Seal of Maryland

Maryland 2020 Elections: The Progressive Candidates to Support (Pink Tsunami)

If one has not noticed, there is a downside to the Pink Tsunami pieces in that it is difficult to get them out as quickly as the states have their elections. Even though this is my 8th piece, I am skipping a few states that have progressive candidates of their own simply because it is not feasible for me to get out a piece in time. Among those that will likely have had their respective congressional primaries by the time you read this include Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, California, North Carolina, Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, and Oregon.

At the very least, I plan to cover California at a later time and talk specifically about the general election, if only because we finally have a leftist challenger to Nancy Pelosi with a fraction of a chance against her. Depending on the circumstances, I may cover North Carolina, Mississippi, and Idaho in a similar way, but for now I want to make sure there is time to read about the primary candidates in some crucial states.

Due to the rapid spread of what I am now deciding to refer to as “the Trump virus,” eighteen different states are having their primaries in June. I probably won’t even get to talk about all the important ones unless some of the elections are postponed even further, so I plan to narrow them down by a multitude of factors. The ones that are the most significant are the primaries in Iowa, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, New York, and Colorado.

Truth be told, I decided to go with Maryland and Pennsylvania first because I had already started on my pieces for them before they were pushed back, so getting them out of the way will give me more time. Of course I don’t even know whether or not burnout will occur, but I will see what I can do.

Given that Maryland is a fairly blue state, it isn’t much of a surprise that six of its eight congressional district have progressive challengers. Similarly to both Illinois and Texas, the most high profile House race in Maryland fits the typical vein of a charismatic progressive newcomer running against Wall Street loving closet Republican that keeps getting re-elected every two years because billionaires and boomers.

Mckayla Wilkes | Brand New Congress

Our challenger in this election is Mckayla Wilkes, a young black single mother and activist who experienced first hand how our criminal justice system fails young black youths. Following the death of her aunt in the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon, Wilkes began skipping classes and was in and out of juvenile detention. This experienced exposed her to how the US justice system takes abused and neglected children, and instead of offering them a chance at treatment or rehabilitation, proceeds to mistreat and humiliate them until they view themselves as hopeless and irredeemable, which in turn leads to a cycle of marginalization and incarceration.

Republicans and establishment elites already lost their shit over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez going from a bartender to congresswoman, but just imagine how much the narrative would change if we elected a former convict? That’s not to say that Wilkes is even deserving of this label considering she was convicted over pot, but something like this is one of many reason WHY she is far more deserving of the position than any of these rich old white boomers who instituted these racist policies in the first place!

And yes, Steny Hoyer was first elected to congress back in 1982, and he’s been in one of the highest positions of power in Democratic party ever since the early 90s. Currently he is the Democratic Majority Leader and is the 2nd most powerful House Democrat behind Nancy Pelosi. While most progressives like myself see Nancy Pelosi as a weak and incompetent corporate pawn, it isn’t hard to see why some would get the impression that she’s progressive when you put her next to Steny Hoyer.

Steny Hoyer

For all her failings, Pelosi at least did not vote in favor of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, Steny Hoyer did. Pelosi co-sponsored the Do No Harm Act of 2017, Hoyer did not. Pelosi co-sponsored the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations act, Hoyer did not. Pelosi co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage act to repeal DOMA, Hoyer did not. I think you get the idea.

The short version is that Pelosi has consistently scored 100% from the Human Rights Campaign since she has been in congress, which isn’t an impressive accomplishment by the way. If anything it’s the absolute BARE MINIMUM that we should require our representatives to vote in favor of the best interests of their people. While I don’t plan to spare Pelosi even one instant when I get around to my Pink Tsunami piece on California, she at least has managed to clear this very low bar.

The Human Rights Campaign isn’t some bastion of progressive activism either, they endorsed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders despite their own ratings stating that Bernie has a better record, and endorsed an incumbent neoliberal cishet male Governor over a bisexual, progressive, primary challenger despite the fact that they are an LGBT RIGHTS ORGANIZATION!!! If you can’t even get a perfect rating from the Human Rights Campaign then you have no place in the Democratic party, let alone in such a high position!

As for the rest of his record, I will quote Common Dreams on this one.

Consummate power broker Steny Hoyer has long served as the number-two Democrat in the House, often using leverage for policy agendas that are unpopular with the party’s base but popular with Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. In late 2002, he was among the minority of House Democrats voting to authorize war on Iraq. In 2008, he angered civil-liberties advocates when he helped draft a “compromise bill” with Republicans that expanded government surveillance power and immunized telecom firms for privacy abuses. (Senator Russ Feingold called it “a capitulation.”) In 2012, he urged a “grand bargain” budget deal that would cut entitlement programs.

Hoyer’s prodigious corporate services haven’t flagged. These days, he’s busy obstructing progressive initiatives from Medicare for All to a Green New Deal. (Only 15 House Democrats have a lower lifetime environmental score from the League of Conservation Voters.)

It perhaps comes as no surprise that throughout Hoyer’s tenure, he has been a constant roadblock to any sort of progress in DC. Just listen to this audio of Hoyer attempting to pressure Colorado congressional candidate Levi Tillemann to drop out of the race.

Hoyer confirms what progressives already knew about the DCCC in this clip, that a bunch of corporate elites select business friendly puppets, and decide to rig the primaries in favor of them. Even knowing full well that Nancy Pelosi is an out of touch neoliberal stooge, one has to wonder how much of a difference would be made if she was as conservative as the Democratic party got. Just getting rid of DINOs like Hoyer, Dan Lipinski, and Henry Cuellar, wouldn’t solve all our problems, but it would remove a lot of our biggest roadblocks to genuine progress, and there is a decent argument to be made for strategically eliminating all the blue dogs first.

It is for this reason that I assume Justice Democrats have not endorsed Shahid Buttar. Part of the reason why Justice Democrats is the Holy Grail of progressive endorsements is because of their methodical and tactical approach to endorsements. Thus far, the only Justice Democrat to not win their election or come within a very close margin of their opponent this cycle was Morgan Harper, who I’m convinced they only endorsed on the strength of Harper’s campaign and to let the Democratic establishment know that even your standard fauxgressive liberals will be primaried to.

Of course, the problem is that it’s much harder to convince the neoliberal boomers who make up the majority of voters to vote against an incumbent unless they are DINO scumbags like Lipisnki. Thus the incumbents that Justice Democrats will actively target will be the borderline Republican incumbents considering that they are not only the biggest roadblocks to progress, but also the weakest links.

Steny Hoyer Insulin

But then that begs the question of why Mckayla Wilkes hasn’t been endorsed by them, and the reason for that being that the PAC has limitations. Given Hoyer’s status as House majority leader, it’s going to be significantly harder to primary him this cycle even if they did put their full force behind Wilkes. And it is because of this that I suspect they are waiting for a future cycle where Wilkes inevitably challenges Hoyer with more experience and name recognition. If anything though, the fact that candidates like Shahid Buttar and Mckayla Wilkes are getting as much support as they are even without Justice Democrats endorsements shows that voting out all these corporate drones is, in fact, possible, which is the entire reason to keep pushing onward.

6/17/2020 Update: McKayla Wilkes didn’t win.

But let’s not forget about the rest of Maryland, shall we? The second biggest race to pay attention to is the election for Maryland’s 7th Congressional District. For those unaware, this district recently held a Special Election due to the death of its previous incumbent Elijah Cummings.

When Cummings died, there was a parade of pieces singing his praises about what an amazing civil rights advocate he was. While I don’t doubt that is the case, it needs to be said that his record as a legislator was… not good, or at least not in recent memory. You know how I said earlier how someone who can’t get a 100% rating from the HRC does not have the right to call themselves a Democrat? Cummings rating in the HRC’s 115th Scorecard was 88%, Steny Hoyer’s was 97%. Going back further through both of their records, both of them had scored 100% for the 114th and 113th congressional scorecards. Then for the 112th scorecard (2011-2012), Hoyer scored a 95% and Cummings scored 90%.

Elijah Cummings | Clintons

It is because of this that I’m not going to act like Elijah Cummings was some pure hearted saint. He voted in favor of DOMA for fucks sake, and as a gay woman myself, there’s no way in hell I’m going to let off politicians who voted for this bill just because they say they changed their minds when it is politically convenient. Especially when they aren’t even consistent on it. Does that mean I think Elijah Cummings was a terrible person? I wouldn’t know, I never met the guy, but I can say that if he was ever a true civil rights warrior, then it’s clear that Washington got to him the same way they get to everyone who makes it through the front gates. I just hope to Goddess that Ilhan Omar doesn’t fall this far in 20 years.

So why did I bring up his record if he’s dead and isn’t the one up for re-election? The answer to that is that the person who won the special election to replace him for the remainder of his final term… is literally the guy who held the seat before him, Kweisi Mfume. Because nothing says progress like electing an old incumbent who already retired from his seat once.

And get a load of this, the reason that Mfume resigned from congress was to be President of the NAACP, which he eventually stepped down from due to allegations of sexually harassing his employees. I can’t comment much on Mfume’s policies, but this alone is disqualifying. But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised this didn’t effect his chances considering who our current Presidential nominee is.

If that wasn’t enough, the candidate who came in 2nd place in that election is Elijah Cummings’ widow Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, because being someone’s wife is now considered a platform. If her husband’s record is any indication, then we can probably do significantly better than her. Also worth noting that her own daughters endorsed another candidate. Damn.

Jill Carter

The candidate in third place in the Special Election was State Senator Jill Carter, who has been one of the sole progressive voices in her district, having often voiced criticism of former Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley’s “tough on crime” policies, and who has been endorsed by Our Revolution and the Sunrise Movement. She was slightly edged out in votes by Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, but but Kweisi Mfume got more votes than both of them put together.

But all three of these candidates will be on the ballot for the standard primary as well, so it is not too late to vote for Jill Carter. While I don’t have much optimism that the results will be significantly different, Jill Carter could still use every bit of support and every vote she can get.

6/17/2020 Update: Jill Carter did not win either.

There is one more congressional race where the progressive challenger stands a fighting chance, and that race is for Maryland’s 4th congressional district. Given that the incumbent Anthony Brown is a former Lieutenant Governor, one would think I’d find more information, but he’s just kind of a bland politician. He doesn’t seem to be an enormous shitbag like Steny Hoyer, or at least not AS enormous,  but he is very much a typical career politician. I mean, he’s a member of the neoliberal “New Democratic Coalition” and he endorsed Pete Buttigieg for President.

Anthony Brown is predictably opposed to Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, in addition to voting to extend the Patriot Act, to block protections for endangered whales, to roll back public health and environmental laws, to undermine the National Environmental Policy Act, to oppose the BDS movement, to ban vapes, and in favor of the anti sex-worker bill SESTA/FOSTA. He has also raised $885,697 for re-election, 59.90% of which comes from corporate PACs and 38.91% comes from contributions over $200.

Shelia Bryant

Brown’s progressive challenger, Shelia Bryant, has raised a total of $62,637, which is nowhere near enough to compete with Anthony Brown and his Wall Street donors, especially considering that 66.25% of Bryant’s money is self funded, which does not indicate strong grassroots support. While Bryant has still secured the endorsements of Brand New Congress, American Progressives in STEM, and the National Women’s Political Caucus, it will still be very difficult for her to successfully win this primary.

6/17/2020 Update: She did not sucessfully win this primary.

The remaining three challengers don’t even have financial information available, which doesn’t give me much confidence in them winning, but I’m going to discuss them anyway because we need to start somewhere, and because candidates who choose to work their ass off even against impossible odds deserve to have as much support as they can get. Of the remaining three, Maxwell Bero has the greatest chance of defying these odds.

Maxwell Bero

Maxwell Bero is attempting a primary campaign against Maryland 6th district incumbent Democrat David Trone. David Trone actually doesn’t have much of a history since he was just elected to congress in 2018. It is worth noting that he was the replacement of unintentionally hilarious 2020 Presidential candidate John Delaney, who was most known for being booed for a solid minute after bashing Medicare for All.

Needless to say, David Trone isn’t much of an improvement, hell he may be even worse than Delaney. David Trone’s shitiness doesn’t even start with his tenure. He’s literally the owner of a Wine company, because the Wine Cave jokes needed to be less subtle apparently. He has had more than one arrest and legal dispute as a result of his company, and also has a history hosting big money fundraisers for the Democratic party.

David Trone
Wine Cave Dave

In 2016, he tried the Micheal Bloomberg technique of spending an enormous amount of money to buy his way into office only to still lose to then Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin, all in spite of the fact that he spent the most money on any self funded House campaign in history. So he then decided to carpet bag his way over to Maryland’s 6th district and try again in an easier race, which he won. Since getting elected, his company has cut hazard pay for his workers in the middle of a pandemic, and is trying to get the 21st amendment overturned so he can sell more wine.

Maxwell Bero is the exact opposite of Trone, he’s a high school teacher running on a low funds and a progressive platform. While I can’t pretend that Bero will win, progressives in one on one races tend to have better shots than in crowded races involving multiple candidates, as is the case with the other two progressives. Maxwell Bero has thus far been endorsed by Our Revolution Maryland, Students on Climate – Montgomery County, and Student Alliance for Immigration Reform DMV, but it’s still going to take a lot for him to beat someone with as much Wine Cave money as Trone.

6/17/2020 Update: Maxwell Bero lost, so we have at least 2 more years of Wine Cave Dave.

The last two progressives in this state are Mia Mason, who is running for the Democratic nomination to take on Maryland’s sole Republican congressman Andy Harris, and Michael Feldman who is attempting to mount a primary campaign against Democratic incumbent Dutch Ruppersberger. Neither of the progressives have any financial data available or any significant endorsements, but they nonetheless deserve your support.

Mia Mason and Michael Feldman
Mia Mason (Left) and Michael Feldman (Right)

6/17/2020 Update: Michael Feldman lost, but Mia Mason pulled through and won her primary.

Mckayla Wilkes – Donation Link
Jill Carter – Donation Link
Sheila Bryant – Donation Link
Maxwell BeroDonation Link
Mia MasonDonation Link
Michael FeldmanDonation Link

Given that Maryland has no state legislative elections this year, in addition to no elections to US Senate or Governor, it’s pretty safe to say that this state won’t be as eventful in the grand scheme of things. Progressive eyes are going to be glued to Mckayla Wilkes come June 3rd, but progressives in stronger positions than her have already lost in this session. I imagine that the big event will be in 2022 when most of these same fuckers will be up for re-election again in addition to Larry Hogan being term limited and Chris Van Hollen needing to defend his seat.

If you don’t want  to wait that long though, let it motivate you to help our current progressive slate in any way you can. Even if none of them win, simply coming close to doing so will build up serious momentum for next cycle, which ultimately cuts down on the amount of waiting until we get rid of these Wine Cave dwellers forever. Keep fighting everyone!

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