The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Montgomery County teachers endorse Marc Elrich for county executive

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich discusses drive-through coronavirus testing in April 2020. As Elrich seeks reelection, union backers have touted his efforts during the pandemic. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) has received the coveted backing of the county’s teachers union in his bid for reelection.

The Montgomery County Education Association, which represents about 14,000 educators and specialists in the Maryland county, announced Thursday that it is endorsing Elrich, who is set to face four challengers in the Democratic primary in July.

In a statement, the association’s president, Jennifer Martin, said Elrich had shown commitment to public education, praising his efforts in “advancing racial justice” and responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Elrich “gave educators a seat at the table with meaningful policy when others gave us platitudes,” Martin said.

Elrich recently proposed the highest operating budget ever — $2.9 billion — for the county’s school system. Last spring, he said he supported having all teachers vaccinated before they returned to in-person instruction.

A former schoolteacher himself, Elrich has had close ties to labor groups since he started his political career as a city council member in Takoma Park. In 2018, those ties helped fuel his victory in a tight, six-way primary for county executive, and they look poised to boost his reelection bid this year, too.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich trails challengers in early fundraising

Elrich was endorsed in February by several major unions, including Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, Local 500 of the Service Employees International Union and 1199 of the Service Employees International Union Maryland/DC Division, which collectively represent more than 40,000 property service workers and health-care employees.

“Marc has the track record to prove he cares about working people,” Jaime Contreras, vice president of Local 32BJ, said Wednesday. He cited Elrich’s successful push as a council member to raise the county’s minimum wage to $15, along with his efforts at the start of the pandemic to provide protective equipment for front-line employees who were not able to work from home.

Four others have filed to run for county executive in the Democratic primary, which, in deep-blue Montgomery, often determines the election’s eventual winner: Montgomery County Council members Hans Riemer (D-At Large) and Tom Hucker (D-District 5), Potomac businessman David Blair and Gaithersburg resident Peter James. James, the chief executive of a local tech firm, recently changed his registration from independent to Democrat but said at a forum Tuesday that he did not really identify as a Democrat.

Hucker on Thursday unveiled a list of endorsements from smaller private-sector unions, including those representing plumbers, electrical workers and professional drivers. Those unions “care about a revitalized economy and addressing our housing crisis,” Hucker said in a text message. “And they all want change.”

The primary election was recently postponed from June 28 to July 19.