md-legislative-session.jpgProgressive activists made the Assembly's Democratic Caucus think twice or even three times about cavorting with the GOP minority to choose a new Speaker of the House of Delegates. Read more about how progressives outside the Assembly put some spine in the ones on the inside.


Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for Monday May 6 2019


The political sphere of Maryland didn’t exhale in relief until quite late on May 1, as a divisive outcome to the contest for Speaker of the House of Delegates was narrowly avoided with the selection of Baltimore County Del. Adrienne Jones.

Progressive Maryland and allies were galvanized during the struggle and had an emerging effect on the outcome, as this report outlines:

After Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Mike Busch died in early April, the body came back into special session in early May to elect its next leader. Despite the fraught contest, it was clear the outcome – whatever it was – would make history, because white men have led both chambers of the General Assembly throughout Maryland’s four-century past.

md-legislative-session.jpgThe race came down to the Democratic Caucus’ choice, Baltimore’s Maggie McIntosh, a white and openly gay woman and modestly progressive legislator, and Dereck Davis, an African American corporate Democrat from Prince George’s. Because McIntosh had the Democratic caucus locked down, Davis signaled collaboration with the House’s minority Republicans (who pledged to vote as a bloc) and split the all-Democratic Black Caucus. As longtime chair of the House Economic Matters Committee, Davis has consistently held up and weakened workplace legislation, including the last two state minimum wage increases and the earned sick leave bill.

As the House and the political surround backed away from the prospect of bargaining with the GOP (which McIntosh, too, could have been forced to do to outpoint Davis), Jones, Speaker Pro Tem for more than a decade and a low-key but stalwart Busch lieutenant, was the compromise choice, assuring an historic change as an African American woman took over the House’s top spot.

While the contest still teetered, a promise came from Progressive Maryland’s director Larry Stafford Jr. that PM and progressive allies would primary any Democrat who voted for Davis (and collaboration with the GOP). Progressive Maryland immediately followed up with social media, mass phone messaging and emails to move our 50,000-plus contacts and supporters to call their legislators and demand that they vote for the Democratic Caucus candidate. Media were given access to a PM leadership memo laying out plans for primary challenges to those, principally Davis, ready to seek support outside the Democratic caucus – yielding the Maryland Matters headline “Progressive Md. Vows to Primary Any Dem Who Sides With GOP During Speaker Floor Vote.” Coverage in the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Maryland Matters, and Maryland Matters.  A second-day article in the WaPo suggested Prince George’s felt shorted because Davis missed his chance at the leadership: “none of the black politicians who ascended as the county’s demographics shifted in recent decades [has] held the governorship, led a chamber of the General Assembly or otherwise reached the top echelons of power.”

MD_state_house_sketch.jpgProgressives in and out of Prince George’s might have added that Prince George’s political figures have uniquely had to gain power through collaboration with corporate and big-business interests that have left the county divided within itself – a prosperous black governing class that has to be reminded of its obligation to an often angry and under-resourced black-majority working class frequently on the edge of poverty and disaster. Davis, exemplifying this requirement for getting ahead in the county’s political culture, carried bucket after bucket of water for the state’s business establishment and its many lobbyists in Annapolis. His rise showed the parallel between how minority political power was built in Prince George’s and how it has infested the process in Annapolis – often abetted by two other relics of Prince George’s County’s white political establishment, Senate President Mike Miller and US Rep. Steny Hoyer, second banana in  the US House Democratic leadership. Both retained power and an electoral base by having their districts gerrymandered to follow white flight from Prince George’s, but their money-first, corporate politics continue to suffuse the political environment now dominated by the county’s majority-black political establishment.  Legacies endure, and those on the losing end of them have to struggle to build power.

On Wednesday May 1, after the leadership battle ended, Larry Stafford Jr. wrote:

Progressive Maryland congratulates Adrienne Jones on her election to be the first African American and woman to serve as Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates.

But the race for who leads us in Maryland’s legislature came too close to a corporate Democrat/Republican alliance.

This election underscores just how crucial it is that we elect candidates who reflect OUR values, not the values of their wealthy donors. If this sounds like it could be you, then join us this month for our Progressive Maryland’s Movement Politics Training on Saturday, May 18th in Baltimore, MD.

This training will cover a range of topics from the process and rules of filing to run for office and how to run a campaign, including fundraising, campaign strategy, endorsements, field operations, communications, and budgeting.

You'll also learn how the political system functions, why it’s currently failing Maryland voters, and what trainees can do to change that as we get ready for the next election cycle. We want to empower passionate folks like you to have the skills and tools you need to change the political landscape in Maryland. In just one day, you will learn the tools of the trade from experienced organizers and will leave with the skills needed to launch and WIN your own electoral campaign.

Click here to RSVP.

The training is $15 for members, $25 for non-members, and FREE for a small number of training volunteers.

If you can't make the training but still want to support building progressive power in Maryland, consider becoming a recurring donor today. We need your support to recruit and train more progressive champions in Maryland.

Click here to donate

 In solidarity,
Larry Stafford, Progressive MD


As of today, we are nine days away from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) gutting the most important protectionpayday_loans.jpg we have against predatory lending.

Back in 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a rule to protect borrowers of payday and car title loans. The heart of that rule established that lenders could not give out loans to people who could not afford to pay it back.

And now the CFPB wants to gut that common sense rule. For many, these short term loans lead them into a cycle of never-ending debt. This is only going to make folks who are already in a tight spot financially fall prey to predatory lending practices.  But you can help put a stop to this by submitting a comment to the CFPB today!

To tell the CFPB: Don’t shred one of our best protections against predatory lending. The deadline is May 15.

We won back in 2016 to get these protections because over a million people decided to speak up. Please help us in making an impact this time around, by raising your voice.

Lastly, if you have personally been impacted by predatory lending practices or want to get involved in this issue, please fill out this form.

All in all, if you would like to learn more, please visit our issue page at is also a great resource.

Remember: Progressive Maryland’s Movement Politics Training is coming up soon and there is still time to register! 

This training is for folks interested in running for office, working on a campaign, or volunteering on one in 2020. The training will be held in Baltimore on Saturday, May 18th. Space is limited so RSVP today! We'll cover a range of topics from the process and rules of filing to run for office and how to run a campaign, including fundraising, campaign strategy, endorsements, field operations, communications, and budgeting. Click here to RSVP. You'll also learn how the political system functions, why it’s currently failing Maryland voters, and what trainees can do to change that as we get ready for the next election cycle.  If you have any questions feel free to reach out to Alexiss Kurtz, PM’s chief operating officer, at 301-684-6715 or by email at [email protected]. 

MEDICARE FOR ALL  -- People’s Action convention-goers were a big presence as we street-shamed Big Pharma about their oligarchic drug pricing last Monday (April 29). Next step: sign up for a PA Webinar on pushing M4A tomorrow, Tuesday, May 7 at 8 PM EST …

Please RSVP for our next webinar, scheduled for Tuesday, May 7, at 8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific, and we’ll send you the details on how to connect.


Our allies in the environmental movement are in the home stretch on urging Gov. Hogan to sign the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would boost the state’s clean energy and fund jobs and training to match. It’s a real “just transition” bill – but Hogan could veto it, putting off important work until the veto can be overridden at the beginning of the 2020 Assembly session.  Find out more here, including how to easily contact Hogan’s folks and make your voice be heard.

More about what passed, what failed and what still waits to be signed here.


Progressive Prince George's

PMD Montgomery

Save the date for a PMD Montgomery membership meeting Tuesday, May 21; time and location coming soon.


Frederick County Progressives


Take Action Anne Arundel County


Progressive Howard County


Talbot Rising


Lower Shore Progressive Caucus


PMD Baltimore


Wed, May 8 Video: "From Paris to Pittsburgh: The Climate for Change is Now" presented by Greenbelt Climate Action Network (GCAN) 7-9 PM, Greenbelt Community Center, Room 114 15 Crescent Road Greenbelt, MD 20770 – This 78-minute film shows how mayors, governors, community groups, businesses, and others are stepping up, embracing solutions like renewable energy and reaping benefits. Free. A National Geographic documentary from 2018.

 Saturday, May 11 -- U of MD Symposium on Environmental Justice and Health Disparities sponsored by Professor Sacoby Wilson’s program at School of Public Health, 8 AM- 7 PM at Stamp Student Union, 3972 Campus Dr. UM College Park. Free; RSVP at link above. The work to stop the Ernest Maier Concrete Batching Plant in the Port Towns will be presented during the day (presented by Port Towns Environmental Action.).

 Baltimore progressives, Check in on Max Obuszewski’s highly useful activist calendar and tip sheet at


 Reading the Progressive Maryland BlogSpace: our blogs for the previous weeks are shown below, but if you want a handy way to keep track – and never miss a blog post – you can sign up to get this Weekly Memo by email. Remember this is your blogspace and your participation is heartily invited. See something going on that you don’t like – or that you do like and hope to see more of? Send us your thoughts; submit to the moderator at [email protected]

Recently published blog posts include the whole history of the debate over a new Speaker:


May 03, 2019 Winners and losers in the Wednesday Speaker vote

In this hard-nosed and broad-scale account, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters outlines the new power map after Adrienne Jones became the compromise House Speaker on Wednesday. Progressive forces made themselves heard when the consequences of collaborating with the minority GOP were on the table. But doing the math over Kurtz's shoulder, we need to take a lesson and an incentive from his observation: "progressives regularly overestimate their overall political strength in Maryland, which isn’t nearly as progressive as they are." We'll keep making the state more progressive, because we can.


May 02, 2019 New Speaker, New M4A bill -- a tale of two capitals

  A double bonus again: our director Larry Stafford outlines how the state House of Delegates dodged the bullet of a leadership race controlled by the GOP minority and what it will take to bring enough change to ensure this close call doesn't happen again. And in an account from another capital -- the one downtown -- Progressive Maryland and allies in the #People's Wave went to the streets to secure Medicare for All and mass-shamed Big Pharma for its role in raising drug prices to life-threatening levels -- because they can. M4A will insure they lose that edge.


May 01, 2019 Progressive Maryland Weekly Memo for May Day, 2019

MAY DAY This morning, folks all over the world are celebrating the international holiday that workers made with their own hands.

This morning, we Maryland progressives are fighting off the pushback of neoliberal so-called Democrats who are trying to hook up with Republicans in the Maryland General Assembly to grab the power of the House Speakership. It is happening this morning. Find out how to fight back, build power and win.


April 30, 2019 Activists, delegates warn of trouble in Speaker contest disunity

Double bonusblog: Richard DeShay Elliott’s hopeful future for the Assembly’s Dem leadership is outlined, plus a warning from two progressive delegates about the dangers of flirting with the retrograde GOP caucus for advantage in the Speaker’s contest; ASSEMBLY VOTING IS TOMORROW, MAY 1.


April 28, 2019 Big Pharma’s own disclosures show prescription drugs are high-price, high-profit consumer ripoff

Big Pharma's claim that high research costs cause high drug prices is a lie. “Between 2006 and 2015, 18 pharmaceutical companies in the S&P 500 spent 11% more on payments to shareholders than on research and development.” People’s Action’s George Goehl and Roosevelt Center president Felicia Wong show how unregulated Big Pharma rips off desperate prescription drug consumers, and how to fix that.


April 26, 2019 People's Wave makes DC Rock April 28-30

Just a few miles downtown, member organizations of People’s Action are converging in DC this weekend to have a big, organization-wide conversation: how to bring change, big change, for working families in the US.

Progressive Maryland members will be numerous -- and active -- among them. If you aren't signed up for the event, though, there is street action as well as lobbying your representatives on tap for the April 28-30 event. Read on.


April 25, 2019 Progressive Maryland and allies – and Dem leader -- demand unified House Dem choice for speaker

Progressive Maryland and allied progressive groups have told Maryland House Democrats to stick together on choosing a new speaker or pay the price -- a clear message to deter collusion with House Republicans -- and the state Democratic Chair, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, has now echoed that imperative.


April 24, 2019 Progressive Groups Pressure Dems on Speaker Vote

 “A pact with Republicans to win” the Maryland House speakership would be “a nearly unwashable stain” on any Democratic politician, says Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford Jr., quoted in this Maryland Matters article about the possible deviancy in the upcoming contest.

>>REMEMBER – these blog posts are expressions of political opinion from our wide-ranging membership and circle of allies. They are not expressions of opinion by Progressive Maryland. Don’t be surprised if they sometimes vary in their political content. You might even disagree with them – a good reason to contribute a blog of your own. Send it to the moderator, Woody Woodruff, at [email protected].

>>Keeping up with the blogs is easier with the index. The blogs published in the PM BlogSpace from June 2015 through December 2016 are all available with descriptions and links here. You can follow blogs for 2017-18 starting from here

woody woodruff


M.A. and Ph.d. from University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism, would-be radical, sci-fi fan... retired to a life of keyboard radicalism...