Last week we endorsed Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, for the seat of retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski. To fill Van Hollen’s seat representing Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, we favor state senator and constitutional law professor Jamie Raskin (D-District 20).
Raskin rises above this year’s crowded slate of candidates, and does so in an impressive fashion. Since being elected to Maryland’s upper house in 2006, he has built a solid, verifiable progressive record. He has been the floor leader on bills to establish the right to same-sex marriage and to repeal the death penalty. He supported expansion of Maryland’s ignition interlock device program. He has worked to protect women’s reproductive rights, and has a solid record on the environment, including backing legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. His work in immigration reform has been practical, and he’s kept his sights on comprehensive reform.
In contrast to this meaty record, Raskin’s two main opponents in the April 26 Democratic primary — former Marriott executive and local news anchor Kathleen Matthews and businessman David Trone — have no legislative experience. While they share many of Raskin’s views, they lack the proven track record and bipartisan experience that Raskin’s candidacy offers.
As a constitutional law scholar, author and law professor Raskin has a deep understanding of government and the legislative processes. He also has the admirable ability to make a point concisely and memorably. Speaking in 2006, in the course of a debate with a state senator who opposed same-sex marriage on “biblical principles,” Raskin said: “People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution; they don’t put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”
Raskin also has a strong, deeply rooted support for the State of Israel, and a clearly expressed commitment to work toward the achievement of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. “America has been a steadfast strategic and political ally to Israel and a key actor in prior peace agreements,” he told Washington Jewish Week last month in a candidates’ survey. “We must redouble our efforts not only to guarantee Israeli security against terror, but to assist in accomplishment of a comprehensive settlement for peace, security, human rights and the rule of law for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
Add to all that Raskin’s strong ties to our Jewish community — he and his family are members of Temple Sinai in Washington — and Maryland will have a smart, passionate, progressive representative in Congress of whom we can be proud. Jamie Raskin is our choice for District 8.