The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee tapped Linda Foley on Nov. 30 for the District 15 legislative vacancy.
Foley chairs the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.
2o of the 24 central committee members voted for Foley.
While Foley could have voted in the vacancy process, she chose to recuse herself.
Former state Del. Saqib Ali (D) earned one vote, as did applicant Michael Schrier.
Amy Frieder, David Griffith and Colin Richard also applied for the vacancy.
Foley’s nomination heads now to Gov. Hogan for approval.
Watch the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s Nov. 30 meeting.
Is Democratic Chairwoman Linda Foley Unfairly Benefiting From Party Resources?
*Article updated Dec. 1, 2021.*
The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee is under scrutiny over whether it conducted a fair process.
On Twitter, Frieder, a Harvard Law School student and U.S. Air Force Reservist, questioned the fairness of the legislative vacancy process.
She said Democratic Party leaders used their power to benefit Foley’s candidacy directly.
Foley Using Democratic Party Precinct Information to Contact Party Officials
There’s certainly evidence to support Frieder’s allegations.
Frieder said District 15 club leaders told her that precinct official information was private and unavailable to her.
But why did Linda Foley have access to precinct contact information?
The central committee later reversed coursed and offered the other applicants the contact information for the precinct officials – only after Frieder submitted a complaint to the state Democratic Party.
Foley contacted the District 15 precinct officials far in advance before the other candidates had access to their contact information.
Listen below to a voicemail Foley left for one of the District 15 precinct officials.
Hey [Name Redacted], it’s Linda Foley calling.
I’m calling all the precinct officials in District 15 because as I’m looking to take this delegate position and get appointed to it, I hope, I just wanted to say thank you to everybody who has been a precinct official and helped us during the 2020 election.
If you want to give me a callback and talk to me about my campaign, that would be great.
My phone number is [redacted].
I hope you’re doing well, and again, thanks for all your help in 2020 and before that.
Was it ethical for Linda Foley to use Democratic Party resources initially unavailable to the other District 15 applicants?
About Maryland’s Legislative Vacancy Process
The Maryland Constitution empowers state central committees to replace the Maryland General Assembly members who have “died, resigned, refused to act, or been disqualified, expelled, or removed from office.”
The governor makes the appointment to fill the legislative vacancy almost always based on the central committee’s recommendation.
Maryland does not hold special elections to fill state legislative vacancies.
The lack of transparency surrounding the vacancy process is cause for concern.
Partisan cliques wield significant political power when legislative vacancies arise.
These cliques are almost always infinitesimally small and annoyingly insular, and they often align with establishment-type party figures or whomever Party leadership privately anoint.
Perhaps it’s past time that the Maryland General Assembly consider scrapping central committee appointments and move to special elections.
But special elections are costly to taxpayers, and they historically favor wealthier candidates with significant resources to self-fund.
No matter where Maryland lawmakers may fall on the issue, legislative changes are needed.
For now, though, Maryland’s partisan central committees may wish to carefully examine its by-laws to ensure that its processes are equitable and fair to all vacancy applicants.
About The District 15 Legislative Vacancy
In November, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) appointed Kathleen Dumais, a longtime District 15 state delegate, to the Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Dumais spent her legal career as a family law attorney.
For the past 10 years, she has worked as senior counsel with the Rockville-based firm of Ethridge, Quinn, Kemp, Rowan & Hartinger and was previously a principal at Paley Rothman for 15 years.
Dumais, a Democrat, was first elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2003.
In 2019, she was elected House majority leader, and she recently served as vice-chair of the House Economic Matters Committee.
Dumais’ appointment to the Circuit Court triggered the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s vacancy selection process.
That touched off a process by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee to recommend a Democrat fill out the rest of her term, which ends in January 2023.
Registered Maryland Democrats 21 years and older who live in District 15 had until 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 29, to apply for the vacancy.