Politics Roundup: Two Candidates in Montgomery County Slide through Filing Deadline Unopposed

February 28, 2018
by Louis Peck and Andrew Metcalf
Bethesda Beat Magazine
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More than 60 public offices—ranging from U.S. senator to school board—will be on the ballot in Montgomery County this year. A flurry of activity just prior to Tuesday’s 9 p.m. filing deadline created races for several previously uncontested seats.

But two Montgomery County officeholders—State’s Attorney John McCarthy and District 17 state Sen. Cheryl Kagan—emerged with no opposition in the June 26 primary or the November general election, guaranteeing both another four-year term in office.

McCarthy, a Gaithersburg resident, was first elected as state’s attorney in 2006 after serving as chief deputy to his predecessor, Doug Gansler. This will be his fourth term in office; he was also re-elected without primary or general election opposition in 2010, and easily defeated a Republican challenger in 2014.

For a time, it appeared that McCarthy would have primary opposition this year. But Rockville attorney Thomas DeGonia, after initially announcing his candidacy, later decided against challenging McCarthy.

Kagan’s free pass this year follows two often bitter primary contests for the Senate seat—which encompasses most of Rockville and Gaithersburg—in 2010 and 2014. The first time, Kagan narrowly lost a challenge to then-Sen. Jennie Forehand. When Forehand retired in 2014, Kagan defeated then-Del. Luis Simmons to win.

Kagan, a Rockville resident, also served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1994 to 2002.

Two other candidates for state Senate from Montgomery County emerged from the filing deadline with only minor party challenges.

Del. Ben Kramer of Derwood, seeking to succeed Sen. Roger Manno in District 19, has no primary challenger or Republican opponent this fall. But Rockville resident David Jeang filed to appear on the Green Party line in November. The district extends from Silver Spring to the outskirts of Rockville and Gaithersburg; Manno is leaving to run for the District 6 congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. John Delaney.

In Silver Spring/Takoma Park-based District 20, Sen. Will Smith also has no intraparty or Republican opposition in seeking his first full term. But an independent candidate, Vardly St. Preux of Silver Spring, filed Tuesday to appear on the November ballot. Smith was appointed to the Senate seat in December 2016 to succeed now-U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin.

Local Republicans, who have not won a contest for the Maryland General Assembly in Montgomery County since 2002, scrambled Tuesday to file candidates in several previously uncontested races.

The 11th-hour effort produced a full GOP slate of a Senate candidate and three House of Delegate contenders in District 14, which covers the eastern portion of Montgomery County. The Republicans had earlier fielded a full slate in neighboring District 15, which extends from Potomac north to the Frederick County line.

Other Republicans emerged Tuesday to partially fill the party’s slates in Bethesda-based District 16 as well as in District 18, which runs from Bethesda through Chevy Chase to Silver Spring. Both those jurisdictions have overwhelming Democratic registration margins.

The only one of the county’s eight legislative districts in which no Republicans filed is District 20, where Democrats have a better than 7-1 registration advantage.