Hamlet on the Potomac?

By Ryan Miner 

Only a few months ago, Montgomery County political insiders waited in angst for David Trone to announce his future political plans. Trone, at one time, considered pulling together a Montgomery County candidate slate, with Trone at the top, running for county executive.

The Total Wine & More former CEO was set to hand-pick Council candidates to run alongside him in a political coup, an effort to reshape County government under one name: Trone.

While the thrill of being the executive of Maryland’s largest county likely electrified Trone, the failed first-time congressional candidate still wanted to be a United States congressman.

Had John Delaney announced he was running for re-election in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, Trone would have likely run for county executive, most political observers say. That campaign would have been one for the record books.

But that’s not what happened.

Delaney announced in late July that he will not be running for re-election in his district but instead will seek the 2020 Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

A few weeks later, Trone, also a multimillionaire who doesn’t live in the boundaries of CD-6, announced he is running for Congress to succeed John Delaney. All at once you could hear the Montgomery County Democratic political establishment exhale in relief.

With Trone now out of the executive race and running for Congress, the three term-limited councilmen running to succeed County Executive Ike Leggett – Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal – can relax a bit without worrying about a Trone slate and the mega dollars that would have presumably bankrolled that experiment.

Or can they relax?

One name – State Senator Cheryl Kagan – pops up in almost every county executive conversation I’ve had with tuned-in Montgomery County politicos.

Is Montgomery County experiencing its own Hamlet on the Hudson moment? Or more appropriately, perhaps, Hamlet on the Potomac?

Is there a boat idling away on the Potomac River, waiting to bring Cheryl Kagan to the Montgomery County Board of Elections office to file her candidacy for Montgomery County executive?

Montgomery County sure would like to know what Kagan’s political future holds.

When Kagan is asked whether she is considering a bid for Montgomery County’s top office, sources tell A Miner Detail that she says she is pondering all her options and seriously considering a bid. Tomorrow, though, is Labor Day, and if you’re not in, some would argue, then why bother running?

But Kagan’s rising political star power is well-known throughout Maryland, including among some of the Democratic candidates running for governor.

Multiple sources have told A Miner Detail that Kagan, given her vast experience in Annapolis both as a state delegate and senator, is being vetted for lieutenant governor by both Rushern Baker and Kevin Kamenetz.

Kagan should be on top of every male gubernatorial candidate’s running-mate short list.

Kagan has the experience; she’s well-liked among her Democratic colleagues in Annapolis; she’s not a bomb-thrower, and her record on the environment will be a major selling point for Democratic primary voters. Moreover, she’s arguably one of the most pro-businesses Democratic state senators in Maryland.

Should Kagan decide to jump into the county executive race, the political calculus for the three male candidates already running will undoubtedly change. Kagan has a real base in Montgomery County, one that could deliver for her when the times comes.

It would be equally shocking, however, if you didn’t see Kagan on a 2018 gubernatorial ticket.

Don’t let the boat idle too long, Sen. Kagan. After all, those fumes are bad for the environment.

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