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District 8 forum gives Carroll Democrats their day

It's not uncommon to hear Carroll Countians refer to the primary as the "real election" when it comes to local politics. With a more than 2-1 advantage of Republicans to Democrats in Carroll, this shouldn't come as a surprise.

The 2014 election results bear that out. Democrats didn't put up candidates in three of the five commissioner races, and only two Democrats filed and ran for three open seats in the House of Delegates. There was a Democrat in the race for county sheriff, but he had run for commissioner as a Republican just four years earlier, so take that for what it's worth.

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Bottom line: Democrats don't have much of a voice in partisan Carroll County politics.

However, there is one partisan race in the upcoming primary that Carroll's political minority could affect, and that's narrowing down the field of nine vying to replace Rep. Chris Van Hollen in Maryland's 8th Congressional District. Those candidates are: David M. Anderson, Kumar Barve, Dan Bolling, Ana Sol Gutierrez, William Jawando, Kathleen Matthews, Jamie Raskin, Joel Rubin and David Trone.

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While there are five Republican candidates vying for the nomination as well (along with a handful of Green and Libertarian candidates running in the general election), the makeup of the congressional district — primarily composed of Montgomery County, along with portions of Carroll and Frederick counties — is nearly 2-1 Democrats. So much like the local races here, the primary is the real election for District 8.

Carroll Republicans would be wise to familiarize themselves with the nine Democrat candidates for the seat in the House of Representatives. As much as conservatives might recoil in disgust, it's highly likely one of these individuals will be representing the approximately 35,000 registered Republicans living in Carroll's portion of the 8th District, which includes Westminster, the Eldersburg-Sykesville area, Mount Airy, New Windsor and Union Bridge.

On Wednesday, March 9, the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee will host a candidate forum for the individuals seeking the Democratic nomination. The forum will take place at 7 p.m. at the South Carroll Senior and Community Center, at 5928 Mineral Hill Road in Eldersburg. The forum is also free and open to the public, so Republicans and others not registered as Democrats who want to find out more about these individuals are welcome to, even if they can't vote for them in the primary.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must note that I've been asked to moderate this forum and will be doing so. And part of the reason for writing this column is to ask our readers what they want to know from these candidates. So I encourage you to email me questions. I can't promise I'll get to them all, but I'll certainly consider everything I receive.

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Eight of the candidates — all but Gutierrez at last check — plan to attend the forum, and I think that is a testament to the uncertainty of the race. While some have more political experience than others — Barve has served in the House of Delegates for 25 years and has been House majority leader since 2003; Raskin has spent nine years in the state Senate, including serving as majority whip since 2012; and Gutierrez has served in the House for the past 13 years — we've seen on a national level in both parties that political experience isn't necessarily what voters are looking for right now.

Financially, as of October, Matthews had raised the most funds, slightly ahead of Raskin and well ahead of Barve in third, according to BallotPedia. Matthews is a former television journalist and was most recently Marriott hotel's executive vice president of global communications and public affairs. She is also the wife of political commentator Chris Matthews, of "Hardball" fame.

Jawando, a former Obama administration official; Anderson, a senior vice president at the Washington Center and an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University; Bolling, a former biotech industry official; Trone, co-owner of the Total Wine & More retail chain; and Rubin, a former official at the State and Energy departments, round out the candidates expected to be at the forum.

None of the candidates are from Carroll County (or Frederick, for that matter), but I think their willingness to come speak here is telling that they recognize they cannot completely ignore this portion of their would-be constituency. Get out to the forum and learn more about them yourself.

Wayne Carter is the Editor of the Carroll County Times. Reach him at wayne.carter@carrollcountytimes.com.

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