The Democratic primary in the Eighth Congressional District is fierce. And no wonder. Whoever wins is virtually assured of becoming a new Member of Congress in this safely Democratic territory.
Adam Pagnucco has done a good job outlining the strength and weakness of the three leading candidates (Matthews, Raskin and Trone), so I thought I’d look at how the other candidates may impact the race even if they don’t win.
Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez has run a somewhat quixotic campaign that has mainly been about advancing her progressive point of view in debates. Her campaign lacks to money to be competitive even though she has loaned it money from personal funds.
Despite the lack of funds, I heard from one voter that saw a television ad. Unfortunately for Gutierrez, advertisements have to play a lot in order to have an impact and her budget is simply not large enough to buy that hefty an ad buy.
She has sent out one bilingual piece of mail in the form of a newspaper. Voters may pick it up and take a peek because it’s original. But it has a lot of small print and many photos of the candidate in the style of the North Korean Central News Agency‘s coverage of Kim Jong Un.
Despite these limits, Gutierrez may have an impact. She had volunteers at the Lawton Center early voting center in Chevy Chase. Moreover, she has been in public office for 25 years as a candidate for the School Board and then the House of Delegates.
Gutierrez’s final political move has been to endorse Bernie Sanders. This seems more likely to do her more good than Bernie, as she links her campaign to a popular progressive and appeared on stage to endorse him at a rally in Baltimore.
As the first Latina elected in Montgomery County and a known name, I expect Gutierrez to pick up a good chunk of the Latino vote. Indeed, it seems likely to propel her into fourth place even if she loses much of her past non-Latino support to Jamie Raskin.
Raskin seems most likely to be hurt by Gutierrez’s presence in the race. He represents a large Latino community in District 20 and has advocated strongly on a variety of issues from immigration to social justice that Gutierrez also emphasizes. It would certainly be ironic if Gutierrez, who ran to advance progressive issues, ended up costing the leading progressive candidate the nomination.
Del. Kumar Barve is a former majority leader of the House of Delegates who represents Rockville and Gaithersberg. Smart and quick, he’s one of the funniest members of the House of Delegates. Like the other state legislators in the race, he has ended up heavily on the liberal side of most issues.
Barve has more money than any candidate outside of the top three but remains out of their financial league. He has attempted to gain notice through strong criticisms of Raskin’s ads but my assessment is that these efforts have gained very limited traction.
At the risk of making Barve sound far older than he is, Barve was the first Asian American elected in Montgomery County and, indeed, is often highlighted in descriptions of pioneering elected officials. This would seemingly be an advantage in a county with a large and growing Asian American population.
Unfortunately for Barve, most Asian Americans identify less as Asians and more by their national origin. As Barve likes to note somewhat ruefully, he has the Hindu vote nailed down with the implication being that just won’t get him far.
Barve is one of those candidates who I could well have imagined breaking through but it hasn’t happened for him for a variety of reasons, including Trone’s money attracting so much attention. It would be nice for Barve if he finished well in the portions of the district he represents in the House of Delegates.
Will Jawando ran a good but losing campaign for the House of Delegates in District 20, home to Jamie Raskin. Two years later, he has jumped into the congressional race. Jawando is young attorney with a family who is also running on progressive platform and is easy to imagine winning public office in Montgomery County.
Jawando’s decision to enter this race surprised many. The safer bet would have been to help Raskin win election and then angle to win appointment to the state legislative vacancy. Jawando would have been a very strong candidate due to his own abilities, respectable finish last time, and links to the congressional winner.
While Rep. Elijah Cummings has stayed out of the U.S. Senate race, he has endorsed Jawando for the Eighth District. As the only African American in the race with support from a prominent African-American Democrat, albeit not from around the area, Jawando has the potential to attract some votes.
As with Gutierrez, this could hurt Raskin. However, Jawando is less well-known that the long-established Del. Gutierrez, so it’s unclear how big a splash he will manage to make in the race.
Joel Rubin is a friend and neighbor. He’s a nice, personable guy who, like many in Montgomery County, has been active in federal politics but at the local or state level until now. Rubin has raised a nice sum of money and run a good campaign even though he just lacks the funds or previous support base to be competitive.
Even though this is his first race, he’s shown some good clever, campaign abilities, including producing these excellent YouTube videos on Trone and and his own family story:
Like Will Jawando, I would not be surprised to hear more from Joel Rubin in the future.
Finally, I know little about Dan Bolling and David Anderson. Bolling is running as the anti-partisan candidate and Anderson appears to be a well-meaning progressive. I do not expect either to have a major impact on the outcome of the race. Click on the links to learn more about them.