D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen joins us to discuss his "sneaker subsidy" for those who dont drive to work. And At-Large Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich will be in studio to talk about the fate of the Purple Line, the county budget, and his candidacy for County Executive.
Federal investigators probe an alleged “shadow campaign” during D.C.’s 2010 race for mayor. Virginia lawmakers get back to work in Richmond for an “overtime session.” And Maryland looks at shifting the ownership of its controversial slot machines. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
- Patrick Madden Reporter, WAMU 88.5 News
- John Delaney Democratic Candidate, U.S. House of Representatives (Md.6)
Politics Hour Extra
Kojo and Tom ask John Delaney, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives (Md.6), why he donated to Andy Harris’s campaign (Harris represents Maryland’s District 1). Delaney said the donation was a matter of a personal friend asking him to contribute:
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Joining us today is guest analyst Patrick Madden. He's been covering D.C. primary races today. We'll be discussing the Ward 4 and the Ward 7 races. So if you'd like to call us about those races, if you have any comment or question about those races, Ward 4 and Ward 7 primaries in the District, call us now at 800-433-8850.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThat's 800-433-8850. Send us a tweet, @kojoshow, email to email@example.com, or go to our website, kojoshow.org, and ask your questions there. We'll also be talking with John Delaney later in the broadcast. He's a democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. He's running for the seat in Maryland's 6th District. Patrick Madden, of course, is a WAMU 88.5 reporter. Patrick, good to see you again.
MR. PATRICK MADDENGood to see you, Kojo.
NNAMDIAlso with us is Tom Sherwood, who we are putting into Twitter rehab after one day this week when he sent out no tweets and at the end of the day he frantically tweeted, I haven't sent out any tweets today. What's going on?
MR. TOM SHERWOODWell, you know, I was corrected because someone tweeted me that -- messaged me that I, in fact, had sent out one tweet earlier that morning, which I had forgotten.
NNAMDIThat's why you're going into Twitter rehab.
SHERWOODIt's really tough, you know?
NNAMDIYou don't even remember when you send out tweets earlier.
SHERWOODIf my BlackBerry doesn't start working better, I won't tweet at all.
NNAMDINow, people have now become dependent on following the Tom Sherwood tweets and the Tom Sherwood conversations right here, 800-433-8850. We will start with Virginia because the partisan budget stand-off came to a close on Thursday, which was the second day of the General Assembly session, Republicans and Democrats agreeing on a budget to shift tens of millions of dollars towards schools, Medicare and toll relief and to borrow $300 million more for the Metro rail extension to Dulles Airport.
NNAMDIThis is significant because the Democrats had been demanding more representation on the Senate committee and including the budget process in that. And they decided to back off. They've reached agreement. Tom, you once covered the Virginia General Assembly. What do you think?
SHERWOODI had to say this was a predictable in -- to a battle. The Democrats wanted to fight, show their relevance, and they did. And they got the delay, and they got -- they're getting the budget. I think they're reconvening Monday to take care of everything and...
NNAMDIYeah. But you know what's going to happen when this $85 billion budget goes to the House. A more conservative House is probably likely to reject it. And so they'll probably end up in a conference committee to determine what the budget is going to be.
SHERWOODWell, this is, you know, this is legislative sausage making, that classic -- you know, the classic cliché. I guess, all clichés are classic, maybe or not...
SHERWOOD...I don't know. It's -- I was a little -- it was a little tiresome. You know, you've got a governor, a Republican governor who's very well-liked and is -- mostly has done a pretty good job and most opinions wants to be on the vice president's -- the ticket. You've got a state that's doing pretty well economically after the recession. And you've got some Democrats in the Senate who are fearful of losing more influence, so they had to so something. And they've done it. Now, they'll have a fight.
NNAMDIAnd they've done it. We'll see what happens...
SHERWOODThat's a biannual budget, $85 billion, right?
SHERWOODFor a two-year period.
NNAMDICorrect. We'll see what happens after this. And now on to the District of Columbia where Nikita Stewart and The Washington Post reported this week that there was, in fact, not only a Vincent Gray for mayor campaign but apparently a shadow campaign operating out of campaign headquarters and campaign offices. A number of people named involved with that campaign. I suspect the best known is Vernon Hawkins, who is a former Cabinet member in D.C., in the Department of Human Services and a long time political operative. Tom?
SHERWOODI think Nikita's story was very good. It had -- it fleshed out a lot of detail of how this may have worked -- still not clear yet where the money came from for the shadow campaign. When I did the...
NNAMDIWell, all of this supposed, according to Nikita, is unreported. So we don't know...
SHERWOODWell, yeah, it's hard to find out how much money wasn't reported.
SHERWOODBut somebody knows. And I suspect the U.S. Attorney's Office will get to the bottom of it. But, you know, when I reported a week ago that there was this flurry of subpoenas going out, we said that there was -- they were looking at a shadow campaign. But I really didn't know much about it. And so I was really glad to see the Nikita story to put some face on it. And Vernon Hawkins, he's been around since the '70s doing lots of campaigns for Barry.
SHERWOODHe's a very well-respected -- at least until now maybe -- field marshal for any campaign. I called him, and I said, now, Vernon, I know you're not calling me back, but I just want to state for the record I'm calling you because I'm going to put some great pictures of you in the end. I've got these terrific pictures...
SHERWOOD...of Vernon in his hat pulled over his eyes the day that Gray signed up the papers to run. And Vernon was all over the place that day, and the pictures sure came in handy yesterday.
NNAMDII will -- if I was Vernon, I will say, when you get pictures of Howard Brooks, then you should put my picture.
SHERWOODYou know, I'm encouraging anyone to send me a picture of Howard Brooks that I can show in the air. I still don't have one.
NNAMDIPatrick Madden, you've been breaking stories about money orders in the Vincent Orange campaign, and it should be noted that Vernon Hawkins is now associated with the Vincent Orange campaign, both the last one and this one.
MADDENThat's right. And I guess, Tom raised, you know, the key -- one of the key points with The Post story which is where was the money coming from, and that still is unclear. And I think the other big question is -- and this is also an unanswered -- is did the mayor know about this shadow campaign?
SHERWOODThat's the question.
MADDENThat is the question.
MADDENAnd so, I mean -- and so far, that he has not answered questions about this story. I don't think -- I think...
NNAMDIWell, that's the question going all the way back to the Suleiman Brown story -- what did the mayor know, and when did he know it?
SHERWOODWell, you know, the mayor was kind of dribbing and drabbing out little responses to various stories and actually even surprised myself. But his attorney, Bob Bennett, I think had a heart to heart -- do lawyers have hearts?
SHERWOODAnyway, heart-to-heart conversation with his client. And basically, he said you need to stop talking. So now, he's, you know, Mayor Gray is just doing I asked for this investigation. I want it to be done thoroughly and as quickly as possible. After that, no comment on everything we asked now.
NNAMDIIf you have an interest in the Ward 4 or Ward 7 primaries in the District, you can call us right now, 800-433-8850. We'll be discussing that shortly. We got a tweet from Georgina in D.C. Can you please discuss the Reservation 13 meeting? I know that Tom Sherwood was at that meeting last night because, well, his tweets revealed that he was at that meeting...
SHERWOODI was there.
NNAMDI...last night. The Reservation 13 meeting apparently ended up or mainly focused on the proposal to bring the Washington Redskins training facility to where D.C. General Hospital used to be -- Reservation 13.
SHERWOODIn that general -- yes. For those who don't know, Reservation 13 is just a bureaucratic name for the land around the D.C. General Hospital over towards the -- this -- the jail, the old -- the...
NNAMDIThe old RFK Stadium.
SHERWOOD...morgue is over there, the detox center, sexually transmitted disease facility. But it's mostly wasted land. And for 10 years now, there have been various plans -- a couple of plans to really redevelop that into neighborhoods, shopping and some creativity retail and all that. But ever since, there's been this word out that the mayor wants to bring the Redskins training facility in from Virginia, just being concerned about will that eat up all the land for development.
SHERWOODThe mayor came last night and said, well, I don't have a plan. I said that we would like to incorporate them in some way if we can. The Skins have not said that they will come. We don't exactly how it will work, but I think I can do this in concert with neighborhood development. Most of the people in the crowd -- about 200 people -- were skeptical. Some -- they were more polite than I expected them to be.
SHERWOODBut they're skeptical. And Jack Evans said bluntly I won't -- not only the Redskins training facility there, but I want them to come in -- at the earliest time possible and build a new stadium at RFK. So he was quite blunt about it.
NNAMDIEvans talking about all the houses that Jack built and how they emerged...
NNAMDI...to be successful business enterprises.
MADDENAnd I think -- I wasn't there, but I saw in Twitter that Evans had this line about -- he was talking about what makes a great city. And he listed four qualities. I don't have -- and he listed sports franchises as one of the qualities of a great city.
SHERWOODHe said sports.
MADDENWhich I thought was interesting, considering...
NNAMDIApparently, Tom, there was also a call for a show of hands about who supported -- who were fans of the Washington Redskins, and there was kind of a paltry show of hands. But when they asked for a show of hands of who oppose the Redskins training facility coming there, there was a much larger show of hands causing you, apparently, to raise the question of why not put the Redskins training facility on the RFK parking lots?
SHERWOODWell, there's some parking lot space out on the north side of the RFK. There's a big parking lot there. But they -- Keenan Park -- I got a tweet from a Keenan Park person. We don't want it over here, either.
SHERWOODBut, you know, I would say -- and the history of economic development in the city, Redskin -- with the baseball park, the Verizon Center, the convention center -- there is this initial and heartfelt, wait a minute, we don't want our neighborhood overrun. And that's the standard the mayor will have to -- and Jack Evans and others will have to reach that can this be done in a way -- I mean, this is a major corporation to have Skins in town.
SHERWOODI mean, it's a big business. They would hire people for their Hall of Fame. They would -- there would be a hotel there. And there would be jobs. But it's up to the mayor and the city to effectively sell this because there is a great deal of skepticism.
MADDENAnd it's my understanding that the city wouldn't be on the hook for any money in terms of the developing, the hotel, the training facility, but they would -- the city would have to pretty much provide the infrastructure that would be...
SHERWOODThe land infrastructure...
SHERWOOD...which it does -- which it did for the Verizon Center, which it did for the convention center.
SHERWOODAnd it's part of the (unintelligible) but it really needs to be sold. You know, none of this would even be news if Michael Brown, the councilmember, hadn't, you know, blabbed to the Washington Times columnist about it back last fall. I mean, there's only been a few conversations. The Redskins are interested in doing something economically. But whether they're specifically interested in coming to the city, it's still uncertain.
MADDENDo you think they would be more popular if they had a winning product on the field? Or...
SHERWOODWell, actually, somebody -- what's -- RGIII, the...
MADDENRight. The new...
SHERWOODWhat's his name? Carter? I always get confused with...
MADDENHe's -- yeah. The quarterback they're supposed to draft.
SHERWOODYou know, yes, (unintelligible) if they get a savior quarterback, maybe that will make them more popular, but I'm not sure it would dent the feelings for Dan Snyder.
NNAMDIWe'll be talking about the Ward 4 primaries, incumbent Muriel Bowser being opposed by Calvin Gurley, Renee Bowser -- no relation -- Baruti Jahi, Judi Jones and Max Skolnik. If you have questions or comments, opinions about that race to share, call us at 800-433-8850. The -- last week, we had the head of the District's Department of Transportation on the show to talk about the red-top meter program that the city was introducing.
NNAMDIThe day after that, the council voted to stop enforcement of that program on Wednesday. And so now, here is what you need to know for the time being. For the next 90 days, any vehicle will be able to park at a red-top meter once you pay the established meter rate for that, but, for the next 90 days, the system involving people with disabilities who have either license plates or disability tags being able to park exclusively at those meters.
NNAMDIThat won't be happening. The notion that they still have to pay at those meters, that won't be happening. Why, Tom and Patrick, did the council decide to put a halt to this in the short term?
SHERWOODWell, there was confusion about the red meters. First of all, there's only -- there's not even 500 meters, the red-top meters out, and most of them that are -- because I went out looking for them and found a few. And it's just confusing about what they meant and what it meant for persons with disabilities trying to find a place to park. And what happened to the blue -- their blue-top meters all over town? That used to be the handicapped parking signal.
NNAMDIWell, they said they decided against blue-top meters because blue-tops were used for such a variety of other purposes that they could be confused...
SHERWOODWell, the color of record here is red face officials about what...
SHERWOOD...they were doing. But the -- I want to be clear to people. You know, there is a -- and everyone said this -- including the...
NNAMDIThere is a problem.
SHERWOOD...the National Council of Independent Living. I spoke to a mister -- I'm sorry. I can't remember his last name. Buck -- anyway, director of that organization, who is in a wheelchair, and he came out to the street with me. And we talked about this, and he said there's a real problem with people cheating.
NNAMDICorrect, that was what this is intended to correct.
SHERWOODYou see, the doctors give out these placards, and then people go park and then they park all day long. You know, the law says -- the current law, and it's the law that you should obey now, if you have one of these placards, and it is a legal one, you can park at a meter not all day but for twice...
NNAMDIFor twice the time.
SHERWOOD...the amount of time that's on the meter. So if it says two hours, you may park there for four hours. And I guess you can park for free now because we're back to the old system. But there are literally hundreds of people who come in with these placards, park on city streets and then go into city offices and they park there all day long. It's a free commuter service, and the city wants...
NNAMDIAnd there's a hot black market for those placards too, Patrick Madden.
MADDENRight, and it's particularly a problem because it's -- a lot of out-of-state...
SHERWOODMaryland and Virginia.
MADDENRight. There's a lot out-of-state vehicles that are parking with these placards in the spots, and there isn't much the District can do in terms of going back and trying to find out whether these are legitimate placards. I mean, I guess they talk about this at the press conference, and Jim Graham, the councilmember, has spoken about this, too. But there isn't much you can do. There so many of these spots.
MADDENReally, it's not fair to keep checking everyone, but they don't know how much if there is -- how much fraud? They don't know. They just -- they don't know how to handle this right.
SHERWOODAnd Evans -- Councilmember Evans, he -- of the Redskins' fame, who represents all of downtown said, in addition to all of that, he's concerned that if you make these red top meters reserved only on the street for persons with disability placards, well, he says, they'll go -- they won't be used enough. Fifteen hundred of those downtown, that's 10 percent of parking. I think it's about 10 percent of the parking
MADDENNine percent, yeah.
SHERWOODWell, that's close to 10. So he said there are lots of issues with this, so the city just said, blew a whistle, stop. We'll rethink this. We'll come back. Mary Cheh, Muriel Bowser, you know, just said, let's just all rethink this and come back in 90 days, educate the public about what it is.
NNAMDITom Sherwood. He is an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. Patrick Madden is our guest analyst. He's reporter for WAMU 88.5. If you have comments or questions about the races in Ward 7 or Ward 5, which we'll be discussing, you can call us at 800-433-8850. Before we do that, there was a vote this past week on whether -- or last week, on whether Elizabeth Noel, the former People's Counsel, should be appointed to the Public Service Commission in committee.
NNAMDIOne of the people who voted against that vote was At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson. Turns out that he holds Pepco stock, and Pepco was one of the more vocal opponents of Betty Noel. The question being, should he have recused himself of that vote? He said, as Pepco's stockholdings are modest, but they exceed the $5,000 threshold for disclosure, Patrick.
MADDENIt's an interesting question because Councilmember Mendelson was sort of the swing vote for this to move Ms. Noel out of the committee, so, when he voted against it, her nomination, that sort of killed it. So now, there are all these questions about -- should Councilmember Mendelson recuse himself, and what would that have done to the process?
MADDENIt's also interesting that Councilmember Mendelson is probably one of the few lawmakers that actually really fills out these financial disclosure statements. If you go and look at them, there's -- usually no one touches them, and that's also one of the bigger problems with ethics in the city.
NNAMDIHe is a detailed guy.
MADDENRight. So he is one of the few people that included everything in these conflict of interest statements, and it came back to bite him.
NNAMDIPhil, you'll notice, I didn't sat you were picky. Go ahead.
SHERWOODYou know, this is organized -- this was organized labor's number one request. If you rank all the things they want, I'm sure there are many other important things, but this was their -- this was Mayor Gray putting up someone for this Public Service Commission that organized labor wanted. Phil Mendelson has been a champion of organized labor issues. So I look at this and see he had $5,000-plus Pepco stock, but he has a lifetime of support for the labor unions on serious, important issues.
SHERWOODSo I think he made -- knowing him well enough, unless somebody shows me something different factually, he made this decision 'cause he thinks Elizabeth Noel, having been -- that lacks the judicial temperament, having been a fierce advocate for the consumers before the Public Service Commission, going on to the Public Service Commission could pose a problem with many of the cases that she would have to either recuse herself from or been involved in.
SHERWOODAnd I realize that's largely the Pepco argument against her. But I don't think anyone at this point can question Mendelson's integrity...
MADDENNo. I don't think any...
SHERWOOD...to have any facts, but I would love to have them 'cause that would a story.
MADDENIt's more of the question of should he have recused himself before?
NNAMDIWell, had he recused himself, he would've -- there would've been a 2-2 tie on the vote. And...
SHERWOODHad he voted for this, people would've complained that he was doing labor's bidding.
NNAMDIWell, now, they're complaining he's doing Pepco's, but that's the thing.
SHERWOODAnyone who knows Mendelson...
NNAMDIYes, knows that he only does Phil Mendelson's bidding? Well...
SHERWOODHe has a new car, by the way. He got rid of that raggedy thing that he had.
NNAMDII used to see it parked in the alley back here with mattresses on top of it when he was moving stuff.
SHERWOODI know. You know, I hope somebody -- I hope someone towed it.
NNAMDIWell, on now to the race for councilmember of Ward 4. Patrick Madden, the incumbent is Muriel Bowser. She is being challenged by Calvin Gurley, Renee Bowser, Baruti Jahi, Judi Jones and Max Skolnik. Let's start with the incumbent, Muriel Bowser.
MADDENWell, I think Councilmember Bowser has -- when you -- we talked about these races and whether there's like this anti-incumbent, you know, movement in a city, this is one of those races where there are a lot of incumbents that are really sort of splitting the vote. And also, Bowser, with her work, you know, pushing the ethics reform bill...
NNAMDIShe has emerged from the Fenty cocoon, so to speak.
MADDENRight. There was all this talk or will she be sort of alone on the council when Gray first took over, but now, she's really emerged as one of the strongest council members, and you even hear talk about a run for mayor down the road. But -- and also she is --also, she's one of the few incumbents that has continually picked up endorsements, whether it's from The Washington Post or some of the other publication. So she looks to be in a very strong position to retain her seat.
SHERWOODShe has gotten corporate bundle money. Max Skolnik has tried to make that an issue at the one forum that I moderated. He made this kind of unethical charge against her, and I must say, a different Muriel Bowser, they're not seeing publicly stood up and let him have it.
NNAMDIShe did a wild woman act?
SHERWOODWell, I started to say wild woman. Actually, I was trying to...
NNAMDIBut that belongs to (word?).
SHERWOODI would just say she was a strong black woman. You know, you've seen them when they get mad. But anyway, she was very good. She just said, you know, I have been doing this for six years. She was just clear, concise and cold. And I said, wow, I never seen that person up on the desk before the council. But the...
NNAMDIShe seems to think that her strongest challenge is likely to be the aforementioned Max Skolnik.
MADDENRight. And Max Skolnik has these connections to, I believe, it's Ana -- I cannot pronounce her last name, but she's a former "Saturday Night Live" alumnus who is very, very famous. So that actually -- he's gotten some attention from some very famous supporters of his, and that sort of kept his name in the race and helped him raise some money.
SHERWOODHe has some background in children education issues, but he's new to the ward, something like two years. And Renee Bowser has run before she's got the advantage of having that similar -- the last name but in Mr. Baruti -- I wanted to say it correctly.
SHERWOODBaruti Jani. OK. I'd like to buy a vowel.
SHERWOODHe's a great guy. He's -- and he's very earnest. He's worked really hard. And, I mean, I was so impressed with the level of candidates at this forum or at least the one I went to. They all seemed to be knowledgeable of issues and had good points of view. I just think the split opposition among them will help Muriel Bowser on April 3.
NNAMDIRenee Bowser is a former Statehood Party candidate. She's running in the primary, the Democratic primary here?
NNAMDIOK. So she's decided...
SHERWOODShe's just like -- she's labor -- does labor law or something. She's, I mean, anyway, I just thought, you know, some of these candidates, I had to say it, although I encourage democracy, some of them are jokes on these panels and campaigns. And there are no jokes on this list of candidates.
NNAMDIJudy Jones is one of the candidates. What do we know about Judy Jones? Not a great deal? Calvin Gurley's name should be well-known because Calvin Gurley has run for office at least 250,000 times in the District of Columbia. And you see his posters up all over the place, sometimes even when there's no election going on.
SHERWOODThat his biggest achievement.
NNAMDII see Calvin's name up. So his name is well-known, but it looks as if the front-runners at this point are the incumbent Muriel Bowser and Max Skolnik. If you have questions or comments about the Ward 4 race, 800-433-8850, or the Ward 7 race, which we are moving on to right now. You can call us, 800-433-8850. Or you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Patrick in Ward 7, the incumbent is Yvette Alexander. Running against her: Kevin Chavous Jr., Dorothy Douglas, Tom Brown and William Bennett.
MADDENWell, Kojo, this race is actually shaping up to be what looks to be -- probably the most -- one of the most competitive races. Tom Brown actually this week and last week, not only picked up The Washington Post endorsement, I believe, but he also picked up both labor and business community at the same time, which is not easy to do in this city when they're usually pitted against each other. So it's...
SHERWOODAnd he has a history of youth programs, which is very attractive in that ward.
MADDENSo it seems to be that there is sort of some traction building behind his campaign right now. And, of course...
NNAMDIThe other person who should've had high name recognition in this ward is Kevin Chavous Jr. because his father served as...
SHERWOODYes, his recognition is a little bit high.
SHERWOODYes, his recognition is actually quite high.
NNAMDIWhy is this?
SHERWOODWell, 'cause his father used to be a councilmember.
NNAMDIHis father was...
SHERWOODWell, that was the start.
NNAMDI...represented Ward 7 on the council. He did have a setback of sort after he was arrested.
MADDENRight, there was an arrest for, I believe it was...
MADDENYeah, soliciting a prostitute, and that was...
SHERWOODI must say, I mean, and he says it was a misunderstanding. And whatever the details were, it's really bad that you kind of work hard to prepare to announce a candidacy, be the son of a well-known former councilmember who's gone to a lot of work in education and then be arrested. Odd circumstances.
NNAMDIWell, you know, long before -- I remember that long before Adrian Fenty got the reputation for knocking on doors, Kevin Chavous Sr. beat out the incumbent at that time in Ward 7 by...
NNAMDI... H.R. -- by knocking on doors and working up a lot of shoe leather, and apparently Kevin Chavous Jr. was trying to attempt the same kind of campaign or has undertaken the same kind of campaign but maybe can't get over the setback of the arrest too easily.
MADDENI think that's going to be sort of a bigger problem.
SHERWOODYeah. I think the arrest was not in Ward 7.
NNAMDIIt was not.
SHERWOODIt was like in downtown, North Capitol Street and something, in an area that's known for evening business.
MADDENBut he has stayed in the race, to his credit and his...
SHERWOODAnd he's a nice young man. I spoke to him. He said -- I went Monday, you know, it's early voting in the city. There are going to be more polling places open next week. And he was there campaigning, and I said hello to him.
MADDENAnd, of course, one of the other candidates, not in the primary but always gets a lot of attention from the press is Ron Moten, who is...
NNAMDIWho is waiting for the general election in November.
MADDENRight. Waiting for the primary to end. Yeah, so he's...
SHERWOODRunning as a Republican.
MADDENRunning as a Republican.
SHERWOODThey have their meetings in a phone booth (unintelligible). But, you know, Yvette Alexander, she's well-liked. She's criticized as the incumbent for not being more aggressive in proposing legislation. She said she looks out for her constituents as her primary goal, that she just didn't want to pass laws, but she's -- and then the ward was changed and redistricting, so some of the folks there at the Redskins' meeting there, I thought her reception was not the warmest. I'm not sure she did herself good there but...
NNAMDIWell, there was a quote that came from Alexander's chief of staff Jon Meyers that I find intriguing. He blamed -- because she was being criticized for not accomplishing enough, he blames what he calls Ward 7-ism, nobody gets credit for nothing, he said, in Ward 7.
NNAMDITo what extent is that, as far as you know, the lore, the political and cultural lore of Ward 7, that nobody gets credit for anything? Well, they've always had even, you know, I guess Vincent Gray kind of broke that mold when he was the Ward 7 councilmember. But he was, of course, only a member for, what, two years before he ran for chairman.
SHERWOODSo he, you know, abandoned his ward to run citywide. So I don't (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDII bet you H.R. is running for a telephone right now to tell you how much he delivered for the ward when he was there.
SHERWOODWell, but, you know, this concept that, you know, we're all crabs in a basket, you know, you see crabs in a basket and they're all -- and they -- as one tries to escape, they pull you back down into 'cause they're trying to pull on you. That's kind of like Ward 7 politics.
NNAMDIWell, Tom Brown running in Ward 7 got two interesting endorsements: One from the D.C. Chamber of Commerce's Barbara Lang and the other from Joslyn Williams, the AFL-CIO Metropolitan Washington Council president. Isn't that fairly unusual?
SHERWOODWell, that was Patrick was saying this -- that won't...
MADDENI just got hurt.
SHERWOOD...well, the sun will never set again on this -- on that deal.
SHERWOODI mean, that's a stunning -- but that's -- I mean, he's worked really hard. He has a good present. He has a good message. There's been no untoward, you know, news leaking out about him. He's well-mannered in the sense that he's, you know, people-oriented when he meets people. He's huge. I mean, you know, the Redskins could probably use him. He's a big guy, and he makes a good impression and he seems to know what he's talking about. So he's a tough candidate. The question is, is he well-known enough?
MADDENAnd it'll be interesting to see what these endorsements mean? Is this just a one-day news story, or is there going to be some muscle behind this? Will there'll be out there helping to canvass? Will there be money coming in from contributions from the business community? Because at the end of the day, that's what it takes to unseat an incumbent, is both a lot of organizations and a lot of money.
SHERWOODAnd we're not talking about a huge turnout here.
SHERWOODThat would help Yvette Alexander who's a known person and has a network of people. It's not -- I mean, I'm surprised when the at-large candidates were telling me at this forum this past week. There's only going to be like 45, 40, maybe 50,000 people voting citywide. So that means the turnout in some of these Ward races are going to be pretty small.
MADDENBut the early voting numbers are pretty dismal. We're talking about...
SHERWOODI've already voted and I like to point out.
MADDENI believe its only like, you know, the first day it was dozens of people versus the last three years.
SHERWOODI was number 83 when I was there late on Monday.
MADDENBut I think it...
NNAMDIWhy have you voted early? Don't you plan on being in town on April 3?
SHERWOODIt's not an absentee balloting. That's something different. This is early voting, and so I voted -- I was at the polls doing a story about early voting. I said, well, I'll just vote.
NNAMDIDid you deduct from your time on the job when you took time off to take care of your personal business?
SHERWOODI used my hand at the ballot as part of my video, so it was all working together. Working for you, I might add.
MADDENYeah. But I think there is a real question about how many people in the city don't follow local politics that closely, know that the primary is coming up so quickly.
SHERWOODRight. And it's also a chance to vote...
NNAMDIBut it's very early.
SHERWOOD...for Obama is on the ballot as the nominee for the Democratic Party.
NNAMDIBut it is so early.
NNAMDIWe're used to our primaries in September...
MADDENRight, and I'm...
NNAMDI...here in the District.
SHERWOODThis is the first April primary.
MADDENAnd I'm surprised that more candidates are not putting that date in big letters on their -- on the signs out all over the city.
SHERWOODSandra Seegers, who's running in Ward 8 against Marion Barry, starts every sentence, primary is April 3, vote for SS.
NNAMDIYes. Well, you need to know that the primary is...
NNAMDI...April 3. We've mentioned that there are several things that I have been instructed to mention by way of tweets from some...
SHERWOODWho can instruct you about anything?
NNAMDISylvia Brown has tweeted that Ron Moten has an opponent in the GOP primary, and that is Don Folden, and so we should mention that because...
SHERWOODDon Folden who is a street vendor for a long time. He ran for a couple other offices, has been fairly energetic, but it's a tough race for him.
NNAMDIAnd then the way of celebrity endorsements, Sylvia Brown has also pointed out that Gasteyer -- is this how it's pronounced? Yes, Ana Gasteyer is supporting David Grosso in the at-large race, and that Max Skolnik has been endorsed by Russell Simmons, the hip-hop mogul among others. Any others?
SHERWOODI mean, Russell, I thought, he's running as an independent in the fall. He's not on the ballot now.
NNAMDIOh, well, that's -- he just mentioned it. He's been apparently...
SHERWOODOK. Well, Sylvia, she's going to ask for a correspondents team.
SHERWOODShe's -- she should have -- she's -- she was -- I'm just talking about the...
SHERWOOD...about the banning corporate donations.
MADDENWhich the mayor still has not taken a stand on, and we've asked him, I think, at every press time.
SHERWOODHe didn't take a stand on any campaign reforms...
SHERWOOD...this past week. It's not on our official lists of things to talk about. But on whether money order should be $25, well, we should have comprehensive reform. Well, what about corporate banning -- banning corporate donation? Well, we need to have a corporate, I mean, a big comprehensive view, you know, of the third one. I've forgotten what it was, but he said, let's have a comprehensive view. Muriel Bowser says she's going to try to put a campaign reform bill out this year.
MADDENRight. But they also had an opportunity to do it earlier when they were putting together the ethics reform bill.
SHERWOODShe said she don't want to mixed up. There's one thing about ethics. There's another thing about campaign. They're two -- they're similar, but they're different.
NNAMDIWard 7, the candidates: Yvette Alexander is the incumbent, Kevin Chavous Jr., Dorothy Douglas, Tom Brown and William Bennett. In the GOP primary, Ron Moten and Don Folden. In the Ward 4 primary...
SHERWOODCould -- I'm sorry. We didn't mention Rev. Bennett. You know, he's...
NNAMDIWilliam Bennett, yes...
SHERWOODRev. William Bennett...
NNAMDI...in Ward 7.
SHERWOOD...in Ward 7. He has, you know, he has some such -- and I was there for the dedication of the redone Pennsylvania Avenue in Hillcrest area, and he has some signs out, and he's working hard.
SHERWOODAnd Rev. Willie Wilson has been supporting him and, I think, Cora Masters Barry.
NNAMDIHe's a minister who's led congregations in that Ward for nearly two decades.
SHERWOODRight. I take it back. Can I say trying to take something back?
NNAMDIPlease take some of that back.
SHERWOODI don't think Cora has endorsed him.
NNAMDIOK. And we won't get that call from Cora today.
SHERWOODI don't -- Cora, please, don't call me.
NNAMDIIn Ward 4, Muriel Bowser is the incumbent. Her opponents: Calvin Gurley, Renee Bowser, Baruti Jahi, Judi Jones and Max Skolnik. Now, we do have to move on. Of course, Patrick Madden, you can hang out for as long as you want to. Well, joining us now by telephone is John Delaney. He's a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. He's running for the seat in Maryland's 6th District. He joins us by phone. John Delaney, thank you for joining us.
MR. JOHN DELANEYThank you for having me, Kojo.
NNAMDIJohn Deloney (sic) -- John Delaney, we were hoping to see you in the studio today. May we ask what prevented you from coming to Washington to join us in studio?
DELANEYMy apologies, and I know that I'll -- when I finally do open in your studio, I'll be very apologetic in person.
SHERWOODWhere are you calling from?
DELANEYI'm actually had to do something with my father who's been very sick.
NNAMDIOh, OK. It's...
SHERWOODI'm sorry. What -- but where are you? Are you in Maryland? I don't know where you are. Hello.
MADDENYes. I'm -- hello.
NNAMDIAre you in Maryland, is what Tom wanted to know, or are you out of town?
NNAMDIOK. I know you had a busy yesterday with Donna Edwards and Valerie Ervin, both of whom endorse you, but this district was redrawn this cycle. And most people would agree that it's a lot more friendly to Democrats than it used to be regardless and in spite of the winner of this primary is still likely to be up against Roscoe Bartlett. He's a Republican who has held the seat for about two decades. What do you have in your armory to defeat Roscoe Bartlett?
DELANEYWell, Kojo, I've been running basically on two primary areas of focus. The first is my track record as a job creator, which, I think, has resonated very well in the Democratic primary and will continue to resonate in the general election. I've created 1,000 jobs in Montgomery County and helped thousands and thousands of small businesses around the country. And so I think I'm well-positioned to understand what's going on in terms of the workforce trends in this country, which are very concerning but reversible if we put the right policies in place.
DELANEYAnd I also think that my perspective, which is as an outsider -- even though I've been a loyal Democrat my whole life and active in the party and a trustee to the Maryland Democratic Party and a Hillary delegate to the convention and those kind of things -- I do bring a fresh perspective to the race. And I think that's resonated very well in the primary, and I think that'll continue to resonate well in the general. So I think my message will be the same.
DELANEYAnd I think the momentum we're seeing now will continue into the general, which is why I think I'm the best candidate. We've also had a very good campaign. We've had strong endorsements from local and national leaders and editorial boards of all the papers that have endorsed in the race. And again, I think that momentum puts me in a really good position to take the seat back for Democrats.
NNAMDIYou do have a well-established reputation as a Democrat. But you also actually once gave money to Andy Harris, the Republican who is holding the seat right now. Why?
DELANEYIt was a personal matter, and it wasn't based on political views. It was just a personal matter.
NNAMDIYour turn, Tom.
SHERWOODThis is Tom Sherwood from Channel 4. I was looking over your bio in -- on your campaign site about all -- in addition to the work you've done and creating jobs and the businesses you've done, you do a lot of social work. And you're -- it says you and your wife Ann are very big supporters of the Catholic charities. Where are you standing on the same-sex marriage issue in the state?
DELANEYApril and I think the legislation that's been passed is historic and important, and we've been strong supporters of same-sex marriage since the issue really became relevant for people to talk about.
SHERWOODAnd nationally, there is an issue with the health care law about what would be mandated or what wouldn't be in terms of contraception. Do you have any thoughts about that?
DELANEYYeah. I think the president has struck a perfect balance, and I think where we've ended up is the right place to be. And so, you know, I'm supportive of that position.
SHERWOODAnd can I...
DELANEYI think it's unfortunate that this issue was, you know, that women's rights have come under assault again because I do think reproductive rights are a fundamental human right at this point. And it's just unfortunate that we're even spending time talking about something that, at this point, should be unassailable. But we are, unfortunately. And I think the president has handled this very well, and I'm supportive of the position he's taken at this point.
NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, we're talking with John Delaney. He's a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives running for the seat in Maryland's sixth district. We have a lot of callers who want to talk to you, but I need to circle back to the question I asked you earlier about the donation to Andy Harris who represents the first district. You said it was a personal matter. I have never heard a response like that to a political donation before. Can you, please, explain?
DELANEYYes. A good friend of mine asked me to contribute to his campaign and I did.
NNAMDIOh, OK. I need $100,000, John Delaney.
NNAMDII got to get in touch with a friend. How do you explain to Democrats that you did that on the basis of friendship even though you are a lifelong Democrat?
DELANEYNo. It's -- it really hasn't -- even though people have talked about it, I think everyone pretty much understands, you know, my rationale for doing it and looks at my track record of being a very, very supportive Democrat across, now, 20 years and some of the leadership positions I've had in the party and how it supported candidates, not only in Maryland but all over the country. And I think people, when they look at it, they see that I'm a strong Democrat. And I think they take my answer on face value.
SHERWOODIf I -- this is Tom Sherwood again if you don't mind one quick question. You've said that you're running somewhat as an outsider, meaning -- you haven't held office, I guess, is what that means. But you had been very active in campaigns and politics. And so how is it that you are an outsider? And you've loaned your campaign $1.2 million.
DELANEYRight. And I have been active in the party. As I said, I was a trustee with the Maryland Democratic Party. I've been very engaged in the party. I've been engaged with the party nationally. I've had the support of local Democratic leaders like Doug Duncan and Donna Edwards. President Clinton is endorsing my campaign. So I clearly am someone who has spent a lot of time in the Democratic Party.
DELANEYBut I think what I bring that's unique and, quite frankly, I think we're lacking in Congress is that real-world experience, as someone who's been out there and created jobs because employment is the central issue we're facing as a country, and it's not really about economics. It's actually about American values to my mind.
DELANEYAnd so it feels to me like the kind of experience I have, which is someone who has actually gone out there, started two businesses from scratch, created 1,000 jobs in Maryland, financed over 5,000 small businesses around the country, the kind of businesses that were ignored by Wall Street banks and commercial banks and done it in a way where the Obama administration gave us an award for the way we've supported businesses, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
DELANEYI think that's exactly the kind of experience we need down, and that's the outsider's perspective. But I bring to bear from the perspective of someone who believes government has a strong role in leveling the playing field, taking care of those left behind, creating a social net. So I think it's an outsider's perspective from what I've actually been doing day to day for the last 20 years.
SHERWOODOK. If I can just say, that sounds like virtually every candidate for Congress who's either been in Congress, 20, 10 years, five years or no years. Everybody thinks that they have the perspective, but thank you very much. I didn't quite know what outsider meant.
NNAMDIHere's Patrick Madden.
MADDENHi, Mr. Delaney. This is Patrick at WAMU. I wanted to ask you about your business record, which you just mentioned. I know your primary opponent has sort of focused his attacks on your firm, CapitalSource. Do you think -- first, can you sort of explain what your firm is? But also, do you think that this will become a liability in the general campaign if you were to win the primary?
DELANEYNo. It's been really sad the way my opponent has approached his campaign because he said things about CapitalSource that are just, you know, blatantly false. And even all the third party news organizations at this point have acknowledged that these are false accusations. And, again, I think it's sad. I mean, CapitalSource is very much an admired company. It's received numerous awards for its commitment to the community.
DELANEYWhen the recession hit, The Washington Post singled it out as one of the companies that really stepped forward and helped its community. As I said, the Obama administration gave us an award, something called the Bank Enterprise Award, in 2010, which is given to less than 1 percent of the lenders in the country. Sixty out of 8,000 lenders receive this award, and it's specifically for lending into disadvantaged communities and doing it in an ethically and responsible way.
DELANEYSo I actually think my background -- which is working with small companies around the country, working with these wonderful entrepreneurs and small business owners and startup and job creators -- I think it's a huge asset to the campaign because, again, I think it's such a unique experience relative to what we have in Congress because I believe when I'm in Congress, on either side of the aisle there won't be anyone with the breadth or depth of job creation experience that I have.
DELANEYSo I think it's unfortunate that my opponent has somehow tried to take something that is really kind of the American dream and is a company that's very focused on where we as Democrats want to see job creation, we want to see policies supporting what small businesses are doing, and he somehow, you know, created a bunch of false statements to try to create a negative. But, fortunately, you know, the truth prevails on this.
NNAMDINow, on to the telephones. John Delaney is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. He's running for the seat in Maryland's 6th District. Here is Terry in Oakland, Md. Terry, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TERRYHi, Mr. Delaney.
NNAMDIGo ahead, Terry.
DELANEYYes. Yes, sir.
TERRYI'm sorry. I couldn't wait. Well, sir, originally, I was going to ask about CapitalSource, but you just talked about that a little bit. So I got to be honest. I'm not very informed on the race, but I Googled your name and, you know, Congress, all that kind of thing. And one of the things that came up was on YouTube, and it was a video -- it had -- you know, it was about lobbying, and you were going to a function at a lobbying firm.
TERRYAnd I also saw your ads on television, saying lobbyists are bad. And I was just -- you know, I'm a concerned voter. Me and my wife, you know, we've lived in the western part of Maryland for, you know, 25 years. And, you know, I was just wondering what, you know, what that was all about, if lobbyists are bad, you know, what that video is all about, you know, that kind of thing.
NNAMDIWell, you should know that one of Mr...
DELANEYYeah. Again, it comes back to the...
NNAMDI…Delaney's opponents who we had on the show before happens to be a lobbyist, Mr. Garagiola, but go ahead, please, John Delaney.
DELANEYSo, yeah. Again, it's been kind of sad and unfortunate the campaign that my opponent's been running. He's had trackers following me, following my kids around. And what that was was I had left a law firm, where I had an event. It was headed up by several people who've been friends of mine for a long time, who are not lobbyist. And, again, it's just kind of an unfortunate thing.
DELANEYThe thing about -- the lobbying point that we've made in our campaign is really about the fact that my opponent didn't disclose on his bio that he was a lobbyist at the Greenberg firm, which is the firm that Jack Abramoff had -- who he had worked with at the firm. And he was there for five years. It was never on his bio, and he didn't disclose the income on his state financial disclosure forms.
DELANEYAnd the point we're really making is that, you know, if you can't trust him to say what he's been doing for five years, you can't really trust him to say what he's been saying about me.
SHERWOODCan I just...
DELANEYSo that's really the lobbying point.
NNAMDITerry, thank you for your call. Here's Tom Sherwood.
SHERWOODI think I just missed -- what is the YouTube video? Am I missing something really good?
NNAMDIOoh, I'm sorry. Terry is gone. He would have been able to tell you what he saw on the YouTube video. John Delaney, are you aware...
SHERWOODDoes -- do you know what he's talking about? Are we going to create big hits on YouTube?
MADDENYeah. You know, I walked out of an office downtown, and some tracker with a video camera popped up in front of me from, you know, from...
SHERWOODOh, it's not like you popping out of a cake or anything like that.
NNAMDIYou also say that your opponents have trackers following your children. That sounds kind of out of bounds. What do you mean?
DELANEYYeah, we saw them at my kids' school. Yeah, we saw them at my kids' school.
NNAMDIAnd did anything...
SHERWOODBut you don't know who was -- do you know who -- that they were connected to another campaign, or you just suspect they were?
DELANEYNo, we don't know that. But we do know that the -- my opponent, you know, because of the YouTube video that the gentleman is referencing, we, you know, we obviously assumed it was part of that.
NNAMDIWe got an email from Jeffrey in Germantown. "What's your stand on President Obama's freezing of federal salaries last year, this year and probably next year? With last year's inflation rate at 3.2 percent, we took a 3.2 percent pay cut. I expect a similar cut this year. I've seen nothing on your website, in your -- or in your campaign literature on this, and you have many federal employees like me in your district," says Jeffrey. Your turn, John Delaney.
DELANEYYeah. I'm hugely supportive of federal employees, and I think it's unfortunate what's going on. And I think -- to put this in context, what's really going on in our country right now is, because we're not dealing with comprehensive deficit reform and we're not touching the big areas of our budget -- taxes, defense and some of the other big areas -- what's happening here is we're trying to put all the pressure of the budget on our discretionary spending, and it's unfortunate.
DELANEYAnd that's really what's happening to federal workers. Because we're not dealing with this stuff in a comprehensive, kind of holistic manner, because we're not tackling the big -- the challenges we have to deal with in terms of our long-term structural deficit, we keep squeezing discretionary spending. And included in that is, you know, putting unfair pressure on federal workers. And I think -- so I think it's an unfortunate thing for two reasons.
DELANEYIt's unfortunate 'cause it's happening to the workers, obviously. And as someone who'll be representing these federal workers, I'll fight hard to make sure these things don't happen. But I think it also underscores what happens when we don't deal with our bigger issues. We end up -- there ends up being this notion of unintended consequences, right, because we're not dealing with the big issues the country is facing.
DELANEYWe're squeezing discretionary spending. We're not making the investments we need to turn our economy around. We're not investing in our infrastructure, and we're doing things like what's happening to federal workers, which is just unfair.
SHERWOODSome people think that the federal -- is a bloated workforce and it's got, you know, whether it's the postal service or whatever, there are just tens of thousands of jobs that are really not needed if someone would go in and look at the cost of all the people who work in the federal government. And I say that as the son of a retired federal worker.
DELANEYYeah. In my perspective on -- you know, I think the, you know, I don't think that federal employees fall under that category. I think if you actually look at federal spending and if you look at how efficiently some of our federal programs are run, I think you come to the conclusion that the federal workforce is not only a talented and very capable workforce, but they operate efficiently.
DELANEYI think the president, however, has shown good leadership on some of the reorganization efforts he is trying to do around some of the departments where there's a fair amount of overlap. For example, some of the things he's trying to do with the Department of Commerce and Trade and the Import-Export (sic) Bank. There is an opportunity to make our government, you know, more effective in terms of how it helps our citizens and helps our businesses compete not only in this country but globally.
DELANEYSo I think we can both, you know, acknowledge that the federal workforce is a very talented and I think actually fairly efficient workforce, but that we constantly need to be refining our government to better respond to the needs we have as a society. And I think the president said it very well when he said, you know, with the government we have now, it's not necessarily the government we need for the next century. And so, again, he's striking the right balance.
NNAMDIWe're running out of time. Very quickly, but the president has tried to lay down some markers for his own campaign this fall. One of them is about economic fairness, you said, about what was being unfair to government workers. His issue of fairness has to do with whether the wealthy paid their share in taxes and when it comes to what they pay the -- on investment income in particular, someone who's worth more than -- owe a few million dollars yourself, would you be willing to pay more and do you think Congress should raise taxes on people at your income level?
DELANEYYes, I am willing to pay more. And I do think as part of tax reform, there should be higher taxes on the wealthy. I'm in favor of the Buffett rule. And I think what you're getting at is the capital gains rate, because the capital gains rate at this point in our country is very, very low. It's historic low levels.
DELANEYAnd if you think about the reason -- and that's where a lot of wealthy Americans make money by investing money, and so the capital gains rate being low lower their effective taxes. And the president has proposed raising that. I support that. And I think, from a policy perspective, it's an appropriate thing to do because the reason we've had lower capital gains, historically, is to encourage people to invest in businesses.
DELANEYBut if you look the situation in terms of what's going on with big U.S. companies in particular, they have more cash than they've ever had. It's something like $2.5 trillion of cash is on the balance sheet of U.S. corporations. And they're all buying back stock and paying dividend. You saw what Apple just did, announced these huge dividends 'cause they're sitting on $100 billion of cash.
DELANEYAnd my point there is big U.S. companies don't need people to invest in them at this point because they're actually returning money. So we don't need a capital gains tax incentive to get people to invest in big companies. So that's the policy reason as well as the fairness reason. There's a good policy reason why we don't need to do that. Having said that, I think for small businesses, which there's a lot of data that suggest that their (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIWe're running out of time. Very quickly, you have about 10 seconds.
DELANEYI would be in favor of some slightly -- there continue to be some capital gains incentives for investing in those real small businesses.
NNAMDIHow much money have you spent on your own campaign in five seconds or less? Your own money...
DELANEYWell, we now -- our data is out. We raised $730,000 this...
NNAMDII was asking about your money.
NNAMDIOh. Is that correct?
DELANEYIt's 1.2. That's right.
NNAMDIOK. John Delaney is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. He's running for the seat of Maryland's 6th District. Good luck to you and thank you for joining for us.
DELANEYMy pleasure. Thanks for having me.
NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. Always a pleasure.
SHERWOODSee the cherry blossoms today. They're going to be (unintelligible).
NNAMDIPatrick Madden is a reporter for WAMU 88.5. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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