Last week, the three Montgomery County Executive candidates released their campaign finance report summaries, as the candidates have made their final push a week before the midterm elections on Nov. 6.
Independent candidate Nancy Floreen has the second-most cash on hand, with a balance of $119,944.64 left, according to her latest filing. Floreen, who is the only candidate for Montgomery County Executive not participating in the County public campaign finance system, has spent much of that money on paid television and internet ads attacking her opponents.
In one of her latest ads, Floreen has taken a negative angle, trying to portray Democratic nominee Marc Elrich, as a polarizing figure who is against growth, and Republican candidate Robin Ficker as not a serious candidate.
“Who do you trust to lead Montgomery County’s future? Nancy Floreen believes in smart growth and growing jobs. Marc Elrich has fought growth, driving jobs away,” said the narrator in Floreen’s ad.
In the campaign, Floreen has positioned herself as a moderate alternative to Elrich, who some business owners do not support, given his record for pushing for regulations they do not like, such as increases in the County minimum wage. During her 16 years on the County Council, Floreen has advocated for increased growth in the County – something that has drawn the ire of some residents who worry about development.
After Ken Meyers, a Gaithersburg resident and supporter of Elrich, filed a complaint alleging that Floreen’s campaign had violated state campaign finance law by accepting donations from organizations that were too closely affiliated with one another, Floreen returned $18,000 in contributions.
This week, Floreen’s campaign filed a complaint with the Maryland State Board of Elections, alleging that a political action committee supporting Elrich accepted an illegal contribution from another PAC.
Floreen’s campaign has alleged that the Delaware-based Empower PAC donated $20,00 to the Montgomery Neighbors PAC, exceeding the legal limit of $6,000.
For Elrich, who has reported a balance of $193,376.92, thanks to publicly-matched campaign funds, has also made development a key part of his message, but has taken the opposite approach to Floreen’s.
Elrich has blamed many of the County’s biggest ills – traffic congestion and overcrowded schools – on improperly managed development. While Elrich has said he is not against increased growth, he stated that developers need to pay more for the needed infrastructure to accommodate the increasing population of the County.
“That’s why our next County Executive has to require developers to solve the problems their developments create,” Elrich said.
Elrich has positioned himself as a strong progressive, with the backing of the County’s unions and left-wing PACs. On Tuesday, Elrich appeared at a rally for Ben Jealous, the Democratic nominee for governor.
For Ficker, who has a balance of $67,236.06, thanks to matching public campaign funds, has hitched his campaign on a grassroots effort based on channeling the frustrations of residents with the County government.
Ficker, who has only served as a member of the General Assembly for one term, from 1979 to 1983, has positioned himself as a political outsider who is the only one capable of bringing change to the County.
For Ficker, the Republican moniker is part of his brand as an outsider, as the largely Democratic County does not have a single elected Republican serving at either the County or states level.
A mark of any Ficker campaign ad or in-person speech is a reminder that he led both the efforts for term limits and an amendment to the County charter, which requires nine unanimous votes to raise property taxes above the rate of inflation. Voters passed both measures via referendums.
“The people of Montgomery County have a choice. They can continue with the status quo and elect someone who has chosen rhetoric that has continued to make our County worse, or they can choose a person who has a record of delivering for the people of Montgomery County,” Ficker said.