[PLEASE NOTE: I find it necessary to reiterate, amid the heightened sensitivity of many of us associated with various campaigns after a pretty bitter and intense primary, that the views presented in this blog are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for Marc Elrich or any other campaign, I am on nobody’s payroll; I am simply a left-wing blogger and commentator, and just for fun at that. Should I say something undiplomatic – and I most certainly will – these words are exclusively mine. They are absolutely NOT endorsed by any candidate I support or volunteer for elsewhere in my spare time. So take it or leave it.]
Last Friday, Council member Nancy Floreen (formerly D – Developers; now I – “Industry”) was interviewed on Kojo Nnamdi’s WAMU Politics Hour. I sat through it during lunch out of morbid curiosity, or in the way that we tend to rubber-neck at a multi-vehicle car wreck on the Beltway. To be brutally honest, Floreen was comically unbearable, to the extent that I am cautiously less concerned about her candidacy. I do not see how anyone working outside the real estate development industry could find her appealing. Of course, there are some voters that may go in the TFG (“too far gone”) category – neo-McCarthyists who are convinced that Marc Elrich is going to try and turn the county into Venezuela, and are generally immune to facts – but much of this cohort will end up voting for the county fool, heckler-in-chief Robin Ficker.
I would be more worried about Floreen as a threat if she were a rhetorically astute politician. Some people are giving her credit for her “clever” decision to sit out the six-way primary and challenge Elrich, who will have to find a new base of donors to overcome a financial disadvantage, but even supporters of Elrich’s opponents in the primary are speaking of Floreen’s move as opportunistic and even ugly, so this “cleverness” may actually backfire. The interview showed, however, that Floreen does not have a populist bone in her body. As I argued in my blog about the precinct results of the County Executive primary, voters generally wanted a change, and a plurality of voters chose progressive change. Floreen showed herself not only to be the anti-change candidate, but did so in an extremely (and characteristically) condescending manner. Because clearly, if Floreen’s pro-real estate industry approach doesn’t sit well with you, it’s because she just knows better than you.
So here goes. I will break down every cringeworthy statement from the Nancy Floreen interview, so you don’t have to sit through it if you haven’t already.
One of the first things Kojo’s stand-in Tom Sherwood mentions to her is how the Democratic Party of Montgomery County, upon Floreen’s presumed retirement, acknowledged the “great things” she did for the Democratic Party (to which Floreen cocks her head and smirks), after which she decided to leave the Democratic Party altogether in order to challenge the Democratic nominee. Floreen said that she had “decided to stay out of it,” but then “At the end of the day, though, after the primary . . .my phone started ringing off the hook, and people said, Nancy, you have to get in this race!”
Really, Nancy? Your phone just started ringing off the hook? In previous interviews, she had said something along the lines of “friends and neighbors” asking her to run, but this doesn’t seem like typical behavior for “friends and neighbors” of presumably happily retired, long-serving Democrats. Unless of course, all of her “friends” have last names ending in LLC. She then goes on to lament how all the work she had done to “advance Montgomery County” would go to waste, as Sherwood interjects, “Is Marc Elrich really that bad?” Floreen repeats her statement that Elrich is a “fringe candidate” (as my previous blogs would show is a complete distortion of the truth, not to mention the gross false equivalency made with actual “fringe candidate” Robin Ficker, but what does Nancy care). Floreen smugly continued, “at least 20,000 plus people agreed with me.”
No. These 20,000 people did not “agree with you.” They were hilariously misled.
I had been approached numerous times by paid Floreen canvassers. Most of them do not even live in Montgomery County and probably were indifferent to her actual candidacy. They would say things like “Would you like to support more voter choice in the general election?” or “Would you like to support the candidacy of a long-serving pro-choice Democrat?” or “Would you like to see more women on the ballot?” If you tried asking one of these people anything about her policies, they were not able to answer or would just be completely false. To say that everyone who signed her petition agreed with her is a gross misrepresentation. That said, being more or less in the know of what she’s really all about, I told these canvassers a polite version of “fuck off.”
“What is your complaint about Mr. Elrich?” Sherwood asked. “And if you could, could you say his name?”
Nancy shook her head, mouth agape, and looked to be on the verge of an eyeroll.
“You know, the election should not be a coronation.”
We’ve already heard that line from you, Nancy. It’s an election, not a coronation – unless it’s you ascending to the iron throne, Cersei. And really – would you have been saying that if it were your then-preferred candidate, Rose Krasnow? Or David Blair? And if indeed you believe it is not a coronation, then would you really be leveraging your real estate-funded bankroll over publicly-financed Elrich so much? Please.
She then went on to dismiss the legitimacy of a victory by plurality (while not bothering to come up with a solution that didn’t support her own advancement, like rankchoice voting).
Once again, she’s asked directly about Elrich’s policies. Floreen responds with a generic platitude; “it’s about who Montgomery County needs to lead them forward.” And then: “interest groups should not be demonized.” BINGO.
A third time: “What exactly are the policies that you are taking issue with?” Floreen drones on about nonspecific “problems of the past,” ONCE AGAIN, NOT MENTIONING A SINGLE POLICY.
A caller from Chevy Chase has a question: How are Floreen’s views of economic growth different from those of Democratic candidates?
Floreen says the county needs a “cheerleader” who “welcomes investors” and is for “expanding the tax base.”
More fluff. Yes, we need someone to cheerlead. Welcome investment and growth – but nope, not manage it at all. Nothing about making business a symbiotic relationship or anything. But sure, rah-rah, industry. As for “expanding the tax base” – this has been one of the most overused phrases in this election. I love how the people who call for “expanding the tax base” seem to forget that the point of having a tax base is that you actually tax it.
Apparently Nancy would just like to “cheerlead” it. She does say that the tax base is what would enable the county to provide services, but she fails to make this connection as to how. Marc Elrich, on the other hand, does this extensively in his economic development platform.
Sherwood then brings up that Elrich, when he was interviewed, articulated the importance of having a discussion with the development community about their impact on schools and infrastructure. Floreen makes the same expression – eyes rolling, mouth agape, head shaking. She doesn’t have time for all this common sense. Again, with the “problems of the past” comment. Interestingly, Floreen faults Elrich for not having successfully addressed this issue “for the last 30 years” (12 of which he had been in office, compared with Nancy’s 16), when it’s actually people like Floreen who have stymied his efforts to do so. Floreen “cleverly” reveals “the dirty secret” that it’s not the County Executive who deals with this. Ok, good, then. So what’s your problem with Elrich? Even if he is what you say he is, how is he bad for business if this isn’t even his authority?
The interview then addresses concerns that her entry would help Robin Ficker by splitting the vote. Nancy, eyes rolling, disdainful and smug tone of voice: “You know what I say to that? That reflects a nominee who doesn’t have a base.”
Except, Elrich DOES have a base. A base he held onto in a six-way primary. A base the other candidates didn’t have. A base that is and will continue to expand as they become more informed as to how condescending and lacking of substance you are, Nancy Floreen.
She continues on, dismissing Robin Ficker as a serious candidate. While I would still probably bet that he will come in third, this dismissiveness may be the very thing that emboldens his base. He should be taken seriously (and then seriously defeated.) In fact, taking him seriously would be the best way to expose his idiocy – invite him to answer actual questions and provide substance, then wipe the floor with him. If you completely disregard him, think that his base is only fringe “deplorables” and that he will “never win,” well…. Hillary Clinton says hi.
The next caller asks about her connection with real estate developers. THIS IS RICH.
In the same breath, Floreen employs the “whataboutism” fallacy and turns the question onto Elrich and his connection to labor unions… and then says “let’s not dump on people who have invested in our past and invested in our future and create great homes and great places!”
Which is it, Nancy? Is it okay to dump on people who actually labor and produce the means by which businesses profit? Or was your intention to make up yet another false equivalency, claiming that Elrich’s support from labor unions justifies your support from developers?
Elrich has labor union support, but he cannot take money from them. He can only take $150 from each individual. YOU, however, take PLENTY of money from developers, and you don’t even try to deny it.
“These are all people who played by the rules,” Floreen says of developers.
RULES THAT THEY PAID YOU TO MAKE.
Another caller asks about the nearly nine percent property tax increase, which Floreen voted for when she was Council president. Nancy laments that the “issue they were dealing with was the issue of the schools.”
I almost feel bad for Nancy Floreen at this point. She can’t even corner the anti-tax vote here. In fact, Marc may out-flank her, should he get the message across enough that responsibly inforce development impact fees could help prevent the costs of schools and infrastructure from being shifted onto the taxpayer.
Sherwood finally addresses a question that I have asked along with other listeners – where Nancy Floreen stands, as an ex-Democrat, in the governor’s race. Nancy comfortably states that she remains neutral on state and federal elections.
Wow. So courageous. In a time where the Republican Party nationwide has gone so far off the deep end, you won’t even stand up for opposing its insanity. You won’t stand for anything. The only thing you’ve clearly stated you stand for is being pro-developer.
Honestly, I’d respect her more if she would just own up to being on the side of Hogan and other Republicans. It’s almost as if she doesn’t really know which voters she’s courting. It’s almost as if she “doesn’t have a base.”
Finally, Floreen is asked what the biggest policy difference is between her and Mr. Elrich.
“The real difference is about leadership…”
“That’s not a policy.”
Floreen then pivots to comments Elrich had made that were taken out of context, then blames Elrich for them being taken out of context.
“He’s going to have the unions sit at the table when he makes decisions…” Oh, the horror. Labor actually having a say! It’s only okay when the development community has a say in decision making!
Of course, Nancy doesn’t say or even speculate as to what actual policy would result from such a process. She doesn’t bring up a single policy. She never, throughout the entire interview, mentioned a single, solitary policy of Elrich’s, let alone explain why it would be problematic.
I’ll refrain from using a word like “shrill” to describe her voice as it has sexist connotations, and it’s not even quite the right word…. “scolding” comes much closer… but her tone is worth noting. Were this interview conducted in a language I don’t understand, I’d basically gather that she’d been saying the whole time: “You know, that’s the way it is, and I know better than you.” I am by no means exaggerating the condescension and disdain in her tone of voice and in her body language. She also did make a dig at Elrich’s personality towards the end of the interview, while demonstrating nothing short of a visibly unpleasant personality herself, alongside a complete failure to convey anything of substance.
I sincerely look forward to the County Executive debates leading up to the general election.