Praisner's Husband Wins Primary
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Don Praisner, the husband of the late Montgomery County Council member Marilyn Praisner, won the Democratic nomination yesterday to serve out his wife's term in District 4, a victory that reflected her popularity from 17 years in office.
In the four-person Democratic contest, Praisner received 44 percent of the vote to defeat school board President Nancy Navarro. Republican marketing analyst Mark Fennel, who was the GOP's nominee for the eastern county seat in 2006, received 48 percent of the vote yesterday to clinch his party's nomination in a four-way race. Information technology businessman John McKinnis ran second in that race.
Absentee and provisional ballots will be counted in the next two weeks, election board spokeswoman Marjorie Rohrer said, but they are not expected to affect the outcome.
The winners of the primary contests will compete in a May 13 general election in District 4, where Democrats hold a wide advantage in voter registration. The district includes Aspen Hill, Burtonsville, Olney and parts of Silver Spring, an area with a population that is older, less affluent and more diverse than the county as a whole.
Voter turnout in the district was light yesterday, with 11 percent participation. Praisner, a retired CIA analyst, had the advantage of name recognition. His wife, who died Feb. 1 after heart surgery, was easily reelected in 2006. Praisner, 75, also had the support of County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and four council members who often voted with his wife on land-use issues.
Navarro, 42, far surpassed her rivals in fundraising, according to early campaign finance reports, and in the half-dozen mailings she sent to voters. Her defeat was a blow to the business groups and labor unions that endorsed her.
The other Democratic candidates were civic activist Steve Kanstoroom and federal government consultant Patrick E. "Pat" Ryan.
The election came at a turbulent time for the council as it faces a projected $297 million budget shortfall for fiscal 2009 and wrestles with decisions on raising taxes, cutting services or revising labor contracts.
Praisner campaigned to protect his wife's legacy as a fiscal watchdog who presided over a narrow slow-growth majority on the council in her final year.
Republican candidates were united in their opposition to Leggett's proposal to increase property tax revenue above the limit set by the county's charter. Fennel promised property tax relief. The other GOP candidates -- McKinnis; Thomas Hardman, an information technology developer; and Robert P. Patton, an athletic fields specialist -- also pledged to stick to the charter limit.