Montgomery County executive candidate Nancy Floreen says she will return to the Democratic fold after the Nov. 6 election — regardless of whether her independent bid for the liberal county’s top post is successful.

Floreen, a 16-year county council member and two-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention, left the party in July to make a surprise run for county executive, gathering enough petition signatures to appear on the November ballot.

The move was prompted by her opposition to the Democratic nominee, 12-year council member Marc Elrich. It left some Democrats feeling betrayed.

At a candidate debate Wednesday morning hosted by the Greater Bethesda U.S. Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Bethesda Magazine editor and publisher Steve Hull, Floreen said she would re-register as a Democrat if she’s elected.

Floreen later said she plans to return to the party regardless of the outcome of the election, “because I am a Democrat at heart.”

“I only changed parties in order to run the petition drive,” she said. “I’ve been very upfront about that.”

Does she think the party will welcome her back?

“Of course they will,” Floreen said. “There are always some bruised feelings here and there. I’m not dumping on them.”

But Scott Goldberg, chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, said that while Floreen is free to change her party affiliation, she has damaged her reputation among Democratic loyalists in the state’s most populous jurisdiction.

“She has certainly weakened her stature,” Goldberg said. “If she did come back, there are people I know for a fact who will not forgive her for bypassing the primary.”

About 60 percent of Montgomery’s registered voters are Democratic, while Republicans count for about 18 percent. Roughly 22 percent are unaffiliated with any party.

Earlier this month, the party posted an open letter to county Democrats urging them to vote for Elrich on Nov. 6, and noting that Floreen “cast aside the party that has supported her entire political career.”

Goldberg said he took umbrage at Floreen’s ads, in which she calls herself a “lifelong Democrat.”

“Nancy continues to go around and say she’s a lifelong Democrat,” Goldberg said. “We want to reiterate to Democrats . . . we are 100 percent supporting Marc Elrich.”

Republican Robin Ficker is also on the ballot in the three-way county executive’s race.

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