Who Developers Support In Tuesday's Maryland County Executive Races
Voters in Maryland will take to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots in a number of heated primary contests. The top positions in the state's two suburban D.C. counties are both up for grabs, with Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett term limited and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker running for governor.
These races have several candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, and given the heavily Democratic makeup of both counties, Tuesday's primary will effectively decide who takes office.
The county executives play a critical role in each county's economic development. They guide policies such as business incentives to attract companies and zoning regulations to allow new development. This gives real estate developers a reason to care about who wins each primary, and many of the region's top developers have shown their support through financial contributions.
Bisnow combed through the campaign finance filings for the leading candidates for each race and found dozens of contributions from developers, painting a picture of which candidates have the real estate industry's support.
Note: The following contributions date back to January 2017. Some of them are from real estate companies themselves, while the majority are individual contributions from company executives, which we have specified in parentheses. Bisnow reached out for comment to many of the largest donors and will update the story with any responses.
Montgomery County Executive
County Council Member Roger Berliner:
Berliner, previously a small-business owner and a congressional staffer, has served on the Montgomery County Council since 2006. He has also chaired the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and pushed for regional cooperation on Metro funding.
He received roughly $100K from commercial real estate developers representing 20 top companies in the region. Berliner has called for easing the county's permitting process, and he has a category on his campaign website called "supporting development where it belongs." He celebrated the groundbreaking of Marriott International's new headquarters last week, posting on Facebook that it was a "great day for Bethesda and our county."
"I have been a strong supporter of smart growth and I have opposed development where it doesn’t belong," Berliner wrote in an email to Bisnow. "I think the real estate community respects the balance I bring to what is a longstanding and ongoing debate in our county — how and where we grow."
- Lerner Enterprises (Ted Lerner, Annette Lerner, Mark Lerner, Ed Cohen and Robert Tannenbaum): $18,250
- Willco (Phillip Cohen, Richard Cohen and Gary Cohen): $17K
- Tower Cos. (Gary Abramson, Jeffrey Abramson and Ronald Abramson): $13,500
- JBG Smith (Matt Kelly, Robert Stewart, Brian Coulter and David Paul): $11K
- Federal Realty Investment Trust: $6K
- Promark Partners (Robert Eisinger): $6K
- Combined Properties: $6K
- Fivesquares Development: $5K
- Carr Properties: $2,500. CEO Oliver Carr said he donated to multiple candidates and also supports Blair and Krasnow.
- Berman Enterprises (Gary Berman): $2,500
- The Donaldson Group (Carlton Einsel): $2K
- RST Development (Michael Copeland): $2K
- Rock Creek Property Group: $2K
- Cafritz Interests (Conrad Cafritz): $1,500
- Petrie Richardson Ventures (Walter Petrie): $1,500
- StonebridgeCarras (company and Doug Firstenberg): $1,500
- PN Hoffman: $1K
- Starr Capital (Timothy Eden): $750
- Urban Atlantic (Vicki Davis) $500
- Lee Development Group (Bruce Lee) $500
Businessman David Blair:
A first-time candidate who founded and ran a prescription drug benefits company, David Blair has the second-most support from developers in the Montgomery County primary. His campaign website includes a section titled "making the most out of the Amazon opportunity," and he received support from multiple developers who are vying for the tech giant's second headquarters.
- JBG Smith (Robert Stewart): $6K
- Tower Cos. (Gary Abramson, Jeffrey Abramson and Ronald Abramson): $5K
- Lerner Enterprises (Ted Lerner, Annette Lerner, Mark Lerner, Ed Cohen, Robert Tannenbaum): $5K
- Washington Property Co. (Charles Nulsen): $2,500
- Bernstein Cos. (Adam Bernstein, Marc Duber): $2,500
- Carl M. Freeman Cos. (Michelle Freeman): $2K
State Delegate Bill Frick:
- Washington Property Co. (Charles Nulsen): $6K. Nulsen said he also contributed to Krasnow and supports all three candidates because they are not currently on the County Council. Also the president of business group Empower Montgomery, Nulsen said the county is underperforming its economic potential and needs new leadership to make changes.
- Donatelli Development (Chris Donatelli) $2K
- Marriott International: $2K
- Southern Management Corp. (company, Gabrielle Duvall): $1,500
- WestEnd Development (Jay Gulati): $1,250
- The Bozzuto Group: $500
- Stanford Properties (Andrew Brown): $500
Former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow (participated in public matching funds program, limiting donations to $150)
- Tower Cos. (Jeffrey Abramson, Gary Abramson, Ron Abramson, Sri Velamati): $600
- Bernstein Cos. (Adam Bernstein): $150
- Foulger-Pratt (Bryant Foulger): $150
- Pinkard Group (Bob Pinkard): $150
No donations from developers could be found for two Montgomery County Executive candidates: Mark Elrich and George Leventhal, both of whom also participated in the public matching funds program.
Prince George's County Executive
Prince George's County has nine Democrats running for county executive, but three candidates lead the field in name recognition, fundraising dollars and endorsements, as identified by the Washington Post. One of those candidates, State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, received support from at least 18 real estate developers, while the other two received contributions from one each.
As the county's lead prosecutor since 2010, Alsobrooks has not had a central role in decisions that impact real estate development, but the industry has lined up behind her with over $50K in total contributions. Her opponent, former Rep. Donna Edwards, has attacked Alsobrooks for taking money from developers and promised not to take any herself. Alsobrooks' campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks:
- Willco (Richard Cohen, Judith Cohen): $12K
- Stanton View Development (company and Donte Lee): $8K
- Mid-City Financial Corp. (company and Gene Ford): $6,500
- Douglas Development (Douglas Jemal): $4,092
- Konterra Realty: $4K
- Montage Development Group (Kevin Brown and John Kamya): $3K
- Western Development Corp.: $2K
- Urban Atlantic (Vicki Davis, Lois Fried): $2K
- PN Hoffman (Maria Thompson): $1,912
- Tower Cos. (Ronald Abramson and Jeffrey Abramson): $1,500
- Marrick Properties (Charles Bailey): $1,500
- Peterson Cos. (Milt Peterson and Jon Peterson): $1,100
- Corvias (Gregory Cannito): $1,100
- Elm Street Development (David Flanagan): $1K
- Nix Development Co.: $1K
- Donohoe Cos. (Chris Bruch): $500
- ARC Realty (Mark Arena): $500
- Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Investments: $500
- PREIT (Victoria Clark): $210
Former Rep. Donna Edwards:
- Tower Cos. (Ronald Abramson): $2,500
State Sen. Anthony Muse:
- Peebles Corp. (Don Peebles): $6K