Op-Ed Response: Democrats – We’re FAR from an Aging Party

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By Jake Weissmann & Erin Schurmann

Josh Kurtz’s column, “Wanted – Fresh Blood,” in Center Maryland missed the mark in a huge way. His portrayal is a skewed view of the Democratic political landscape for Maryland in 2010 as he discussed only statewide races, and paid no attention to the local levels of government where the bulk of campaigning is happening this year.

Young Democrats from across the state who will again appear on 2010 ballots have filled Annapolis over the last four years. To name a few: Senator Lisa Gladden and Delegate Shawn Tarrant in Baltimore City; Delegate Johnny Olsewski & Delegate Todd Schuler in Baltimore County; Delegate Aisha Braveboy, Delegate Justin Ross, Delegate Ben Barnes, & Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk in Prince George’s County; and, Senator Rob Garagiola, Delegate Bill Frick, Delegate Kirill Reznik, Delegate Craig Rice, Delegate Jim Gilchrist, Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher, and Delegate Heather Mizeur in Montgomery County, all of whom are young Democrats influencing positive change for Maryland constituents, as well as building excellent reputations as legislators.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman is another young Democrat in Maryland politics who has proven to be an effective, innovative leader and is setting examples for best practices for other counties throughout the state.

Additionally, Democrats have a plethora of young candidates running for higher office with an excellent shot at winning including, but not limited to: Judd Legum in District 30; Craig Zucker, and Eric Luedtke in District 14; Nicole Williams in District 23A; Sam Arora in District 19; Luke Clippinger in District 46; David Kosak in District 42; and, Brian Bailey in Baltimore County Councilmanic District 1.

If Mr. Kurtz is implying that Democrats do not have grassroots support among young people, he should look no further than the Young Democrats of Maryland. With the help of this organization and the local chapters it embodies, young people are mobilizing throughout the state, running for office, and launching campaigns for their mentors, colleagues, and friends.

Additionally, many of the more senior elected officials in Maryland will see an influx in youth support through the Young Democrats due to their consistent and commendable efforts to foster younger members of the party and to provide them with the resources and skills needed to run for higher office and become the effective legislators of the future. For evidence, one need look no further than the rooms filled with Young Democrats at the fundraisers that are filling the weekly calendars, whether they be for Governor O’Malley, Senator Mikulski, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, or for our younger colleagues running for office for the first time.

Those referring to the Maryland Democratic Party as “aging” are failing to recognize that, just as the older members of the party are continuing on their path of excellence, the younger members of the party are aging and maturing into the their roles as campaign managers, newly recognizable local leaders, newly filed candidates and freshly burgeoning elected officials climbing to a higher office.

We believe that Mr. Kurtz, in failing to look at the entire picture, has made a snap judgment as he overlooked that the party is simply not wasting a recognizable amount of energy rebuilding the younger generation; instead, through the Young Democrats of Maryland the state party has been seamlessly reloading an abundance of young talent for years.

Jake Weissmann & Erin Schurmann are president and executive vice president, respectively, of the Young Democrats of Maryland.
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