There is nothing particularly shocking in Democratic County Councilmember Jon Weinstein's decision to support Republican incumbent Allan Kittleman for Howard County Executive. And I have known Jon and Margaret Weinstein from before Jon decided to run for the Maryland House of Delegates in 2010. I have supported Jon, encouraged Jon, had his back, volunteered for him, and advised him. And in return, he has been a friend to me. He credited local blogs, including this one, for putting him over the top in his race for County Council in 2014. And while we last communicated just after the primary election, he and I last met for a meal over breakfast about six months ago. Jon Weinstein is my friend.
And my friends are permitted to make stupid decisions, as it pertains to my friends' stupid decisions being in the public eye, and I as I have a public voice, I hold the standing to comment. So no, I'm not shocked at this decision. Jon has had affinity for Allan Kittleman for some time and had never demonstrated-- at least not since the first year of his Council term, in my opinion-- the same level of affinity for Calvin Ball. In fact I'm not even surprised.
But I am disappointed. Saddened. Because I think the choice that Jon has made is to back a style and philosophy of government that is not what the county needs now.
What this decision tells me is that Jon's vision for the next four years of Howard County's leadership should be just like the last four-- be a caretaker, deflect making decisions, do no harm, steer clear of controversy, don't take any unpopular stands, and maybe most striking-- disobey that axiom that the true measure of a society is how it treats the least among us. I have spoken with Jon about his vote against CB-9 at length, and I understand why he felt following Kittleman's approach was the better path. I understand his reasons. I also think he is wrong. As I stated in this blog's endorsement of Calvin Ball, this county needs concerned, committed, activist leadership. It needs a guiding hand and a hand up. Not Adam Smith's invisible hand.
In Jon's statement as to why he would not run as a write-in candidate and on endorsing Kittleman, he states that one of the reasons why he decided not to support write-in efforts was the lack of civility in political discourse. He correctly points out that both sides are accountable for that. What he fails to acknowledge is that it is the responsibility of leadership to turn that tide. And while we can't control what the President says or does, or even matters on the statewide level, we can tone down our own level of rhetoric and demeanor and Allan Kittleman, in my view, hasn't done two things to do that. And the only thing he did try, failed.
So Jon's decision got everyone spun up all over the Internet. Some were saying that his Kittleman endorsement invalidates everything he's done for his constituents (it doesn't). Or that he is super-courageous in "bucking his party" (I will say a little courageous, as I believe, and of course can't prove, that Jon decided his political career was over as soon as the primary recount was certified).
And there have been calls for some sort of statement, if not an explanation, if not sanction, against Margaret Weinstein, a member of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee, for her husband's endorsement of Kittleman. Here's what I think about that. I think Margaret Weinstein is her own person and will do what she chooses to do. I endorsed her for her office and I certainly hope she stays. To automatically assume her mindset is the same as her husband's on this matter is to not treat her as if she has a mind of her own and that's insulting. And here's one factoid to remember, friends-- I don't see where Jon has changed his registration. Still a Democrat as far as I know. So is Margaret's only "crime" having a husband declare publicly something that a lot of Democrats (and Republicans) do secretly-- vote non party-line? I don't know, but I'm leaving this piece up to the local Democratic Central Committee. All of them worked very hard to earn a spot on that committee. It's thankless work to be sure and this work most certainly is and will be.
OK, so-- over 750 words on this topic. Now, guess what? I'm going to tell you what I really think.
It's all one big distraction.
Oh, the endorsement and Jon's feelings behind it? Those are real. Don't get me wrong. I don't discount those one bit.
But, do consider this. A few days ago, AK-18 started running an ad with a local teacher giving ol' AK all sorts of As and A-pluses for his work on education. And yesterday, Jon Weinstein's big announcement about the general election. Because it's important!
Another important piece of local political news happened yesterday. Calvin Ball earned the endorsement of the Howard County Education Association for County Executive. The HCEA endorsement is a pretty big deal.
Does the timing of these actions appear a little suspect? Maybe even tactical? Of course they are. And this was the AK-18 campaign's plan all along. From whenever Jon Weinstein said, "I'm on board, Big Guy.": First, get the teacher ad out; second, get the Weinstein endorsement out on the day Calvin gets the HCEA nod; third, watch the Democrats fight and turn on Weinstein Democrats! Well, Meat Loaf sang "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad", but that's about it.
Some people told me during the clean up of Ellicott City flood 2018 that they thought Allan was manipulating Jon. Including people working onsite. As in, Jon would be busting his hump shoveling mud, while Allan would push a wheelbarrow 10 feet, then walk over, throw his arm around a sweaty, half-dead Jon Weinstein and snap a picture.
I'm of the belief that someone can be manipulated only to the extent that they choose to be. So I kinda think that the "Allan and Jon Show" in EC in the summer of 2018 was the real thing. Kinda/sorta? Because I also think it was done for effect-- an effect that buffed the CE's cred and that made Jon less palatable in his home district. And he was getting challenged from his left. I do believe that the AK-18 folks want to show their guy as being all into the EC rebuild and super concerned about being bi-partisan. And third, I think all that stuff paid off in ways that even surprised them.
Sparty wrote about the political fallout of the Weinstein endorsement of Kittleman. I agree that the endorsement will change very few minds as it pertains to who to support for County Executive. Yes, I can see the AK-18 ads now with Jon Weinstein, and there may be some people who will be struck by that. But I don't think that Weinstein's endorsement will have major import.
I believe that the Democrat hurt most by the Weinstein endorsement is Democratic District 1 Council nominee Liz Walsh. Because I think the endorsement serves to attempt to turn Weinstein Democrats against her. Of course, Liz Walsh didn't make Jon Weinstein endorse Allan Kittleman, and if 4 people had changed their mind at the D1 polls on June 26, or 7 people who liked Jon woulda voted instead of going home to do whatever, that primary would have been different.
But Liz doesn't deserve any blowback or any other nonsense about not having earned her victory. She is the District 1 nominee. During the primary season I became very familiar with her campaign and I know that the people who are helping her are passionate people who care about their community and want it to be better. Her campaign was as grassroots-oriented as any I've seen in the entire state in the 2018 primary. And her message certainly resonated; if it hadn't, she would never have been even close.
Therefore I am proud to endorse Democrat Liz Walsh for Howard County Council in District 1. A very interesting professional combination of contract attorney and engineer, Liz Walsh's skill set is one which is very sorely needed on the County Council. She is independent, tough, relatable, and tenacious. She is running against a Republican opponent, Raj Kathuria, who is a commercial real estate broker. I don't see where his election would help address issues of too much development and not enough infrastructure, neither in District 1, nor countywide. If you haven't met Liz, or know anything about her, take some time to familiarize yourself with her platform. You will be impressed and maybe even surprised.
And with that, I bring this post to a close. This was a necessary, although unpleasant, post to write. I believe in the Democratic version of Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment, "Though shalt not speak poorly of thy fellow Republican." And although I haven not been perfect in staying away from that, I don't make much comment on the people. I believe the people, even if I hold disagreements with them politically, are good.
Still, the D party can do ridiculous, inexplicable things from time to time. Sometimes, from the left side, but this time, from the purple edge. But I also think that the best thing to do is to move forward. Someone told me that in a little under 8 weeks, there's an election. And that it's kinda important.
Let's be careful out there.
#walshforone #hocoelections #hococouncil