Montgomery County, Maryland, which is one of the bluest counties in one of the bluest states in the country, may end up being represented by a Republican thanks to a centrist Democrat’s recently announced campaign.
Democrat Nancy Floreen — who has currently serving her fourth term on the county council — is now running as an independent in this year’s county executive race, which is between Democrat Marc Elrich and Republican Robin Ficker.
“I am determined to give Montgomery County a third, independent choice come November,” Floreen told the Washington Post, saying that the two major party nominees were “flawed extremes.”
Elrich narrowly won the Democratic primary by less than 500 votes against former healthcare executive David Blair, who easily funded his own campaign after getting a $16 million golden parachute from selling his stake in his company (Catalyst Health Solutions) in 2012. Elrich’s platform is decidedly more progressive than Blair’s, proposing new “impact fees” on real estate developers as a means of funding county infrastructure. He is, according to the Post, a longtime member of the Metro DC chapter of Democratic Socialists of America.
Perhaps due to his stance on developers paying higher taxes, the business community is already rallying behind Floreen’s campaign, which has already been endorsed by the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation. Bob Buchanan, who serves as chair of the group, told the Post that Floreen is “a person the business community has come to rely on,” and that Marc Elrich “has an image of not being business-friendly or business-savvy.”
Montgomery County has roughly 380,000 registered Democrats out of 643,892 registered voters, according to the Post. Out of the remaining registered voters, approximately 112,000 identify as Republican, and roughly another 140,000 don’t affiliate with either party. This means that independent voters could be the deciding factor in whether or not the Montgomery County executive’s seat remains Democratic — as it has been since 1974 — or if it goes to a Republican.
The phenomenon of centrist Democrats running for seats after more progressive candidates won primaries isn’t just happening in Maryland. Ousted Congressman Joe Crowley, who lost the NY-14 primary to newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last month, is apparently refusing to relinquish his Working Families Party (WFP) ballot line in November. While WFP leaders say Crowley could end the controversy by simply changing his primary residence from New York to Virginia — where he’s lived for over a decade — he is refusing to do so as of this writing.
Nick Jewell is a freelance politics contributor for Grit Post. He’s a proud resident of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.