Photo by Joseph Tran

Marc Elrich

Age: 72; born Nov. 2, 1949, Washington, D.C.

Home: Takoma Park; divorced, four children

Education: bachelor’s degree, University of Maryland, 1975; master’s degree, Johns Hopkins University, 1993
Professional background: teacher (Rolling Terrace Elementary School, Takoma Park, 1990-2006); retail store manager (Montgomery Ward, Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op)

Political experience: Montgomery County executive, 2018-present; member, Montgomery County Council, 2006-2018; member, Takoma Park City Council, 1987-2006; ran for county council at-large, 1994 and 2002, and in District 5, 1990 and 1998

Photo by Joseph Tran

Tom Hucker

Age: 54; born April 9, 1967, St. Louis, Missouri

Home: Silver Spring; married, two children

Education: bachelor’s degree, Boston College, 1988

Professional background: regional campaign director, U.S. Public Interest Research Group/Environment America, 1990-1995; director, Progressive Montgomery, 1998-2001; founder and executive director, Progressive Maryland, 2001-2006; consultant, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2009-2011; consultant, Natural Resources Defense Council, 2013-present

Political experience: member, Montgomery County Council, 2014-present (chair, Transportation and Environment Committee, 2018-present; council president, 2021; council vice president, 2020); member, House of Delegates, Maryland General Assembly, 2007-2014

Photo by Joseph Tran

Hans Riemer

Age: 49; born Sept. 5, 1972, Oakland, California

Home: Takoma Park; married, two children

Education: bachelor’s degree, University of California Santa Cruz, 1995

Professional background: policy associate, Save Our Security Coalition, 1995-1996; founder and director, 2030 Center (public policy organization for young people), 1996-2001; senior policy analyst, Campaign for America’s Future, 2001-2003; political director, Rock the Vote, 2003-2007; national youth vote director, Obama for America, 2007-2008; senior adviser, AARP, 2008-2010

Political experience:  member, Montgomery County Council, 2010-present (chair, Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, 2018-present; council president, 2018; council vice president, 2017); ran for county council, 2006 (District 5)

Photo by Joseph Tran

David Blair

Age: 52; born Aug. 20, 1969, Silver Spring

Home: Potomac; married, six children

Education: bachelor’s degree, Clemson University, 1991

Professional background: health care industry (executive chair, Accountable Health Inc., 2013-2017; CEO, Catalyst Health Solutions Inc., 1999-2012); minority partner, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards, 2013-present; founder and chair of the board, Council for Advocacy and Policy Solutions, 2019-present

Political experience: ran for Montgomery County executive, 2018; co-chair, Vote No on [Ballot Questions] B & D, 2020

For much of Marc Elrich’s first term as Montgomery County executive, voter attention has been focused on governmental efforts to protect their health and finances during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

Will COVID-19 remain the focus of voters come June’s primary election, or will their attention turn to long-range needs such as jobs, affordable housing and improved transportation?

The answer to that and other key questions could determine whether Elrich is nominated for a second term in a jurisdiction where success in the Democratic primary has become tantamount to election in November, given the Democrats’ nearly 4-1 edge in registered voters.

Among the other questions:

  • How will Elrich and the three other white men starring in the Democratic primary for executive—businessman David Blair and county councilmembers Tom Hucker and Hans Riemer—position themselves to represent a liberal jurisdiction in which a solid majority of residents are people of color? And will a Democratic primary electorate that has remained disproportionately white begin to more closely resemble the county’s changing demographics?
  • In a contest that’s fundamentally a referendum on Elrich, will his longtime base among progressive voters and his ties to county unions provide enough reinforcement in the face of attacks over his vision and effectiveness?
  • Will Hucker’s surprise entry into the contest, combined with his progressive credentials, split the left side of the party, providing opportunities for Blair and Riemer, with their appeals to more centrist Democrats?

Four years ago, to the dismay of many in the local political and business establishment, Elrich, then a county councilmember, emerged as the winner of a six-way primary by the narrowest of margins. This year, rivals as well as allies consider him the early front-runner.

At 72, Elrich has been a presence in county elections—and often a lightning rod—for more than three decades. He’s a policy wonk with a soft voice who has nonetheless been blunt in taking on local development interests. He was an outlier during 12 years on the council but found success on issues ranging from early advocacy of a bus rapid transit system to sponsorship of the law raising the hourly minimum wage to $15.

The issue that has dominated Elrich’s first term—COVID-19—has yielded high approval ratings for him in recent private polling. The county boasts vaccination rates among the highest nationally for large jurisdictions, and it has implemented strict policies to stem the virus’s sp