Posts about Leslie Johnson
Today, voters in the 6th district of Prince George's County go to the polls to select a replacement for Leslie Johnson who resigned after pleading guilty of corruption charges this summer. The race looks to be between three leading candidates, Derrick Leon Davis, Arthur Turner, and Mark Polk.
Which one voters will pick to represent them is anyone's guess. There aren't any frontrunners in this race, and special elections are always a battle of turnout and organization. Who can get their supporters out in the largest numbers on a day that they really shouldn't be voting?
These factors will likely determine the outcome:
GOTV operations from county heavy hitters. Davis has the support of County Executive Rushern Baker, Delegate Dereck Davis and Delegate Aisha Braveboy.
Baker has the most to lose in this election. His Economic Development Incentive Fund (EDI) was unable to pass the council before their summer recess without amendments he opposes. Davis has promised his support to push it through.
A surprise victory by Mark Polk will kill any chance of legislation Baker wanted, since he is likely to oppose the entire plan. A victory by Arthur Turner might see the legislation passed, but not in the form that Mr. Baker wants, and with a lot more council oversight, which Mr. Baker also opposes. One of the biggest assets Derrick Leon Davis has going for him has been his support from big hitters like these three.
Former councilman Sam Dean, who is trying to marshal support for Arthur Turner. Dean faced off with Davis in 2002 for this seat, going on to beat him by 7%. Since announcing his support for Turner, Dean has been one of the most active surrogates and in some respects appears to remain very popular in the district.
Last year, during his campaign for County Executive, Dean came in third place not only countywide but in district 6 as well. In fact, in a few of the districts highest turnout areas, Dean performed very well after representing the community for 8 years.
What the Leslie Johnson voters do. Leslie Johnson may have only beat Mr. Davis by 8% of the vote, but she won just about every voting precinct, despite the fact that her husband was ending his two terms as executive somewhat unpopular. Polls throughout much of the race countywide showed voters turning to his longtime political enemy, Rushern Baker, everywhere except the 6th district. This district almost overwhelmingly turned to Sheriff Michael Jackson instead, whom the Johnsons supported.
Most of these voters are likely to stay home, but those who do come out to vote might not be looking for someone who has been the enemy of the Johnsons. The warm reception Leslie received at her swearing in after her arrest, and in community forums as the case played out, show how many voters are still loyal to her.
The community activist group People for Change, which is trying to get voters angry over the direction of the county and out to the polls. Special elections or off year elections are made up of two types of voters, those motivated and those pissed off. Sandy Pruitt, leader of People for Change, has actually been doing a great job of identifying issues voters should be pissed off about and pushing them to go outside the box and pick Mark Polk.
The problem with this is some voters might not just want to hear why they should be pissed off but hear solutions to those issues. People for Change or Mark Polk don't even appear to try to solve those problems. Arthur Turner might not be Rushern Baker's choice for the council, but the worst thing to happen for not only him but the other 8 members who already are lining up to support different individuals, is a Polk victory.
The September 20th special election will likely see a very depressed turnout, as was the case in special elections in the 1st and 5th council districts. The person elected will need to be ready to go right out of the gate and face immediate votes in touchy subjects like approving a redistricting map for the council and a possible resolution of the EDI fund issue. Term limits allow the person selected by 6th district voters to potentially hold that post for the next 11 years, far longer than all of his peers.
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