By Glynis Kazanjian
Rose Krasnow may prefer to be judged by voters for her credentials rather than her gender, but the fact remains she is the only female candidate in a crowded race of five white men running for county executive during the #MeToo movement.
A former county executive candidate and a well-known Maryland pollster see this as an advantage. The consensus is also that the June 26 Democratic primary election for county executive has no clear front runner and remains wide open.
“Rose Krasnow has a lane,” said former county executive candidate and two-term County Councilman Steve Silverman. “She is the only woman in this race. She is qualified and a woman, that in of itself distinguishes her.”
Women make up 58% of active registered Democratic voters in Montgomery, according to the State Board of Elections.
Krasnow is running against three County Councilmembers – Marc Elrich, George Leventhal and Roger Berliner, who are all term-limited, House Majority Leader Bill Frick, who was originally running for Congress in the 6th District, and businessman David Blair who owns a healthcare company.
But Krasnow, the former Montgomery County Planning Board deputy director who also served three terms as Rockville City Mayor, says she is not running as a woman.
“I am running because I am the most qualified person for the job,” Krasnow said.
Kagan, NOW endorse
Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Rockville and Gaithersburg, agrees. Kagan endorsed Krasnow Tuesday on Facebook.
“She’s running for the right reasons, not because she is term limited,” Kagan said taking a stab at Elrich, Leventhal and Berliner. “We need someone with a great deal of both business and government experience. Rose has worked on Wall Street, she worked in the nonprofit sector running the United Way, she was the mayor of Rockville and has served on the city council as well. For the last almost 14 years she has been at the planning department and has worked with businesses, civic associations and nonprofits.”
The same day as Kagan’s endorsement, the Montgomery County chapter of the Maryland National Organization for Women also threw their support Krasnow’s way. The Montgomery chapter is among the top 10 largest local chapters in the country, MCNOW President Elissa Blattman said.
Pollster Patrick Gonzales of Gonzales Research & Media Services, said a January 2018 statewide poll showed the most important issue among Maryland female Democratic primary voters was getting rid of President Donald Trump.
Gonzales thinks it’s possible that sentiment will carry into the elections.
“Fifty percent of female Democratic primary voters said ‘Removing Trump’ was the most important issue,” Gonzales said. “Female Democratic primary voters are those most likely to respond.”
Phil Andrews, who ran for county executive in 2014 after four terms on the County Council, also believes the Democratic primary election for county executive is “wide open.” He anticipates a higher voter turnout than in 2014, when state election officials reported only 16% of eligible voters turned out for a field dominated by incumbents.
A field of unknowns
“Most voters don’t know most of the candidates, and a majority of voters are probably undecided,” Andrews said. “Turnout will be higher this time, in part because of the number of publicly-financed candidates.”
Krasnow along with Democrats Marc Elrich and George Leventhal and Republican Robin Ficker have all chosen the public financing option in the county executive race in which small local contributions are matched up to six-to-one.
Silverman said according to a poll conducted by county executive candidate Leventhal in March, 59% of likely Democratic primary voters are undecided.
“Voters don’t know who these candidates are or what they stand for,” Silverman said. “The candidates need to get their name known and identified because there is no frontrunner in this race.”
Other Democratic observers of the Montgomery scene, such as the Seventh State blog, point out that of all the candidates, Councilmember-at-large Marc Elrich has run countywide in four elections, and has been the top vote-getter in a majority of precincts, particularly inside the Capital Beltway where his base is. Elrich also leads in group endorsements from 20 labor and progressive groups, including, most recently, NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Krasnow said she is thrilled to be endorsed by MCNOW.
“I feel I’ve always been supportive of NOW’s platform,” Krasnow said.
Krasnow will be able to use the MCNOW logo on her campaign literature, and the chapter will meet with endorsed candidates and membership on May 16, according to Montgomery County NOW member Holly Joseph.
Krasnow is currently president of Montgomery Women, an organization launched in 2001 intended to encourage women to run for elective office. She said the women’s group started after then Gov. Parris Glendening, D, didn’t include any women on an appointments list for board and commission members.
“I do believe women have a different perspective, and it’s important to have that perspective at the table,” Krasnow said.