- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2018

Montgomery and Prince George‘s County voters choosing new executives will find a wider range of candidates on the ballots Tuesday compared with past primary elections, thanks in part to changes in campaign finance rules that make it easier and more affordable to run for office.

With a public election fund created in 2016, Montgomery County matches residents’ donations of $5 to $150 to local candidates. Prince George‘s County introduced a similar small-donor matching program.

Analysts say the increase in county-backed funding has encouraged more people to file as candidates. In 2006, Montgomery County had five candidates for county executive, and Prince George‘s County had two. This time, the total number for the two counties is 17.

Under the financing guidelines, a candidate’s first local donation of $50 qualifies the campaign for an initial $300 from the public election fund. The next $50 would be eligible for $200 more, and the subsequent $50 nets an additional $100. Local candidates could earn $600 in public funding from their first $150 in small donations from county residents.

In Montgomery County, seven people are vying for the term-limited top job. Perennial candidate Robin Ficker is the lone Republican in the race. The six Democrats are Roger Berliner, Bill Frick, George Leventhal, David Blair, Marc Elrich and Rose Krasnow.

Mr. Blair, Mr. Elrich and Ms. Krasnow are considered the favorites in the primary.

Mr. Blair is a former chief executive officer for Catalyst Health Solutions, which became a Fortune 500 company during his tenure. The Clemson University graduate says he wants to make Montgomery County the “startup capital of the East Coast” by providing space for new enterprises, supporting existing businesses and investing in local companies. Mr. Blair has received an endorsement from The Washington Post. His campaign is mainly self-funded with a $2.6 million loan.

Mr. Elrich, a County Council member, proposes raising the minimum wage, which he contends would make Montgomery County a more attractive place to live and work. Mr. Elrich has been endorsed by the NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC, the Montgomery County Education Association and the Metro D.C. Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Ms. Krasnow, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, said she wants to focus economic efforts on ensuring that businesses can fill open positions and giving residents access to higher-paying jobs. She also proposes eliminating the energy tax, which she says has hurt business in the county. Ms. Krasnow has been endorsed by Emily’s List, the Montgomery County Public Schools Retirees Association and others.

In Prince George‘s County, voters will choose from among a field of 10 for county executive, including Democrats Angela Alsobrooks, Sam Bogley, Billy Bridges, Donna Edwards, Lewis Johnson, Michael Kennedy, Paul Monteiro, Anthony Muse and Tommie Thompson. One Republican, Jerry Mathis, is on the ballot.

Prince George‘s County Executive Rushern Baker is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor.

Ms. Alsobrooks, a lifelong Prince George‘s County resident, is currently the county prosecutor. She says on her campaign website that she intends to build on economic development and help place residents in new jobs that are coming to the county. She has been endorsed by The Washington Post.

Former U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards said innovation will help drive the Prince George‘s economy. She said on her website that an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour would help lift people out of poverty. Ms. Edwards is endorsed by Our Revolution, the Prince George‘s County Educators’ Association and others.

Paul Monteiro served on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign as national deputy director for religious outreach. He says on his campaign website that he will encourage businesses to locate in Prince George‘s County by creating policies that will expand the commercial tax base.

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