Nationalizing Local Elections
By: Mark Hyman
There are 141 delegates in the House chamber of the Maryland General Assembly. The Maryland senate has 47 members. The elected position is part time, as it meets only 90 days each year earning an annual salary of about $44,000.
This begs the question of why national Democrats, including numerous heavy-lifters from the Clinton camp, have descended on Annapolis, the heart of Maryland District 30, to help elect a virtually unknown challenger who is running against a first-term delegate seeking reelection.
The answer lies in the identity of challenger. Judd Legum is more than just another young and telegenic trial lawyer seeking elected office in a state that may be the bluest in the nation. (Democrats outnumber Republicans in the Maryland House 105-36. The margin in the Senate is 33-14.) A fifth-generation Annapolitan with liberal roots, Legum is likely being groomed for bigger office in the years ahead.
The 31-year old Legum cut his political teeth working for the Center for American Progress, the George Soros-funded liberal advocacy organization run by former Bill Clinton chief of staff John Podesta. Legum later left CAP to join the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign as “Research Director,” which is the euphemism for partisan dirt-digger.
Legum gained a reputation as the individual behind some of the most vicious attacks the Clinton camp launched –Â publicly andÂ privately — against Barack Obama during the 2008 election campaign. For example, aÂ news analysis determined an anti-Obama automated telephone call message crafted by Legum was “so misleading as to be close to an outright falsehood.”
Legum continued his role as a political attack dog when he was hired in late 2009 to conductÂ opposition research against Andrew Cuomo, who was expected to challenge New York Governor David Paterson for the Democrat nomination.
In his most recent finance report (January 2010), Legum raised $65,000 for his race with nearly three-quarters of the money coming from out of state. In fact, Legum received donations from 30 outside states and the District of Columbia. A mere 80 of Legum’s 482 donors gave an address that falls within District 30.
In a websiteÂ posting, Legum engages in campaign sleight-of-hand in reporting the number of his in-district donations by counting the same donors multiple times who gave on more than one occasion. He does the same in reporting the number of contributions of $100 or less. Several donors gave amounts up to $100 on multiple occasions.
D.C. was the source of Legum’s biggest out-of-state campaign haul with nearly one-in-three of all campaign dollars raised (nearly $19,000), which was about the same amount of money he raised from the entire state of Maryland.
The D.C. contributions came mostly from political operatives with deep ties to the Clinton political machine or from staffers working for a pair of liberal special interest groups. Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, Hillary campaign chief Patti Solis Doyle and longtime Clinton mouthpiece Howard Wolfson sent checks for several thousand dollars.
Other one-thousand dollar check writers includedÂ Tracy Sefl with lobbying firm Navigators Global; Washington, D.C. super lawyerRobert Barnett; and Seattle, Washington’s Beverly Storb (who alsogave money to perennial Democrat presidential candidate and felon Lyndon LaRouche’s political action committee).
Tom Matzzie is a former senior official with MoveOn.org and the individual behind theÂ campaign to threaten donors to Republican candidates and GOP-leaning causes. He contributed $1,000. Legum joined Matzzie’s group immediately after Clinton suspended her primary campaign.
Legum’s in-laws Ponnuswami and Rose Thayaparan of New York City and his sister-in-law Beatrice Wilderman gave a total of $12,000 or nearly 20% of all of the money he raised. It is convenient to have rich Manhattan relatives. Stephen Geer who ran Barack Obama’s $500 million online fundraising campaign donated $500.
Several other Clintonistas gave money to Legum including Samuel “Sandy” Berger ($200) and his daughter Deborah Fox ($100). A few years back BergerÂ pled guilty to stuffing down his trousers classified documents sought by the 9/11 Commission and smuggling them out of the National Archives in order to destroy them. Hillary’s 2008 campaign strategist Mark Penn ($250) and other Clinton cohorts such as Harold Ickes ($250), Jim Gerstein ($250), Mandy Grunwald ($200), and Mohamad Elleithee ($100) chipped in to Legum’s race.
Rounding out the Washington, D.C. contributors were countless staffers from the Center of American Progress and Media Matters, another Soros-funded advocacy group.
Legum campaigns he would bring “fresh thinking” to Maryland and states he would accomplish this by unseating a Republican incumbent. This is a completely silly claim as Republicans in the Maryland legislature are such a small minority that they cannot pass a single piece of legislation on their own. In fact, the General Assembly has been under one-party rule since the Civil War. Only five Republicans have served as governor since 1900.
Legum offers more of the Maryland Democrat party’s same-old, same-old. His positions are the typical liberal slogans about creating “renewable energy” jobs, “standing up to powerful special interests,” “closing corporate tax loopholes” and “invest[ing] in workforce education.” He doesn’t campaign on cutting spending, lowering taxes or reducing the size of government, which would actually represent “fresh thinking” in Annapolis.
Legum is running against Delegate Ron George, a longtime Annapolis business owner, whose experience in private industry places him in a very small minority of Maryland elected officials. In contrast, Legum would join the legions of trial lawyers who already dominate the General Assembly.
George may be best known outside of Maryland for his successful efforts to end the state’s practice of issuing driver’s licenses toÂ illegal aliens. Legum holds a contrary point of view andÂ argues secure borders advocates hold “positions which are, by all accounts, basically racist.”
This spring, Legum took a shot at George underscoring that Legum is still on the man-madeÂ global warming bandwagon that was totally discredited with theÂ revelation last year that nearly all of the critical data promoted by global warming enthusiasts was doctored.
The next finance report is due in August. It will be of no surprise if Legum significantly out-raises George in campaign dollars. However, as America witnessed with the 2008 Hillary campaign and Terry McAuliffe’s failed 2009 Virginia gubernatorial bid, big fundraising and Clinton-style political positions are no longer enough to guarantee nomination, let alone election victory.
The grooming of the young Judd Legum may give rise to speculation of how history would have been altered had Barack Obama lost his first race for political office in 1996.
Mark Hyman is a commentator for Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
Mark Hyman hosts "Behind the Headlines," a commentary program for Sinclair Broadcast Group.