations budget, the United States is prohibited from providing “foreign assistance to Hamas or any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member or over which Hamas has undue influence,” the letter stated.

The Obama Administration has said it intends to work with the unity government and will continue to disburse aid, while taking a wait-and-see approach. This letter makes it clear that the senators “are gravely concerned that the formation of this government and President Abbas’ renewed effort to upgrade the status of the Palestinians within international organizations will jeopardize direct negotiations with Israel to achieve a two-state solution.”

“Neither one of these moves is helpful to the peace process,” Cardin said, referring to the Palestinian government seeking recognition outside direct peace negotiations and forming a government with Hamas.

As to whether funding to the Palestinians must legally stop under U.S. law, Cardin replied that there are ways in which certain conditions could be met. He pointed out that Hamas must not have “undue influence” over the new government. Another way would be if the new government recognizes Israel, Cardin said. “There are ways in which there could be accommodations,” he told Washington Jewish Week.

When asked what would happen if the Palestinians don’t abide by the Quartet principles, which were set by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nation to guide the Middle East peace process, but the Obama Administration continues to send money, Cardin replied, “We expect the Obama administration to abide with the law, and the law is pretty clear.”

Cardin said the letter sends a strong message to the Palestinians, letting them know that their recent actions are “not helpful” in their goal to have their own state.

“To get 88 members to agree, particularly in this political environment,” makes a strong statement, Cardin said.

The letter notes, “Hamas has openly called for Israel’s destruction, and last month, Hamas leaders again repeated their refusal to meet recognized international demands: recognition of Israel, renunciation of terror and acceptance of previous Israel-PLO agreements.”

Recent developments “have undermined Congressional support for U.S. assistance to the Palestinians. Any assistance should only be provided when we have confidence that this new government is in full compliance with the restrictions contained in current law.”

A Team Offering The Best Opportunity For All

062014_oped_lollarWhy should members of our Jewish community vote for Ken Timmerman and me in the Republican primary on June 24 and in the general election in November?

The answer is very simple: Because you are Marylanders, and you care about your state. We offer the best opportunity for bringing Marylanders together and expanding opportunities for all of our citizens by creating the conditions for economic growth.

As many of you may know, my lieutenant governor candidate, Ken Timmerman, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize along with John Bolton for his work exposing Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He is also the only candidate for office in America who was personally endorsed by Simon Wiesenthal (in 2000, when he was a candidate for the U.S. Senate).

As your governor and lieutenant governor, we will roll back the state’s personal income tax over five years. You see, we understand that high taxes and over-burdensome regulations have driven out family farmers, large corporations and more than 4,500 small businesses.

In fact, you may have seen a Gallup poll last month on this very subject. It found that 47 percent of Marylanders would leave our state if they had the opportunity. That put our state third behind Illinois and Connecticut for the most dissatisfied citizenry. That is simply unacceptable.

That is why we believe in a New Way Forward that brings Marylanders together behind nonpartisan solutions for our very big problems.

Anthony Brown keeps telling us how great the Maryland economy is and how the state “can’t afford” to lower taxes — any taxes. But you and I know the truth: We can’t afford not to lower taxes if we want to keep Marylanders from fleeing this state.

We believe we can turn around the economy and attract businesses by making Maryland the most attractive and tax competitive of our neighbors.

Have you seen those ads from the state of New York trying to attract Maryland businesses? You know we have a problem when New York thinks it is more business-friendly than Maryland.

On the same token, we don’t want to do what New York and others are doing by offering tax incentives to new businesses and penalizing those who stay. We are focused instead on eliminating the state’s personal income tax. It creates an incentive for all businesses and families, not just those who want to move to our state.

We also want to change the way the state does education. Rather than air-dropped solutions from Washington, D.C., and Annapolis, such as Common Core, we believe education decisions should be made at the local level by locally elected school boards.

Even more importantly, we believe your state education dollars should follow your child to the school of your choice, whether it’s a charter school or a private school. After all, by sending your children to private school, you are alleviating over-crowding of public schools, reducing the need for more school construction, and yes, you are paying twice. That part of it is simply unfair.

I chose Ken as my lieutenant governor because he has a track record as an investigator. He has real skills this state needs. I plan on putting him to work the day after we win the general election, investigating our state agencies for waste and cronyism.

We plan to change the way the budgeting process works, starting with a clean sheet rather than a backlog of bloated programs whose purposes no one seems able to recall.

And we will incentivize our many talented and loyal state employees who identify waste in their agencies. We have got to end this “spend it or lose it” mentality that is generating so much waste in public spending.

Finally, on a more somber note, let me just say that I will not tolerate — will not tolerate — racial or ethnic hate crimes on my watch. I will instruct the state superintendent of police to work with local communities at the slightest hint of such occurrences. Furthermore, I understand that as our nation continues to battle the scourge of violentIslamism around the world, our synagogues and Jewish schools become targets. Ken and I will make sure you have the resources you need when extra protection and precautions are needed.

The writer, a Marine Corps reservist, is a Republican candidate for governor.

Common-Sense Solutions Needed To ‘Repair’ Maryland

I have spent the past year campaigning throughout the state of Maryland. I have talked to countless families, small business owners, farmers, teachers, factory workers, office workers and people who have no job at all.

With each person I sensed a feeling of being forgotten by their state government; not that they want government to do everything for them, but quite the opposite.

They want government to stop getting in the way. Enough with the out-of-control spending and enough with the regulations that stifle businesses large and small.

They are looking for someone to stop the endless rise in taxes that are keeping hard-working families from getting ahead. And they want a governor who will make Maryland a place people want to move to instead of leave.

So what does all this have to do with the Jewish community?

Usually when people running for office write like this for a specific audience, or in this case the Jewish community, it turns into a rundown of how many times they have been to Israel, or how many Passover Seders they attended or how they were honored by a certain Jewish organization or that they grew up in a Jewish neighborhood and therefore know everything about the Jewish community, as if each person is exactly the same.

In all honesty, it soon becomes one of those “some of my best friends are …” stories, and you, the reader, has now turned the page.

Well, I do not believe in pandering to one group over another or reinventing myself just to say something that I think people want to hear. Not only would I be kidding myself, I would be kidding you.

I have been a city councilman, a small-town mayor, a state delegate, a state senator and for the past 10 years, Harford County executive.

And, I have been a career school teacher and middle school principal.

I am a family man and a man with a deep faith in G-d. I am proud to be pro-life, and I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

I believe in being honest, forthright and respectful of each person’s concerns.

I did not win elections by kidding people or telling them what they want to hear. I did it by bringing different people with opposing views
together.

And that is what I intend to do as governor.

People’s everyday lives will matter. The future of our state will matter.

What it all comes down to is this: We should all take a lesson from G-d’s directive to the Jewish people, the practice of tikkun olam, of “repairing the world.”

In my case, I am being a little more provincial. I am running for governor to “repair Maryland.”

That is why I have proposed the phasing out of the state personal income tax, which, if we cut enough waste in government spending, will give more money to people who are trying to make ends meet.

That would mean in one year after my being elected, a majority of Maryland families would enjoy a tax savings of $1,400 and single Marylanders a tax savings of $700.

I also plan to “repair” our state’s job market by cutting corporate taxes in half so more businesses will want to move here and stay here instead of heading to Virginia and Delaware.

Also, there will be major “repairs” for people with pensions. I do not believe that anyone’s pension should be taxed. There are other states that do not tax pensions. Why can’t Maryland be like them?

As a lifelong educator, I believe education is the best poverty and crime fighter. As governor, I will see that all of our schools — public, private and religious — will be fairly supported. Education will always be a priority, as will the well-being of families and personal freedom.

Maryland is a great state. But it has forgotten the very people who make it great.

We see a culture in Annapolis that is more committed to helping so-called leaders stay in public office than actually finding ways to help families stay out of debt.

We see a government mindset that solves every problem with nonsensical taxes or fees. (There have been over 40 new ones in the last eight years.) Instead, we should be solving those same problems with common-sense solutions.

So it should be no surprise that Maryland citizens and businesses are leaving in droves to safer tax havens in other states, taking their jobs and tax dollars with them. This exodus has cost Maryland over $8 billion.

Now, we have the opportunity to turn Maryland around. I have done it on the city and county level, and I am ready to do it on the state level.

And the day after I am sworn in, I guarantee you that I will put a sign up in Annapolis that says, “Maryland Government Now Under Repair.”

The writer, the Harford County executive, is a Republican candidate for governor.

Working For What’s Fair

062014_oped_mizeurIn 1981, I was 9 years old and Ronald Reagan had just become president. My dad was a welder at a Caterpillar plant and a member of the United Auto Workers, but he and his union co-workers went on strike because they weren’t making fair wages. For six months my family made ends meet on $45 a week strike pay. But the stand paid off after my dad and his union negotiated a pay raise. I learned my Democratic values walking those picket lines with my dad, watching him work with his co-workers to get what was fair for my family.

In high school, I spent summers working as a farmhand, detasseling corn to save for college. As my family struggled financially, big powerful interests were just starting to really rig the game. Over the last three decades, corporate profits have skyrocketed and wages have remained flat. The wealthy have made more and more while working and middle-class families like those I grew up with have struggled more and more.

Like our federal government, Annapolis has lost its way. Even with Democrats in power, our state government has tax loopholes for giant corporations. The middle-class tax increases of the past eight years have been tough on families and seniors across the state, but what makes them especially tough to swallow are the tax cuts that have been handed to the wealthy at the very same time. Maryland’s tax burden now rests squarely on the shoulders of those who can least afford it.

As a legislator, I worked with some of my colleagues in the General Assembly to introduce legislation to address flat wages. But the current administration waited until an election year — after 14 states acted — to make raising the minimum wage a priority. Workers and their families will never get those lost wages back.

Without a champion in Annapolis, the middle class is struggling: child care costs eating up entire paychecks, rising utility bills, skyrocketing housing costs and increased tax burdens. It’s getting harder and harder to meet the basic necessities.

Democrats need to stop talking about the shrinking middle class just to turn around and cater to special interests. Getting what’s fair takes more than words — it takes action. That’s why I’m running for governor. It’s time for results.

Here’s how I’ll rebuild our middle class: I’ll cut taxes for 90 percent of families and seniors, just by asking the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share. I’ll close those corporate loopholes and put the money right back into our small businesses, giving them the tax relief they need to expand.

I’ll turn our minimum wage into a living wage. I’ll put unemployed Marylanders back to work building modern schools, roads, bridges and transit. I’ll ensure equal pay for equal work by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, because no gender pay gap is acceptable.

I believe middle-class families should earn more and be taxed less. But I also believe our state has a role to play in making family expenses more affordable. That’s why I’ll expand our child-care subsidy program, increase funding for college need-based financial aid, invest in affordable housing and create a state retirement savings program.

Getting these things done won’t be easy. But what I learned on the picket lines is still true: When we, as a community, stand together and work for what’s fair, nothing can stop us.

The writer, a state delegate from Montgomery County, is a Democratic candidate for governor.

Putting Community First: A Leader’s Highest Calling

062014_oped_ganslerJust a few nights from now I will be standing on a stage, hopefully as Maryland’s Democratic nominee for governor, in front of the hundreds of supporters who made my campaign possible. Win or lose, I will be standing tall, proud to have committed my career to public service and proud to have brought onstage with me — along with my friends and family — the same core set of values and beliefs that have always driven my desire to give back to Maryland and its people. The very foundation of those values is my Jewish identity and the guiding principles it has imparted on me.

As a teenager, I had the great fortune to work on a kibbutz in Israel. It was there that I first experienced the rewards of putting your community before yourself. In my 22 years of public service — as an assistant U.S. attorney under President Bill Clinton, as state’s attorney of the largest jurisdiction in Maryland and as attorney general — I’ve embraced putting community first, fighting for what is fair and right. Sometimes that fight is on behalf of the entire Maryland community, such as securing more than $1.5 billion in foreclosure relief from big banks to keep tens of thousands of Marylanders in their homes and going after large corporate polluters of our bay and our air and winning the largest environmental settlement in Maryland’s history. Sometimes that fight is on behalf of particular communities in Maryland, such as intervening in the anti-competitive merger of two big Jewish funeral home conglomerates to ensure the availability of reasonably priced Jewish funerals. In every case, I stand up to put people and their community ahead of powerful interests.

As I’ve taken on fights for Marylanders, I’ve stayed close to my Jewish roots, serving on the board of the JCC of Greater Washington for the past 15 years and using my role as the president of the National Association of Attorneys General to raise awareness about issues that hit close to home for the Jewish community. I brought all 50 of our country’s attorneys general on a tour of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and I also led a delegation of attorneys general to Israel, where we met with President Shimon Peres and other members of the Knesset. I also used my platform as attorney general to push states to take action on Iran, including writing an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that stressed the need for coordinated state-level sanctions against Iran. There I argued that we as states have a moral obligation to ensure that taxpayer-funded contracts are not awarded to companies that do business with a regime that consistently violates international law and threatens fellow Jews abroad.

Maryland as a state also has a moral obligation to do more for its people. Having served two terms as a defender of downtrodden Marylanders, I have seen too much evidence of ways the current approach to governing is failing them. Over the last seven years, our state’s economy has been mortgaged on the backs of the people of Maryland, thanks to 40 straight tax increases. Current leaders said these were necessary to achieve growth, but our state had literally no economic growth last year. None. If that wasn’t enough, our state continues to rank as one of the top 10 most violent states in the country, and our schools continue to exhibit some of the largest achievement gaps in the nation. We need new leadership to strengthen our economy and our communities.

As governor I will make a stronger, job-creating economy our state’s top priority. Our current administration is losing valuable jobs and businesses by refusing to be competitive. I will make Maryland competitive by offering new incentives for in-state job creation and by gradually reducing our corporate tax rate to match that of neighboring states like Virginia, starting with a .25 percent decrease in my first year in office. The common-sense steps I have proposed can grow our state’s economy, but they are steps my opponents refuse to embrace.

As governor I will also strengthen our communities. When it comes to public safety, this means building better ties with law enforcement. As state’s attorney for Montgomery County, I implemented a “community prosecution” model, assigning prosecutors to specific neighborhoods so that they could build lasting relationships with citizens and police in those areas and then work collaboratively to drive down crime. If we want to empower our communities to tackle crime, we need to implement this model statewide, so that our communities can work alongside law enforcement.

Another key to strengthening our communities is improving our schools. Although our public schools are ranked highly overall, they are also ranked second in the nation for the achievement gap between low-income students and wealthier students. This is not fair to our kids. From the beginning of my campaign I’ve called for expanding affordable access to pre-K, starting with our state’s neediest families. I’ve also proposed revamping the way our schools reward our teachers, ensuring that our most skilled and effective teachers are better supported and compensated. These reforms can go a long way toward improving opportunities for our children.

My ideas for Maryland’s future are not poll driven, they are community driven. Since my first election 16 years ago, I’ve based my leadership not on popularity or winning re-election but on the principle that putting community first, and standing up for what is fair and right, is the highest duty of a leader. It is something I have carried with me through my entire life, from growing up in the Jewish community in Montgomery County to my time on the kibbutz in Israel and now as I seek to become governor.

It is with great humility that I ask you, the members of the Jewish community, to come out and support me on June 24 to ensure you have a governor who is always on the side of you, the great people of the state of Maryland.

The writer, Maryland’s attorney general, is a Democratic candidate for governor.

A Commitment To Community, Social Justice

062014_oped_brownDuring my tour of duty with the Army in Iraq, I learned that no matter where you live or what your background is we all want the same things for our families. We want good jobs and opportunities made possible by a quality education, access to affordable health care and clean air and water and safe neighborhoods to live in. I’ve found this to be true everywhere, from Baghdad to Baltimore, from Silver Spring to the kibbutz I stayed at in Upper Galilee.

As I’ve traveled throughout our state, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to talk to Marylanders about a shared vision for our future. It’s a vision that’s centered around a tough but worthy goal: building a better Maryland for more Marylanders and giving all of our children, no matter where they’re born or what their parents do for a living, the opportunity to grow and succeed.

So much of that work begins in Maryland’s communities. Our neighborhoods are as diverse as they are strong, and we’ll make them stronger by embracing that diversity and investing in the institutions that support their families.

Maryland’s Jewish families are the foundation of so many of these communities. And the Jewish community too is diverse, with a long and proud history of keeping so many of our neighborhoods strong. Over the past eight years, our state has partnered with many of the institutions that support this effort. Organizations such as the Hillel Center for Social Justice in College Park, Sinai Hospital, Revitz House and so many others. I’m committed to continuing strong financial support for these types of organizations, nonprofits and groups that are working each and every day to build strong neighborhoods.

Supporting our communities also means committing to social justice. And over the past eight years, with the support of so many in the Jewish community, we’ve made tremendous progress in making Maryland an even better place to live, work and raise a family for all of our neighbors. We’ve also taken important steps to make Maryland a more just society, with a justice system that is fairer.

Together, we’ve raised the minimum wage, passed common-sense gun-violence prevention legislation, repealed the racially biased death penalty, established marriage equality, passed the Maryland DREAM Act and continued to build the best school system in the country. Together, we’ve also made significant reductions in domestic violence throughout our state, thanks in part to hospital-based domestic-violence programs such as the one at Northwest Hospital. And our work is far from finished: This year, we secured additional funding for this program, ensuring that we’re doing all we can to protect Maryland’s domestic-violence victims.

We’ll also strengthen our communities by creating jobs and supporting Maryland’s small businesses, especially the Maryland-owned small businesses that are central to the identity of our neighborhoods, such as Seven Mile Market in Baltimore. So as we look to the future, we must also create a more competitive business climate in Maryland. Together, we’ll focus on innovation, entrepreneurship and job growth. One way to accomplish that goal is through public-private partnerships, bringing government and the private sector together to invest in our infrastructure and create jobs for more Marylanders. A great example is the work being done by the Maryland/Israel Development Center. By working in partnership with the State of Israel, The Associated and the Federation, and thanks to the leadership of my running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, we were able to bring ELTA North America to Maryland, where they’re employing Marylanders in the cutting-edge jobs of tomorrow.

Maryland’s relationship with Israel is strong, and companies such as ELTA help strengthen it further. In 2012, we became the fifth state in the nation to sign an Iran Trade Sanctions bill, ensuring that Maryland tax dollars will not go to a regime that supports terrorists. We also passed a law in 2008 that requires our pension system to divest from companies that do business with Iran. Governing is about making choices, and in Maryland, we choose to stand with our friends. As governor, I will continue to support and build on that already-strong relationship.

Maryland is a great state, but it can be better. As governor, I will build on the successes of the past eight years and focus on strengthening communities throughout our state. But in order to make that goal a reality, I need Maryland’s Jewish community to continue to be a full partner in that effort. Together, we can support our Jewish community. Together, we can perform acts of chesed and choose to believe that when our neighbors thrive, we all succeed. And together, we can make Maryland better for more Marylanders.

The writer, the lieutenant governor of Maryland, is a Democratic candidate for governor.

Making Maryland Safer Is Top Priority

062014_oped_froshAs a Maryland state legislator, I have been deeply dedicated to supporting and advancing the causes of Maryland’s Jewish community. I have been the lead sponsor of millions of dollars of bond bills that fund and support communal institutions of the Jewish community, including support for career services, educational and professional programs, in-home services, nursing care, volunteer assistance and social services. I support these programs because I know our Jewish community well.

I grew up in Bethesda, graduated from Walter Johnson High School and raised my family in Montgomery County. For more than a decade, I have served on the board of the JCC and currently serve on the board of the Hebrew Home. I have partnered with the Jewish Community Relations Councils, Washington Federation and The Associated over decades in Annapolis. My wife and I belong to Adat Shalom Congregation, and our daughters and I celebrated our b’nai mitzvah at Temple Sinai.

I believe I am the most qualified and experienced candidate to serve as Maryland’s chief legal officer, representing the state and the people of Maryland and enforcing the law to improve people’s lives. I offer the experience of someone who’s been actively involved for the past 35 years as one of the nation’s top-ranked attorneys and for the past 28 years as a Maryland legislator. Most importantly, I have the skills and judgment the job requires.

As a child, I watched my father stand up to Joe McCarthy and fight against discrimination. This image has ignited my lifelong passion for justice rooted in values of tikkun olam. I have spent every day of my legal and legislative career fighting for those values.

Throughout my career, I have been a leader in the fight to make Maryland safer for families. I have led the fight to pass landmark legislation on gun safety and to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, I have increased protections for victims of domestic violence and I have championed laws to prevent and prosecute child abuse and protect children from sexual abuse, authoring legislation to expand supervision of sex predators.

I will enforce Maryland’s gun-safety laws, which I wrote and championed through the Maryland General Assembly. I will protect Marylanders and get guns off of our streets, and that is why local police, sheriffs, state’s attorneys and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence have endorsed me. I also know that law enforcement is only part of the equation — that it’s far better to prevent a crime than to prosecute one. I’ve worked to help keep kids in school and out of gangs. And as attorney general, I’ll continue to look for ways we make law enforcement a partner in crime prevention, before crimes have been committed.

I will see to it that every Maryland child and teacher feels safe in the classroom and online, and that is why Maryland teachers have endorsed me.

As your attorney general, I will crack down on scam artists who put hard-working businesses and families at risk of losing their financial security despite following all the rules. I will protect Maryland consumers from fraud, identity theft and scams and ensure that seniors and our most vulnerable citizens are also protected from financial and physical abuse.

I will continue to enforce laws to protect Maryland’s air and water quality and safeguard our precious natural resources; this is why the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club-Maryland Chapter have endorsed me.

As your attorney general, I will show up every day — as I always have done — to put the law on the side of the people of Maryland and to use the force of the law to help all Maryland families. I pledge to be the people’s lawyer and to keep all Marylanders safe.

Gov. Martin O’Malley and the two individuals who know exactly what the job of attorney general entails — former attorneys general Steve Sachs and Joe Curran — have endorsed me because they know that I have played a leading role in making Maryland safer, more secure and more just. They know I have demonstrated the ability to bring people together to solve tough problems and that I will continue to be a tireless advocate for the people of Maryland.

In their June 8 endorsement editorial, The Baltimore Sun said of my record as a legislator and my candidacy for attorney general: “It would be difficult to find a more thoughtful, straightforward and honest lawmaker in Annapolis, and those are just the qualities we need in an attorney general.”

The Washington Post, a paper that has closely watched my career over the years, affirms,  “Alone in this field of candidates, Mr. Frosh has the political savvy, command of policy and stature to be a superb attorney general.”

I hope I can count on your vote. I will work hard every day as your attorney general.

The writer, chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in Annapolis, is a Democratic candidate for attorney general.

A Vision for Maryland In A Dangerous World

062014_oped_cardinIt has been my honor to represent the 11th District for the past 12 years. As I reflect on the last decade, it is not just of the bills I’ve passed and the people I’ve helped, but the integrity with which I have worked and the vision I have crafted for moving forward into the office of the attorney general.

I am proud of both my work as a lawyer, righting people’s wrongs, and my record in the General Assembly. And yet, I am not merely running on my legal experience or my legislative record. I am running on my vision for the future of Maryland — the place I have dedicated my career to improving. I am running so that Marylanders are treated fairly, equitably and with dignity and respect. I am running for attorney general to keep Maryland two steps ahead of the new threats facing our families.

When I was a student at Beth Tfiloh and Park School, framing my worldview and learning the Jewish principles that have guided me, the world was a very different place. Public safety meant avoiding muggings downtown, not worrying about mass shootings and whether your children will come home from school at the end of the day. Environmental protection was about picking up litter and cutting up six packs, not carbon emissions and their effects on climate change. Consumer protection was about making sure you bought a safe car, not identity theft or knowing which websites and emails are safe to open. The next AG must focus on the future, on new threats such as mass shootings, climate change and cybersecurity without losing focus on persistent problems such as crime, litter and safe products.

I followed my grandfather, Meyer, and my uncle, Ben, into a life of politics for a single passion, the environment. I was concerned that we could be the first generation in American history unable to leave a better world for our children than the one we inherited. Since then, we have done a tremendous job in cleaning up the Bay, our drinking water and our air. And yet, in these past 12 years, a new generation of challenges has emerged. Predatory lenders, check-cashing schemes and hackers that phish for your personal information all undermine the growth of our working and middle class. Just two years ago, almost 17 million people fell victim to identity theft, robbing us of $25 billion. We must increase the resources to law enforcement officials to help them keep pace with the evolving threats to cybersecurity.

The world is becoming increasingly complex and dangerous. We need an attorney general who is in touch with these challenges. My law degree and master’s in both Jewish studies and public policy have afforded me the experience to identify and solve problems efficiently and effectively. There is a reason why the person who passed the toughest anti-cyberbullying legislation in the country and comprehensive criminalization of cyber sexual harassment (revenge porn) is running to be the chief legal officer of the state. Technology presents both tremendous opportunity and terrible danger. There is nothing more important for the AG than protecting our children.

As one of the most pragmatic and progressive members of the General Assembly, as a full-time general practice lawyer and as a father, I am uniquely qualified to focus on problems both new and old.

The writer, a state delegate from Baltimore County, is a Democratic candidate for attorney general.

Get Out The Vote

With contested races, large candidate pools and open seats, the June 24 primary elections could see a considerable amount of shakeup in local offices.

In addition to the gubernatorial primaries — where Democratic voters will choose between Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur, and Republican voters will choose between Del. Ron George, Harford County Executive David Craig, businessman Larry Hogan and Marine Corps reservist Charles Lollar — Maryland voters will also select their party’s preferences for the U.S. House of Representatives, county councils, attorney general, both chambers of the state legislature and a host of other offices, such as comptroller and jurists on the Orphans’ Court.

Some legislators are running unopposed, like state Sen. Bobby Zirkin in Baltimore County’s District 11, but other races are hotly contested, such as the battle to occupy two open delegate seats in Baltimore County’s District 10.

Incumbent Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat representing the meandering Third Congressional District stretching from Takoma Park in Montgomery County to the far eastern part of Anne Arundel County and through Baltimore’s Inner Harbor north into Baltimore County, is facing a primary challenge from Matthew Molyett. Molyett, a computer engineer working for the National Security Agency, is running on a platform that includes implementing regular town hall-style meetings in the district, using public-private partnerships to offer free Internet for everyone, the legalization and taxation of any drug deemed safe enough and expediting citizenship for immigrants.

In the seat’s Republican primary, Thomas Pinkston-Harris, a conservative Baltimore school teacher, will face off against Michael Jackson — who proposes ending water, trash and sewage fees from the public — and Charles Long.

Meanwhile, over in the equally meandering Second Congressional District, the Democratic primary has incumbent Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger facing 25-year-old Department of Energy employee Paul Rundquist.

Both districts are considered safe for Democrats.

“All the incumbents will win,” predicted Donald Norris, chairman of the department of public policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, “because the state has been so effectively gerrymandered, and none of them has any [viable] opposition in the primary.”

The state’s Congressional incumbents are also reasonably popular, he added.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Though there is only one Republican running for Attorney General, the Democratic race has shaped up to be one of the more closely watched contests this year, with three candidates vying for the spot on the fall ticket. Polls have shown Del. Jon Cardin (District 11) with a lead over state Sen. Brian Frosh (District 16) and Del. Aisha Braveboy (District 25), but polls can prove difficult in their ability to predict outcomes in a non-presidential election year. Just last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) fell in a surprise defeat to a relatively unknown Tea Party-backed candidate, although his own internal polling reportedly had him up 34 percentage points going into the June 10 election.

Norris said in the Maryland attorney general race, it’s hard to predict who will emerge victorious since “turnout is going to be abysmally low,” adding that a turnout as small as 20 percent wouldn’t surprise him.

A Baltimore Sun poll in June showed that more than 40 percent of Democrats were undecided in the race. Norris believes Cardin and Frosh have equal chances of winning the Democratic nomination.

Frosh, an attorney with a private practice in the Washington, D.C., area, has been representing his Montgomery County district in Annapolis since 1987. He currently serves as chair of the state Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee, vice-chair of the Rules Committee and sits on the Executive Nominations Committee and the Legislative Policy Committee.

Cardin was elected to the House of Delegates in 2003. He chairs the Election Law Subcommittee and sits in the Ways and Means Committee, a position that has been the subject of recent criticism with Cardin missing nearly 75 percent of the committee’s votes during this year’s legislative session.

Braveboy, an attorney who specializes in business and property law, has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2007. She represents Prince George’s County and is a member of the Economic Matters Committee and chairs the Consumer Protection and Commercial Law Subcommittee.

Although Cardin had a higher percentage of support according to the poll numbers, experts such as Norris think Frosh could exploit Cardin’s missed votes.

“I think that’s going to come back to haunt him,” said John Bullock, an assistant professor of political science at Towson University.

Frosh, said Norris, could also bring up Cardin’s 2009 marriage proposal, which drew much public scrutiny over misused police resources — he staged a boat raid with a police helicopter and boat and proposed as his then-girlfriend thought she was going to be handcuffed. Cardin has also had to distance himself from the support of Baltimore-based rapper Ski Money, with whom Cardin posed at a fundraiser, upon learning that the rapper is facing charges of human trafficking.

Still, Bullock expects Cardin to have strong support because of his name. He is the nephew of U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin.

Frosh, however, has been endorsed by high-ranking current and former politicians, including Gov. Martin O’Malley, while Cardin earned the high-profile endorsement of Ruppersberger.

With an expected low turnout, the question is: Are more politically aware — those who would presumably be familiar with Cardin’s missteps — or less politically aware voters going to turn out? The winner of the contest will face Republican Jeffrey Pritzker and Libertarian Leo Wayne Dymowski in the general election.

The Next Eric Cantor

Sen. Lee Zeldin wants “to improve the branding of the Republican Party.” Photo by Office of State Senator Lee Zelden via Wikimedia Commons

Sen. Lee Zeldin wants “to improve the branding of the Republican Party.” Photo by Office of State Senator Lee Zelden via Wikimedia Commons

With House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning loss last week, the highest-ranking Jewish Republican politician has suddenly been kicked from power.

But Cantor’s rise was almost as improbably swift. Elected in 2000 to represent Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, he was appointed chief deputy whip after only one term. When Republicans regained control of the House in 2010 and Rep. John Boehner was elected speaker, Cantor took the reins as majority leader, a heartbeat away from becoming the chamber’s top Republican.

Is there another Eric Cantor waiting in the wings? Another Jewish Republican who, through energy, fundraising abilities and disciplined public adherence to the GOP’s message, has the potential to repeat the Cantor magic?
Three up-and-coming Jewish Republicans look like they have what it takes: New York State Sen. Lee Zeldin, Los Angeles prosecutor Elan Carr and Arizona State Rep. Adam Kwasman.

Lee Zeldin

In New York, state Sen. Lee Zeldin is competing for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, an Army Reserve major who served active duty in the Army Airborne and is an attorney. Zeldin’s first attempt at the seat in 2008 as a political neophyte ended in a loss. Since then, he won a seat in the state Senate and has been popular with constituents and local Republican Party organizations.

Zeldin is seen as having the best chance out of all Jewish Republicans running for Congress this year.

Despite the 1st District leaning Democrat, Bishop nearly lost his previous re-election bids to another Republican Jewish candidate, Randy Altschuler.

Since then, Bishop has been mired in investigations from the Congressional Ethics Office and the FBI into accusations that he solicited a campaign contribution from a hedge fund investor in exchange for using his
office to obtain fireworks permits for the bar mitzvah of the investor’s son.

“I think we need to improve the branding of the Republican Party,” Zeldin told Washington Jewish Week. “There are many voters who think that compassion and caring means liberalism, and that’s an important challenge for Republicans to overcome. I happen to believe that conservatives are showing the most amount of compassion when looking out for future generations of Americans who aren’t even old enough to vote yet.”

Zeldin’s popularity and record in the district makes him a formidable opponent to Bishop in the general election, but first he must first contest the party nomination against perennial candidate and former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission prosecutor George Demos. Demos has run for the seat twice before,
losing in the primaries. He married the daughter of a wealthy California developer between the current and previous elections and has been able to lend $2 million to his own campaign, compared to Zeldin raising $735,000 and Bishop amassing $1.5 million, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings.

With the June 24 primaries around the corner, both GOP candidates have been competing for the title of the “real conservative,” with Demos accusing Zeldin of voting to increase taxes and supporting the Affordable Care Act as a state senator and Zeldin accusing Demos of funding his campaign with his father-in-law’s money, which has also filled the coffers of leading California Democrats like Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“Demos is rather loathed by most local Republican leaders because he’s always trying to muscle their candidates aside. But this is the first time he’s really had money and the reason is his wife,” said Cook Political Report house editor and political analyst David Wasserman. “He’s run for Congress twice before and done woefully. In between last time he ran, he got married to the daughter of a construction mogul in California and now all of a sudden he has $2 million to spend on the race — so you can connect the dots.”

Zeldin has received high-level endorsements from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), former Sens. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.), Donald Trump, and every local Republican Party organization. Cantor headlined a fundraiser for Zeldin on June 14 in the Hamptons, raising more than $100,000, according to reports.

In Wasserman’s assessment, Zeldin would give Bishop a “run for his money” if he were to win the primary, even though the Cook Political Report currently places the advantage on the Democrat side.

Elan Carr

With U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) retiring, the race to replace him in the 33rd Congressional District seat includes a Jewish competitor who earlier this month finished first in the district’s open primary. Elan Carr came in ahead of all the leading Democrats in the heavily Democratic district with 21.5 percent of the vote.

Carr, a criminal gang prosecutor in Los Angeles and an Army and Army Reserves Judge Advocate General officer, received international media attention for leading Chanukah and other Jewish services in the former presidential palace of Saddam Hussein while deployed in Baghdad — the city where his grandfather was persecuted and jailed after the creation of the state of Israel in the late 1940s.

“What a privilege it was to express myself Jewishly and provide Jewish services to Jewish soldiers in as unlikely a place as Baghdad, from which [Scud missiles] were launched into Israel only a few years before,” Carr told the Times of Israel in a profile written early last year.

His campaign has attracted a lot of attention among Jewish Republicans, including that of mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who held a fundraiser for Carr last month.

But money isn’t enough for Carr to pull out a win in a district with such an immense registered Democratic voter advantage.

“I think the dynamic is more complicated and nuanced than simply party affiliation,” Carr told Washington Jewish Week, pointing to a crowded field of primary candidates on the Democratic side. “Also, when you have 11 Democrats in a race, you’re bound to increase the number of voters in total who vote for a Democrat, because each of those Democrats, in addition to drawing people from their own party, are relying on other things that draw voters, not just party affiliation.”

He also believes that the district has changed significantly from the Democratic bastion it has been for so long, partly because of redistricting but also due to disaffection with the intransience of Congress. Carr, as a moderate, bipartisan Republican, plans to work across the aisle and find compromise with his colleagues.

“A Republican ran against Henry Waxman two years ago and got 46 percent of the vote against Waxman, the poster boy for unbeatable, and that’s with Obama on the ticket,” he said. “A lot has happened in the last two years. It’s an open seat, I’m not running against an incumbent and there’s an enormous and deeply held frustration that’s palpable. People want bipartisanship and compromise, and my whole campaign is about moving the country forward. There’s a lot more bringing us together than holding us apart. We need to find common ground, reach across the aisle, compromise and move the country forward.”

Adam Kwasman

Another competitive House race to watch with a Jewish Republican is the contest for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. In a right-leaning district within a deeply red state, incumbent Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is an anomaly. She is seen as vulnerable and there are three Republicans competing for the chance to challenge her for her job.

Arizona State Rep. Adam Kwasman, 32, is one of those candidates. A product of a Tucson-area Jewish day school and a Conservative synagogue, he is an economist by trade. Kwasman is an energetic candidate with the most ideologically conservative stance of any Jewish Republican candidate. Calling himself a member of the “Kosher Tea” party, Kwasman takes a hardline stance against illegal immigration and government spending, and is a proponent of states’ rights.

“If there’s any group of people who should not trust government, it should be the Jewish people,” Kwasman told WJW. “The principles of free market economics, especially the major philosophers of free market and limited government in the 20th century were Jews. [Economist] Milton Friedman is a hero of mine.”

Kwasman is endorsed by controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio — a photograph of them
together is proudly displayed on Kwasman’s campaign website — and the tea party grassroots organizing group, FreedomWorks.

Kwasman’s toughest challenge is in the primary, which will be held Aug. 26. Despite endorsements from tea party groups, Kwasman’s strongest GOP opponent is state Rep. Andy Tobin, speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. Tobin is the local party choice and has recently hosted a fundraiser featuring Boehner.

Gaffe-prone, cowboy hat-wearing businessman Gary Kiehne is the primary’s other competitor. Kiehne is funding his own campaign and his populist persona could cut into Kwasman’s primary results.

In addition to their conservatism, all three Jewish candidates share military service.

“I think that there is a sense of duty for a soldier to continue to serve.

It almost feels for me a personal, permanent commitment to try to leave this place better than I found it,” said Zeldin. “And there are many different ways to serve. So when that time comes when you take off the uniform and you become a civilian, if you feel that same strong desire to make a difference, this is another great opportunity to do it.”

dshapiro@washingtonjewishweek.com
JNS.org contributed to this story.