Changing Of The Guard: Leggett Not Running in ’18

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Three term Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett made it official this week: he’s not not running for reelection in 2018.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, the son of a sawmill laborer who rose from the Jim Crow South to become a Howard University law professor and chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, said Tuesday he will not seek a fourth term.

“I don’t want to use the word retire, but I’m not running,” said Leggett, 71, first elected to the executive’s post in 2006.
Leggett, the county’s first African American council member and county executive, has broadly signaled since his 2014 reelection that he would not run again. But with the 2018 political cycle set to begin after the Nov. 8 general election, he has started saying so explicitly in public comments. On Sunday, he told a crowd at a Silver Spring fundraiser for “No On B,” the group opposed to the term-limits ballot question, that he was done.

“It’s the first time I’ve heard him say it to an audience in public,” said council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large), who attended the event at Denizens Brewing Co. Leventhal acknowledged that he pays close attention to Leggett’s comments on the subject — he’s one of several council incumbents looking closely at a run for county executive in 2018. He joins council members Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), Marc Elrich (D-At Large), Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) and Craig Rice (D-Upcounty) as possible contenders.

It’s very likely that come 2019, MoCo will have a new executive and as many as six new Councilmembers. And still none of them will be to Robin Ficker’s liking. Haha. How this transition plays out will be one of the most interesting stories of a 2018 election season that is likely to produce even more change than did the 2014-16 cycles.

For now, let’s note that Ike Leggett was a transformational figure in County and state politics, still the only African-American elected countywide (seven times, four as a Councilmember and three as County Executive), and he also served as state party chair in the aftermath of the disastrous 2002 election that brought us the first GOP governor in Maryland since Spiro Agnew. No matter how you view his politics, one thing is clear – Ike Leggett’s shoes are going to be enormously difficult to fill.

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