Category Archives: Jamie Raskin

Raskin to IRS: Extend the Tax Filing Deadline

By Adam Pagnucco.

Congressman Jamie Raskin has spearheaded a joint letter from more than 100 members of Congress in both parties asking the IRS to extend its April 15 tax filing deadline. Among the reasons for the request are the agency’s late kickoff for tax filings, a change in the American Rescue Plan Act regarding taxation of unemployment benefits and the fact that the IRS is only answering 1 out of 4 phone calls from taxpayers with questions. The joint letter is reprinted below.

*****

Dear Commissioner Rettig and Acting Assistant Secretary Mazur:

We write to urge you to extend the impending April 15th federal tax filing and payment deadline. We welcomed the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) decision last year, after bipartisan calls from Congress, to provide an automatic filing and payment extension to July 15, 2020. Almost a year later, we are still grappling with the massive economic, logistical and health challenges wrought by this devastating pandemic. Millions of stressed-out taxpayers, businesses and preparers would appreciate an extension of the deadline to file their 2020 tax returns.

Over the past year, Congress enacted four historic emergency stimulus packages to deliver relief to Americans through Economic Impact Payments, the Paycheck Protection Program, and the Employee Retention Tax Credit. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021, contained a provision excluding from income the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 for those with an adjusted gross income under $150,000. The IRS will need to take action to address the changes in the tax law, and taxpayers will need additional time to fully understand how this affects their tax liability. Further, taxpayers and tax return preparers are awaiting guidance from the IRS regarding these recent tax changes and are still waiting for some IRS forms to be made available for electronic filing. Compounding these complicating factors, the IRS did not begin the 2020 filing season until February 12, 2021, nearly three weeks later than usual, creating a lot less time for constituents and businesses to file taxes overall.

With limited in-person tax assistance at local tax preparation clinics, libraries, and community centers, tens of millions of our constituents are facing the same logistical hurdles as last year.

Additionally, the IRS is struggling to address taxpayer issues, with the agency reporting that it is answering only 1 out of 4 telephone calls. As our leaders on the House Ways and Means Committee have pointed out, compared with the same time last year, 27% fewer tax returns have been filed already and 31% fewer returns have been processed by the IRS.

For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to extend the federal tax filing and payment deadline as Americans, and the IRS, continue to grapple with the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for your thoughtful attention to this urgent matter.

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Raskin, Trone Ask Hogan for Mass Vaccination Site in MoCo

By Adam Pagnucco.

Joining the Montgomery County Council and County Executive Marc Elrich, MoCo Congressmen Jamie Raskin and David Trone have asked Governor Larry Hogan to establish a mass vaccination site in the county. Elrich says the county can open one on its own right now, but there’s a problem: the county gets its vaccines from the state and Elrich doesn’t want vaccines for a mass site to count against the regular allotment the county health department receives. In the meantime, the state plans to open more mass vaccination sites in Southern Maryland, Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore while MoCo residents (at least the ones who drive) are flocking to the Six Flags site in Prince George’s County.

The mess seems unlikely to be meaningfully resolved until the overall supply of vaccines increases substantially.

The letter from Raskin and Trone appears below.

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Dear Governor Hogan and Acting Secretary Schrader:

We write to respectfully urge your support for locating a COVID-19 mass vaccination site in Montgomery County. As you know, Montgomery is the most populous county in our state and has experienced the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the state. Yet, despite Montgomery suffering the worst casualty rate in Maryland and despite having the second-highest number of cases in the state, it still has no mass vaccination site for its population of more than one million people. Of the six mass vaccination sites that will soon be operating across Maryland, not a single site is in Montgomery. Not surprisingly, Montgomery ranks 15th among all Maryland counties in percentage of its population vaccinated even though its County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has administered 87% of its allocated vaccines.

Beyond the sheer numbers of people involved, a mass vaccination site in Montgomery County would clearly promote your administration’s goal of ensuring equitable vaccine distribution to vulnerable communities. Montgomery has a majority-minority population and is the most diverse County in our state. Around 20% of residents are Hispanic, 19% are Black/African American, and 15% are Asian/Pacific Islander. Montgomery has a significant health care workforce and a substantial elderly population over the age of 75. These demographics present complex challenges for the local health department in vaccine distribution which could be successfully addressed with a local mass vaccine site.

Although you have emphasized that the mass vaccination sites in Baltimore and Prince George’s counties are open to Montgomery County residents, this offer seems like cold comfort when so many logistical hurdles face lower-income, working-class, immigrant, and senior residents in Montgomery who are unable to arrange transportation or get time off from work to travel to distant sites. These realities for tens of thousands of people make the suggestion of daytime travel to other parts of the state seem like wishful thinking. We urge you to work with Montgomery County officials and your team to provide a state-run mass vaccination site in Montgomery County.

If the Maryland Department of Health is unable to support another state-run mass vaccination site, we urge you to sufficiently increase the number of vaccines provided to the County to enable the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services to operate its own mass vaccination site. Moreover, as the state prepares to improve its equity framework in the coming weeks, we urge you to increase vaccine distribution efforts to better serve the diverse and vulnerable communities in Montgomery County. In Montgomery County, we know local leaders look forward to working with you to increase vaccine access and improve vaccine equity throughout the state. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this urgent and significant request. We are available to discuss it at your pleasure.

Very truly yours,

Congressman Jamie Raskin and Congressman David Trone

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Top Seventh State Stories, February 2021

By Adam Pagnucco.

These were the top stories on Seventh State in February ranked by page views.

1. Raskin Chief of Staff Writes About Attack on the Capitol
2. MoCo Solar Power Company Throws in the Towel
3. Is MoCo Ready to Reimagine the Police?
4. Once Again, Who’s the Boss?
5. State Legislators to Hogan: Send MoCo More Vaccines
6. Brandy’s Bonkers Bucks
7. What Climate Emergency?
8. Brandy Brooks is Back
9. Barve Warns Council on Solar
10. What Happened to White Flint?

The post about the Capitol insurrection by Julie Tagen, who is Congressman Jamie Raskin’s Chief of Staff, is the first one to lead our list two months in a row. After a strong run in January, this article took off again starting February 9 when Raskin told this story to the U.S. Senate in his opening argument at the impeachment trial. It remains one of the most riveting items we have ever posted on Seventh State.

The article about White Flint is the first item to appear on our list three months in a row. This one won’t go away. It’s about more than politics; it’s about whether our county can build appealing new communities that can compete with the rest of the region. There is a real hunger for that in MoCo and it will resume prominence after the COVID pandemic winds down.

Then there are the stories about solar in the agricultural reserve. They reveal a split not just among politicians but also inside the county’s environmental community. Some see environmentalism as concerned with the preservation of nature. Others see environmentalism’s biggest priority as preventing climate change from making Earth inhospitable to humans. Both sides are right, of course, but in the case of solar in the ag reserve, their short-term prescriptions for action were at odds. This is not the first sign of an enviro split in MoCo. The Sierra Club’s endorsement of Roger Berliner over Marc Elrich in the 2018 county executive primary was extremely controversial. We may be headed for more internal conflicts in the environmental community in the future.

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Raskin Wants a Showdown with Trump

By Adam Pagnucco.

Congressman Jamie Raskin, the U.S. House of Representatives’ lead impeachment manager in the trial of former President Donald Trump, has invited Trump to testify in his trial. It’s doubtful Trump will accede to the request, but assuming he reads Seventh State, we have one thing for him to consider: think of the ratings, Donald! Joe Biden will never match them!

Raskin’s letter to Trump is reprinted below.

*****

February 4, 2021

President Donald J. Trump
c/o Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen

Via E-Mail

Dear President Trump,

As you are aware, the United States House of Representatives has approved an article of impeachment against you for incitement of insurrection. See H. Res. 24. The Senate trial for this article of impeachment will begin on Tuesday, February 9, 2021. See S. Res. 16.

Two days ago, you filed an Answer in which you denied many factual allegations set forth in the article of impeachment. You have thus attempted to put critical facts at issue notwithstanding the clear and overwhelming evidence of your constitutional offense. In light of your disputing these factual allegations, I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, concerning your conduct on January 6, 2021. We would propose that you provide your testimony (of course including cross-examination) as early as Monday, February 8, 2021, and not later than Thursday, February 11, 2021. We would be pleased to arrange such testimony at a mutually convenient time and place.

Presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton both provided testimony while in office—and the Supreme Court held just last year that you were not immune from legal process while serving as President—so there is no doubt that you can testify in these proceedings. Indeed, whereas a sitting President might raise concerns about distraction from their official duties, that concern is obviously inapplicable here. We therefore anticipate your availability to testify.

If you decline this invitation, we reserve any and all rights, including the right to establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse inference regarding your actions (and inaction) on January 6, 2021.

I would request that you respond to this letter by no later than Friday, February 5, 2021 at 5pm. I look forward to your response and to your testimony.

Very truly yours,

Jamie Raskin
Lead Impeachment Manager

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Top Seventh State Stories, January 2021

By Adam Pagnucco.

These were the top stories on Seventh State in January ranked by page views.

1. Raskin Chief of Staff Writes About Attack on the Capitol
2. Are Maryland Vaccine Deliveries Fair?
3. State to Counties: Vaccinate Private School Staff or Else
4. What Happened to White Flint?
5. MoCo Solar Power Company Throws in the Towel
6. How Does MoCo’s Vaccination Rate Compare to the Rest of Maryland?
7. State Legislators Call on Harris to Resign
8. Political Awards 2020
9. MoCo’s Hero
10. Mizeur Threatens to Run Against Harris

This is a pretty concise list of what has been on the minds of MoCo’s political community: the attack on the Capitol, Jamie Raskin, vaccines and the movement to throw out Andy Harris. The story on the solar zoning text amendment reflects a split among environmentalists that is bound to resurface on future issues. As for White Flint, which was also the top story in December, that article demonstrates a major challenge that MoCo will face as it emerges from the pandemic: how to rebuild its economy and not lose any more ground to the rest of the region. Economic competitiveness was a big issue before COVID and it will return to that pedestal as the next election approaches.

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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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