Category Archives: Jamie Raskin

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”