Valerie Ervin considering run for Montgomery County executive

Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin, long mentioned as a possible candidate for county executive in 2014 , is moving closer to running. Ervin (D-Silver Spring) said she is in “serious discussions” with two national Democratic operatives, pollster Fred Yang and media consultant Martha McKenna, about roles in the campaign.

Incumbent Isiah Leggett (D) has yet to announce whether he will seek a third term. But Ervin said if she runs, it will be regardless of whether Leggett is in or out.

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“I’m getting a lot of incredible feedback that people want to see me move ahead,” she said. “I thought it would be timely for me to begin to think about what kind of team I would put together.”

Ervin, a former labor organizer and member of the Montgomery County Board of Education, said the idea of running began to take shape in 2011, the year she served as president of the county council.

“Most often women in politics come through legislative roles and advocacy roles. But there are very few role models for women in executive positions,” she said. “It never occurred to me until the year I was president that people saw me that way.”

Ervin said she hopes to make a final decision on the race by early March.

She would join council colleagues Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville), George Leventhal (D-At-Large) and possibly Marc Elrich (D-At-Large) in a field of aspirants that may also include former county executive Doug Duncan.

Andrews said Monday that he doesn’t expect to hire either a pollster or media consultant. “I’m out knocking on doors right now. That’s the best kind of poll to have,” he said.

Leventhal, who once employed Ervin as his chief of staff, said much the same thing, adding that a pollster is “waste of money right now.”

As a practical matter, nobody has much money to waste. Ervin’s most recent campaign finance report shows less than $12,000 on hand. Many major contributors are effectively on hold, county political insiders say, until Leggett announces his plans.

Yang did not return a phone message Monday. He is a partner in the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, a Democratic polling firm that does surveys for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, as well as candidates.

McKenna, a former EMILY’s List staffer and political director of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, is a partner in the firm McKenna Pihlaja. She said she’d spoken with Ervin about the race, but that it was all tentative.

“There has to be a campaign first,” said McKenna, who is active in Emerge Maryland, a new organization working to recruit and train women to run for office.

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