Del. Kumar Barve on Monday accepted a high-profile endorsement—and took the opportunity to make the case for why he should be the one to replace Rep. Chris Van Hollen in an already crowded Democratic primary.
The longtime state lawmaker—who served as House of Delegates majority leader and Speaker Michael Busch’s second-in-command from 2003 to earlier this year—talked at length about why he’s seeking the 8th District House seat and why he’s more qualified that his four announced primary competitors.
He also accepted endorsements from Busch and 18 other state delegates.
“There are a lot of folks in this race. It’s pretty easy to say the right things when running for office,” said Del. Andrew Platt, also from District 17. “But when you actually govern, it’s a lot harder to do those things. I think Kumar’s 25 years in the House of Delegates show that he can say the right things, but that he can also go ahead and do the right things.”
The event, held at the Rockville Memorial Library, effectively doubled as a chance for Barve to formally introduce himself with the primary more than 10 months away.
Though Barve was the first to officially announce for the race in March, has been actively campaigning and has been cultivating financial support from fellow Indian-Americans, he hadn’t held a media event on par with competitor Kathleen Matthews’ official announcement last week in Silver Spring.
The former Marriott International executive and ABC7 anchor drew a large crowd of print, online and TV media as she announced she’ll run in the primary. She’s never run for elected office before.
Barve, a 56-year-old Gaithersburg resident who in 1990 became the first Indian-American elected to a state legislature, emphasized his experience in elected office.
“I believe nobody is better situated in this campaign to get real results in Congress,” Barve said.
He talked about his leadership on environmental issues—such as this year’s two-year moratorium on fracking in the state—as chairman of the House of Delegates’ Environment Committee. He cited his role in closing tax loopholes for corporations based in Delaware and his work regulating HMO health insurance plans.
But he also talked about broader ideas such as technological innovation, investments in transportation infrastructure and dealing with global warming as examples of issues he’d work on in the House of Representatives.
“During the 20th century, America was a nation that did big things,” Barve said. “We were a confident nation. That was the kind of America my grandparents came to in 1911. Our leaders have lost faith in the American people. I’m running for Congress because I want to keep that dream alive for future generations.”
Barve has been actively pursuing Democrats in Frederick and Carroll counties—areas of which are now part of the recently redrawn 8th Congressional District. Westminster City Council member Greg Pecoraro was among the officials who endorsed Barve at the Rockville event.
Most of the district lies within Montgomery County. Like Barve, the rest of the announced field for the Democratic nomination—Matthews, State Sen. Jamie Raskin, former Obama administration official Will Jawando and Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez—reside in Montgomery.
Raskin has received the endorsement of Busch’s counterpart — state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, as well as senate colleagues such as District 16 state Sen. Susan Lee.
Busch praised Barve’s “passion” in high-profile Statehouse debates over marriage equality and the Maryland Dream Act.
“He is the voice of what has made the Democratic party great in the state of Maryland,” Busch said. “You want to make him that same voice in the United States Congress.”