Councilmember Howie Denis (R-1) stood and greeted the crowd jubilantly as he rode in the Potomac Day parade in a convertible beside wife Babette.
A red, white and blue-striped tie peeked out of his black vest, and he donned large stickers declaring his endorsements from the teacher’s union and others.
A contentious election race with Democratic challenger Roger Berliner has kept Denis busy on the campaign trail.
“It’s a marathon – I feel like a long-distance runner,” he said in an interview later in the festival. “It’s a combination of door-knocking, shopping centers, swim meets, metros and parades. … You go toward the sound of drums.”
Chief-of-staff Ken Hartman said that Denis has kept a hectic campaign schedule.
“Every minute that he’s not in the office he’s out walking about, going door-to-door, visiting with folks at the Tasty Diner and going to campaign events in the evening,” said Hartman. “It’s constant movement.”
Hartman believes that Denis’ record of constituent service will help secure victory on Election Day. He said that constituents call Denis’ office when they need help on issues ranging from snow clearing in winter to the attempted closure of Seven Locks Elementary.
Adrian Gude Lewis is a campaign worker for Denis, and she is the daughter of former Congressman Gilbert Gude, who Denis worked for before running for office himself.
“When my dad was in Congress, he actually had the C&O Canal designated as a national park and saved it from becoming a highway,” she said. “Mr. Denis has done work on [U.S. Representative Chris] Van Hollen’s forest conservation taskforce, putting together stronger measures for protecting the area around the Potomac. There’s a nice continuity between what my father did and now what Denis is doing – it helps carry forward the tradition of caring for the environment that Montgomery County has always had.”
DENIS WAS CHEERFUL and confident as he chatted with locals at Potomac Day.
Berliner has challenged Denis for being a Republican, the only Republican on County Council, saying the District would be better served by a Democrat
Denis and his staff downplayed party affiliation, arguing that county politics are nonpartisan.
“Fortunately this is a very independent-minded community, and they know that I’m independent-minded,” said Denis. “People here support county above party.”
“There are no party positions on tree preservation, no party positions on mansionization,” he said. “It’s not like the national level where they have clear-cut national issues. This is all about the nuts-and-bolts quality-of-life closest to where people live, on their streets and at their schools.”
“Three-and-a-half years out of four, there’s never any discussion of party labels,” Hartman continued. “It’s just about staying above the partisanship and doing our work to represent everyone in our neighborhoods, regardless party.”
<b>Howard Denis (R)</b>
EDUCATION: Graduate of B-CC High School; BA, Government, Georgetown College; LLB, Georgetown University Law Center
OCCUPATION: attorney who works on the U.S. House of Representatives staff of U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.)
EXPERIENCE: Councilmember since 2000; serves on U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s C&O Canal Stewardship Task Force; representative on the Council of Governments Committee on Noise Abatement at National and Dulles Airports; member of the Board of Directors of the Conference and Visitors Bureau; member of the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture; state senator in district 16 1977 to 1995.
ENDORSEMENTS: Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), AFL-CIO, Progressive Maryland, Neighbors for a Better Montgomery, SEIU Local 500, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1664, Montgomery County Government Employees Organization (MCGEO), Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce
FAMILY: Wife, Babette Wise; daughter, Corey
LIVES IN: Chevy Chase
CAMPAIGN FINANCES: $134,072 in campaign contributions and $108,651 in expenditures since the 2002 election; cash balance of $126,893 as of Sept. 1.