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Winners and Losers

Some winners and losers this week in Maryland politics:


Don Praisner: The retired CIA analyst is the obvious winner in Montgomery County this week, having bested school board president Nancy Navarro and two other Democrats in the primary for his late wife Marilyn's District 4 council seat representing the eastern county. Other winners in this hot contest were County Executive Ike Leggett and four current council members -- Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville), Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), Marc Elrich (D-At Large) and Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large) -- who supported Praisner. If Praisner defeats GOP candidate Mark Fennel in the heavily Democratic district in the May general election, he could tilt the balance of power on the divided council back to the slow-growth faction that his wife held together.


Montgomery County teachers union: The Montgomery County Education Association has now lost two elections in a row. In February's school board primary, it supported Alies Muskin for an at-large seat; she finished third. On Tuesday, it backed Navarro in the District 4 council primary; she lost. School Superintendent Jerry Weast also campaigned for Navarro. The conventional wisdom is that the union is a political power in the county. Is its reputation overstated? Or are low-turnout primaries held at unexpected times not a true test?

By Anne Bartlett  |  April 18, 2008; 8:17 AM ET
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It's nice to see that District 4 voters can think for themselves and don't need a union, a long list of names who endorse a candidate, or a ton of campaign contributions (i.e. 1 yard sign for every 200 feet of taxable county property nor 6 pieces of glossy litter in one's mailbox)to sway votes. Congratulations, Montgomery County District 4 Residents for thinking for yoursleves!!!

I kvell.

Posted by: Leisure World Resident | April 18, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

True but, I think this was always Praisner's election to lose. Navarro came pretty close to beating him, and so now I wonder who could possibly beat her in the next primary?

Posted by: True But... | April 18, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

WINNER: Mark Fennel won the Republican Primary for County Council and Property Tax Relief. He has pledged to vote to stick to the charter property tax limit. He knows that in a recession with $4 gas and 401k's tanking, after increases in state income, sales, car and corporate taxes and hikes in water, Metro and electricity costs as well as record foreclosures, we cannot afford the largest property tax increase in 20 years.

LOSERS: The Democrats of the Fourth County Council District. Marilyn Praisner voted for the largest tax increase in Montgomery County history---the 20% increase in the piggyback income tax in the l990's and voted three consecutive times from FY03-FY05 to exceed the charter property tax revenue limit. Her, 75 year old husband, who is running on her name, and not his record, has said repeatedly that he too will vote to exceed the charter property tax limit. The County Executive who has proposed the largest property tax increase in 20 years and who says the county faces a "deficit" the two years after this, has endorsed Don Praisner, as a yes vote to to exceed the charter property tax limit.

LOSER: The Washington Post. The area's primary news source managed to cover the special election so thoroughly and so fairly(see above unipartisan WINNERS AND LOSERS) that 88+% of the voters in the 4th District County Council race did not even care to vote.

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Broker Robin Realty | April 18, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The Post's Democratic pen says that if the Democratic nominee wins in May he could tilt the the balance on the council to slow growth. Why are you assuming that Praisner is more slow growth than Fennel when the opposite is true?

Posted by: Democratic pen | April 18, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Regarding which candidate may be more "slow growth" - you may have a point...there is no way to be sure.

However, why would we NOT assume the Democrat is more likely to be "slow growth" than the Repub? If an American (from just about any state) were asked this, they probably have the same experience most of us have ...that 95% of the time, a Dem will be more against "over-development" than his/her Repub counterpart.

Thats just the way it is. If Fennel can break that mold, more power to him. We have no evidence of this, however. Have you?

Posted by: Donny | April 18, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Donny, how could we have EVIDENCE of Fennel's abilities? He has never even been a neighborhood school's PTA officer, much less a person of significant influence over anything governmental.

Posted by: Donny Makes Sense | April 18, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

So how does this "slow growth" movement work? Is it "Make taxes so high that nobody can afford to live here", "Make life so frustrating that nobody wants to live here?", or "Let the transportation system go to pot so nobody can get here in the first place?"

Posted by: Slow Growth? | April 18, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Donny, there is a record. When Fennel was the Republican nominee against MP in 2006 he was on record as being against the ICC. He still is. I KNOW what will make you happy.

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Broker Robin Realty | April 18, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Representing people successfully in a Council district is solemn business that requires experience, connections, and above all, a track record of understanding local issues and shepherding them through to resolution. Mark Fennel may be an energetic idealist who makes his living criticizing what others have done but has no success record for fixing any of it.

Mark Fennel is the candidate who has never held even a volunteer position in public service.

Mark Fennel is the canidate who has absolutely no experience with the Montgomery County Board of Education, the Police department, the Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Public Works, Parks, WSSC, HHS, and has no relationships or name recognition with any of them.

Mark Fennel is the candidate who has not yet put any children through Montogmery County schools and cannot possibly relate to the real needs of the parents of school-age children or their teachers and aministrators.

As an idealistic amateur, if elected, Mark Fennel will not be taken seriously by the sitting Council members who can get things done and he will be neutralized quickly.

Idealism and energy do not fix problems. Experience and a proven success record delivering solutions do. The Rockville establishment will chew Mark Fennel up and spit him out in his first week, which will leave the 4th District with effectively no advocacy.

If Mark Fennel approached me with his resume to hire him for the job of representing me in Rockville (which he is doing by running), I would not hire him based on lack of qualifications and experience. Would you hire a pharmaceutical sales rep to perform back surgery because he has been around doctors?

Posted by: A matter of qualifications | April 18, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

So, question for the above poster....did you vote for Obama or Hilary?

Posted by: Liz | April 18, 2008 6:43 PM | Report abuse

A matter of qualifications. What would you do if he had Robin Ficker helping him? Mark Fennel is an expert in finding waste, mismanagment and inefficiency. He attended Montgomery County public schools K-12. You seem to think that someone who looks for the aforegoing, "makes his living criticizing others." At least he is not going to be working four hour days like his opponent. 2/3 of Montgomery County voters have graduated from college and 1/3 have a graduate degree. Any of them are qualified to serve on the county council. You define the job as though only those with a certain esoteric knowledge can do it. This is supposed to be a group of the people, for the people and from the people, not just a little go along and spend along to get along club. Having one party only power results in corruption and cronyism. You sound like you know about the latter.

Posted by: Suppose he had help | April 18, 2008 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I voted for McCain in the primary and will again in the general.

I must ask you how this is relevant to district 4.

Posted by: Answer for Liz | April 18, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

You liken the county council to a group of doctors. Don't flatter them. A pack of card sharks would be more like it.

Posted by: gROUP OF DOCTORS? | April 18, 2008 10:41 PM | Report abuse

"A matter of qualifications. What would you do if he had Robin Ficker helping him?"

We would be poorly served by a Councilmember who needs a coach, as Mark Fennel needed to guide his thoughts as he stammered through the candidate forums. This is not the high school debate club or an HOA. We are in the middle of a legislative term with ongoing business and we need a Councilmember who is capable of establishing themselves quickly and performing well in the job on their own. If Robin Ficker was "helping" my Councilmember as you recommend, history shows that I'd be forced to watch the rest of the Council divert the East County's budget allocations to install Astroturf on the athletic fields in Potomac and Clarksburg by the time the FY09 budget was finalized.

"You define the job as though only those with a certain esoteric knowledge can do it. This is supposed to be a group of the people, for the people and from the people, not just a little go along and spend along to get along club."

I care mostly about how effective the person I send to represent me on the Council can be. In May I have to choose from two very different candidates who want the very serious job of representing me and my neighbors. One has many years of successful management experience and has been right in the middle of the real day to day business of running this municipality for 17 years. The other can't produce evidence that he's managed anything successfully, much less championed an ideological shift in a county government run by big spenders as he desperately wants to. There's no esoteric skill set needed, just effective management experience, people skills, and the real ability to advance the interests of their constituents at the County level, which one candidate has deomonstrated and the other lacks.

It's true that Montgomery County has a highly educated populace, and that's one reason we choose to live here. Many of them attended MCPS from K-12, many come from varioius national and cultural backgrounds too, but that's irrelevant to the issue at hand. The question is which of these two candidates, each with their flaws, can I place my trust in and hire to do the job?

It's got to be the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth.

Posted by: The biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth | April 18, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

You know, the last comment really has me scratching my head. How exactly has Don Praisner been "right in the middle of the real day to day business of running this municipality for 17 years"? Don is obviously going to win, but people are going to be surprised when they find out that he is not Marilyn and doesn't actually have any experience as a County Councilmember. Mike Knapp's wife is a bright and impressive woman but I wouldn't expect her to step into Mike's job tomorrow and know everything.

Posted by: scratching my head | April 19, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"A matter of qualifications. What would you do if he had Robin Ficker helping him?" writes 'Suppose he had help'.

I want a candidate who can go to the County Council meetings and make decisions for District 4's best interest without a chaperone!

Does Robin Ficker pin Mark Fennel's name and address and phone number on him each morning in case he gets lost, too????

Suppose he had help???!!! How's that for a campaign slogan! What a glowing endorsement of Fennel's abilities!

Posted by: I Suppose He Needs Help! | April 19, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Nobody is saying Don Praisner knows everything or could pick up right where Marilyn left off. That would be a ridiculous claim.

The fact is that Marilyn Praisner prepared and worked 7 days a week as councilmember for 17 years, and as school board member before that. Don was there with her through the hundreds of initiatives, budget cycles, community events and functions, etc. The business of the county became a part of his dinner table talk and daily life, and he saw what works and what doesn't. He has already heard firsthand what the citizens care about. In local government that is a huge advantage over anyone who might come in without the benefit of that experience.

Posted by: Yes, experience. | April 19, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Yeah so every Judges's wife can be a Judge too. Don Praisner's first worry is his health. The Voters are getting a 1/4 time council membgerr if they get him. Shriver tried that legacy argument too when he ran for Congress against Van Hollen. Don Praisner is running for two reasons: l. His last name is the same as a long-time incumbent. 2. He is a Yes man for Leggett. He turned down an interview with News Channel 8 on Friaday bgecause he had to go to the beach to recuperate.

Posted by: Legacy? Baloney | April 19, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

His first act was to let the Amish market go away. He did absolutely nothing to run the County Government for the past 17 years. Where is your proof he did anyhthing whatsoever?

Posted by: Right in the middle? baloney | April 19, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Come on Donny. Your main theme for the past year has been don't fund the ICC. Fennel has been against funding it for years. Why are you so strangely silent Donny?

Posted by: Where is Donny? | April 19, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"His first act was to let the Amish market go away. He did absolutely nothing to run the County Government for the past 17 years. Where is your proof he did anyhthing whatsoever?"

What a crock. His first act as Councilmember cannot occur until AFTER the election.

Also, if you did your homework, you would know that the owner of that retail property is the reason why the Amish Market is moving. They want a 7 day a week business generating higher revenues in there. That's their right as a capitalist free market company. The Amish Market is a business tenant like any other, they are not a school or police station, and the County Council is not there to retain the Amish Market.

None of this health rhetoric does anything to change the fact that one candidate knows the people, issues, and District, and the other "is against the ICC". So are thousands of others. Big deal.

Where is the proof that Fennel can produce any results? There is none. Praisner has the support of five elected officials and a management career in public service where he was accountable for producing outcomes. Fennel has the support of a guy with a bunch of signs and a career in a PAC that does nothing but point stuff out. That's the first proof that Praisner can get things done.

Posted by: Still more absurd statements from political Romper Room | April 19, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Once again reckless and false statements must be corrected here.

Don Praisner didn't go to the beach to recuperate from anything. He went to attend HOA meetings with the beach community that he owns a home in (meetings that have been on the calendar for months). Once again check your facts before you cry wolf and make a fool of yourself again.

By the way, how do you have access to know when interviews are scheduled? This information is not published. Do you work for Allbritton or News Channel 8? Where was News Channel 8 on primary election night? No mention of this election. Are you making up more fiction?

In case anybody has a real doubt, not only has Don Praisner been listening to and discussing county issues for the last 17 years with his wife, he has actually been involved by being on the board of directors of CCA, CHI, and First Tee among others (check his bio on his website).

Posted by: Fennel Follower Foot Firmly In Mouth (again) | April 19, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Praisner is a Leggett yes man for the tax increases Leggett has poropoosed this year--the largest property tax increase in 20 years and the property tax increases Leggett has in mind for the next two years.

If Praisner was following his wife's actions for 17 years, why did he let the Amish market go without a peep. He was clueless as to what she was working on.

He ducked his News Channel 8 interview on Friday.

Fennel is a sure vote against exceeding the charter property tax limit. If the November ballot question passes, his vote will block property tax increases which exceed the charter limit. That is a bigger result than Don Praisner has achieved in 76 years.

Praisner went to the beach for R & R. Something he needs on a daily basis.

Posted by: A Leggett yes man | April 20, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

When a 76 year old goes in the hospital during a campaign, we need to know why. The David Drew clinic does the most comprehensive physical exam possible and does it all in one day. They don't keep you overnight. They don't keep you for three days. Praisner has a serious health problem as well as miniscule energy. The voters deserave more than this. If his name were Don Brown, he wouldn't be elected an assistant precinct chairman.

Posted by: Where are the medical records' | April 20, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The Post endorsed Navarro in montgomery and Ortiz in P.G.for county council. Neither won. The Gazette endorsed Ryan---he was 4th and McKinnis---he was second. These newspaper endorsements don't mean a thing.

Posted by: Post endorsements | April 20, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The Post wrote: "If Praisner defeats GOP candidate Mark Fennel"...It's a big if. The vote will come out for Fennel.

Posted by: FENNEL WILL WIN! | April 20, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Ok, let's summarize the little arguements you Fennel supporters have made about Don Praisner:

- He's an old man.
- Amish Market relocating (critical lifeblood of District 4 - we are all doomed now).
- "Ducked" some hypothetical interview that may or may not have actually been requested as if the TV news can tell him what to do.
- Went for some medical tests.
- Went to his beach house and attended a long-planned HOA meeting there.
- Is not actually Marilyn Praisner with a beard.
- Prior to Marilyn's passing, did not predict that whe would pass away during surgery and stop the Amish Market business from finding another lease.
- Knows (the duly elected) County Exec Ike Leggett.

Is that all you got? No relevance or substance to any of these points. Some of them border on the incoherent.

Stop insulting everybody's intelligence with your whining.

Posted by: Stop insulting everybody's intelligence | April 20, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

He told the MCEA &MFTA that he supports funding their full contracts which means big tax increases. He tells the public that he is a fiscal conservative. He votes to exceed the charter property tax limit which means big tax increase. He runs as a lame duck as a 76 year old freshman. Get a life Praisner.

Posted by: Praisner triple switch | April 20, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

The fennel crowd can dish it out but they sure can't take it. Get a life Don Praisner?

Posted by: when you cant win on points just insult the man | April 20, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

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