The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Incumbents in Democratic stronghold of Pr. George’s face few challengers

In Prince George’s County, where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans nearly 10 to 1, most County Council races are settled in the primary. But two contests on the ballot Nov. 4 pit a Democratic nominee against a Republican.

In Bowie, the Republican Party has nominated Fiona Moodie, a graduate student active in state politics, to run against Bowie city councilman Todd Turner for the District 4 seat.

Turner, the Democratic nominee, has worked as a legislative officer for the County Council since 2007. He said he wants to see Prince George’s continue to boost development, expand the tax base and build schools — especially in the 4th District.

“I feel like I’ve been training for this for that last 10 or so years,” said Turner, who was a staff member for Democrat Douglas J.J. Peters when Peters — now a state senator — was on the County Council.

Moodie is a self-described “conservative with a libertarian twist” who grew up in Bowie and ran unsuccessfully for the District 4 seat four years ago, when she was 18.

After graduating from the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a degree in political science and leading her campus chapter of the College Republicans, Moodie interned with U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill).

She owns a small business with her mother designing handmade personalized gifts. She’s also a private music teacher, which, she said, takes her into Prince George’s homes, full of residents struggling to pay bills and take care of their families.

“I think this election is about economic issues,” Moodie said, echoing state Republican leaders in arguing that Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) presided over dozens of harmful tax increases. “Prince George’s is the most highly taxed county in the state.”

In District 6, Republican Kenn Blanchard, a pastor who has carved out a following as a black advocate for gun rights, is trying to unseat council member Derrick Leon Davis (D-Mitchellville).

Blanchard, of Upper Marlboro, calls himself an “anti-politician” who will make no promises other than cutting the tax burden on residents. “I want to be a ‘Dr. No’ for the council to stop taxes,” Blachard said. “This is my way of giving back.”

Blanchard grew up in Prince George’s, served in the military, went to work for the federal government and later studied to become a minister.

His long-running interest in firearms has earned him attention in Second Amendment circles. Blanchard recently published a book, “Black Man With a Gun,” and makes frequent appearances on conservative radio and television shows and hosts his own podcast.

Davis, the incumbent, has helped push many economic development plans of County Executive Rushern L. Baker III through the council.

A former school system employee, Davis won his seat in a 2011 special election after council member Leslie Johnson, wife of disgraced county executive Jack Johnson, pleaded guilty to destroying evidence in a corruption investigation and resigned.

Davis has sponsored legislation to expedite the development process, which he says should help to expand the county’s commercial tax base. “We have to focus on creating opportunities through economic development,” Davis said. “You can then reinvest that into transportation, schools and other areas of need.”

Blanchard acknowledged that he has little chance of unseating Davis: He has no money for advertising or mailings, and he has done little campaigning. But he said he hopes his foray into local politics will inspire voters to be more open-minded at the polls.