By Len Lazarick
Connie DeJuliis of Glen Arm filed for state Senate Wednesday, pitting her in the Democratic primary against incumbent Sen. Jim Brochin in District 42, which stretches from Towson to the Pennsylvania border.
DeJuliis, a former one-term delegate from Dundalk, then known as Connie Galiazzo , joins a handful of former delegates getting back in the game as candidates for General Assembly and a half dozen Democrats challenging incumbent senators of their own party.
“I am running because I believe the district needs a strong representative, a strong voice, a strong leader,” DeJuliis. “Representing a district is about more than newspaper headlines and voting no,” an implicit swipe at Brochin.
Unlike other challengers who have trouble getting any love from the Democratic establishment, DeJuliis has gained the help of Gov. Martin O’Malley, who sent out a fundraising appeal on her behalf.
DeJuliis is a trustee of O’Malley’s federal political action committee, Oh Say Can You See, and her husband Ron DeJuliis has been commissioner of labor during the entire O’Malley administration.
O’Malley drew lines to hurt Brochin
O’Malley is no fan of Brochin, who has voted against some of O’Malley’s top priorities. Senate President Mike Miller, whom Brochin has also antagonized on occasion, said it was the governor who redrew Brochin’s district to give him more Republican areas of Baltimore County and take away friendlier Pikesville precincts.
Brochin's website bills him as "Maryland's Most Independent Senator," and he says he "votes his conscience ... in the best interests of his constituents."
“You know, independence is great, and voting no is certainly a statement but that doesn't change anything -- and it doesn't make a difference,” Connie DeJuliis said.
DeJuliis has done polling; not releasing results
Brochin is known in Annapolis as a maverick who works hard at campaigning and raises a lot of money. According to his campaign finance report filed two weeks ago, Brochin currently has $228,000 cash on hand, clearly beating potential opponents in the money race.
DeJuliis raised $59,000 last year, but that includes a $20,000 personal loan she used to help pay for a poll from well-known Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates in Washington. She won’t release the poll results other than to say she wouldn’t be running unless she thought she could win.
She has $41,000 cash in hand and much of her early money has come from labor groups. She had a major fundraiser Wednesday night and was expecting 150 guests to attend.
Her husband had been a long-time leader of the building trades unions, and DeJuliis has lobbied for the American Federation of Teachers, the union representing Baltimore teachers.
“The most important issues facing this district are jobs and education. And the state has a role in both,” said DeJuliis.
“Public education should be our number one priority – if we are not adequately funding it we need to change the attitude that funding Thornton is discretionary.”
“As to jobs, if we are not creating and retaining jobs because of our inability to compete with our neighboring states – the simple answer is to change the tax structure,” she said. “I know our families are overburdened with taxes and our businesses are overburdened with taxes.”
Miller not planning to get involved
Miller said Brochin has not asked him for help in the race. “It’s very rare that I get involved in a Democratic primary,” said Miller, who has used a Senate PAC to funnel money to help Democratic incumbents get reelected.
“I wish them both well in the primary,” he said.
DeJuliis is no stranger to tough races involving incumbents. In her first race in 1990, in the three-member Dundalk district, she came in second with more votes than House Majority Leader John Arnick, with Del. Sonny Minnick losing a seat he regained four years later.
“I will run hard, I will run smart,” DeJuliis said.
In 1996, she challenged U.S. Rep. Bob Ehrlich running for his second term, and got clobbered, winning only 38% of the vote against Ehrlich, who six years later went on to run for governor and win.
Republican Cavey helping Larry Hogan’s campaign
Republican Chris Cavey, former chair of the Baltimore County GOP, filed for the District 42 Senate seat in November.
However, his fundraising has been meager, raising only $12,000 last year, and having only $7,500 cash on hand this month.
Cavey served as field director in former Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s last campaign against O’Malley, and has Ehrlich’s support in the Senate race.
Cavey is also now helping Larry Hogan in his campaign for governor, organizing Wednesday’s night announcement event, as he did for a huge Change Maryland party that brought 1,100 people to the site of the state Republican convention in November.
Cavey’s work for Hogan and his poor fundraising in a race against an entrenched Democratic incumbent has fueled rumors that he will drop out of the race.
“That’s a rumor,” Cavey said Wednesday in a phone interview. “I can’t substantiate that.”
“I’m prepared to run against either DeJuliis or Brochin,” he said. “The more the merrier.”
There have also been attempts to recruit Republican attorney Christopher West, currently running for the House of Delegates, to switch to the Senate race.
Asked about the rumors, “I am running as hard as I can for Delegate in District 42B and have no plans to switch over and run for State Senate,” West said in an email. “The Brochin-DeJuliis race is going to be one for the record books, and I am looking forward to watching it develop.”