Longtime Democratic council member Nancy Floreen is weighing an independent run for Montgomery County executive, saying residents of Maryland’s largest jurisdiction would be better served by having a different option than either of the men vying for her party’s nomination.
In Montgomery, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1, the winner of the Democratic primary is usually the overwhelming favorite in November. But this year’s primary race showed deep divisions among Democrats: Large swaths of the business community were strongly against council member Marc Elrich (At-Large), a staunch progressive, while liberal groups were equally opposed to David Blair, a political newcomer who self-funded his campaign.
Floreen, an at-large council member for 16 years, said in a statement Monday that she did not support Elrich or Blair in the primary contest. “ALL Democrats, Republicans and independents would benefit from a third, independent choice,” the statement said.
Floreen, 66, has long expressed concerns about Elrich, who has served on the council alongside her for 12 years. In an interview this year, she said that “it would be a disaster for Montgomery County if Marc Elrich was elected” county executive.
“People don’t realize he’s to the left of Takoma Park,” she said, naming Elrich’s home city, known for its progressive politics. “I don’t know if he’s a Marxist or a socialist.”
Elrich was not available for comment Monday night. But he has batted away earlier accusations about socialism, saying that he is proud to have backed social causes and pushed to require developers to pay for infrastructure.
Floreen served as mayor of Garrett Park and was on the county’s planning board before she was elected to the council. In her statement, she said she will decide whether to run for county executive once the Democratic nominee is clear. She said she filed a declaration of intent Monday without knowing the outcome of the primary because of the state’s filing deadline. Her action was first reported by Bethesda Beat.
In her letter to the Montgomery County Board of Elections, Floreen wrote that she plans to change her party affiliation to independent from Democrat on July 9, when voter registration reopens.
“At that point, my petition drive will commence,” she wrote.
She added that she believed there was an “issue raised about my eligibility” to run as an independent, but she argued that there was nothing requiring her to be an independent until she is nominated, which wouldn’t occur until next month.
But Floreen, who is term-limited, may now be in the position of doing something she had criticized her three term-limited council colleagues for — running for another county office.
“I personally took to heart the term limits vote” of 2016, she said this year. “That’s why I’m dismayed three of my colleagues are running for basically a promotion.”
Floreen, who won four countywide elections for her seat and says she has never lost a run for office, did not make herself available for an interview Monday.
She was one of the first to support the county executive bid of Democrat and former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow, who came in third in the June 26 primary.
Lyn Peters, who served as Floreen’s treasurer for her council campaigns, said the council member called her over the weekend to let her know of the plans.
“I guess I was surprised,” she said. “But Nancy’s a very sharp woman, and I’m hoping she comes out the winner.”