Category Archives: Jamie Raskin

MoCo’s Hero

By Adam Pagnucco.

We are living in historic times. After the sack of the U.S. Capitol, America approaches a day of reckoning with the only president to incite an insurrection against our democracy. At the center of this moment is Congressman Jamie Raskin, who has been named the lead impeachment manager in the trial of Donald Trump. It’s a huge moment. It’s Jamie’s moment, yes, but it’s also ours. All of the nation will be watching.

I have met a lot of politicians, many of them good ones, but there was always something special about Jamie. He first ran for office in 2006 against incumbent District 20 Senator Ida Ruben, who had been in office for more than 30 years and had gradually lost touch with many of her constituents. Jamie didn’t so much run a campaign as he established a grass-roots movement for progressive values and attentive representation. Ruben didn’t stand a chance.

MoCo is full of smart people. Most of them want you to know they’re smart sooooo badly. Jamie is as smart as anyone but he has no need to show off. He is charming, witty, quirky and sometimes even a little goofy. He is so full of eagerness when discussing something he cares about, like constitutional law. Who can make constitutional law interesting and cool? Jamie can because he gets so excited about it and he knows so much about it. He never talks down to you. He draws you in. He had that effect on people even outside his district, which is a big reason why he ascended to Congress.

Lots of people have a Jamie story. Here’s mine. About ten years ago, I had a potential legal problem that was keeping me up at night. It had a First Amendment dimension to it, and knowing Jamie is a national expert on that subject, I called him on the spur of the moment. I’m a District 18 resident so Jamie was not my State Senator. I didn’t know him well back then. Nevertheless, he invited me to his home at 10 at night, listened to me, educated me and supported me. Maybe it was no big deal for him but it was a huge deal for me. My problem turned out to be a non-issue but I never forgot how he helped me. I’m not the only one. I have heard countless stories of Jamie’s generosity and kindness over the years.

And now we come to the hard part. Perhaps the cruelest fate a human being can suffer is to lose a child. For parents, children are not just our favorite people – they are our contribution to the world. When they do well, we feel a sense of accomplishment because we feel that we are leaving something positive behind when we go. I have a son. If he were to pass away in my lifetime, I’m not sure I could find purpose and meaning in continuing to live. When that horrible tragedy happened to Jamie, what did he do? He went back to work. And for him, that meant leading a crusade to rid us of the most destructive political scourge in the last 160 years of U.S. history, the Emperor of Lies, Donald Trump. How much strength and sense of duty does that take? I am far from the only one who marveled at Jamie’s ability to rise from the depths of devastation to the heights of greatness.

Members of Congress from both parties applaud Jamie after he thanks them for their support during his family tragedy.

In a war against evil – and make no mistake, evil is what rampaged through the U.S. Capitol weeks ago – people of good will need heroes. For folks around the country, Jamie has joined a pantheon of great leaders seeking to restore America’s highest aspirations. But here in MoCo, Jamie is more than that. He is one of us, a favored son in our civic and political family. He’s ours. He is MoCo’s hero. And whatever happens in years to come, we are never going to forget this moment.

Thanks, Jamie.

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Raskin Chief of Staff Writes About Attack on the Capitol

By Adam Pagnucco.

Julie Tagen, who is the Chief of Staff to Congressman Jamie Raskin, wrote the following account of her experience during the attack on the U.S. Capitol this week. We are reprinting it with her permission.

*****

Friends, here is my story of what happened to me yesterday. I am writing this because the process is cathartic for me, and I don’t want to EVER forget the details of January 6, 2021. Forgive me, it’s a long read.

As most of you know, I am Chief of Staff to Representative Jamie Raskin, who had an unbearable family tragedy on December 31 when he lost his beloved son Tommy. You may also know that Jamie is a constitutional scholar, and Speaker Pelosi gave him the high honor of being one of the four key players during the electoral college vote on the House floor.

The day started out normal. I picked up Jamie and drove him to work (masks on, windows down). We live near each other, and pre-COVID, were daily commuting partners. As we drove on 3rd Street NW in front of the Capitol, we could see people with Trump, QAnon and Confederate flags milling around and heading toward the White House (or so it seemed).

We went up to our office in the Rayburn House Office Building, where Jamie worked on his speech in preparation for his big day. Jamie’s family wanted to be with him and see him in action on the floor, so they decided that his daughter, Tabitha, and his son-in-law, Hank, would come to the Capitol. Jamie’s other daughter, Hannah, and Tabitha’s boyfriend, Ryan, would watch the proceedings at home with Jamie’s wife, Sarah. At around noon, Jamie and I walked to the Capitol through the tunnels, the only direction that Capitol Police had ever given us for this momentous day, to meet Tabitha and Hank in a ceremonial room off the House floor. The wonderful staff of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer gave us the Hoyer ceremonial office (H-219) for the week so Jamie could have privacy in his time of mourning and be closer to the House floor.

This is when things began to get crazy; a lot is still hazy to me. The Joint Session started at 1 p.m. The plan was that shortly before Jamie was to speak on the floor, at around 1:30 p.m., Tabitha and Hank would be taken to one of the viewing galleries by security (this was a special privilege, as only Members of Congress were permitted in these galleries during the Joint Session). Jamie left for the floor, which was around 50 feet from our door, and Tabitha, Hank and I started looking out of the large office window at what was taking place outside.

Our windows faced the West Front of the Capitol, in the direction of the Washington Monument. All of the major news channels were showing the activities on the floor, so we only received information about outside activities through Twitter and information other friends and staffers were sending us. Tabitha, Hank and I knew something was very wrong. Our view was slightly obstructed by the inaugural scaffolding and platform, but it was clear that the crowd was getting bigger and more aggressive and there definitely were not enough Capitol Police officers. We could see them taking one or two people away in handcuffs, and smoke, likely tear gas, covering the growing crowd.

After everything the Raskin family had been through over the course of the last week, it became my goal to keep Tabitha and Hank as calm as possible. I told them that we were very safe, that we would be protected, and that there was absolutely no way that anyone could get into the Capitol. I said that because I truly believed it. I was on the Hill in 2010, when the ACA passed and loonies were roaming the halls of the House office buildings since they were open to the public. I figured since the buildings were closed due to COVID, we would be safe. It never once entered my mind that something bad could happen.

I had my laptop on my desk and started getting large pop-up alerts on my screen. I first saw that the Madison Building of the Library of Congress was evacuated. This was concerning, but it seemed like things were under control. Although the floor activities were on the office’s large TV, Tabitha, Hank and I could not stop looking out the window at the chaos outside. At this point, it began to look like mayhem. Scores of angry white men with Trump and Confederate flags stomped around, clad in camouflage and flak jackets.

Despite the mobs outside, Jamie was scheduled to speak on the floor around 1:30pm. Jason Gandolph, a member of Capitol Police Security, came by and said that he could take Tabitha and Hank one floor up to the viewing gallery. They left just as I got an alert that the Cannon House Office Building, where Member’s offices were located, was being evacuated. Jason came back and said, very calmly, that the Capitol was about to go into lockdown. They would have to lock us in the room once Tabitha and Hank returned from the gallery.

Once they came back, Tabitha, Hank and I looked out the window again. We could see that the rioters had gotten onto the inaugural platform and were climbing the scaffolding. The police, who did not have riot gear on, remained below. At one point, it looked like they were trying to move forward, and then it looked like they were retreating; one thing was clear –they were not handling or controlling the mob. We watched as one of the barriers was broken down or opened by police and a rush of rioters headed on West plaza toward the Senate side of the building. I assumed by letting them rush the Senate side that it was a strategy to arrest or disperse them. There was a strong line of police holding off the mob from the plaza’s House side. On TV, the electoral proceedings were still taking place, so I figured things couldn’t be that bad.

Suddenly, we started getting alerts on the computer and our phones. Calls and texts from team members came pouring in: the Capitol had been BREACHED!! The House floor was quickly adjourned. The alerts told us to turn off all sounds in our offices and to take cover. Tabitha and Hank crammed under Steny Hoyer’s desk, and I took the chairs in the room and barricaded the door.

I was looking out of the side window at the chaos. I began to panic inside at the thought of the Raskin kids being traumatized again and what was happening to them after everything they’d been through. Outwardly, I was calm. I told Tabitha and Hank that we would be okay. Inwardly, I wanted to crawl up in a ball and hide. I was scared.

Perhaps it was the adrenaline or the reality of the moment, but I had an epiphany, for lack of a better word. I was trapped in a room with a giant photograph of John Lewis on the wall and a bust of Abraham Lincoln on the fireplace mantel. I said to myself, and perhaps out loud, “These people are TERRORISTS, They cannot win.” Some who know me might say that at that moment, I got my “Philly On!!” I gathered anything in the room that I could use as a weapon and put them by the door: a fireplace stocker, busts, a bronze award of a buck with large and pointy horns.

By then, the terrorists had made their way into the Capitol. We could hear their heavy footsteps outside our door as they tried to breach the House floor. We could hear them chanting, “USA, USA!” and “We want Trump!” and “Stop the steal!” We could hear them trying to ram the door of the House Chamber just a few feet away. There were bangs all over the place. Someone jangled our door handle. I picked up the heaviest item I could find (not sure why), the bronze buck bust, and stood in front of the door, waiting for them to arrive.

I started receiving texts from Jamie, who had been evacuated from the House floor, asking if we were okay. I lied and told him we were fine, because I didn’t want to worry him too. I also started getting calls from Pelosi’s floor staff, who were trying to locate and evacuate us. Texts started arriving from friends all around the country, asking if I was okay. I only told a few close buddies how terrified I was. I talked to my wife, De, very quickly, and told her that we were safe and fine. I asked Hank if it was convincing enough.

After what felt like 30 minutes, the chants began to die down. I could hear police in the hallway. They knocked on our door and told us they were there to help. Tabitha and Hank got out from under the desk. We all looked at each other and said nothing. There was a delay to get us out as a result of being locked in – and I hadn’t remembered that I had locked the 3 inside locks too. Five Capitol police officers opened the door. It was clear they were amped up. The said “Let’s Roll!!” and whisked us through the tight stairwells of the Capitol and we finally made it to the “secure location” where we were joyously joined by a super-relieved and grateful Jamie. In the secure location, everyone was exhausted and there was little food or water. Little by little small food items were handed out: Goldfish crackers, berry gummies, Skittles. After four hours, pizza and drinks arrived. I pretty much survived that night on candy and Diet Coke.

At around 9:15 p.m., I was able to get Tabitha and Hank a ride home to Maryland. I stayed with Jamie until the end until 4:00 AM. It was an honor and a privilege to be in the Capitol when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared winners, and the next President and Vice President of the United States. I arrived back home a little past four in the morning.

I am still processing all of this but I could never imagine this happening to the US Congress.

There is a long list of people that helped me through the day. I hope you know who you are, and I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. More formal thanks will come later.

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MoCo’s Most Influential, Part Four

By Adam Pagnucco.

Part One of this series laid out the rules and methodology for how we determined MoCo’s most influential people. These lists were developed by adding together the nominations of 85 people who are themselves extremely knowledgeable and influential. Now to the Final Four – the most influential elected officials in MoCo!

4. Council Member Andrew Friedson (D-1) – 32 votes

Source: He knows what local government is good for and what it’s not good for, and even if he frustrates you, you can’t help but admire how competent he is.

Source: Has carved out his own brand on a Council crowded with talent.

Source: More than any other member, Andrew has changed the terms of engagement on so many issues in front of the County Council. He’s taken to it like a sponge. His ability to keep the “main thing” the “main thing” is matched only by his incredible work ethic.

Source: He’s getting tons of respect as very sharp, with integrity, and isn’t scared to speak honestly and openly about what he sees going on.

Source: Andrew sticks out as the shiny new thing on the council for his willingness to show some moderation. This leadership is sorely lacking on a council dominated by the far left. If he can actually move the council toward the middle, he will have earned his title as “the real deal.”

Source: It is difficult to find anyone on this side of town who doesn’t love him. Truly wonderful.

Source: Burst on the scene, no signs of stopping; high marks for constituent service; fresh blood but smart enough to keep on seasoned staff from Berliner.

Source: Has shown incredible political savvy. Has done tremendous work in just his first year – economic impact analysis, vote against tax legislation, COVID19 response.

Source: Dynamic, smart, driven and witty, Andrew has made his mark as the voice of the business community. He is tireless as evidenced by his “home alone” video. He is always the last one to leave the Council building at night (unless he’s at an event).

AP: You would expect business types to vote for Andrew but he had broad strength among my entire source pool, even among those who sometimes disagree with him. Andrew GETS politics in a way that few other local politicians do. He can work the inside, he can work the outside, he can compromise and he can pull others along. He will have bumps in the road like everyone does, but remember this now and for the future: Andrew Friedson is the Real Deal.

3. Delegate Marc Korman (D-16) – 34 votes

Source: What a brilliant guy, and a serious transportation guru.

Source: The smartest person in the room, a future Appropriations chair, and has an underrated ability to cultivate allies.

Source: Brilliant. He absolutely knows how to get stuff done. He’s widely respected as a go to guy for numbers.

Source: Marc has carved out a niche as the dominant expert on mass transit and has earned the respect of his colleagues. Smart, hard-working, effective, and hyper responsive to constituents. One wonders how he has time to do it all. With the spectacles to complement his innate nerdiness, he could go a very long way with a little more charisma and charm.

Source: He’s just way smarter, more substantive, organized and hard-working than just about anyone else in elected office.

Source: Brilliant tactical legislator good at using all that to get things done. Well positioned in the House to get it done.

Source: Universally respected, Metro/transit geek (that’s a compliment), returns emails with superhuman lightning speed, knows Annapolis inside and out.

AP: Marc reminds me a lot of Anne Kaiser in terms of his work ethic, substance and steady Eddie temperament. He is also incredibly responsive and never neglects his constituents. Marc is one of the very best elected officials in the state and MoCo is lucky to have him.

2. County Executive Marc Elrich – 36 votes

Source: Half the Council may be ready to run against him but he writes the budget and sets the priorities.

Source: Love him or hate him, he’s been throwing fireballs from the left for decades. He took several tries to get on the council and y’all just couldn’t shake him off, now he’s your county executive. Deal with it!

Source: Rocky first year, has lost credibility with progressives on the housing issue, and administration seems to lack priority issues or obvious agenda.

Source: [On Elrich and Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine] Consider the decisions they make, don’t make, and back-pedal on—this pair is the biggest influencer on county government whether they know it or not.

Source: I don’t agree with him at all, but his policies are shaping the county – for better or worse.

Source: His lack of vision and leadership is what influences events and issues in the county.

AP: The county executive, whoever he or she is, must be on this list. But Elrich is very different from his predecessors. For 30 years, he defined his political career primarily on what he opposed. That’s a great formula for being a contrarian council member but not much of a governing strategy for being a county executive. Elrich did not have a great start and now he is dealing with a budget crisis. If he can work productively with the council to fix it, he will regain some ground. If not, the council will make him irrelevant.

1. Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-8) – 38 votes

Source: Even though he is becoming more of a centrist neoliberal, you cannot argue his influence and ascent to national politics and how he’s beloved by all factions of MoCo Democrats.

Source: Right expertise at the right time.

Source: An unabashed liberal with unsurpassed talent to excite his far-left base. Wicked smart, respected, and likeable even among non-liberals. These abilities explain his quick ascension in Congress. Probably too liberal to run statewide, but I wouldn’t rule him out.

Source: Jamie Raskin has a lot of influence because he has total credibility with local progressives.

AP: I never thought I would see a MoCo member of Congress attain more popularity than the legendary Chris Van Hollen. I don’t know if Jamie is there quite yet, but he might be tied – and that’s incredible. Jamie was always a brainy and appealing progressive, but the contrast with a deranged, misogynistic and white supremacist president has amplified his impact. And in MoCo, it has made him a bona fide hero.

We are not done. Coming next – the most influential non-elected people in MoCo!

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Josh Starr’s Picks

By Adam Pagnucco.

Josh Starr was Superintendent of MCPS from 2011 through 2015 and still lives in MoCo.  He announced the candidates whom he supports on Facebook yesterday.  Agree with Starr or not, his personal experience of working with state and county elected officials gives him a unique perspective on those running for office.  With his permission, we reprint his post below.

*****

Very long post for my MoCo friends about my choices for the primaries, with notes/comments where I feel it’s appropriate. Please note that my choices and/or comments are based on my personal knowledge and experience with these folks, not any deep analysis of every statement/position/vote they’ve made. I definitely have biases.

Governor – Rich Madaleno; Baker would be my #2. When I was super, I found Rich to be one of the smartest, most thoughtful and most knowledgeable elected officials, esp. around budget. He was also one of the first Dems to push back against Hogan. Experienced, smart, progressive, would be a great governor. I’d also love to see an open member of the LGBTQ community elected governor, although that’s in no way the primary (pun intended) reason I’m supporting him.

Senator – Ben Cardin

Congress – Jamie Raskin, because he is, after all, The Jamie Raskin.

House of Delegates – 3 candidates:

Ariana Kelly – solid, speaks out on issues re: women, no reason for her not to continue in Annapolis.

Marc Korman – smart, thoughtful (in my LM class so I got to know him well), definitely a bright future.

Samir Paul – have had a few conversations with him, very sharp and we need more teachers in office.

County Executive (wherein I get a little snarky based on my experiences with many of these candidates). I also think the next CE might be a transitional leader, as we move from 12 years of Ike during an economic downturn towards a new vision that supports bold economic development with progressive politics.

I’m supporting Roger Berliner as I’ve always found him to be thoughtful, a really good listener/learner, consistent and progressive. I’ve always felt Roger tries to do the right thing in an inclusive and reasonable way and will work hard to bring people together around his vision.

A few comments on other CE candidates:

Blair – don’t know much about him, not a huge fan of business leaders assuming they can “save” public entities. I’m pretty agnostic.

Elrich – have always appreciated his progressive politics, always had a solid working relationship, sometimes I appreciate his willingness to take strong positions, sometimes I think they’re unforced errors; major concern is the big hill he’ll have to climb to convince a wide swath of the county that he can do economic development and enact a very progressive agenda.

Frick – there are some things I like about him, personally and professionally, but my experience with Roger Berliner outweighs any support for Frick.

Krasnow – don’t know her, but I hear good things, sounds like a solid choice.

Leventhal – based on personal/professional experience, I’m in the anyone-but-Leventhal camp. He doesn’t have the temperament or leadership skills to be CE, despite his sometimes-engaging personal style and progressive politics. Please, trust me on this one.

Council At-Large (4)

Gabe Albornoz – smart, engaging, thoughtful, has a very bright future; very supportive of kids and MCPS.

Hoan Dang – what I know, I like.

Will Jawando – he deserves a shot.

Hans Riemer – very education focused, solid on economy and progressive issues, always had a good working relationship, we need someone with experience and we need a degree of stability.

I am also in the anyone-but-Jill Ortman Fouse category, based on my experience with her as a board of education member while I was superintendent. Trust me.

Council – D1

Peter Fosselman – solid, good record in Kensington, deserves a shot at council.

BoE (always at the end of the ballot)

At-Large- Karla Silvestre, glad to see her running, great community leader, smart, thoughtful, will be a great BoE member.

D3 – Pat O’Neill, because she deserves a shot at the MD record for longest serving board member. On a serious note, she knows what the role of a board member is and provides an essential balance to other board members who think their job is to run the school system.

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Rep. Raskin to Boycott Inauguration

From Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-8) on why he cannot bring himself to attend Trump’s Inauguration. His combination of a desire to witness to peaceful transfer of power yet a total revulsion many of Trump’s actions will no doubt be well understood by many readers:

“These are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he [or she] that stands by it now, deserves the thanks and love of man and woman.  Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”     

–Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

January 17, 2017

Dear Friends:

For the last couple of weeks, I have assumed that I would attend the inauguration of Donald Trump, obviously not to show any support for his politics but as a gesture of constitutionalism, simply to witness the peaceful transfer of power from President Obama to the new administration.

But, as the hour approaches, I realize that I cannot bring myself to go. I wish that these were normal times and that I could sit and applaud the normal workings of government as I did when Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was inaugurated in 2015 in Annapolis.

But these are not normal times and I cannot pretend as if they are. The moral and political legitimacy of this presidency is in the gravest doubt. I cannot get over Trump’s refusal to deal seriously with the constitutional problems caused by his business entanglements with foreign governments and corporations. I cannot get past his stubborn denial of the enormity of Russia’s efforts to sabotage and undermine our presidential election (regardless of the victor). I cannot stomach his relentless trafficking in bigotry, misogyny and fear. And I am outraged and confounded by his continuing provocations against civil rights heroes, such as my colleague the great Congressman John Lewis, union leaders and other individual citizens. Given these dynamics and given that one can never have any confidence in what Trump might say or tweet, I cannot risk my presence at his inauguration being interpreted as any kind of endorsement of the normality of our situation. I will not attend the inauguration. I do not rejoice in this decision or take pride in it, any more than I would rejoice or take pride in going; the inauguration ceremony is just a fact of life now, and we must all deal with it as best we can. I am afraid that these kinds of searing moral and political conflicts are our destiny for a while. (The State of the Union is next up, but I have every intention of going because the President will be entering our Chamber to speak to us.)

On Friday morning, I will be in our district, talking about our constitutional values with young people and preparing for the Women’s March on Saturday (more on that below). I’ll also be participating in a number of events aimed at organizing to defend liberal democracy in America. I invite you to join me as our country and our community prepare for the new era.

Organizing at Events to Defend Democracy

Tonight, I will attend the Refugee Ball at the Sixth & I Synagogue (details available here). Tomorrow, I am offering the keynote address at American University’s “Teach, Organize, Engage: A forum on contemporary politics and the future” at 3:00 p.m. (details available here) and will speak at an event on climate change called “Earth 2 Trump” at 6:00 p.m. (details available here). On Thursday, I will attend the Peace Ball at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (details are available here, but unfortunately tickets are sold out); and the Peace, Love & Understanding Alt-Inaugural Show (details available here). On Friday, I’ll speak at the UnNaugural Concert in Silver Spring, which will benefit organizations like the ACLU, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Planned Parenthood, the League of Conservation Voters, and the National LGBTQ Task Force (details available here, though unfortunately tickets have sold out); and I will attend the Planned Parenthood Pink Ball (details available here).

The Women’s March on Saturday, January 21

We’ve had an amazing response to our invitation to march with us! More than 1,800 people responded and we have 30 buses headed to the Women’s March after our Breakfast Reception and Rally at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Unfortunately, we have reached maximum capacity and have no more space on the buses! You can still RSVP to the breakfast (here), join us for the rally speeches and revival songs, and then take the Metro together afterwards—this will be fun too. You may also meet up with our group at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Maryland Avenue entrance. Look for a sign that says: “This is what a Popular Majority Looks Like. Congressman Jamie Raskin and Maryland’s 8th Congressional District Proudly Join the Women’s March.”

Inauguration Day Nature Walk in Rock Creek Park

Join me and my friend, author/naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley, at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, January 20 at Boundary Bridge in Rock Creek Park! In addition to everything else, our environmental laws are under severe attack right now.  Everyone who loves nature and cares about the conservation of our precious natural resources is invited to join me and my beloved friend Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of the acclaimed A Year in Rock Creek Park, for an Inauguration Day nature walk to celebrate the historic beauty of Rock Creek Park. We will walk until the sun goes down, crossing Boundary Bridge, the historic footbridge from Maryland to D.C. that was built in 1935 during FDR’s New Deal, and then wind our way through the magnificent trees of the floodplain forest. Take heart. If you love and care about protecting our region’s natural resources and the planet, you are not alone. Please sign up here. We can accept the first 75 people who sign up; if you don’t make it, we’ll be doing it again soon.

Thank you for your continuing solidarity, encouragement and friendship. I look forward to seeing you at many of the above events, especially the Women’s March on Saturday!

Very truly yours,

Jamie

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How Jamie Raskin Could Win

A guest blog by Adam Pagnucco.

Congressional District 8 has three strong Democratic candidates with a chance to win.  One of them is District 20 State Senator Jamie Raskin.

Strengths

Raskin has successfully established his brand as the effective, results-oriented progressive in the race, and he uses it as a contrast against two well-funded opponents who have never held office and have no local political history.  He started with a geographic base that accounted for roughly a sixth of the district and expanded it into other areas with a nearly year-long ground campaign.  His supporters are passionate, knowledgeable, loyal and numerous.  It would not be a stretch to say that he has wrapped up close to 90% of the district’s regular Democratic activists, the kind of people who play big roles in County Council and state legislative races.  His fundraising has been mostly local and is competitive with Kathleen Matthews.  His mail program has been second only to David Trone’s, although Emily’s List has been catching up in their advocacy for Matthews.

Weaknesses

As the third-ranking candidate in terms of finances, Raskin is running a more targeted race than either Matthews or Trone.  He has made a token investment in television in favor of a robust mail campaign, which can be targeted to regular voters.  There is good reason for this, but let’s remember that Rob Garagiola made a similar choice against John Delaney in 2012.  If turnout is high and jammed with low information voters who have not seen Raskin’s mail, he would be at a disadvantage.  Also, Raskin’s dispute with Delegate Kumar Barve over an inaccurate television ad has earned him negative coverage in the Post (twice), the Sun and Bethesda Magazine during the crucial final weeks of the race.

What Our Sources Say

Source: “Raskin has had the clearest message – that you should vote for him because he is the one who has actually passed bills that deliver on the progressive values all of the candidates say they support – but the question is whether he has put enough resources into TV ads to compete with the Trone-a-thon (and to a lesser extent the Matthews ads) that have blanketed the region with spots for his competitors.”

Source: “A hypothetical: If you could choose between a candidate who had a fantastic TV game but mediocre ground game, or a candidate with a fantastic ground game but mediocre TV game, who would you choose?  If you chose the latter, congrats, you’ve picked the winner of the CD8 race.”

Source: “Raskin isn’t a bad guy but the issues he’s advanced in the State Senate that he talks about frequently on the trail — a place with only 14 Republicans — have absolutely ZERO chance of happening in a Republican Congress. The key progressive battles in Congress won’t be waged in the near term on social issues, but as Chris Van Hollen showed, they’ll be fought on budget issues. That’s the effective progressive void CVH will leave in the House and Raskin simply doesn’t have the budget chops to fill it.”

Source: “He inherited Frosh’s very strong Montgomery County network which, along with his own record, gave him an instant third of the vote.  That’s an enviable position to be in.  On the other hand, he has a long voting record in a year of outsiders, is arguably to the left of Bernie Sanders, and doesn’t have a great deal of humility.  Still, if he wins it is a great victory for activism, involvement, and progressivism.”

Source: “Jamie’s candidacy is the test of whether there is value to being in the state legislature for people who aspire to higher profile office (offices on the top of the ballot that most voters learned about in civics class in high school – President, Senate, House). Hard working legislator, deep community connections, excellent reputation and undeniably brilliant. But, does he have any kind of advantage from having all of those elements in front of an electorate that does not follow Annapolis? Do the liberal party insiders who support him have as much electoral power as the state legislators and county councilmembers think they do? We’re about to find out!”

How He Could Win

Raskin supporters tend to be very liberal, know that Raskin is very liberal, and have lots of information about the race.  That message is reinforced through the grass-roots network that Raskin has built.  High information voters like these almost always vote and they will have an outsize impact on a low turnout election.  Turnout in Montgomery County has been trending downwards for years, and if that continues, it will favor Raskin.  Under this scenario, his people will stay with him and the remaining low information voters will be divided between Matthews and Trone.  Whether this will play out in the context of a competitive Democratic presidential primary is anyone’s guess, but Raskin’s base is the envy of the field and he has a good chance to win.

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Miller Touts Raskin, Disses Franchot in One Stroke on Opening Day

The Maryland Senate is just not a safe space for Peter Franchot.

On the opening day of session, many luminaries come before the General Assembly to say hello and give brief remarks. When Senate President Mike Miller introduced Brian Frosh, I’m told he said enthusiastically something along the lines of “Welcome to the Attorney General. He served in this body for many years.” followed by very welcoming applause from his former colleagues.

As Franchot rose to speak, Miller introduced him offhandedly as the “tax collector” to very scattered, tepid applause. However, the chamber gave a resounding round of applause when Miller next reminded the body that Franchot used to represent Sen. Jamie Raskin and touted Raskin as someone who was going to do a terrific job as the next congressman from the Eighth District.

Miller also compared Franchot to Trump in a television interview, so I guess it’s safe to say that they’re no longer BFFs. More dangerous for Franchot is the broader estrangement from the Democratic Party that the moment revealed.

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Raskin In for the Eighth, Madaleno Staying in MD Senate

A Photo from Three Years Ago that Works Even Better Today
(Photo: Edward Kimmel)

Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-18) mentioned to Kevin Gillogly (reported on his Facebook page) that he is not running for the Eighth Congressional District and will stay in the Maryland Senate, where he is Vice Chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee.

In the Baltimore Sun, Sen. Raskin said previously that he was loathe to oppose Sen. Madaleno who is “like a brother to me” but otherwise, “wild horses” wouldn’t keep him out of Eighth Congressional District race. As Madaleno is not running and the nearest wild horses in Chicoteague don’t seem likely to take up Raskin’s challenge by swimming to the Eighth, it seems safe to say Jamie is running for Congress.

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Jamie Raskin for Congress?

Jamieraskin

Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20) is widely considered a lock to enter the race for Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District.

Getting Elected in District 20

Jamie Raskin was first elected to the Senate in 2006 in an impressive defeat of longtime incumbent, Sen. Ida Ruben. Though Raskin was a first-time candidate, he beat Ruben by 2-1 thanks to a strong campaign and grassroots organization.

It also didn’t hurt that Chris Van Hollen notably did not endorse Sen. Ida Ruben, who had not supported him in his original congressional bid in 2002. Since the 2006 Democratic primary, Raskin has been untouchable in this district.

Two of Raskin’s previous campaign managers, David Moon and Will Smith, have now joined him on the House side. Raskin remains very popular and a solid fit for this district, correctly perceived as the most progressive in Maryland.

In the Senate

Jamie made the transition from law professor at American University to politician in the Maryland Senate more smoothly than some likely expected. He worked well with his colleagues and  became a leader on the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Currently, Sen. Raskin heads the Executive Nominations Committee. He is also serves as Majority Whip and is a past Chair of the Montgomery County Senate Delegation.

His work has unsurprisingly focused more on issues related to his committee. Sen. Raskin was a robust supporter of marriage equality. In this session, he is focusing much of his efforts on campaign finance trying to make the system more transparent in the wake of the disastrous Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates of soft money into American politics.

One of the more loquacious members of the Senate, he is excellent at arguing for his point of view and parrying his opponents. Jamie’s passionate progressive views have also not prevented him in working with others to move forward even if the product is less than ideal from his perspective.

All of these issues and skills would transfer well to Congress, even if he would likely have to get used to operating as part of the minority instead of the majority. There is a reason that lawyers are not lacking in Congress or Washington even if Washingtonians can tell lawyer jokes with the best of them.

Campaign and Competition

Jamie cannot self finance but he is well-positioned to raise a lot of money. His profile extends beyond the local level–and not just because his spouse, Sarah Bloom Raskin, has served on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and is now Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.

Moreover, many of Jamie’s originals supporters are still very active in politics and eager to support his congressional bid. As he showed in 2006, he is quite capable of putting together an organized grassroots campaign.

District 20 has one of the richest pockets of Democratic voters in the State, though fewer than District 16 and similar in number to neighboring District 18. Raskin’s district would serve as a fine base for a congressional run.

Overlap with Other Candidates

Jamie Raskin will be a top-tier candidate. He shares a similar political profile with Rich Madaleno. Both are white males and strong progressives based in neighboring southern Montgomery County districts. They’ve worked closely together in the Senate on many issues. Either would benefit if the other does not run.

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UPDATE: Raskin Statement on North Flyer

From Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20):

“I have had a number of calls from confused constituents and candidates about this piece, which I was totally unaware of. It quotes a statement I made in September of last year at Terrill’s kickoff for one of the at-large Council seats. But I have not endorsed Terrill for the District 5 seat and have made that clear to people who have called me about this.”

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